Sell Online Courses: Use Proven Copywriting Techniques To Sell More

What to sell online courses but don't know how?

After you've created your online course, the next logical thing to do is to optimize it in a way that will drive sales.

In this post, I will focus on writing irresistible marketing copy that will help you sell more online courses on platforms for education such as Udemy, Skillshare, Amazing, and Curious.

I will not discuss various promotional techniques such as creating and ethical bribe and building an email list (which would be vitally important if you self-host your courses).

The benefit of the four platforms I mentioned above is that they are marketplaces and students are ready to enroll in courses. However, they will do that only if your course is compelling enough. And how do you create a compelling, irresistible course? The answer is through copywriting.

Okay, Let's Sell Online Courses With Copywriting

Sell Online Courses With Copywriting

Discover How To Easily Sell Online Courses

The Headline Of Your Online Course

This is the first point online instructors fail to master.

While students are browsing Udemy, they are initially attracted by the thumbnail and headline.

What attracts students is the thumbnail and the headline

Hopefully, you've requested a thumbnail from Udemy, they will create one for free. The headline is something you need to write yourself.

I've spent a good amount of time studying the best copywriters on the planet such as Gary Halbert, Eugene Schwartz, John Carlton, David Ogilvy and more. They all advocate for the importance of a great headline in ads.

On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.

David Ogilvy

There is a great book I recommend you read Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins. Here is what he says:

It is not uncommon for a change in headlines to multiply returns from five or ten times over.

Claude Hopkins

See, this is a big deal.

Your headline is the ad for your course. If it is attractive, result-oriented and specific, people would click and read the body copy - your description. If it is not, people will not bother checking out your course. This will reduce the chance of your course becoming a best seller.

How Do You Write An Attention-Grabbing Headline For Your Online Courses?

First, your headline will be limited in characters. Online platforms have different requirements, for example, at Udemy you have 60 characters. Skillshare gives you more flexibility. At Udemy you will need a sub-title as well and you'll have 120 characters to craft something good. Skillshare's classes don't have subtitles.

Second, include the main benefit students will get when they complete your course. For example, let's take a look at my most popular course on Skillshare.

Instagram Domination: Add Up To 100 Followers A Day With These 3 Easy Strategies

Instagram Domination By Vladimir Raykov

Instagram Domination Add Up To 100 Followers A Day With These 3 Easy Strategies by Vladimir Raykov


The headline consists of two parts. Domination is a power word. It carries its own emotional kick as John Carlton would say. So, I'd highly recommend you use power words in your headline and body copy.

Use Power Words

I've created a PDF file with 257 power words and I use it every time when I write copy. All of the words in the file have been taken from world-class advertisements, so if this is something you want, click the button below and I will send you a copy.

The second part "Add Up To 100 Followers A Day With These 3 Easy Strategies" this is where we get specific with the main benefit. Obviously, the main benefit is "grow your Instagram account" but notice how it is communicated. It is clear, it has no room for interpretation.

If I hadn't used the copywriting principles specificity and clear communication, the headline would look like this:

Instagram: Strategies To Grow Your Account

Yes, the main result is there but it is rather vague. And my course wouldn't make even close as much money as it has already made (6k-7k).

Use Absolute Numbers

So if you want to craft specific headlines, I'd encourage you to use absolute numbers when possible - up to 100 followers a day, 3 strategies. But you should be careful not to mislead the visitors. Feel free to evoke curiosity - this is great but don't mislead.

For example, I say "Add Up To 100 Followers A Day" this is different from saying "Add 100 Followers A Day". I realize that these three strategies might lead to attracting only 20 or 30 followers a day, even so, my headline is not misleading.

Evoke Curiosity

Curiosity is one of the most powerful human emotions and people would go to great length to satisfy it. When reading my headline students are wondering which these 3 easy strategies are. The keyword here is "these", what motivated me to include it is an ad and ran for decades.

One Of The Most Successful Ads Of All Time

The headline is based on this keyword (these). If you remove it (Do You Make Mistakes In English?), you remove the curiosity element as well because almost everyone makes mistakes in English.

Plus, these 3 strategies are easy to implement which makes the headline even more compelling.

How Do You Write Action-Provoking Descriptions For Your Online Courses?

The description of your online course is a powerful sales copy. It's not a boring text.

The best way is to use a copywriting framework.

One of the oldest and most famous frameworks is AIDA. It’s not the only one – you can find many frameworks, but AIDA is a great place to start.

AIDA is an abbreviation and I will explain each letter, plus I will give real-life examples with the marketing copy I wrote.

  • A – Attention
  • I – Interest
  • D – Desire
  • A – Action

Grab The Student Attention Now

At the very beginning of your copy, you should grab the attention of your prospects. Therefore you should use what’s called a “hook”. It might be questions or a statement! Do not just rely on your headline for the Attention part of AIDA – that is a mistake.

Example:

Would you like to add thousands of followers to your Instagram account for absolutely free?

Would you like to grow your following on Instagram without buying fake followers and using spammy tactics?

Would you like to increase the traffic coming from Instagram to your website, squeeze pages and offers?

If you’ve answered “yes” to even one of these questions, then this class will leave you speechless.

Hi, my name is Vladimir Raykov I do marketing...

And this is the first and crucially important part of the copy, the hook. It has to be intriguing and interesting. You can open with questions as I did in the example above or with the classic If...Then... hook.

Example:

If you’ve been desperately looking for world-class marketing strategies and techniques to increase your marketing influence, convert more visitors into leads, drive more sales, and ultimately grow your business, then enrolling and completing this program might be one of the best business decision you’ve ever made!

This is a bold statement. "Why is this going to be the best business decision ever? I need to find out." students would think and continue reading what follows.

Interest - Convert Cold Features Into Benefits That Sell

In this part of the copy, you should be talking about students' interest, not yours. Usually, this is the part where you write many bullet points. The majority of the bullets you write have to be about the benefits your student will get once they enroll and complete your online course.

Features are what get you excited, benefits are what get your customers excited.

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Very famous example: Storage of 1GB of mp3s (a feature) vs 1,000 songs in your pocket (a benefit).

Features vs Benefits

Attribution goes to http://www.marketingsense.com.au

Even advanced marketers sometimes have a hard time telling the difference between features and benefits. I want to give a short explanation in the scope of online teaching.

The Difference Between Features And Benefits

A feature is a characteristic of your product or service (in our case, your online course).

The format of the lectures is video. It goes with 10 PDF files. You've invested in a good USB mic and as a result, the audio quality is perfect. Your course has 5 sections and 36 lectures. Yeah, that’s all good but students wouldn't enroll in your e-course because of these reasons (features).

A benefit, on the other hand, is what your online course will DO for your students. And that's the reason why they would enroll.

  • Your course will teach students easy-to-implement but in the same time powerful tactics on how to get a higher open rate and click-through rate on email campaigns. That means more people will visit the sales page and more sales will be generated.
  • Your course will provide the students with 10 fill-in-the-black email templates so students don't have to spend hours writing email copy that doesn't perform. Your proven templates will do the hard work (email template #3 is a bit weird but it's my best-performing one).

I don't have a course that teaches email marketing, but this is just what came to mind.

TIP: When you write, use the phrase "that means" and your copy will improve because you will be talking more about the benefits of your online course.

Marketing Psychology 2.0

Let's take my course Marketing Psychology: How To Become A Master Of Influence. I wrote a lot of bullets and the copy is long but here are just a few of them.

  1. How to increase the perceived value of your ideas instantly and make them impossible to forget! That means people would be willing to pay a higher price for your digital products.
  2. How to communicate in a way that your prospects and customers will understand you perfectly every time! You’ll discover the four learning styles proposed by the prominent Harvard Psychologist David Kolb. And if you are not aware of these, your marketing messages won’t relate to people’s needs which means disconnect and no sales.
  3. How to do discounts the right way. And how entrepreneurs are killing their businesses by using discounts without realizing it.
  4. The two underlying forces behind any kind of action we, humans, take and how to use these forces in your marketing messages. Tony Robbins talks about these all the time.
  5. Top 10 emotional triggers used by marketers. Fear is the first one, some of the rest might surprise you.
  6. My secret, 12-step formula for writing a script for a sales video. I’ve also created a checklist to keep close when working on your sales video or sales page. There isn’t a filthy rich, online entrepreneur who hasn’t used this formula for selling his products!

The first bullet has a very basic structure that you can use:

Basic And Effective Bullet Structure

  • How to (do something cool). That means (the core benefit for your student).

As you've noticed I loaded some of the bullets with curiosity. And if you've read my post on how to create online courses, you already know why! If you haven't, I will say it again. Curiosity is one of the most powerful human emotions and people would go to great length to satisfy it.

Take a look at the 4th bullet.

"Which are these underlying forces? It must be something profound. Yes, I want to use them in my marketing messages. Tony Robbins is a big deal, if he is talking about these all the time, I shouldn't miss them." Copywriters call this type of bullet - blind. You know it's cool, you want it, but you don't know what it is.

IMPORTANT: Converting features into benefits is the key to persuading your prospects to buy!

Keep in mind there are different types of customers. For example in the technology industry, if you try to sell an iPod to an experienced web developer, they would be much more likely to respond to the features of your product than the benefits. For that reason, you should have a clear understanding of the students you want to target.

Have Them Imagine The Perfect Life - Evoke Desire

Next, you need to evoke a desire for the online course.

By now you got the attention of the prospective student with the headline and the hook, you got them interested because of your irresistible bullets. And now it's time to show them how all this can become a reality. In the copywriting literature, you will find this topic as future pacing.

It's about getting your students to picture themselves the transformation your product delivers. It's about getting them from a situation where they experience pain to a future situation where your online course has done its job and now your students experience relief.

This is the place where you pain pleasing pictures in the student's mind. By using sentences such as: “Imagine what it would be if you had….” Or “Just picture yourself for a moment having or doing something desirable

Example:

Let’s stop right here! I have some questions for you.

Please, imagine for a second what it would be to possess all these in-demand marketing skills. How would that change your business?

The information you are about to learn has the potential power to double, triple or even quadruple your business.

How would that affect your lifestyle?

You don’t have to invest tens of thousands of dollars in marketing education and spend years learning it the hard way. I’ve already done that and I want to teach you the best of what I know when we talk marketing. In other words, I did the heavy lifting for you.

In fact, why do you want to have a successful business in the first place?

Let me tell you about myself, for me, I can describe it with only one word - FREEDOM!

I want to have location freedom, financial freedom, and time freedom! If that’s something you want then increasing your marketing influence, building your marketing funnels and automating the processes is what will give you that freedom.

Where Most Marketers Fail - Have A Strong Call To Action

Finally, you need to ask for action.

You must have a call to action at the end of your copy.

Tell students exactly what you want them to do. Do not be shy in this regard. In our case, we want students to enroll. If you are working on a different project, align the call to action - subscribe, register for a webinar, buy now, etc.

A huge mistake made by people is to not have a clear, specific call to action.

Try to connect the main benefit with the call to action.

Example:

So go ahead and click the green “Take This Course” button right now and let’s increase your marketing influence almost instantly!

I’d like to thank you for reading, I’m waiting for you inside the program.

My name is Vladimir Raykov and remember - stay purposeful!

Okay, this is how you use AIDA as a framework for writing copy for your online course. This is what will help you sell online courses.

However, let's add a few more elements that will help us increase the conversion (students enrolling).

30-Day Money Back Guarantee - Risk-Free!

There is risk involved in any transaction!

You'll be able to increase your conversions by using a money back guarantee. Depending on the business model, some platforms for education already have implemented this risk-removal device.

Udemy, for example, offers their students 30 days money back but your job is to emphasize it. Too many online instructors leave this out. Don't do that.

Example:

And the best part is that you can enroll now 100% risk-free because you receive 30 days, unconditional money back guarantee. If for any reason you are not satisfied and that might be something as simple as, you don't like my accent, no problem you are one click away from a refund. No hassle, no hard feelings!

That’s why you have nothing to risk right now but if you find my content makes sense and you actually implement and see results then you will receive lifetime access and I’m sure, this is what will happen, my program will become your most powerful marketing weapon. You are going to love it.

Regardless of your course quality, there will be students who will request a refund. You need to be cool about it.

Having a money back guarantee has been proven to help online instructors sell online courses.

Conclusion

The biggest advantage of creating and launching online courses on platforms for education is that students are already there, browsing.

Your course will land under the radar of your potential students but you have to give strong reasons why they should enroll in your course.

Copywriting makes this possible. I gave you the framework I use when writing copy but to write good copy you also need practice.

You cannot write boring descriptions and expect students to enroll. For that reason, pump up your marketing copy with my collection of power words. Did I mention the name of the file? Maybe, I didn't... here it is:

Don't Forget Your Power Words

Discover The Amazing 257 Powerful Words To Pump Up Your Marketing Copy And Leave Your Prospect Under Total Submission!

Use the techniques in this post and you will sell online courses with ease. If you haven't created your course yet, I recommend you read this post.

For other topics related to establishing an online business click here.​

Not sure about a part in your marketing copy?

Feel free to post a comment below and I will be happy to give you my constructive critique.

Ask about your headlines, hooks, bullets, call-to-action, anything!

I'd like to thank you for reading my blog and always remember - stay purposeful!


About the Author

Hello, I'm Vladimir Raykov and I help people turn their knowledge and experience into online courses that generate residual income. As an online instructor, I currently teach well over 50000 students from 164 countries.

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