When talking about marketing, it’s very easy to jump into tactics: What channel should we use? What should the email say?
But it’s more effective to start at the top: What objectives are we trying to achieve? What audience(s) are we trying to target?
If your goal is to drive more learners to your online academy, you might take a different marketing approach than if you’re trying to get existing learners back into your learning platform to continue learning.
If you’re marketing to customers, you might use different channels and messages than you would if marketing to partners or prospective customers.
(Marketing strategy is one piece of the overall customer education strategy. To see where marketing fits within the bigger picture, check out this blog.)
One of the most popular channels for marketing education programs is email. Why? Because it’s an owned channel; but unlike social media, your reach isn’t limited by algorithm updates. If you educate a B2B audience, your audience checks their email regularly.
There are a number of different types of emails you can implement to promote your education offerings.
If you have a formal education program that people register for, like an online academy, you might consider sending a welcome email confirming a learner’s registration and sharing courses and content they can check out to get started.
Here’s an example of a welcome email from Atlassian University:
(If you’re using the Intellum Platform, you can set up a welcome email using Letters.)
These emails promote specific courses, certifications, or pieces of content. You might send a promotional email when launching a new education offering, or you might send these as part of an email series introducing learners to different courses they can enroll in.
Here’s an example of how Coursera promotes their course offerings:
Reminder emails encourage your learner to jump back in and continue their learning. In the customer education space, learners don’t necessarily have to complete programs. Providing timely reminders and compelling reasons to resume learning can help drive course completions and continued learner engagement.
In Intellum, you can use customizable nudges to remind learners to pick up where they left off:
If you educate external learners, social media might be an avenue for promoting your education offerings to both new and existing learners.
Just like with email, there are a variety of ways you can leverage social media to promote your education programs.
Share From Your Company Page
One of the easiest ways to use social media to promote your online academy is by sharing the enrollment link from your company page (along with some compelling copy).
Partnerships Experience Academy (PXA) does this well:
Encourage Learners to Share Their Certificates
Do you offer certificates or certifications? Encourage learners to share their certifications on LinkedIn to demonstrate their competency in a specific career-boosting skill. Some learning management platforms have this functionality built in, or you could use LinkedIn’s “Add to Profile” feature to make it easy for learners to share online.
Have Influencers & Employees Post About Your Customer Education Academy
Employee advocacy and influencer marketing can be a great opportunity to gain exposure to your online academy.
Whether your education programs are for customers only or open to prospects, your website can be an opportunity to showcase your investment in learning.
More and more, education is seen as a differentiator for businesses. Customers want to work with companies that offer resources for onboarding, continuing product education, and professional development.
You can highlight your education programs using links in the header and footer navigation, like you see here with Personio:
You can also position your academy as a go-to destination on your website—something prospective customers can enroll in to start learning about your business, or a value-add for customers.
Check out how Gusto Academy positions their education programs as a huge benefit to their customers:
If you sell a SaaS solution, you can use in-app messages and notifications to promote your education programs. There are a few different ways to do this.
Built-in module on your dashboard or homepage
HubSpot incorporates lessons communicating concepts that tie to their product functionality on the dashboard of its product:
Or you might experiment with in-app modals, like G2U did:
If your education team also creates just-in-time learning content, like help articles, you could use in-app navigation to surface relevant content or link to additional learning, like Certify does:
The most successful education programs have owners who build relationships with other customer-facing teams (like customer success, support, marketing, and sales) to keep education top of mind.
These teams often have direct contact with customers and prospective customers—giving them opportunity to highlight what your team has created.
Here are some examples of how your internal teams can promote your education offerings:
Share in Newsletters
If your marketing team publishes a regular newsletter for customers and/or prospects, they can include on-demand education content or scheduled learning events.
This is one way we keep education top of mind for our customers:
Share in 1:1 Conversations
Your colleagues can also bring up education programs, events, and content in 1:1 conversations they have.
Empower customer-facing teams with templated language and even slides highlighting your education offerings to share with customers and prospects.
Include in Recurring Meetings
If your customer-facing colleagues host quarterly business reviews, kick-off calls, or onboarding meetings, you can ask them to incorporate your education program into those meetings, decks, and/or communications.
Sendoso customer success managers (CSMs) introduce Sendoso University during the onboarding process with a dedicated slide:
Christy Hollingshead, VP of Customer Education & Engagement at Heap, a product analytics platform, shared that 60% of Heap’s learners come from CSM referral. The team has even built education milestones into the customer journey to support continuous learning.
Christy’s advice for earning this type of CS-driven marketing: “In the beginning, it's sharing wins, time you've saved the team, positive feedback from their customers, increases in adoption, getting them to take the content, etc. Then, once you have buy in, you can make the ask to include education in their standard decks/comms.”
While examples can be helpful, sometimes they can be overwhelming! It can almost seem like there are too many ways to promote your education programs.
The key is to start somewhere—then grow over time. Talk with longstanding online academies, and you’ll learn that they didn’t always have the sophisticated marketing strategies in place that you might see today as a learner.