Lots of instructors wonder whether it's viable to spend money running ads for their courses.
So, I got my wallet out and spent $4,631.86 on Google Ads, so you don’t have to.
Before we get into the context of this post, let me give everyone some background on what I do for a living.
I run a dedicated SEO Agency in London, however, for our large clients that spend over a specific threshold with us, we offer a boutique Google Ads service as well.
At the time of writing, we manage Google Ads for 12 clients with a total monthly ad spend of $36,000/ m
I don’t say any of this to brag. This is simply to give this post more context and to reassure you that I’m not new to marketing by any means.
In other words, this was not $4.6k spent by someone who has no idea what they’re doing and hoping for the best.
The ultimate goal was to try and generate as many sales as I can, whilst trying to stay as profitable as possible.
I opted to allocate the spend on one of my courses that was marked as the “Highest rated” in hope that if I could generate enough traffic, I would be able to:
Convert a lot of that traffic into sales (the badge should boost conversions)
Potentially generate enough sales to the point where my course became the “best seller” in that topic.
In total, I spent $4,631.86 (£3,484.12) over the course of 3 months (no pun intended).
As I’m UK-based, I’ll use the GBP figure from here onwards.
The Campaign Details
Below is a spreadsheet I used to track all the sales that came from the ad campaign.
I used the instructor promo referral link as the destination URL for all ads. This allowed me to quite easily track the number of sales, whilst also ensuring I kept 97% of the revenue.
In total, I generated 160 sales from 5,839 clicks (£3,484.12 total ad spend)
That’s a Conversion Rate of 2.7%.
From these 160 sales, I generated £1,254.28 in revenue.
This provides me with a 36% ROAS (return on ad spend), meaning for every £1 spent, I received 36p from Udemy).
I decided not to restrict the ads to one specific country as I was intrigued to see how the avg CPC varied per country.
Below is a breakdown of that data:
As you can see, the USA had the highest CPC (cost per click) with every click costing me an avg £3.06.
Whereas the cheapest CPC was coming from showing my ads in India and Indonesia.
Despite India and Indonesia having the cheapest CPCs, those clicks resulted in some of the lowest conversion rates, and as a result, produced the lowest ROAS.
I initially had one campaign targeting your standard course related keywords e.g “online yoga course”, however, we noticed a lot of people were using the word “Udemy” in their searches e.g “Udemy online yoga course”.
So, I set up another campaign and targeted the same keywords but added the word "Udemy" in front of them. This boosted my Google Ads quality score and also produced some significant improvements.
Overall the Click Through Rate (CTR) was 8.52%, whereas for keywords mentioning ‘Udemy’ it was 26.5%.
That's a 3x improvement.
I also saw a similar trend comparing the conversion rate for these two campaigns too: The overall Conversion Rate was 2.7%, whereas for keywords mentioning ‘Udemy’ it was 5.3%
That’s almost a 2x improvement.
Side note: Although I had a ROAS of just 2.7%, what these numbers do not take into consideration is the lifetime value of a student. So in reality, the ROAS is most likely a lot higher.
Problems I ran into
1 - The biggest problem I ran into by far is the lack of conversion data. Udemy does not provide an option for instructors to add conversion tracking data on their course landing pages, this makes it impossible for instructors to be able to determine what clicks and keywords have generated the sale. Meaning, I had to literally guess what keywords were performing the best and generating my sales, not an ideal strategy when you have your money on the line.
2 - Udemy is always changing the price of courses, this makes it notoriously tricky to be able to determine what amount to bid on a keyword. One day bidding £2/ click may work out profitable, however, the next, that same £2/ click could put me at a massive loss.
3 - Udemy does not provide data on what country a sale came from, they only provide you with the currency of the transaction. I targeted the whole of Europe and had lots of sales in the currency “EUR”. As a result, I wasn’t able to determine what specific country within Europe those sales were coming from, again making a lot of the optimization guesswork.
4 - Lastly, the coupon codes are only valid for 31 days so I had to keep on going into the course every month to generate another coupon code, this also meant I had one less coupon to use for my monthly promo emails that I send out, not ideal.
Thinking about running ads? Here’s my advice:
- Don’t just focus on CPC when determining what country to target, export all the sales data and work out how well the traffic from that specific country is converting.
- As Udemy does not provide conversion tracking, it's pretty much impossible for you to figure out what keyword that you bidded on attributed to a sale. You can try to counter this by having unique coupons for each ad group you run, but again, it's far from ideal and is something you should be aware of from the start.
- Focus the majority of your ad spend on keywords and ads that mention Udemy. These keywords have an extremely high buyer intent as users have already expressed they’re looking for a course on Udemy.
Cool fact: The course I ran ads to actually ended up receiving the best seller badge, although I can't be certain it was due to this ad campaign as in reality the sales generated with quite low. So, there you have it.
View the original post here
Marketing is not an event, it is a process that extends over a long period of time. Get started now!
None of these are an instant path to instructor success. But, they are things that work if you are serious about building an online business on Udemy.
When you are planning your first course, shoot your best shot! Your first course will establish your brand and a bad hastily created course is not the way to get started. Your first course should be on a topic in which you have genuine expertise. Take your time to make sure this is a high-quality course. I am now working on my sixteenth course and I am taking three months to develop it. Take your time. Get it right.
BE an expert in your topic. Read, study, and demonstrate state of the art knowledge in your field. If you aren’t this… nothing else is likely to work. Some people fake knowledge in a topic in which they have no experience and it quickly becomes obvious. It results in failure.
Be sure that your course landing page communicates your expertise… “Why should I listen to you?” And, be sure that your course landing page communicates the “benefits” of your course, not merely the “features” of your course. Customers buy benefits, not features! The features describe the topics covered. The benefits answer the “so-what?” question. How will this change my life?
Remember that most of your future students will be on Udemy searching for something. That “something” are key words that they will put into the search bar. Think carefully about the key words your future students may be search for and be sure they are in your title and/or your subtitle. This is how students will find you.
Your promo video is what catches students after they land on your page. Spend ten times the amount of time perfecting your promo video as you do on any other lecture. State the benefits of your course, your qualifications, and invite them to join you. These are more important than outlining all the topics (features) of your course. Also, remember that buying decisions are not simply “rational” decisions; they are emotional decisions, and that is about how you make them feel! Smile! The viewer is asking him/herself, “do I really want to spend hours with this person?”
Be your own “brand manager” and build your brand. Brands are built over time by building trust in your marketplace. Brand value is created by being trustworthy, creating consistent value for your customers, over time. The most successful instructors are focused on “marketing”, not just “selling.” Know the difference.
Identify Facebook and LinkedIn groups related to your subject matter. Join them. Participate in discussion.
Demonstrate expertise by publishing a blog/website with your biography, articles you have written, a page for your courses, and regular blog posts that are educational, value-adding posts. Google the names of some of the more successful instructors and you will find their personal websites.
Then, share these blog posts or articles with all relevant groups on LinkedIn or FB. Your LinkedIn page should have articles by you, on your area of expertise. Prove that you are a “thought leader” in your field.
Build your own email list by capturing visitors to your website. I use Sumo, but there are other WordPress plugins to do this… oh, use WordPress for your blog. You don’t have to be a web development expert to create a WordPress website.
Your Udemy students will become your own mail list in that you can send both educational and promo announcements. As you build the number of students there is a multiplying effect when you share what you write.
After your first course, plan to develop additional courses in your area of expertise. The more courses you have the easier it is to launch a new course by marketing to your current students.
Obviously, do a great job of developing your on-camera presence and your courses. Engage in continuous improvement. Alexa Fischer’s Confidence on Camera course is excellent for improving your on-camera presentation skills.
Develop a YouTube channel where you can upload the introductory lecture(s) to your courses and include a link, with a discount coupon, to your Udemy course.
Develop a Facebook discussion page for your students and to publish articles (the same ones as on your blog page and LinkedIn page.
Watch Scott Duffy’s course on Udemy SEO Marketing.
It is a consensus of experienced instructors that paid Facebook ads do not work.
Do not give away of free courses or thousands of free coupons. Those who take these coupons are not likely to go through the course and are likely to leave poor reviews. Give away a few free coupons to those on your personal FB page, those who know you, and may go through the course and may give a good review. This is something to do only at the first launch of a course.
Do not even think about purchasing reviews!!! They are now spotted and removed by Udemy’s Trust and Safety group.
Have patience… you are building a business and like starting any business, it is not a get rich quick thing. It takes patience and persistence. Udemy is not a path to quick riches and it is not “passive income.”
The above is only my advice, but they are informed by the experience of many other successful instructors,
View the full discussion here.
Hey instructors! "Personal brand" has been a pretty hot topic in the marketing world these last couple of years, especially with the boom of social media where everyday people are developing their own brands and becoming influencers.
Do you think it's important to have a personal brand as an online instructor?
Though I have been struglling with this. Not konwing how to do it. I think it's very important to have a personal brand and even a respectbale website.
I think that the Branding part is very important for anyone that has an activity online, people can recognize your product, they know where to find you (website, Fb, etc.) and this brings you more sales and more success. But I also think that for someone that is just starting this activity it is not so important for now... I think he should concentrate more on building a solid course catalog and a base of at least 1000 paying students, after that he can start spending time for branding his image and his work.
I think that you are your brand and your 'brand' improves as you produce high quality courses.
When your name becomes known as a good, or even great instructor people will start looking out for your name in the emails that come from Udemy announcments.
Quality 1st, 2nd and 3rd = Personal Brand
I think having a personal brand is important and helps with marketing. Having a brand specifically as an online instructor can’t really be achieved unless you have created good quality courses which people like and which you can build a brand as an online instructor around. Building a brand around being an expert and knowledgeable in your topics is very important and can be done from as soon as you have the opportunity to start building your reputation online. It can be done by interacting in forums, groups and on courses, through being interviewed on podcasts, writing guest articles and blogs, creating YouTube videos, etc. By being helpful and demonstrating your knowledge and being consistent in how you do this, all helps with creating a personal brand. By having the same pictures, consistent social media and website names etc, people instantly recognise that guest blog post was by you, you are who that podcaster is interviewing, that Twitter post or Facebook post is yours, those forum posts are yours etc, even before you say (or they read) a word.
It may be that you work on your reputation first, but at some point you will want to flesh out the brand to include consistent logos, images, colour palette, username, the way you word things or say things etc so that you are instantly recognisable just from the profile images to videos you have shared and so that people easily know how to find you and can easily remember your business name or tagline etc to Google you or search for you on YouTube or any other platform.
@MassimilianoAlf, yeah I think you hit on a key point. Branding is really important so people recognize your product and what you have to offer. But I think it's also true that it's more important to concentrate on creating a good base and good courses before spending a lot of time on branding.
Totally @GrahamNicholls! I think an instructor's brand could be that they have high quality courses, amont other things. I think it's also possible to have a brand that may not equate to quality. Some things examples that come to mind are Wish which has a reputation for selling super cheap things with questionable quality and some restaurants that might be dirty but have delicious food (or even vice versa, really pretty space but medicore food).
Really great tips on how to build a personal brand @Hypnodan! There are a lot of different factors that folks can leverage and really make their own.
I think its very important atleast for me.
I want to create an impression in the minds of students that I am a source of knowledge and be a "go-to " person when they want to learn something.
I feel ingraining this in the students mind is very important for long term success.
Once that trust is built then those who have been influenced will become a marketing channel indirectly through "word of mouth" and that is much more effective than ads or any other type marketing.
These are my thoughts on the subject.