Find the audience for your online course

Finding the right target audience for your online course is one of the most important steps that you need to take. You can find your best target audience in several ways: define your buyer persona, analyze your website visitors, read market research reports, or create a survey. Make sure you know your target audience before you start spending money on advertising your online course.

In one of our previous articles, we shared some useful advice on how to sell your online course. Now we will go deeper into the topic and concentrate on finding the right audience to target. Some teachers will try and sell their course to as many people as they can; however, this strategy often leads to many dissatisfied customers. Therefore, we recommend that you narrow your audience and target only the people who actually need your course and will be happy with the end result.

Let’s go through our five step approach in defining your target audience:

  1. Define your buyer persona – this will be your ideal customer
  2. Market research information
  3. Observe your audience
  4. Use your blog analytics
  5. Survey your audience

I. Define your buyer persona – this will be your ideal customer

The buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer. When you create a buyer persona, you will be able to picture and easily define your target audience. Here are the basic things that you should write down about your buyer persona:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Education level
  • Occupation
  • Salary
  • Marital Status
  • Family Size
  • Geographic Location

It is very important to give your persona a name when you start. For example, let’s say that you are going to sell a TOEFL preparation course and you want to sell it to Sarah. Your course is not suitable for beginners because it involves preparing students who have an advanced level of English for a specific test. But let’s go back to Sarah and describe her basic characteristics:

Sarah is a 21-year-old student at the City College of San Francisco who wants to continue her education at the University of California, Berkeley. She is in her last year of studies and works during the summer to save money for her education. Sarah is not married, but her family is large – she lives with her mom and her dad and her two little brothers. They live in a small house in the suburbs of San Francisco.

After writing down these characteristics, you already know two very important things – you will only target students who are in their last year of college and who are interested in pursuing graduate studies. To further describe your buyer persona, you can also define the following traits: needs and desires, values, fears, goals, challenges, and everyday activities. All of this information will help you form the best marketing message and know where and when to present it to your target audience.

Make at least 3 examples of your buyer persona and you will see how easy it will be to sell your course once you get to know your audience better. You can download your FREE Buyer Persona template from HubSpot.

II. Look for useful market research information

Once you define your buyer persona, you will know the generation that it belongs to. If you want to understand your audience even better, you can look for some available market research on this generation and see what they buy, what groups they belong to, what websites they visit, who their influencers are, etc. This information will be helpful in targeting your audience online because it will give you insight on where to place your ads. You can base your content strategy on this information as well, since you will know what topics to cover and how to engage your audience. Market research reports are sometimes difficult to find, especially the good ones, however it is worth spending the time to look for one, or even pay for one, if it is sold at an affordable price.

III. Observe your audience

If you are still teaching offline as well, the best thing that you can do is to observe your audience and its behavior. If your students are the same age as Sarah, you may want to listen to the way they talk to each other, the words they use, the music they listen to, the things that impress them, etc. Take notes and transfer them to your online communication strategy. If you are not teaching offline, you can make a list of some of the places that your target audience visits and go there by yourself to observe it. You can even talk to your audience directly and learn about its habits and interests in a private conversation. This personal approach can help you notice things that are not even described in the market research, but that will be valuable when you define your audience.

IV. Use your blog analytics

Your website or personal blog analytics will also give you a glimpse of the right target audience. You can use Google Analytics to see who your visitors are, what their age and gender is, how much time they spend on your website, the specific pages they visited, etc. Once again, you may use this information to adjust your marketing strategy and your targeting methods. To get more information on installing Google Analytics and reading the analysis that it provides, please follow the aforementioned links.

V. Survey your audience

If you have your own channels of communication set up, you can also use them to gather valuable information. Create a survey and ask your followers and visitors to fill it out. To motivate them, you can offer them a small discount on your next course or give them some free course materials to download. Remember to keep your survey questions short and clear. For example:

  • Do you plan to apply to a university?
  • Do you plan to take the TOEFL exam?
  • Are you preparing for the TOEFL exam at the moment?
  • How much time do you think it is necessary to prepare for the TOEFL exam?

You can use both open-ended and multiple choice questions in your survey. You can put your survey in your blog and in your social media channels, and also distribute it by email. The results of your survey will be small market data that you collected by yourself and that will be useful in defining your audience.

TIP:

We want to share with you a quick bonus trick. After you analyze your audience and see which influencers they follow, you can contact those influencers and cooperate with them. You can offer them to share their opinion on your course or to invite you as a guest blogger. This will increase the traffic to your website and will help you reach your target audience through a different channel.

Last but not least, don’t forget to devote enough time and effort to analyzing your audience. After all, you will soon start spending money on advertising your course to this audience, and we are sure that you don’t want to waste your money in targeting the wrong people.

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Tsvetelina Hristova is a marketing communication expert with over six years of professional experience. Her main focus is Digital Marketing and Brand Management. She has worked on diverse digital projects in the educational, entertainment and travel sectors. She has experience in managing marketing strategies and campaigns in Facebook, Google AdWords and MailChimp. Her passion is travel blogging.