Find your portal

CYPHER Learning named a G2 Best Software Awards winner 2024
Read more

Audience segmentation for faster online course results

When you start working on your online course, you generally target one niche. However, after a while, you may notice your learners aren’t resonating with your content as much as you wanted. So what can you do in this situation? 

Imagine your audience as a pool of differently colored balloons. If your online course is too complicated, if it's long and boring or if it doesn't strike a chord with your learners, it becomes the needle that can break some of the balloons. Don't worry, though! 

Learners are individuals with specific expectations and pain points. There will always be someone who needs something else. They might choose to unsubscribe from your email list or drop out of your course, but you still have a few tricks up your sleeve to make them stay. 

The solution is called audience segmentation, the process of dividing your audience into smaller groups based on more specific criteria. In the beginning, you probably managed to create a list of email subscribers (and potential learners). That list includes people who liked the content you promised, but not all of them took action when it came to enrolling in your online course. However, they are not entirely lost. 

Through audience segmentation, you can retarget your prospects and turn them into paying learners. Find out more!

Mastering audience segmentation for online courses

You began your course creation journey with a specific niche in mind. You’ll have to go deeper and find micro-niches within your niche. These micro-niches include potential learners who share common interests and specific needs in your field of expertise. Let's say your online course is about fitness. Your general niche can be “women who want to get in shape,” but your current content is not appealing enough for the audience you’ve built initially. 

In this case, you should segment it and target a micro-niche or more. For instance, try to reach “women who want to get in shape to feel more energetic during the day,” “women who juggle being a mom and their careers,” and “women who don't know how to include a workout routine in their daily schedule,” etc. 

Therefore, audience segmentation is the next step in your course creation experience. Here are the steps to take to maximize your success:

  1. Find the right time

    When you start noticing that people aren't buying your online courses, they are either bored with your content or the content is too difficult for them. That’s how you’ll know it's time to find new paths to reach your audience. 

  2. Understand your learners

    Your audience is not homogeneous, so you should understand its subcategories. Without a thorough analysis of your market, you cannot make the correct course choice for each. Listen to your learners and try to include their wants and needs in your course.

    Read more: Using focus groups to get a competitive edge as a knowledge entrepreneur

  3. Know the benefits

    The benefits of audience segmentation are various: increased course performance, higher email open rates, better user experience, and a boosted return on investment

    Through segmentation, you can build an audience employing tailored communication to establish meaningful relationships, create better courses, reinvent older ones, and optimize your marketing campaign performance. 

  4. Collect data

    Use email marketing, Facebook advertising, chatbots, surveys, external data to gather the information you need about your audience preferences. 

    For instance, segmented email campaigns have a 14.31 percent higher open rate and a 100.95 percent higher click-rate than non-segmented email campaigns, according to a study by Mailchimp.  

    Read more: How to make sure you deliver what the customer needs as a knowledge entrepreneur

  5. Categorize it 

    You can segment your audience based on geographic, demographic, psychographic, or behavioral criteria. For instance, you can divide your audience into subgroups of shared common traits in terms of location, industry, age, habits, language, lifestyle, purchase behavior, and more. 

    For demographic segmentation, you can use Government sources, including the Bureau of Labor Standards, which provide information on households, income, education, and more. 

  6. Create learner personas for each segment 

    You offered your course to a targeted avatar. After segmenting your audience, you have to create avatars for each subcategory to reflect different buyer personas. 

    Read more: The entrepreneur’s guide to buyer personas for online courses [Part 1]

  7. Leverage your data

    Your e-learning business should provide different solutions for segments. For example, you can target “busy moms interested in fitness” with a shorter, to-the-point online course, and “university students interested in fitness” can have their separate one. 

    Use the data you collect to create targeted strategies and campaigns for every learner group in your email lists. 

  8. Audience segmentation on each channel

    Reach your learners wherever they are. Regardless of the communication channel you use, segment your learners right there. On Facebook, for instance, targeting a more specific subcategory of your audience using criteria such as radius, gender, age, preferences, etc. —  will help you provide the maximum value for each segment. 

  9. Test and improve

    Don't assume your first audience segmentation will automatically be a success. You will have to go through trial and error stages to find the perfect balance between different segments. These attempts will allow you to improve your online courses and will contribute to your growth as a course creator. You might even come up with a new audience after the segmentation process ends.

    Read more: 6 Reasons why any knowledge entrepreneur needs an email course


Your learners may have joined your email list for common interests or problems, but you should be aware of their different needs to keep them coming back or convince them to buy your online courses. Audience segmentation will help you offer learners targeted courses for their specific requirements. The purpose of segmentation is to take your prospects beyond awareness of your online course, taking the leap from email content consumers to learners. Consequently, audience segmentation will help you get faster and better results on your marketing efforts. 

f-image t-image pin-image lin-image