As a knowledge entrepreneur that sells online courses, there are plenty of ways to make your business more lucrative. One way is to invest time and resources in creating more courses. Another one is to focus on marketing them better to increase your sales. There’s also a third alternative where you can sell the right content many times without updating it constantly. This is called an evergreen online course.
An evergreen course is a type of online course you can rely on as a relatively stable source of revenue. Evergreen courses allow you to focus on your business and take it in the right direction. Explore the advantages of evergreen online courses and see how a learning management system (LMS) can help you design and market them.
What is an evergreen online course?
An evergreen online course, as its name suggests, is one that never “expires.” It is a course you can sell anytime because its content is useful and doesn’t rely on a buzzword or passing trend. If you’re selling cooking courses online, some evergreen content ideas include:
- A basic cooking course for beginners;
- Cooking made simple for busy people - best recipes under 20 minutes;
- Cooking class for vegans - 10 easiest vegan recipes.
These titles can draw the attention of anyone interested in learning how to start cooking. You can target a wide or niche audience with these courses and sell them for many years to come.
To make an evergreen course, you first need to pick an evergreen topic. Then, you have to create the course and set up an automated evergreen sales funnel that brings in learners constantly. In this phase, you will also need to focus on marketing your evergreen course. Let’s dive into all these phases and see how you can successfully sell evergreen online courses.
What are the advantages of an evergreen online course?
An evergreen course means a single course launch. Afterward, the course keeps on going and you just have to track your sales. If you want to, you can boost the marketing budget for this course every now and then (e.g. invest in a Google or Facebook ads campaign).
Evergreen courses obviously help you save a lot of time because you only have to create them once. Additionally, an evergreen online course can also help you:
- Strengthen your reputation as a knowledge entrepreneur;
- Get constant cashflow you can invest in new courses;
- Gather an audience you can later market to;
- Make sure you never run out of digital products for sale.
How to create an evergreen online course
Here are the main steps you can take to create an evergreen online course, market it, and start generating sales:
1. Find your evergreen topic
An evergreen online course needs to have a generic yet appealing topic that can draw learners’ interest at any time. To ensure your evergreen course has higher chances of selling every year, all year round, think about the major problems learners want to solve by taking courses like yours.
Try to steer clear of “seasonal” topics that only apply to activities learners engage in during a limited time of the year.
For example, if you’re a fitness instructor, you might not want to focus on “Top ten exercises to look stunning in your bathing suit this summer.” Similarly, you might want to avoid references to the current year unless you want to update the course title and content (if necessary) every year. So, avoid courses such as “SEO marketing techniques for beginners in 2022” because you need to update the title and the content in 2023.
2. Create the course
After you have chosen your topic, done your research, and gathered all the materials you needed to create your evergreen online course, it’s time to get down to work. If you use an LMS, you have there all the tools you need to ease the course creation process such as:
- A user-friendly editor - this is one of the key features to look for in an LMS and most systems provide intuitive editing tools these days. You don’t need advanced technical skills to use them. To create courses, you can edit content from scratch directly on the platform as well as upload and add documents as attachments.
You can also add pictures, tables, links, emoticons, or special characters. The most important part is the video content. The benefits of choosing the video format for your online courses are numerous. With an LMS, you can easily record video and audio content or upload videos, and rest assured learners will be able to stream and view them in top-notch quality.
- A course catalog - where you list all your courses visitors can buy. By activating e-commerce features, you allow people to purchase the courses directly from the catalog.
Courses are neatly organized in an LMS catalog. To make them more appealing, add engaging descriptions and eye-catching images. Each course has an overview page where you briefly describe it. This page has to grab learners’ attention from the first words.
- Gamification - will help you build engaging courses your learners will find memorable and talk about, which is great for you as word of mouth offers a free flow of new customers.
Gamification tools are game elements, such as badges and points learners earn as they make progress through the course modules. You can add them to motivate your learners and boost their engagement.
3. Create a special offer
Many course creators use freebies to attract customers. You can try to apply this strategy to your evergreen online course to increase your chances of selling it. Just make sure the freebie is relevant to the course content.
For instance, if your course focuses on time-management strategies for busy professionals, can offer a free course or digital downloads such as e-books, podcasts or even a video in which you explain how to prioritize tasks at work or how to avoid burnout.
4. Set a deadline for the offer
A time-limited offer will enable you to create that sense of emergency marketers call FOMO (fear of missing out). This will urge people to make a fast decision regarding your course. The time-bound offer is usually a discount.
Whether you promote your online evergreen course via paid ads, email marketing, or directly on your website, highlight its deadline. Make prospect learners understand they only have a few hours/days to take action or they will lose the discount.
If this strategy proves useful the first time, you might want to use it again in the future if you’ll target new learners with your evergreen online course.
5. Get ready to automate
Now that your course is set up and you sent the time-limited offer to lure people and spark their interest, what is left is to focus on your marketing and sales efforts. This is the part of the process where you’ll be able to make extensive use of LMS features to automate your marketing messages and easily track your sales.
Let’s see how.
Marketing your evergreen online course
Marketing an evergreen online course doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. If you use an LMS, you can rely on the features this tool offers by default to promote your course and then track its sales. Here are a few ideas on how to promote evergreen courses.
Focus on social media marketing
Use social media to your advantage to make sure your evergreen course reaches your audience.
Email marketing is essential to a successful evergreen course launch, especially if you already have a list of leads or previous customers. However, social media marketing is also crucial these days.
While email marketing allows you to target people you’ve already qualified as leads, social media opens the door to a vaster audience. For instance, the average conversion rate for paid Facebook advertising is 9.21%, so you can try to find out how much is your industry’s usual conversion rate and whether it pays to invest in a Facebook campaign.
Instagram is another popular channel for customers across all industries. Statistically, 70% of people use Instagram to research their new purchases. Moreover, 50% of Instagram users check out the websites they see in stories and Instagram click-through rates are 2.5 times higher compared to other social media networks.
Create a sales email sequence
As previously highlighted, one of the most effective ways to sell online courses is email marketing. According to a McKinsey & Company study, email marketing is up to 40 times more effective than social media marketing. Creating an evergreen email sales funnel might sound overwhelming if you're an online creator with little marketing knowledge, but it shouldn't.
You know your courses better than anyone, so you know what key benefits they offer. After identifying your audience's pain points, focus on how your courses can solve those problems.
An email sequence doesn't have to be complicated. It is a series of emails that promote your product, warm up your audience, increase its interest, and convert some of your recipients into learners.
You can write an email funnel and launch it on the same day. It doesn't have to include many emails because you risk overwhelming your audience. Somewhere between two to five emails is the ideal email sequence length.
For example, you can write:
- A warm-up email in which you talk about the pain points your course will tackle;
- A second email in which you give the freebie and present your course's main benefits;
- A third email in which you present the limited offer (discount and deadline);
- A reminder email that enhances the sense of FOMO;
- A thank you email in which you show your gratitude to those who purchased the course.
Take advantage of the last email to remind people once again of the main benefits of your course and that they can access it at any time.
With an LMS, you can work on your campaign directly from the platform, write your emails, save and schedule them so that your contacts receive them at specific time intervals.
The best part is that you can keep the email funnel for later and use it whenever you gather more leads that can be converted into learners if you use a product such as MailChimp, which integrates with your LMS as well.
Automate and track your sales
After your email sequence is set up and starts generating revenue in conjunction with other marketing strategies (Facebook ads, Google ads, etc.), it's time to track your sales. This is another step where you will be using your LMS. These platforms have various built-in e-commerce tools that help you sell easily through your website and track your profits.
These tools allow you to integrate a variety of third-party providers you might want to work with to charge customers for your courses, such as
- Payment Pro
As learners browse through your catalog, they have to take three simple steps to purchase your evergreen online course: select the course, add it to their cart, go to checkout and pay.
To track your sales, you can enable instant payment notifications, so you’ll know each time a new learner purchased a course. You can also generate sales reports, view them directly on the platform, or download them. An orders and purchases summary page is also available in many LMSs. You just have to click on it to get an overview of how well your sales are going.
Moreover, an LMS also allows you to change your course prices, create discounts or bundle more courses in a single offer.
Read more: Guide: Selling online courses using INDIE
Rely on affiliate marketing
Feature-rich LMSs allow you to easily set up affiliate marketing programs for your evergreen online courses. Affiliate marketing is a great way to increase your sales by relying on the power of human connection. Your learners can promote your courses and make you gain new learners.
Affiliates can get commissions for each referral they bring you if that referral turns into a new learner. Normally, commissions represent a certain percentage of the course’s value. To track your affiliates, you will need to enable this feature from your LMS so that each person who wants to be your affiliate can get a custom link. By sharing that link with others, they will be able to bring you referrals, and you will easily see which referral came from each affiliate.
Creating and selling an evergreen online course
There are plenty of practical benefits to creating and selling an evergreen online course. First of all, this type of learning product sells year-round, bringing you a steady revenue stream. Secondly, it helps boost your reputation as a knowledge entrepreneur and grow your audience. To streamline the creation, marketing, and sales of an evergreen online course, you can rely on an LMS that offers many options for each stage of the process.