The marketing of courses is a joint effort between FutureLearn and partners in that FutureLearn is the expert on and invests in marketing the marketplace and partners are the expert on and invests in marketing their individual course(s).
This article aims to provide partners with ideas and guidelines on how to market courses as well as the other articles in the Marketing & PR section.
We recommend every partner builds their own marketing plans with a particular focus on the target audience. The more well defined the audience, the easier they are to identify, target, reach and communicate with – ultimately leading to higher enrolment and completion rates.
Once an audience has been defined you can share your marketing plans with FutureLearn as well as taking some steps to review your course to find the bits that will help you target your audience. We particularly want to hear about marketing plans that include Paid Media campaigns so that we can maximise spend on both sides.
1) Keyword research - You can use tools like Google keyword planner to see what learners are searching for in relation to your course topic or area. This should help you understand what learners are looking for in courses and how to pitch the course.
2) Linkbuilding - If your educators have an existing online network that they work with or blogs/websites that they contribute to, please speak to your Partnership Manager about making the most of this existing network to boost the SEO of your course.
2) Social media content - Think about the types of content that will work on social media to promote your courses. Think about what you can create from your existing assets or try and plan/build in different content formats when creating your courses. E.g., when planning a video, think about the different versions/edits that you can create so that you have a balanced portfolio of long and short form video – some for the course and some for promotion.
Consistent posting from the partner institution will ensure higher enrollments. The British Council as an example, has previously posted every day for 2 weeks prior to a course starting, and at least once a week after.
3) Consider learner stories - Try to gather learner testimonials from previous runs, conversations in the course or perhaps learners that have contacted you after the course has finished. These can then be shared in your marketing or on the course description page. NB this must be GDPR compliant. See full details on how to gather learner testimonials.
4) Outreach - Reach out to potential promotional partners that have communities interested in your topic. This could include partners or businesses that you already have relationships with or sites that have a relevant audience. Or pass the details onto us and we can contact them on your behalf if we have resource available.
5) Guest-posting - Creating educator guest posts on our blog can help create more internal links back to your course and provides more opportunities for promotion on social media and on our blog. If you have the resources internally for interesting and topical guest posts, please speak to your Partnership Manager.
6) Competitions - The partner institution could offer 1 free upgrade for their course and allow us to host a competition for them in our social media channels to increase visibility of the course.
7) PR - We encourage partners to promote their courses by writing and sending a press release to the media. If a partner decides to send a press release about a course, please send the press release to our Comms team (firstname.lastname@example.org) a few days in advance so we can approve it.
Following on from the above steps, one of the most relevant and significant ways of marketing courses is to make good use of your own networks to communicate with potential learners and encourage them to share your courses with colleagues, family and friends.
Here are a few ideas of what activities and what channels you can use:
On your website
- Promote courses on your homepage using a banner or link
- Create an online learning page to collect links to your courses (but remember always link directly to a FutureLearn course page when promoting via other marketing channels – this ensures someone doesn’t have to jump lots of hurdles to get to the course).
- Announce courses in emails to prospective students
- Highlight courses in an alumni email (if applicable)
- Announce courses in a staff email (or on a staff intranet)
- Highlight courses in target newsletters to target audiences
Using social media
- Promote courses on social channels using interesting content with a link to the specific course (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, YouTube)
- Follow FutureLearn across all our channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube) and make sure to tag us in any posts
- Paid social – once you have a desired target audience
- Outreach: Take advantage of Linkedin and Facebook Groups to promote the course
- Use blogging tools from current social channels (such as Linkedin, Facebook and Medium) or use your own news / blog to announce courses and highlight benefits
Using outreach and link-building
- Identify a list of relevant websites, bloggers, influencers to contact about the courses. This is best done using academics who have good links to relevant areas.
- Take advantage of current relationships with your networks and ask for support in promoting courses
- Take advantage of upcoming internal and external events and speaking opportunities to mention and promote courses, this might include job fairs, open days or conferences
- Reach out to local media about how and why you’re launching your first courses on FutureLearn
- Consider highlighting courses in an organisational magazine
- Promote courses in physical spaces
- If possible use learner testimonials to help publicise and promote your course.
Tagging and tracking
When linking to your course in your marketing, please use the tracking links provided within the 'Marketing' tab of every course run. Tracking links show you how people are finding and joining your courses, which will help you understand the best ways to market them in the future.
The tracking link builder generates tracking links that you can use for different social, blog, email and PR campaigns.
Using the tool
To use the tool, you just simply copy the link that is appropriate for your activity. The link can then either be added to an image or text depending on what your activity is.
Where to find the data
This data will then appear in the ‘Campaigns’ dataset, which is updated every 24 hours. You can find this by clicking on the ‘Stats dashboard’ And then downloading the ‘Campaigns’ dataset, which is updated every 24 hours.
On top of saving time creating these tracking links, the tool also allows us to avoid human error, as tracking links are case sensitive, and ensure the data is cleaner and easier to understand when reporting.
When you check your ‘Campaigns’ dataset, you should see that using the tool helps to avoid repetitions and lots of split data.