November 5th, 2019 Sell Online Courses

When selling an online course, it is important to have relevant testimonials can make (or break) your sale.

Testimonials give an overview of the course aims and allow new users to identify with others like them, which is important when they’re debating which course plan to purchase.

A good testimonial can convince even the toughest sell. Why? As an online marketer, your customers can’t physically handle your product, thumb through the page of your course manuals, or seen more than just a sample of what you offer. Therefore, “social proof” in the form of reviews and testimonials has a larger impact, reinforcing the decision that your customers make to buy.

Customer testimonials are also important because they offer an authentic, unbiased review and analysis of your course. There’s a reason why sites like Yelp! and TripAdvisor are so popular. In fact, according to a recent survey, buyers read an average of 10 reviews of a product or service before they buy.

If you don’t have testimonials and reviews of your courses on your website then you’re missing out on a vital marketing tool. Buyers may not have a lot of trust in a business that doesn’t have any endorsements.

There are both proactive and passive ways of getting testimonials.

Getting customer testimonials allows you to tell your brand story and manage your online reputation. To secure more testimonials, make it easy and intuitive for course buyers to leave a review. This can be done by using a simple prompt after each lesson, or on course completion that directs the user to a review site. Alternatively, on your website you can create a separate tab that allows users to leave feedback. This may result in more reviews, but quality control on this may be more challenging. Be sure to set-up verification that the person leaving the feedback did indeed take the course.

You can set up your site to passively collect reviews then double-check them to make sure that they come from customers who purchased your course and completed it. It’s important for you to fact-check reviews before posting; if your site has untruthful ones, it can really hurt your reputation. However, waiting for people to review your product might be a slow process, and if you’re starting a new online course series you probably want positive testimonials sooner rather than later.

There are a few things that you can do proactively to solicit testimonials by users.

Sending a request when someone completes a course.

Once someone completes your course, you can send them a prompt to leave a review. Most people enjoy giving their opinion, especially if they feel that their thoughts are valuable. You may even gain insight into making your courses better. The easier that it is for people to give testimonials, the more likely they are to share their positive feedback.

Automated tools like Zapier, which connect many different web apps and can be programmed to perform automated tasks, can be used in conjunction with your online courses to send out an email survey or a review template for your attendees to complete. This will automate the process of collecting your testimonials.

Leveraging social media platforms.

Many of your users probably use Twitter. Take the time to scroll for mentions of your courses, and “like” and re-tweet the positive endorsements. This type of public platform has the benefit of being relatable and an easy way for you to personally interact with your customers. Develop a separate account for your brand and courses, and make sure to be active. You can wait for for course attendees to mention you, or you can scroll for mentions using tools like BackTweets, SnapBird, and TwimeMachine.

When you find good testimonial tweets, simply take a screenshot and publish it on your website. These show new users that real people have had a positive impact on your brand. This same process can be used for Facebook for any reviews left on your page (or perhaps in a Facebook Group).

Don’t want to mess with screenshots? Check out the WP Business Reviews plugin instead!

Finally, if you have a blog associated with your courses, you can also use comments that people leave on your blog posts. Real users sharing their opinions through their social media is key to building a trustworthy brand identity.

Offering a nominal incentive.

If you’re having a hard time collecting testimonials, or if the ones that you do receive don’t have enough substance to feature on your website, consider offering a small incentive for filling out a testimonial with more details. You can offer a discounted rate for another course you offer, or a small gift card, such as Starbucks or Amazon, in exchange for a testimonial. Just be sure that you disclose this on the review. For example, the popular review platform Capterra does this to encourage reviews. They just add a note that the review was the result of a small incentive.

Individually email the more active people in your course community.

If you don’t have an online community where users of your courses can gather and interact then you should start one. A Facebook group is a great place to start, and you can have an embedded link on your course materials for new users to join. These online communities can help users gain more insight by sharing their experience with your courses and help you develop future programs based on feedback within the community.

If you already have a vibrant online community affiliated with your online course then consider emailing individual users who participate often. Ask them to write or video a testimonial sharing their favorite parts of the course, or how the knowledge you’ve given them has worked in their life.

Which testimonials have the most impact?

Not all testimonials are created equal. Some may be full of enthusiasm for your online course, but may not have the impact on your conversion rates that you desire. Others may be a little too in-depth, or may not capture the tone you want from endorsements. Choosing the right feedback to post on your site and incorporate it into your marketing efforts is essential.

For example, consider this review:

“I loved this course! So much valuable information! I’m so glad I enrolled and I’ll be back to take more!”

It sounds like a happy customer, right? Yes, and it’s great to have such an enthusiastic user. However, there isn’t much “meat” to this testimonial. To capture more customers you’ll want a testimonial that has details and shows a positive effect after taking your course.

Compare it to this:

“I used the methods you told me to use, and for three days my phone’s been ringing! I sold over $3,500 in goods and services in three days! It’s the first time in five months that anyone had purchased anything.”

Can you see the difference? This demonstrates real, quantifiable results after taking your course. When you’re asking for reviews from users, make sure to ask them for specific benefits that they received from your course.

The power of video testimonials.

While it’s easy to write a testimonial online for a product you love, having real users who have successfully completed your online course submit small video clips can be even more powerful than the written word. Why? Authenticity. Many customers now, especially the powerful Millennial buying generation, look for brands that have transparency and authenticity. Building a reliable online presence can go a long way towards gaining repeat customers.

If you go the video testimonial route, try not to only share those that are one to three minutes in duration. Certainly no more than five minutes. The ideal length of the ideal testimonial will depend on your course complexity and price. If you receive a video testimonial that is a bit longer then consider having an editor splice out the good parts.

Having real users who have has a positive outcome from your online course gives video testimonials that add a layer of trust to your brand and what you’re offering. Being able to watch the enthusiasm of those that have taken one of your courses can help even the most stubborn sell click that “buy” button.

Ask and you shall receive.

Having authentic testimonials is critical to building your online brand. Taking the time to interact with your best customers can help you gather more insight int the user experience and successfully build your brand. But if you never ask for a testimonial then don’t expect to get them. You have to be proactive about gathering feedback. Also, know that sometimes you will receive a less-than-flattering review. That’s okay. In fact, it doesn’t come across very authentic if you have a perfect “5 out of 5” or “10 out of 10” review score. Take this as a learning opportunity to get better.

Justin Ferriman photo

About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter

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