Instructor Inception: One of the best ways to acquire new users is by utilizing educational platforms. They have a powerful set of tools that are all to often ignored or overlooked. We’ll show you the easiest way to pull off this strategy.
As more and more online platforms for education become available it creates a perfect opportunity to grow your own user base. This opportunity exists because if you add content to these platforms then they attract students through their marketplaces, and then you have the capability to email all your students with offers to your startup. If you start to view these educational platforms as all-in-one acquisition services, content hosts, landing pages generators, and email solutions, then you’ll begin to see why they are so useful in acquiring new users.
The first thing you need is to find a platform that makes sense for the kind of content you are able to create. If you are able to create video based content then you might consider Udemy (http://www.udemy.com), but if it is easier for you to create written content then you might look at Accelio (http://www.accel.io). These are two examples, but there are hundreds of platforms that are designed to educate through various mediums. Find the ones that fit your skill set.
Tip: I am also a big fan of Gumroad (http://www.gumroad.com). They will allow you to upload mp3s, ebooks, pdfs, or really anything that you can put in a zip file. Like the other platforms, they handle the hosting of your content, saving the email addresses of those that download it, and they also let you email the people afterwards. The big difference is that Gumroad doesn’t have a marketplace which will acquire new students for you, so the very top of the funnel is more up to you.
Once you’ve created your educational content you must give it away from free. You might be tempted to sell it, especially if it took time and money to create, but resist the urge. The goal is to generate leads, not generate money (yet). Charging even a single dollar will drastically decrease the amount of email addresses you’ll receive. We are optimizing for future contact opportunities, not short-term gain.
Now that you’ve chosen a platform that fits your abilities, and you’ve created content on it for free, then it’s time to start managing your list. Some of the platforms give you direct access to the email addresses, but others force you to message students using their in-house messaging system. Either is fine because the message will ultimately get to the students inbox both ways.
The email you send your students should thank them for taking your course (or reading your guide, or whatever), and then it should give them a time-sensitive deal to your product (your actual startup). Maybe give them one month free of your service if they use a certain promo code by midnight. Maybe give them 10% off if they sign up in the next 24 hours. You get the picture.
Now you’re thinking like a growth hacker. Other people view educational platforms as an outlet for instructors, but you see them as a channel for new users. They get you students, host your content, capture email addresses, deliver your deals to students, and they do it all for free. I’ve used this recipe a number of times, but the last time we used it on Udemy we received over 2,500 students (screenshot below). This works. (Photo courtesy of Alex Spencer)
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