In your quest to become the ultimate expert in your niche, operating online courses and building quality content is all about being there for your audience and their needs.

But, to do that, you’ll need to nail down the intricacies of who your audience needs, what their interests are and where they already live.

As it turns out, creating strategic and high-converting content can end up impacting your entire brand and business. Used wisely, online courses can actually be a way, in other words, to grow your brand’s revenue. But the key is to create content that connects.

An effective growth strategy is composed of:

  • High-quality, genuine content
  • Consistently engaging your audience members
  • Strategies for “getting found” or being discovered by your audiences

So how do you use your online course audiences to build content they can relate to?

Who is your audience?

Online courses are a chance to understand how you can help your audience and who it is that your course truly serves. When done correctly, progress and feedback from courses can be an important way to gain feedback on whether or not your brand is actually successful in serving it’s audiences and using the content types and questions from eLearners to understand where they’re having problems.

From here, all content you create can and should refer back to these ‘problems’ or ‘pain points’.

Developing courses as a way to further embellish your brand and build an audience is one of the smartest ways of marketing with content and serving your audience with more.

But first, let’s take a look at who your audience is and how to harness course insights strategically, in order to serve them.

Creating an audience avatar

Naturally, your course has a theme or an idea that it plans to fulfil by teaching about it.

There are two parts to creating an audience avatar: One occurs during the course-building phase, and the other is based on feedback received from course participants. Naturally, the feedback helps you refine and reinforce certain initial assumptions you made about your audiences while refuting others.

This means that creating an audience avatar is not a one-time exercise. Furthermore, as students progress through your courses, and you receive their feedback, you may analyse their responses and find that you have more than one ‘type’ of audience avatar and that pockets of students are taking your courses for different reasons.

These are all benefits that your course delivers and multiple audience avatars can help you create various forms of content, align your email marketing messages to multiple ‘segments’ of audiences and tailor your ads to numerous users, right at the beginning of a campaign (rather than having to spend money on ads and then wait for the responses to come in).

Your client avatar or audience avatar (the individual or individuals you hope to serve) should include the following information:

  • Demographic details (name, age, location, occupation)
  • Buying or purchasing habits (what brands they already use and purchase from)
  • The kinds of words and language/messaging they resonate with
  • Where (online and offline) they spend their time
  • What ‘pain points’ they have and what they’re hoping to change
  • What they have the potential to achieve and accomplish if/when they take your course

As you can see, the information that goes into building this audience avatar can generate unlimited leads on the kinds of content to create and the types of content you’ll want to use to build a relationship of trust and value with your audiences.

When you’re first marketing your course, you’ll be creating content that caters to these various audiences or client avatars.

From those who actually purchase and attend the course, you can gain a deeper insight into what worked, what didn’t and which content types truly helped them in the above pain points, pitching your course as a solution.

Who does your course truly serve?

Because content is meant to serve audiences (and, in turn, your business can gain by creating this high-value content), you’ll want to understand what your course actually offers.

Do you:

  • Help people lose weight?
  • Help them become better parents?
  • Help them grow their social media?
  • Give them the accountability they need to form better and more productive habits?
  • Teach them about a complex platform?

Essentially, you want to narrow down what kind of transformation your business and course actually provides and promises. It’s based on this premise that all your resulting content can flow from. You’re both answering a need and listening to what your audiences need more of.

But you’ve got to begin somewhere.

Scheduling discovery calls

There are plenty of ways to gain feedback and to, essentially, get some validation as to whether your client avatar and course outcome ‘hypotheses’ are correct.

But let’s focus on the most effective: Scheduling discovery calls. Many course developers or brands that run courses as an audience-building strategy are not too keen on doing this. It feels too upfront and perhaps too pushy.

But a discovery call can be positioned as a benefit to a course learner, a chance to check in, ask questions and be guided, one-on-one. Then, based on the information and feedback you gain during these calls, you’ve got an invaluable resource for what kinds of content to create that will help you serve even more!

While scouring Amazon reviews or other book review forums are a useful hack to getting a sense of people’s language, nothing gives you as much insight into their problems as getting some one-on-one face time (or, rather, phone time).

Using digital publishing tools to gain insights

Once you have some of these topics, use the tools to further structure your content. Remember, the information you received in your discovery calls are useful ‘leads’.

But now, you want to back them up with even more information and digital publishing tools can help you generate ideas as well as connect to what’s already working out there and put your own spin on it. In other words, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

  • NewsWhipThis is a tool that allows users to find content that is working and then predict and analyse engagement rates. NewsWhip also offers suggestions for further content and analytics that give the user information on other publishers, writers and influencers within a topic, across web and mobile platforms.
  • Digivizer: This tool allows its users to track multiple ‘KPI’s about their pre-existing content performance. The software is designed to analyse and deliver insights and recommendations for which actions to take on particular platforms.

Remember that all content needs to do two things: tell a story and provide the promise for a transformation of some sort. This is especially important when tying audience building with online course creation.

‘Before and after’ storytelling in video form, through blog posts or even via case studies present a powerful pull to the course learner, who understands that they’re being promised very concrete results, should they decide to take the course.

That’s why it’s so important to do the ground and answer the above questions, undertaking the process to discover more about your audience before actually moving forward and creating content that resonates.

Dr Brendan Moloney
CEO Darlo Group