Lead generation is a hard nut to crack for every B2B business. In fact, according to HubSpot, 61% of marketers consider lead generation to be their most difficult challenge.
So, how are businesses dealing with this difficult situation?
It’s inbound marketing—a method to attract customers through targeted content and tailored experiences.
Inbound marketing has become the go-to marketing strategy for marketers to generate B2B leads.
And online courses are among the most effective and underrated inbound marketing techniques many companies are exploring today to attract enterprise customers.
These courses provide a curated learning experience around a specific problem, so the probability of qualified leads opting in to hear from you increases.
It also helps you convert leads/participants into paying customers by transforming your thought leadership into a B2B lead generation machine.
This article will discuss the importance of online courses and how you can use them to generate B2B leads.
We’ll also go over the steps to create a valuable course to help you in high-quality enterprise lead generation.
Why use online courses for lead generation?
Creating a valuable course and making it available online has gained popularity, particularly among B2B organizations over the years. Courses have become very popular on LinkedIn, allowing you to learn and represent new skills, which is why most LinkedIn marketing services recommend them.
Professionals can enhance their skill set or acquire a new skill to switch occupations.
Meanwhile, B2B marketers can simplify their complicated products and services into easy-to-understand courses.
Shopify, an eCommerce platform, has offered over 230 courses to over 750,000 students to simplify their platform for their customers.
This helped them achieve faster growth, better product adoption, and increased customer retention with a 491% increase in monthly learner base.
5 steps to use online courses for B2B lead generation
Businesses from all sectors are developing comprehensive online courses to sell them as digital products and also as part of a larger lead generation plan based on significant demand from prospective consumers.
Let’s deep-dive into the process of creating courses that sell and how you can utilize them to generate great B2B leads.
1. Choose the right topic
Choosing the right topic is the first and most important step of online course creation.
You have to choose the topic based on your expertise and customer persona—a semi-fictional representation of a large segment of your audience built through extensive research and data, which tells you what pushes your ideal customer to the purchase.
Understand your ideal customer, their issues, and what solutions they’re seeking—then use that knowledge to reverse engineer your course content and, essentially, the topic you pick.
Here are some popular enterprise course topics:
- B2B marketing
- B2B sales
- B2B lead generation
- B2B Content creation and social media
- Digital transformation
- Specific-tool based courses, like for Excel
- eCommerce for business
- B2B business development
Provide a solution through your course
A qualified consumer will test the limits of your product’s capabilities, drive innovation and reusability, and eventually value your service and become your brand advocate.
But for this, you need to solve a major problem they’re facing through your course.
Later, a SaaS company found that people struggled to use their software effectively.
They developed a course that educated customers on how to increase their social media following and the best ways to do it using the software.
The course was a huge success, resulting in a 320% boost in client retention!
2. Design an info-packed course that will sell
Once you have the topic and solution ready—it’s time to design the course.
There are already hundreds of other online courses providing the same things as yours, so how can you convince consumers to choose yours over the others?
The solution is simple: people are either paying you with their time or money, so make sure you’re providing equal or more value than what they’re paying.
Here are some quick steps you can follow to create a value-packed course:
Create a course outline
A course outline functions as a road plan for your online course, guiding students from point A to point B.
It will assist you in delivering knowledge to your leads in a systematic, orderly manner, building skill upon skill until they complete your course.
It’ll also give you an idea about where your course is headed and how you should design it, so it offers an excellent learning experience.
Here’s what a course outline looks like:
Design professional business presentation slides
Compelling, professional business presentations are essential to communicate important ideas, persuade people, and introduce new products to the world.
As a result, make sure you create visually-appealing yet interactive and professional slides that demonstrate your expertise and simplify business concepts.
You can also create infographics in your presentations to get your audience’s attention, establish your brand voice, and make your content easy to understand.
Create professional videos and resources
People tend to remember 65% of the visual content even after three days of viewing it, compared to only 10% of text content.
As a result, making professional videos is one of the most effective methods to educate your audience and make learning simpler, easier to digest, and more interactive.
Additionally, high-quality captions are also necessary to ensure that your content is accessible for everyone—so don’t compromise on this and make sure that each video has accurate and easy-to-follow subtitles.
HubSpot is an excellent case in point here.
Their course videos include high-quality videos with subtitles, cheat sheets, and quizzes at the end of each lesson to provide greater value to their audience.
Beautiful made explainer videos allow students to learn at their own pace, giving them optimal flexibility to incorporate their education into their schedules.
Choose the right platform
The online learning platform for your course is as important as the course itself because it’s responsible for end-to-end course delivery, audience interaction, and the overall learning experience.
So, choose a platform that provides you with the power and flexibility you need to fulfill your business objectives.
You can sell your course directly through your website, or you can collaborate with course-selling websites which will provide you with the tools you need to promote it.
Coursera is such a site that allows you to reach a larger audience.
Salesforce, a B2B CRM and cloud solutions company, use Coursera as their course hosting platform.
Even though Salesforce is a well-known company with a fully-functioning website, they chose Coursera because it enables the brand to reach a far wider audience and handles course delivery like a breeze.
Irrespective of the platform you choose, it should allow you to:
- Create your branded course content (with custom fonts, colors, and templates)
- Upload content in different formats, like text, videos, and infographics.
- Analyze your course’s statistics with sign-ups, revenue graphs, and unsubscribe count.
- Create a sales page for your course that explains who it’s for, what they’ll learn, and why it’s a good fit for them.
- Accept payments globally through a seamless system.
3. Promote the course to your audience
There are a million innovative approaches to build an audience and promote your online courses. However, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you have too many strategies to employ.
Start with these effective strategies for targeting a B2B audience with your course:
LinkedIn users are four times more likely than Facebook users to visit your B2B website.
And LinkedIn’s online visitor-to-lead conversion rate is a stunning 2.74%, more than three times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.
This enterprise-focused platform can help you build the ideal audience for your online course by allowing you to create content about your area of expertise, promote your course through it and drive leads.
Here’s how Tony Robbins, a life and business strategist, uses his LinkedIn account to promote his course on how to increase accountability.
You can also leverage LinkedIn automation tools to cold message individuals in your niche and develop a connection with them.
Leverage LinkedIn sales navigator
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a social selling platform with tools to help salespeople find prospects and form relationships.
It allows users to interact with LinkedIn’s 700 million professionals using various tools created by the company.
Here’s a common use case on how to use Sales Navigator to find prospects and build relationships:
- Make a search using specified keywords and filters
- Export leads and create a CSV file
- Find emails of the leads using tools like Hunter.
- Start a cold email campaign with an email outreach strategy:
Now that you have an email list of your leads, it’s crucial to reach out using the right prospecting tools, establish a relationship with them and win their confidence by providing relevant tips and advice.
When you offer them value and build a connection, they are more likely to buy your course when you eventually promote it to them.
Teachable, a platform that allows users to develop online courses, uses emails like these to establish a relationship with their prospects by providing them helpful resources.
According to a HubSpot survey, 53% of marketers believe email is the most effective channel for generating early-stage leads.
For marketing your online course, closing sales, and growing your business, email marketing is one of the most valuable and powerful assets you can have because:
- You can send emails to your audience’s device regularly.
- In comparison to other platforms, email is still extremely popular.
- You’re less likely to lose your audience due to a platform’s shutdown, suspension, or just diminishing popularity.
- Everyone on your email list has previously shown interest in your content or product.
- Email messaging is much simpler to automate.
- You can integrate email with social media and reach a much wider audience.
Offer a condensed version of your course as a lead magnet
A bare-bones version of your course in the form of a brief eBook or guide can be an excellent lead magnet for generating leads and getting more conversions for your course.
This free resource acts as an attraction for your paid course, captures the email addresses of potential customers so you can target them with emails that display your authority around the topic, and a problem-solving course.
Here are some examples of lead magnets you may use to market online courses:
As one of the most popular lead magnets, Ebooks not only offer high conversion rates, but they’re also simple to create by repurposing and building on existing course content.
You can offer a super condensed version of your course as a small 20-page eBook with a strong call-to-action at the end that drives conversions for your paid course.
Here’s a great eBook by Search Engine Journal, with an even more high-value sales page:
Before launching your courses, you can host webinars to provide a glimpse of what the course has to offer.
Webinars are game-changing marketing channels that enable you to substantially improve sales for your business, regardless of what sector or niche you serve.
In fact, more than half of marketers (53%) believe webinars are the most effective top-of-funnel form for generating high-quality leads.
With free webinars as his primary customer acquisition channel, John Michaloudis, a coach, and founder of myexcelonline.com, grew his revenue from $0 to over $20,000 per month in only six months.
Make a free mini-course out of particular parts or concepts from your main course and distribute it.
If your audience wants to learn more about the topic, you can invite them to purchase your paid course at the end of the mini-course with a compelling CTA.
You can also use popups to promote these mini-courses on your website or blog.
Thinkific is a platform that enables you to create, market, and sell online courses.
You can see how they used their mini-course to attract leads interested in creating courses.
Other types of lead magnets you can use include guides, reports, cheat sheets, PowerPoint templates, and so on.
5. Nurture the leads after they complete the course
By this stage of your lead generation funnel, you should have a decent amount of leads coming in from your online course.
However, nurturing these leads is more important since acquiring a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining an existing one.
Good customer relationship management tools (CRM) come in handy in this situation.
A good CRM serves as a database for your contact list and aids in converting leads into customers.
By employing a CRM to automate the lead nurturing process, you can ensure that each lead receives the appropriate (tailored) content at the proper time.
Add a link to your calendar and make scheduling a meeting with your sales rep as simple as possible for them.
Eliminate manual work and automate the sales process by pushing them an automated engagement sequence and sending automated follow up emails.
As a result, they will go smoothly through each level of your sales funnel, thus enabling you to convert them into a long-term happy customer.
From virtual coaches to classical business and businesses that sell digital products, everyone is trying to harness the power of online courses to generate B2B leads, nurture and convert them, and eventually enhance client retention.
As a result, the number of courses available is also rapidly expanding, providing people with many options.
So it’s critical to research what your competitors have to offer and develop a course that adds even more value to your audience.
However, by following the steps outlined in this article, you can design courses that sell and generate leads, propelling your company to new heights and more significant revenue numbers.
Bio: Eduard Klein is an International Digital Growth Marketer, Blogger (eduardklein.com), and Entrepreneur with a global mindset. He guides through the process of starting and growing a digital business, and riding the wave of digital technology and marketing without getting swept away.