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Decoding Paid Traffic - When and How To Start

For online course creators. 7 minutes read

Businesses and course creators all face one big decision eventually - do we start with paid traffic now?


Paid traffic is simply running ads on a variety of online platforms. We have all seen the ads on our timeline, but your course can be that ad for potential students by using the right paid traffic approach.

Finding the right time to get started with paid traffic does depend on your specific situation. 

There is no easy answer to when you should start, but paid traffic is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic that exists for any business. You get access to a wide variety of audiences that are optimized over time to show your ads to people who can benefit from your course. 

Unlike some other marketing options, such as content marketing, paid traffic requires money to start with. You may not see a return on the first few tests either. Eventually, it does pick up to become a highly profitable sales channel! 

So to find out when you are ready to switch on your Business Manager to start generating traffic, looking at your budget, planning it out, and research can help you get started on the right path with paid traffic. 

Advertising Platforms - Decoded

There are a ton of platforms, but not all are that great for courses. 


We find the most success with Facebook, Instagram, and Google Ads. These three platforms will cover the needs for most courses, but some others to consider are LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest. There are definitely more, but these leading platforms benefit from support, large user bases, and optimized algorithms to help advertisers reach the right people. They power of these platforms is that they are fueled by data, letting the algorithm find the best fit for your ad after it optimizes. 


With your needs in mind, you can pick between platforms that fit your needs best. For example, maybe your audience favors Instagram significantly more than Facebook. Running ads where they are browsing is key to getting the right eyes on your offer. 


Let’s quickly go over the top four platforms we’ve noticed so you can get some ideas on what will work best for you.

Sponsored content on Instagram

Facebook and Instagram

Although they are two separate platforms, Facebook owns Instagram allowing you to run ads there from one platform, Facebook’s Business Manager. 


With Facebook and Instagram, you can access large audiences of varying ages. There is a representation of almost any demographic, making it perfect for online courses. You can find students for even very niche subjects, thanks to their powerful backend that navigates users until they find your potential students. 


You can find a lot of customization and options for running ads and testing. This makes for a versatile platform that covers a lot of needs. Video ads, story ads, timeline ads, and more are all possible from your business manager.

Google Search Ads are a great way to find interested traffic in your niche. This form of advertising triggers by specific keywords being searched on Google’s search engine. You can target particular niche interests and problems that your course solves, letting you reach interested traffic. 


You’ve almost definitely searched for a solution to a problem and noticed the ads at the top of the search results. These ads can be promoting your course on helping people overcome their specific issues. 


This form of traffic can be cheaper than Facebook since you Pay-Per-Click rather than Pay-Per-View. This traffic can still be costly, but you are getting charged only for people who click through to view your product. If there is a lot of competition, cost per click is naturally higher. If your course is niche, and not many competitors are using Google Ads, you can find cheaper costs and great conversions.


With the specific targeting power of Google Ads, this can be a great retargeting option or cold traffic approach for most courses. 

LinkedIn ads are great for finding professional audiences or B2B type course offers. There are quite a few ad placement options, and the platform tends to favor short, to the point ads that show the clear benefits of your course.


LinkedIn can be a great option if you target professionals looking to advance their careers to show them the opportunities waiting for them inside your course. 

Facebook and Instagram will cover most course creators’ needs. However, paid traffic does need some skills and knowledge to run profitably. We talk about the considerations for paid traffic above and the options available – here is where we will show you some tips on learning the skills needed for success with paid traffic.

Facebook Blueprint is the course they have put together to teach people about their platform. It may be a bit ironic, but at least we all recognize the value of going through a course to learn a new skill!

This will give you the foundation for technical skills, but marketing requires a bit of creativity to be effective. We’ve talked a bit about finding your audience and researching in the other articles we have – these same considerations apply to your paid traffic marketing. 

Look at your competitors, and see what is working or not working with the audience. Then, you can get some ideas and inspiration for your own campaign. The most crucial part of paid traffic is testing until you find what works for your product. There is almost always an audience that can benefit from the course. You just need to find the message that resonates with them.

Paid traffic does take a bit more time and technical skills than the other marketing efforts we’ve talked about. However, if you want to manage your own paid traffic, starting with the Facebook Blueprint and diving into effective marketing and why it works will help you find success. 


You can outsource the media buying, then share the work of creative ideas and the creation as well. This allows you to save some time and money learning the ropes of paid traffic while still being involved with your marketing at a personal level. 


With paid traffic, you need a budget, and knowing who likes to purchase your course can help eliminate some of the initial testing. Your budget varies on how much it costs to run ads in your niche and how many tests you want to run. Looking at your business’s financials to see if it can support paid traffic will help you understand what budget you have to work with. 


Paid traffic results in sales, so once you have optimized ads that bring in sales, the ads will start to pay for themselves. 


Ultimately, like any skill, it takes time and effort to develop. If you already have a lot to do with your course creation, like live calls, updates, content creation, and more – outsourcing may be the most effective way to utilize paid traffic. 

We have gone over your options with paid traffic and given you resources to learn further about Facebook Ads. With Facebook covering the needs of most courses, it is often one of the better platforms to start paid traffic marketing on. The others mentioned, like Google Ads, Linked In, Twitter, and more all have different audiences you can explore later and find users that can benefit from your course. 


If you want to start using paid traffic but are unsure you want to manage it yourself, you can book a free Growth Session with one of our experts to see what is possible for your course.

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