How to Sell More Online Courses with YouTube Ads

For online course creators. 7 minutes read

If you want to advertise your online course in a way that’s cost-effective, easy to measure, highly targeted, and connects you with your audience through the power of video, then look no further than YouTube Ads.

While YouTube advertising may not be suitable for every type of online course, if it does work for you, then you may have stumbled across the perfect way to advertise your online course to a pool of millions of potential students. If you want to sell more online courses with YouTube ads, this article will show you how to do just that. But first, let’s find out why it’s so effective.


Why Youtube ads works for online course creators

While many people use YouTube as a place for wasting time and watching cat videos, a study from the Pew Research center has found that 51% of YouTube users say that they primarily view YouTube as a place to learn new facts, or skills . In other words, half of all users view YouTube as an educational platform.

For an online course creator, this fact can’t be ignored! If 50% of YouTube users are on the platform to learn, they are already primed to look for knowledgable people just like you. In other words, YouTube users who use the platform to learn are receptive to advertising that supports their goals.

But before you start running ads, it’s important to check to see if YouTube is right for you.


Is YouTube right for your online course?

Before going any further, there are two questions you need to consider to decide if YouTube is the right platform for your online course.


Does your audience use YouTube?

Depending on your niche, you may have a mass of YouTube watchers, or very few.

For instance, if you’re in the cooking niche, then YouTube will be a goldmine of potential students. The data is very clear that YouTube is the go-to platform for cooking-related content. On the other hand, if your course is specifically for professional development within corporate settings, YouTube is probably not your best option. In this case, advertising with LinkedIn is a much better option.

Do your research on your audience, and where they go to get their information. If your audience doesn’t hang out on YouTube, it’s best to find another platform.


Can you show and not tell?

If you use the right type of ad, you’ll only pay for ads if viewers watch for a certain amount of time. If you can hook your target audience within this time span and have your unintended audience click ‘SKIP’, you don’t have to pay! Course creators who can display the value of their course quickly and visually are extremely well placed to run highly profitable ad campaigns.

If you can say yes to both of these questions, it’s time to start crafting your campaign.

Here are our 6 steps to crafting an awesome campaign.


1. Create a customer avatar 

Before doing anything else, you’ll need to find out exactly who you’re speaking to. This will inform everything from here onwards. From deciding what type of ad you’ll launch, to creating a campaign, to crafting the ad itself. One of the best methods for defining your target audience is to build a customer avatar. A customer avatar is your ideal client, think of it as a model of a person that you’re speaking to. Crafting an ad campaign is hard, and there are many difficult decisions to make. But by building a customer avatar, you can effectively simplify a lot of these decisions.


Here are the 5 steps to building a customer avatar:


1. Identify their goals, aspirations and values

Here, you want to consider what your ideal customer is trying to achieve and what is truly important to them. What do they want out of life? What can your course offer them?


2. Identify their preferred information sources

As mentioned previously, ideally YouTube will be at least one of these sources of information. But beyond that, you should also consider what sources of information they find credible. Are they moved by statistics? Inspirational quotes? What kinds of information your customer finds valuable will all be essential for forming your avatar, as it will go on to inform how you craft your ad campaign.


3. What is their demographic?

While your course may be widely appealing, it can also pay to really drill down into who your ideal client is.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Who is the most likely type of person to buy your course?
  • What is their gender?
  • Where do they live?
  • How old are they?
  • What is their occupation?

4. Identify their pain points

What is your avatar trying to solve with your course? What are they hoping to fix by buying it? Your ad should identify these pain points and demonstrate that your course is the solution to them, so understanding what your audience’s pain points are is a crucial step in this process.

5. What would stop them from buying your course?

As a final step, consider what would make your avatar object to buying your course. Is it the cost? Are they skeptical that the course will solve their problems? Identifying possible objections will help you craft an ad that will counter them, and ultimately win over skeptical customers.


2. Start a YouTube Channel

If you’re interested in building an audience on YouTube, as well as increasing options for your ad campaigns on YouTube, then starting a channel is a great way to get your message out to your target audience.

Of course, building an audience on YouTube is a long process so you should take time out to seriously consider if it is worth your time. Regularly uploading content on your channel can be useful for course creators, but only if you have the time and resources to commit to it. If not, simply create the YouTube channel for now. You’ll need it to run your ad campaigns in step 5.


3. Choose the type of YouTube Ad

Now that you’ve built a customer avatar, and decided whether or not you want a YouTube channel, next you’ll want to determine what kind of ad you’d like to run. YouTube ads are run through Google Ads, so you’ll need to set up a Google Ads account before you do anything else.

There are several different types of YouTube Ads that you can run, and pros and cons for each. If you want to learn more about how to choose the right ad type for you, check out this guide here.

IMPORTANT: Before creating an ad, it’s important that you decide which type of ad you want to run. This way, you can engineer the ad to suit the ad type, and achieve the best results.


4. Create a winning YouTube ad

Now that you’ve chosen your ad type, you will need to craft a YouTube ad based on best practices for that ad type. Many marketers make the mistake of filming and editing an ad first with no particular ad type in mind. Depending on your ad type, there are different techniques you need to employ to make sure the success of your ad. If you need tips for each specific ad type, check out this guide here. That being said, in most cases, you only have 5 seconds to convince viewers to not skip your ad.

Needless to say, what you do in those 5 seconds counts!

To make sure you clearly state your courses value and grab the right viewer’s attention, you should:

  • Incorporate faces
  • Lead with emotion and story
  • Target pain points – if you can capture your audience’s attention early, you will be able to offer them the solution later in the video
  • Show what your course can do, visually

5. Create a campaign

Now that you’ve decided who your target audience is, created a YouTube channel, learned about the different types of YouTube ads and created an ad for your specific goals, it’s time to get your ad out into the world!

You’ll need to:

  1. Create a Google Ads account
  2. Link your YouTube Channel to your Google Ads account
  3. Upload your ad
  4. Create your campaign
  5. Set your budget, inventory, network and conversions
  6. Based on your customer avatar, select your target audience
  7. Set your bidding amount
  8. Choose your ad type

Here is a great guide that will take you through the complete process of building a campaign in Google Ads.

6. Monitor and analyze your campaign’s performance

Now that your ad is up and running, you’ll want to keep a close eye on how it’s performing. If it’s your first time running an ad for your online course, it’s best to treat this ad as a pilot run. It’s rare that your first ad will get the best possible results, and so monitoring your conversions, ad spend and other key metrics will give you the valuable feedback you need to optimize your campaign. Note: It is VERY easy for an inexperienced marketer to spend 4-5x more than necessary in their Google Ad campaigns, and so during this step hiring a team of experts can drive down your cost-per-conversion considerably, as well as maximize your ad spend.

Final Thoughts

Congratulations! Your YouTube ad is up, running, and spreading the word about your awesome online course. Well done! But if you’re still scratching your head and wondering if you have enough time, energy, and resources to pull off a successful campaign. We get it. To create, market, and administrate a blockbuster online course you need experts to fill each of these roles. Hiring a team of online course marketing experts not only frees you up to do what you do best, but can also generate outsized ROI and smash your sales targets. Want to find out how?

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