How would you like to see your online course revenues increase year over year, while also impacting thousands (and even millions) of people around the world?
It’s all possible when you learn how to market an online course the right way. Using smart publicity strategies will allow you to extend the reach of your online course. Selena Soo shares how she uses public relations to market her training material and grow her online business.
In this case study, I’m interviewing Selena Soo, founder of S2 Groupe, and asking her to share what she’s learned about building credibility and selling online courses that enabled her to build a million-dollar business and be the go-to expert in her field. And even better, Selena's training has helped thousands of her students do the same!
Now let’s take a look at how to promote your online course with good old fashion publicity.
Table of Contents
- How Publicity Helped Selena Sell More Training Courses, Products, and Services
- The Software Tools That Power Selena’s Million-Dollar Course Business
- A Few Specifics That Swayed Selena’s Decision to Go With AccessAlly's Course Software
- Behind The Scenes of Selena's Online Courses, Affiliate Dashboards, and Membership
- Making The Transition to AccessAlly from Another Membership Plugin
- Advice for Landing Interviews, Getting Press, and Becoming a Household Name
- Examples of Students Who Used Their PR Knowledge to Drive Success
How Publicity Helped Selena Sell More Training Courses, Products, and Services
First, if you’re not familiar with Selena Soo, she is a publicity and marketing strategist and she has been endorsed by people like Marie Forleo, Danielle LaPorte, Derek Halpern, and Lewis Howes.
Her clients have landed six-figure book deals, full-page magazine spreads, and numerous TV appearances.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Selena personally since 2012, and she continues to deliver amazing results for her clients and training course participants.
Now you might be wondering how getting publicity leads to more online course sales?
Here are just a few of the ways publicity helps you better market your online course:
- A perfectly aligned mention, guest post, or interview can lead to thousands of new email subscribers.
- Strong PR allows you to go from being the “best-kept secret” in your field to being a household name.
- The media wants to showcase experts in different industries, so they are always looking for high-quality experts to showcase.
- Online learning is a hot topic, so publications are hungry for stories related to this activity.
- Having press mentions and media logos on your website gives you instant credibility, so potential customers feel more trusting and are more likely to buy.
- Good publicity leads to more PR activities like speaking gigs, book deals, interviews. And every one can lead back to your online course, which can turn into a sale and revenue.
Selena Soo’s business is a great case study. She has consistently grown her online course offering and helped more students year after year. All of this revenue growth has been through a combination of strategic publicity and relationship building.
In 2017, when Selena launched the Impacting Millions® course and it brought in over $900,000 in sales.
When Selena reached out to me to become an affiliate of her Impacting Millions® program, it was an easy yes. I’ve seen the success she’s personally had and I've also witnessed this success trickle down to her students and their marketing efforts.
But I thought it would make sense to take a look behind the scenes, at what tools Selena uses to run her online courses, and affiliate program.
I’m a proud affiliate of Selena’s Impacting Millions® program, and I may earn a commission if you sign up through my link (at no additional cost to you).
But first, a look behind the scenes at the membership site that houses this powerhouse course.
The Software Tools That Power Selena’s Million-Dollar Course Business
Creating and selling online courses from your own website requires a few different tools in your tech stack.
If you’re curious what tools Selena chose as the foundation for her multiple online courses, here’s what she had to say:
“Our online courses are the bread and butter of our business, so we needed a great platform to host our programs.
After much research, we decided AccessAlly was the best tool for us. We've been using it to power our courses since mid-2016.
AccessAlly was a huge leap forward in automation and course-management, which was important to us because we were scaling bigger with each launch.” - Selena Soo
There are over 2,000 happy paying customers logging into Selena's member dashboard, and 17% of her customers have purchased more than one course. The cross-selling dashboard built into AccessAlly's feature set is great at building anticipation for when the next course will be available.
A Few Specifics That Swayed Selena’s Decision to Go With AccessAlly's Course Software
In her own words, here’s what made Selena Soo switch from her previous course platform to AccessAlly's LMS plugin:
- Prior to AccessAlly, we had to manually drip out modules, so we loved how AccessAlly’s integration with Infusionsoft would allow us to automate everything from sending logins to dripping out the modules.
- AccessAlly has frequent software updates that other platforms did not
- When we sent in questions, they were actually answered by the developer himself – what other software does that?
- Our provider for our initial setup, Jamie DuBose, was certified on both AccessAlly and Infusionsoft, so we had high confidence that her membership site setup was going to be state-of-the-art and work smoothly. The fact that you can find a list of certified professionals on AccessAlly’s site is a huge plus.
There was once a time we asked for a specific feature (involving affiliate management and leaderboards) and they published it in the next release of the software.
And in the middle of one of our biggest launches of the year, AccessAlly fixed a bug and pushed a private release out to us within 24 hours so our launch wasn’t affected. That’s amazing customer service!
Behind The Scenes of Selena's Online Courses, Affiliate Dashboards, and Membership
I always love to take a peek behind the scenes of other people’s businesses, and of course when it comes to creating online courses in WordPress - I’m extra curious.
Selena was kind enough to share some screenshots of her membership site, where she houses all of her online courses, as well as an affiliate dashboard area.
As you can see, Selena hosts several courses in one main member dashboard area.
This gives her students a glimpse of what else is available and helps cross-sell her courses.
The way she runs her courses usually involves a live interactive component, like group coaching calls, that she then uploads the recordings inside of her membership site.
Each person who has access will be able to see the parts of the membership site that they have permissions for, and Infusionsoft’s integrated tagging functionality handles all of the marketing automation pieces.
According to Selena, the feedback she gets the most from switching to AccessAlly is that students love the user-friendly and professional design that makes it clear and easy to move through the modules and navigate the programs.
Selena uses her relationship-building skills beyond just getting press - she also uses it to invite the right affiliates into her course promotions.
With AccessAlly, she's able to have one place where both students and affiliates can log in and access everything they need: courses, affiliate links, and stats.
This helps market her online courses, and even cross-sell her courses, too.
Making The Transition to AccessAlly from Another Membership Plugin
Selena's site is a prime example of how AccessAlly isn't just for recurring subscriptions, but incredibly powerful for online courses.
We asked Jamie DuBose, the AccessAlly® Certified Partner who worked on the site set up, what the migration was like for this project.
What was your favorite part of working on this project and membership site?
Before we moved Selena over to AccessAlly, her membership site was scotch-taped together and running on a platform that couldn’t bring flexibility and ease for adding new courses.
The old platform also involved a lot of custom code which isn’t ideal when the team needs to make quick updates that shouldn’t require the use of a developer or third party to implement.
I really enjoyed helping Selena create a new membership site on AccessAlly because we were able to streamline the experience for both her internal team, as well as create a more cohesive customer-facing experience now that all of Selena’s courses are housed in one central place.
Was there anything that stood out on this project where AccessAlly made things easier to implement?
AccessAlly is my top choice for membership site platforms for several reasons, but the Course Creation Wizard makes it so much more efficient (even for expert Certified Partners like myself!).
It helps us set up the project pieces that involve pagination and permission assignments, especially when there are multiple courses that need to be housed in the membership site.
This feature is always great for me because it allows me to focus on more robust customized campaigns, and that not only helped us meet our new site launch deadlines but also helped us stay strategic.
Another awesome AccessAlly feature that we implemented during this project was building out a customized Affiliate Center.
As anyone who has seen the inside of Infusionsoft’s native affiliate center can agree, there's a lot to be desired when it comes to personalized branding and ease of use in the Infusionsoft affiliate center. These were two things that were very important to Selena.
Using AccessAlly as our Affiliate Management Center platform allowed us to create a beautiful, customized experience that fits seamlessly within her membership site and gave her affiliates and partners the experience she wanted them to have while marketing her online courses and programs.
Advice for Landing Interviews, Getting Press, and Becoming a Household Name
Now that we've taken a look at Selena's course members' area, let's get back to how you can apply some of what she's learned in her decade of experience doing publicity - to help you fill your own courses.
For Selena, the most rewarding part of running the Impacting Millions® course is the incredible results that her students get.
“Our students are doing such meaningful work, like Marian, a sexual abuse survivor who now helps women overcome past traumas and reinvent their lives. Or Jeremy, who teaches mindfulness and meditation, and how to use it in response to acts of violence and terrorism.”
Examples of Students Who Used Their PR Knowledge to Drive Success
One thing I've noticed over the years is that people who are drawn to building online teaching businesses tend to love the internet and maybe a little introverted!
That can make it hard to do some of the marketing activities necessary to expand your reach, build your email list, and sell more online courses.
But the good news is that with landing the right publicity - you don't need to be an extrovert. In fact, Selena Soo is an introvert (and so is yours truly) and we've both still managed to sell millions of dollars worth of courses online, and build strong brands using publicity.
The biggest trait you need is the willingness to take action.
Here's an example of two Impacting Millions students who responded to a media opportunity, and got featured in O Magazine.
Here is why getting this kind of press is priceless:
- Publicity validates your prices.
- It creates instant credibility.
- When people hear you in an interview, they feel deeply connected to you. This makes you their first and only choice.
- It brings more of the right leads in and helps future customers qualify themselves for you.
- People who listen or read to an in-depth interview with you and a host they already trust are more likely to become buyers.
- It pushes people who've been "thinking” about working with you over the edge. I've had people email me after listening to a podcast interview say, "I've followed you for a while, but this felt like a sign that I'm meant to work with you now!"
- It boosts sales during course launches because publicity gives you an opportunity to share more of your story, experiences, and results which gets people to buy!
And the other great thing about publicity?
It has a snowball effect and this snowball becomes a natural, ongoing source of online course marketing.
Once you land your first few media hits, it creates momentum, so it becomes easier for you to land even more amazing opportunities and exponentially grow your business.