Udemy Educational Announcements for Fun and Profit
I’ll state right up front that this is a sensitive topic, and I hesitate even writing about it. I don’t want to encourage instructors to go overboard trying to pitch students or get their information.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared to accept them if they wish to give it to you voluntarily.
The main purpose of a course on Udemy or Skillshare should be to give a student good educational value for their money. They pay you, and in return, you teach them a skill. Over the years, of course, people have tried to change this simple equation and really aggressively try to extract money from the student. In general, I think we should try to give more value over time, and not just sell, sell, sell all the time.
Gary Vaynerchuk called this Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
But if you read the rules at Udemy, and the responses from the policy team, and the other official ways that Udemy communicates in the various groups, there are at least two acceptable ways to introduce the student to your other off-Udemy offerings.
I’ve talked about the bonus lecture before. In general, instructors make poor use of the bonus lecture. I did a sampling of around 30 courses and only a few were using it to sell other courses or to get people to their blog or social media accounts. Most instructors don’t even have bonus lectures. So if that’s you, go do that today.
But what is the other way? Can you use the educational announcement system to gently introduce people to your brand?
Well, certainly you can.
The official rule for educational announcements, as far as sending students a link, is that it must provide relevant, free material that does not require the students to purchase anything or hand over their personal information. You must not try to directly sell people anything, use affiliate links inside the post, nor request an email address as a condition downloading something nor overload them with promotion with popups, welcome mats, and pinned posts. In short, educational announcements need to contain links to free educational resources.
What some instructors do, however, is they write a blog post that is educational and relevant to the course. Or sometimes they use a Youtube video. Or a link to a Facebook group post, or a Linkedin Post. You may sometimes see me doing that.
When instructors do that, people discover a few things about them.
- The instructor has a website and social media presence. While some people might just read the blog post and leave, others might click a link to read more about another topic. Some students will bookmark it or pop it into their favorite RSS reader. Some will follow the instructor on Twitter or subscribe Youtube. In general, the act of creating a piece of educational content outside of Udemy will increase the awareness of your students to your presence outside of Udemy.
- The instructor has other courses. Some instructors will see an uptick in sales of courses that use the coupon from their website. Now most instructors send promotional emails as well, so it’s not that students never have an opportunity to buy from them. But the combination of free educational content, followed by the student exploring their website, does lead to a sale from time to time.
- The instructor has an email list. If you provide people a box, somewhere out of the way, where they can enter their email to learn more from you, sometimes they do.
Those things are beneficial to instructors, obviously. But again, the post itself needs to be educational and make no attempt to sell or drive signups.
But beyond the obvious, instructors benefit in a couple of other ways.
- Facebook Audience Insights. When the Facebook pixel is installed on that page, we can look at the data Facebook gives to learn more about the type of student interested in this topic. We can use that data to determine how to advertise or communicate. Their gender, marital status, educational level, job titles, other pages they like on Facebook.
- Lookalike Audiences. Building up our main “website visitors” custom audience allows us to create a more relevant “lookalike audience”. Our ads to the lookalike audience should reach more people similar to the students that are in our courses.
- A Positive Student Interaction. And beyond all that, beyond the pixels and the data… you wrote a blog post and a bunch of people read it. Any time that you can have a positive interaction with a student, without it being promotional, is a win. It reinforces our positioning as an expert in your field.
Now you might be wondering, enough with the blah-blah-blah Scott… does this work?
I wrote a blog post yesterday and sent it to the 20,000 people in my software architecture and technical courses using an educational announcement.
- Within 20 hours, around 1,300 people visited the site to read that post. (6.5% CTR in only one day)
- 600 of those went on to visit another page of my site for 1,900 page views since yesterday.
- Fun fact, the first visitor from Udemy arrived within 50 seconds of me hitting the “submit” button for the announcement, so the announcement went out immediately.
- People were added to my list and bought courses from me, even though there is no pitching of either in the blog post content. They must have just clicked around my site and found those naturally.
- Several hundred more people were added to my Facebook custom audience, and Google Analytics.
Again, I am trying to be careful not to say this is a roadmap to get students out of Udemy and on to your list. But it’s an allowable way to provide additional free value to students and have the possibility to benefit as well. Just don’t go crazy with it. And don’t blame me if you get warned for being too aggressive with it.