eCourse Marketing Strategy: Are Sales From Referral, Search or Social?

by | eCourse Growth Strategies, EdTeach: Tools & Tutorials, Edupreneurs

If you’re selling courses online you’re probably in a few different arenas promoting your educational products. You might be building landing pages and great content using various content marketing strategies. You’ll also likely be active in social communities like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. And if you’re like most of us you’re likely also spending a lot of time building up digital relationships with others in your niche and getting a good amount of traffic from your top referrals that way. At the end of the day, it’s a combination of all of these marketing activities that are driving traffic to your website and helping you convert that traffic into eCourse sales. But you need to know what traffic sources are helping you convert the most visitors into paying students. Do you know this information? You can answer in this poll if you do.


Imagine you spent 30 hours of your time this month promoting your eCourse. For simplicities sake let’s imagine you spent:

  • 10 hours on content marketing and SEO
  • 10 hours on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube LinkedIn, etc.
  • 10 hours focusing on getting new referral traffic from related sites in your niche

Now let’s say at the end of the month all of this effort brought in 36,000 visits and 25 conversions for a total eCourse sales volume of $10,000. Not bad right. Splitting our time between social, SEO and referral traffic seemed to work great. Or did it?


At Academy of Mine, even though we’re impressed when our members achieve numbers like this by using our platform and services, we’re not truly happy unless we know they’ve deconstructed that data to find out which promotional activities led to the most eCourse sales. This, of course, lets them refine their efforts and ensures higher sales volume next month. Data analysis is one thing, but knowing what that data means, and then taking action based on your findings are two totally different things.


The numbers I mentioned above are almost real numbers. The client in question didn’t spend 10 hours on each activity, but they did achieve those sales and traffic numbers as you can see here:

selling eCourses


In the graph above you see our member had a total of 25 sales spread across all of their efforts. They could likely duplicate their efforts next month to see similar results. But we’re not interested in our members achieving similar results. We want them to achieve better results. So we ask that they dig deeper. Let’s look deeper into three different tabs you’ll see above (referrer, engine and social)


As you’ll see below, referral traffic leads to 8 out of 25 conversions which is 32% of all sales. So in terms of spending time on getting mentions and links on strong websites and blogs in your niche, this seems to be a good way to spend your time. But in fact, if we look closer, we’ll see this particular member is not spending enough time on this activity. Their referral traffic has double the conversion rate of their site average. Not only that, but referral traffic seems to stay around longer (avg time on site) and visits more pages. So this lets our member know that this is a marketing activity they should be spending more time on. But before we find out how much more time, we first need to find out how search traffic and social traffic stand up against this traffic source. If we have a limited amount of time to spend each month, and we make the decision to spend more time here… well obviously that means we need to cut the time we’re spending on other marketing activities. This is the beautiful science of refinement based on data.

referral traffic conversion rate


Next, our member can click on “engine” and be taken to a page that shows how well traffic from search engines converted. This data is interesting because although this is where they received the bulk of their eCourse sales from, the conversion rate is actually lower than the site’s average. They get the majority of their site’s traffic from search engines, but that traffic has a very low “revenue/visitor” metric. Again, this member should flag this data and drill deeper to find out 1. if they can increase the CR of search traffic and 2. if they can increase their search volume by producing more high-quality content that helps convert visitors into paying students.

search engine conversion rate


Lastly, let’s take a  look at social.

social traffic conversion rate

Here we have an interesting case because we only had 1 eCourse sale through social (drilling deeper I can see it came from YouTube). Now, if the member was spending their time equally on all activities (SEO, social, referral traffic) then this data would clearly indicate that it’s time to re-prioritize and re-strategize or dump social marketing altogether.

However, they didn’t’ spend any time on social this month so the data doesn’t really suggest that should cancel their efforts. They need to give it an honest shot before they put it on the cutting block. If, and only if, after spending enough time on the platform they find the traffic from social less valuable then it would be time to make a decision on which activities to engage more in and which activities to engage in less.

What do you see in this data? What would your strategy or advice be to our members?


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