What’s the Difference between Selling and Marketing eLearning?

What’s the difference between selling and marketing eLearning courses to learners – association members and non-members alike? A little creative positioning is all it takes!

We came across this great image this week on LinkedIn, and it got us to thinking about how associations can achieve greater success by using their LMS for marketing eLearning, rather than just selling their online education and certification programs.

Selling vs Marketing eLearning

Image from Crispin Porter advertising agency.

Professional and Trade Associations often promote their eLearning programs in different ways and for different purposes, for example:

  • as a member benefit, included in the cost of membership and not offered to non-members
  • as a way to generate non-dues revenue from members and non-members
  • for corporate members, as a service to extend or supplement learning & development programs

Selling eLearning with your LMS

To help associations to successfully promote their education programs, we often recommend that associations embed their LMS course catalog prominently on their website, so that members can easily access and browse the education resources on offer to them. Equally, non-members can see what is on offer, either as a teaser, or if they sign up to membership – this can be a great promotional tool. Many associations we work with display the course catalog in an area of their website dedicated to education, training, development, or sometimes, events, depending on the type of training on offer. Many include links to the education resources from their homepage, and most associations include a single-sign-on solution for members, to ensure easy access to eLearning resources from the member area of the website. All of these are great selling tactics to ensure your members and potentially non-members can easily find, access, and consume your education offerings. You are providing what information they need, when they need it, and where they are most likely to look for it, reaching and converting a captive audience.


But what if you want your association eLearning offering to be able to reach a wider audience? Help you to grow your membership by reaching members and professionals who didn’t know they were looking for opportunities to upskill? Where else could you use your LMS catalog to create awareness of your learning programs?

According to a Pew Research Center survey we shared in a recent blog, 24% of professional learners engaged in training last year in order to help get a raise or promotion at work. A further 13% engaged in training to help get a new job with a different employer. So this means that 37% of professional learners in the USA were actively looking at job advertisements in the last year.

Does your association also provide a career center, where you advertise current employment opportunities to jobseekers? How many non-members become aware of your association through their job search, visiting your site as a result of their search for new career opportunities?


Achieve More by Marketing eLearning to a New Audience

Marketing eLearning in the Association career centerMarketing is all about creating awareness, telling a story, making your offering both relevant and desirable for potential consumers and thus awakening a need in your audience. Good marketing can make your association memorable, so that when the jobseeker is looking for their next opportunity, they think of your association’s resources first, as the solution to their needs.

The association career center is the ideal place to highlight and link to your Association eLearning offering, either via an embedded LMS course catalog or by linking to relevant individual courses. Whether your career center is an integral page in your website, or a branded microsite, you are not explicitly selling to website visitors that have sought out your education offering by accessing the education section of your website. Instead, you are creating awareness of your offering to a new audience, and telling a story that helps them to visualize how they can achieve their career goals with the help of your association eLearning offering.

For some LMS solutions, such as TopClass, embedding your LMS course catalog on your website also enables social sharing of course details. This starts conversations between peers about which courses look interesting and may be relevant to them or their colleagues, increasing awareness to an even wider audience via social networks. Encouraging and enabling conversations about your association online can ensure that your association eLearning resources are top of mind for professional learners looking to upskill or maintain credentials, and increase traffic to your website. By linking to your LMS course catalog from your career center in addition to your education or training section of your website, you are facilitating more opportunities for conversation about your education offering. In this way, associations that are looking to grow their membership or increase non-dues revenue can promote the value of their education and certification program content to a wider audience of job-seeking members and/or non non-members.

This is just one example of how associations could achieve greater success by using their LMS for marketing eLearning, rather than selling their online education and certification programs. What other great ideas does your association have for marketing elearning?

If you would like a closer look at how TopClass LMS integrated with your association website can help you to successfully promote your education and certification programs to a wider audience of learners, ask us for a demo today!


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