Promote Your Online Course with Affiliate Marketing in 2021

Online learning is booming. With more affordable options and ease of accessibility, e-learning is no longer limited to higher education courses or corporate training sessions.

The new technology has offered almost everyone an opportunity to teach or teach through online learning. Whether it’s a career, fitness, cuisine, art, fashion, or learning how to talk to animals – there’s something for everyone.

And there are several e-learning platforms available to creators who want to create their own courses. But once you create a course, how will you promote it?

In this article, we’ll cover how to use affiliate marketing to promote your online course. Find out everything you need to know about affiliate marketing, getting students signed up and growing your business in 2021.

What is affiliate marketing?

Online courses marketing

Affiliate marketing is growing in popularity and is becoming a marketing strategy for many businesses.

Affiliate marketing works by encouraging individuals to promote your business and refer customers, and in return they earn a commission for every successful referral they send you.

The affiliate uses its own referral link or promo code to promote your online course and refer potential students. This can happen through websites, social media, and blogs – or even just word-of-mouth to friends and family.

For online courses, affiliates often earn a commission when their referrals sign up and pay for a course.

Is affiliate marketing effective for online courses?

Affiliate marketing is effective for almost any online course. It is a starting point for those new to their marketing efforts. And for more established courses, this offers a new channel to add to existing marketing efforts.

More specifically, here are some of the key benefits of using affiliate marketing for online courses.

Builds brand awareness

You could spend months preparing your online course and creating valuable content, but you probably won’t be able to get too many students to sign up if no one even knows it exists.

Finding an audience and promoting yourself is one of the biggest challenges for online courses. It requires extensive market research, which often costs time, money and resources.

Affiliate marketing can help with this.

Affiliates provide you with established audiences that they can start promoting right away. Whether an influencer has thousands of followers or a Facebook post to a partner’s close circle, this is a great way to increase visibility.

On top of that, it gives you the opportunity to reach entirely new audiences – including those who didn’t know about your course in the first place, or even were interested.

For example, if you are using AdWords, you will likely already be promoting to audiences looking for online courses or related topics. But with affiliate promotions, there is a chance to grab the attention of someone scrolling through their social media feeds and become interested in something they didn’t know before.

Reach targeted audiences

In addition to making your brand known, affiliates can promote to targeted audiences. This is especially true if you partner with affiliates in your niche.

For example, if your online course focuses on making money, consider partnering with affiliates who share similar audiences, such as business professionals or finance bloggers.

Unique and effective promotions

As we have said before, the popularity of e-learning is increasing. With so many courses out there, how do you stand out?

Affiliate promotions can reach far beyond the text limits in Google Ads. You can better promote your course with unique content such as blog posts, reviews and testimonials, videos, infographics, and word of mouth advice.

Affiliates provide customers with a preview of what to expect as well as the overall course experience. They can share why they took your course, what they enjoyed and how they benefited.

This is especially powerful if your course is more expensive or time consuming. Customers will want to be sure of what they’re signing up for, and affiliate promotions can help reassure them that your course is valuable.

Save on marketing expenses

Affiliate marketing is a cost-effective strategy.

Why? Why?

Because you only pay commission when someone is actually a customer.

The costs of PPC channels like Google and Facebook can be very expensive for sites that are just starting out, especially with so many online courses bidding against you for the same keywords.

In affiliate marketing, you only pay for ads that convert. Budgets aren’t wasted on impressions or views that don’t bring paying customers. It is a low-risk investment and provides a clear return on investment compared to other marketing channels.

Reward your fans

This is also a way to reward those who take your course and recommend it to others. Rewarding customers is a great way to build brand loyalty and makes them more likely to enroll in future courses.

Online school MasterTheHandpan is a great example of combining customer loyalty and affiliate promotions.

We started considering membership when we realized that our students were organically recommending our courses. We wanted to find a way to thank them, and it was also a way to encourage us to propose on a more coherent and “formal” basis by giving them the right tools.

How to start an affiliate program for your online course

Online courses affiliate marketing steps

If you’re ready to start an affiliate program for your online course, here are the steps to get started.

1. Choose an affiliate marketing software

Get started with the best affiliate marketing software.

Affiliate marketing software will provide you with all the tools you need to start your affiliate program. This includes providing referral links, tracking clicks and conversions, and paying commissions.

It offers various integration options for e-learning platforms such as Tapfiliate, Teachable and Campwire. There are also options available if you use subscription sites or payment gateways.

For most sites this is pretty seamless and you can get started in a few minutes. Check out Tapfiliate’s integrations here.

2. Customize your schedule

Your affiliate program will be an extension of your online course.

Customize your program like this:

  • Setting up a custom subdomain
  • Create a branded signup page
  • Adding your logo to your affiliate program’s dashboard
  • Personalize affiliate emails to fit your brand’s wording

3. Determine your commissions

For online courses, affiliates often earn a commission when a referral signs up for a course.

If you are offering a free course or trial period, you have the option to pay the affiliate a commission only when the referral pays for the course. You can track this journey with Tapfiliate’s Customers function, so when the referred customer makes a payment, the conversion is attributed to the affiliate.

Commission amounts can be a flat rate or a percentage of the course cost.

For example, your course costs $49.99 per student and you offer 15% commission to affiliates. Affiliates will earn approximately $7 for each referral that enrolls in your course.

4. Promote your affiliate program

Next, you’ll want to get your affiliate program ready.

Include your affiliate program on your existing site and marketing materials. This includes:

  • Add a footer link to your site’s course page
  • Promote on social media profiles, bios and posts
  • Include affiliate offers in your email signature
  • Enable Tapfiliate’s Co-Recruitment feature to invite your existing customers

5. Find and partner with affiliates

Once established, it’s time to find affiliates for your program.

You can make it available to anyone who wants to promote your program. Or, you can make it invite-only, like only allowing people who have taken your course or chosen it yourself.

Some sites choose to be invite-only, so they have more control over how their courses are promoted, who is promoted, and where. Other sites choose to open their affiliate programs to everyone for wider promotions and the opportunity to reach untapped audiences.

Who can sign up for your online course?

Online course partners-01


Promotions from former students are very effective. This is a stamp of approval and personal recommendation from someone who has already taken the course. And this can be very persuasive, as 92% of consumers believe in recommendations from friends and family more than advertisements.

Student introductions can include reviews, testimonials, or even video content that summarize what they’ve learned and why it’s valuable.

Invite new and existing students directly with Tapfiliate’s Co-Recruitment feature.

This will automatically send your students a referral link that they can use to promote your site to others. When they refer a new student, they are immediately added to your affiliate program and invited to log in to see their performance and find more resources of your program.

Industry experts

Experts in topics relevant to your course can provide strong support.

For example, a photography course might reach out to well-known photographers to become their affiliate. Or the interview course for tech jobs could be partnered with employees at top companies like Google and Apple.

Explain how your course can benefit its viewers and your commission offer. You might also consider offering something extra as part of your course material, such as the opportunity to co-market your own business.

Professionals can promote through their own channel, such as a “resource” section on their website or blog, or with a social media post recommending your course.

Online course marketing students

course instructors

Consider partnering with non-competitive sites that complement your business.

For example, a nutrition course could be partnered with a fitness course. Affiliate promotions may be included as part of course material or as personal recommendation from the instructor.

Not only will this help you reach new audiences, but you’ll likely be able to collaborate together and create new content for your site that will benefit everyone in the partnership.

Social media groups

Use social media to find online communities full of people interested in topics that are closely related to your course.

This could be groups that are clearly interested in your niche. For example, if you’re teaching a cooking class, you may find groups dedicated solely to the culinary life.

You can also find groups that match your niche. For example, if you are teaching a language course, look at foreign groups in countries where that language is spoken.

Popular social media sites for this include Facebook, LinkedIn, MeetUp, Reddit.

Affiliate Placement checklist

what’s next

Once you have all the setup, there are a few things you can do to help your affiliates succeed.

To get started, you’ll want to provide great marketing materials for affiliates to promote. This includes banners, images, text links, social media posts and videos. It’s also helpful to provide your branding materials, certificates or custom approvals.

Be sure to include registration information, registration deadlines, and any special deals or sales you may have.

This covers the basics to get started. And from there, it’s up to you what you want for your affiliate program.

You can take a more hands-on approach by actively recruiting partners and holding competitions, but you can also choose to use automation tools to accomplish certain tasks and streamline workflows.

Do you want to start an affiliate program? Try all the features: 👉Get a free 14-day trial here

You can try Tapfiliate here for FREE for 14 days.

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