How We Used a Video Course to Promote Ahrefs (And Acquired 500K+ Views)


Creating and promoting instructional programs could be a profitable enterprise. But when you have already got a product to promote, you may truly use programs as a advertising and marketing software.

Again in 2017, about two years after becoming a member of Ahrefs, I made a decision to create a course on content material advertising and marketing.

I had a really clear understanding of how an academic course would assist me promote Ahrefs.

  • Folks like programs – People like Brian Dean and Glen Allsopp have been promoting theirs for $500 to $2,000 a pop (and somewhat efficiently). So a free course of comparable high quality was certain to get consideration.
  • Programs enable for a deeper connection – You’ll mainly be spending a number of hours one on one along with your college students. And when you managed to win their belief, you’d get a chance to advertise your product to them.

That was my uncooked thought course of going into this enterprise.

And I completely didn’t anticipate that the lifespan of my course could be as attention-grabbing and nuanced because it turned out to be.

The teachings of my course have generated over 500K+ in whole views, introduced in mid-five-figures in income (with out even making an attempt), and turned out to be a really useful useful resource for our varied advertising and marketing functions.

So right here goes the story of my “Running a blog for Enterprise” course.

1. The creation

I received’t offer you any tips about easy methods to create a profitable course (nicely, perhaps only one). There are many assets (programs?) on that subject already.

All I need to say is that my very own expertise was fairly grueling.

The ten classes of my course span some 40K phrases. I’ve by no means tried the feat of writing a e-book, however I think about creating such a prolonged course is as shut because it will get.

Scripts of the course in Google Docs.

I spent an amazing period of time sprucing every lesson. The course was going to be free, so it was vital that my content material was riveting. If not, folks would simply bounce from it.

Paid programs are fairly completely different in that sense. You pay cash to look at them. So even when the content material is boring at occasions, you’ll persevere anyway to make sure a return in your funding.

After I confirmed the draft model of the course to my pal, Ali Mese, he gave me a easy but invaluable tip: “Break your classes into smaller ones. Make every simply three to 4 minutes lengthy.”

How did I not consider this myself? 

Quick, “snackable” classes present a greater sense of completion and progress. You’re additionally extra prone to end a brief lesson with out getting distracted by one thing. 

I’m fairly certain that it’s due to this easy tip that my course landed this Netflix comparability (i.e., greatest praise ever):

2. The technique

With the costs of comparable programs starting from $500 to $2,000, it was actually tempting to make some revenue with ours.

I believe we had round 15,000 paying prospects at Ahrefs at the moment (and lots of extra on the free plan). So if simply 1% of them purchased that course for $1K, that might be a straightforward $150K to pocket. After which we may hold upselling it to our future prospects.

Alternatively, we considered giving entry to the course to our paying prospects solely. 

This might need boosted our gross sales, because the course was a cool addition to the Ahrefs subscription. 

And it may additionally enhance person retention. The course was an ideal coaching useful resource for brand spanking new workers, which our prospects would lose entry to in the event that they canceled their Ahrefs subscription.

And but, releasing it free of charge as a lead acquisition and lead nurturing play appeared to make much more sense than the opposite two choices. So we caught to that.

3. The waitlist

Teasing one thing to folks earlier than you allow them to get it looks as if one of many elementary guidelines of promoting.

  • Apple proclaims new merchandise approach earlier than they’re available in shops. 
  • Film studios publish trailers of upcoming films months (generally years) earlier than they hit the theaters. 
  • When you’ve got a shock on your important different (or your youngsters), you may’t assist however give them some hints earlier than the reveal.

There’s one thing about “the wait” and the anticipation that we people simply like to expertise.

So whereas I used to be toiling away and placing classes of my course collectively, we launched a touchdown web page to announce it and acquire folks’s emails.

The landing page of the course.

In case somebody hesitated to go away their e mail, we had two cool bonuses to nudge them:

  1. Entry to the personal Slack group
  2. Free two-week trial of Ahrefs

The latter appealed to freebie lovers a lot that it quickly “leaked” to Reddit and BlackHatWorld. In hindsight, this leak was truly a pleasant (unplanned) promo for the course.

4. The promotion

I don’t keep in mind our precise promotion technique. However I’m fairly certain it went one thing like this:

I additionally added somewhat “sharing loop” to the welcome e mail. I requested folks to inform their associates in regards to the course, justifying it with the truth that taking the course with others was extra enjoyable than doing it alone.

Welcome email with a "sharing loop."

I don’t know how efficient that “progress hack” was, however there was no purpose to not encourage sharing.

In whole, we managed to get some 16,000 folks on our waitlist by the day of the course launch.

5. The launch

On a set date, the next e mail went out to our waitlist:

Course launch email.

Did you discover the “observe” saying that the movies have been solely out there free of charge for 30 days? We did that to nudge folks to look at them as quickly as potential and never save them to the “Watch later” folder.

Looking back, I want we had used this angle from the very starting: “FREE for 30 days. Then $799.”

This is able to’ve killed two birds with one stone: 

  1. Added an urgency to finish the course as quickly as potential
  2. Made the course extra fascinating by assigning a selected (and somewhat excessive) financial worth to it

(If solely we may very well be as sensible about predicting the long run as we’re about reflecting on the previous.) 

As soon as it was dwell, the course began to advertise itself. I used to be seeing many tremendous flattering tweets:

We then took probably the most outstanding of these tweets and featured them on the course touchdown web page for some social proof. (They’re nonetheless there, by the approach.)

6. The paywall

As soon as the 30 days of free entry ran out, we added a $799 paywall. And it didn’t take lengthy for the primary sale to reach:

This early luck didn’t push us to deal with promoting this course, although. We didn’t make investments any effort into selling it. It was simply sitting passively in our Academy with a $799 price ticket, and that was it.

And but, regardless of the dearth of promotion, that course was producing 8-10 gross sales each month—which have been principally coming from phrase of mouth.

A comment in TrafficThinkTank.
Eric Siu giving a shout-out about my course in TTT Slack.

Due to its hefty worth, my course quickly appeared on some in style web sites with pirated programs. And we have been truly glad that it did. As a result of that meant extra folks would find out about our content material and product.

Then some individuals who have been “late to the social gathering” began asking me if I used to be ever going to reopen the course free of charge once more. This truly appeared like a superbly affordable technique on the time:

7. The giveaways

That $799 price ticket additionally turned my free course into a fairly helpful advertising and marketing software. It was an ideal reward for all kinds of giveaways on Twitter, on podcasts, throughout dwell talks, and so on.

Giving away the course during a live talk.
Me giving freely the course throughout a dwell speak.

And every time we partnered with somebody, they have been tremendous glad to get a number of licenses of the course, which they might give out to their viewers.

8. The relaunch

Regardless of my unique plan to replace and relaunch this course every year, I acquired buried beneath different work and didn’t handle to make time for it.

After which the pandemic hit. 

That’s once we observed a cool pattern. Many firms have been offering free entry to their premium instructional supplies. This was finished to help the “keep at residence” narrative and assist folks study new expertise.

I believe it was SQ who recommended that we must always leap on that prepare with my “Running a blog for Enterprise” course. And so we did:

We couldn’t have hoped for a greater timing for that relaunch. The thrill was completely insane. The announcement tweet alone has generated a staggering 278K+ impressions (not with out some paid boosts, after all).

The statistics of the course announcement tweet.

We additionally went forward and reposted that course on ProductHunt as soon as once more (as a result of why not?).

All in all, that relaunch turned out to be much more profitable than the unique launch itself. 

In the midst of their lifespan on Wistia, the 40 video classes of my course generated a complete of 372K performs.

Play count from Wistia.

And this isn’t even the top of it.

9. The launch on YouTube

As a result of the course was now free, it now not made sense to host it at Wistia. So we uploaded all classes to YouTube and made them public.

Up to now, the 41 movies of my course have generated about 187K views on YouTube.

"Blogging for Business" course playlist.

It’s truthful to say that we had round 200,000 subscribers on our channel on the time of publishing my course there. A brand-new channel with no current subscribers will possible generate fewer views.

10. The relaunch on YouTube [coming soon]

Right here’s an attention-grabbing statement that each Sam and I made at across the similar time. 

Many individuals have been publishing their programs on YouTube as a single video spanning a number of hours somewhat than slicing them into particular person classes like we did. And people lengthy movies have been producing hundreds of thousands of views!

Like these two, rating on the prime for “study Python course,” which have 33M and 27M views, respectively:

"Learn python course" search on YouTube.

So we determined to run a take a look at with Sam’s “search engine marketing for Learners” course. It was initially printed on YouTube as 14 standalone video classes and generated a complete of 140K views.

Effectively, the “single video” model of that very same course has blown it out of the water with over 1M views as of right this moment.

I’m certain you may already inform the place I’m going with this.

We’re quickly going to republish my “Running a blog for Enterprise” course on YouTube as a single video. And hopefully, it is going to carry out simply as nicely.

The top

In order that’s the story of my “Running a blog for Enterprise” course. From the very starting, it was deliberate as a promotional software for Ahrefs. And judging by its efficiency, I assume it fulfilled its objective somewhat efficiently.

A screenshot of a Slack message.

Don’t get me incorrect, although. 

The truth that my course was conceived as a promotional software doesn’t imply that I didn’t pour my coronary heart and soul into it. It was a superbly real and sincere try and create a brilliant helpful instructional useful resource for content material advertising and marketing newbies.

And I’m nonetheless hoping to work on the two.0 model of it sometime. Prior to now 4 years, I’ve accrued fairly a bit extra content material advertising and marketing data that I’m eager to share with everybody. So comply with me on Twitter, and keep tuned.


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