The Freestone Team attended the Association for Continuing Legal Education (ACLEA) 59th mid-year meeting that featured multiple sessions and workshops for members of the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) sphere.
Cooper Shattuck of Cartography Consulting, a digital design and marketing firm, conducted a session and shared strategies for marketing your continuing education (CE) courses and events. Shattuck has 30 years of experience in the legal profession and is an expert in marketing events in the CE industries and beyond.
Read on to discover tips on how to plan your CE courses and events and develop an effective marketing plan.
Planning your CE courses and events for effective marketing
To begin planning your CE courses and events, you’ll first want to identify your target audience for each one. Do so by asking the following questions:
- Who do you want to show up for your event or course?
- What will they want to learn?
- Where will they want to learn? In-person, or virtually?
Additionally, your learner data is vital in driving decisions about your CE courses and events. Consider creating specific learner profiles to help plan your events and courses. Leverage your learning management software (LMS) to gather the data you need to inform your learner profiles and plan your upcoming CE courses and events.
Next, establish a content development strategy that addresses the following elements:
- Does your CE course or event have something for everyone? Ensure your next course meets your learners’ needs by routinely issuing surveys and asking for feedback. Ask questions about content offerings, objectives, and prices to ensure your CE program will keep learners engaged.
- Does your CE course or event offer interactive formats? Make sure your in-person event features networking opportunities, and look for an LMS that offers virtual options like Q&A, attendee chat, and live polling to boost learner engagement in your courses.
- Is your CE program looking to the future? Check that your learning program meets your learners’ needs, and don’t be afraid to make changes to your existing content offerings. Prioritize CE courses and events for your first-time attendees and offer innovative content to engage your learners.
Developing a marketing plan with strategies for success
Now that you know how to plan for your CE courses and events, you can begin developing a marketing plan. Here’s how to get started:
- Plan and schedule. For annual events, begin planning the event and your marketing campaign a year ahead. Set your marketing campaign to launch approximately 90 days before the event to avoid over-saturation, as this can lead to people overlooking your event. As your event date draws closer, increase the frequency of your marketing elements. For shorter events like webinars, try marketing a couple of weeks in advance. Your learners’ availability will change over time so be sure to communicate with them at different times and in different mediums.
- Monitor and adjust. Watch the open rates of your communications and track which medium seems to perform best with which demographic. Do certain learner groups read your emails at certain times? Does another learner group prefer to read your notifications on Facebook? Adjust your marketing campaign as you go based on your data.
Elements to include in your marketing plan
Try implementing the following strategies in your marketing plan to drive registration in your CE courses and events:
- Create an event website. All your marketing efforts should navigate to your course offerings or a specific event page. Create a unique graphic for each event and ensure branding is cohesive across course materials and event images.
- Leverage emails. Email is arguably the most cost-effective way to reach your learners, and it also provides helpful data and statistics for your program. When you send out an email blast to your learners, ensure you include all the necessary information about your upcoming event or CE course. For follow-up emails, mix up the delivery of your message, but ensure you keep the same talking points.Try using creative email subject links to encourage learners to open your email. When creating the subject, think about the elements people look for in events (networking, first-time engagement, skill improvement, certifications, CE credit, etc.) and mention those in the subject lines.
- Mail marketing. If your CE program utilizes mail marketing, try sending personal notes to a few key prospects with invites to your next event or course. Handwritten notes are unique and can be impactful. Consider adding a QR code to your mailers to streamline the registration process for your learners.
- Social media. Leverage your social media platforms to promote your CE courses and events and consider utilizing ads to reach a larger audience in your industry. Creating ads across your social media platforms will help you reach more learners and generate even more interest in your CE program.
- Paid digital advertising: Leverage paid digital advertising to help boost awareness about your CE program and target specific audience segments.
- Telephone marketing. Consider calling key influencers or prospects in your industry and inviting them to your next event. If you get their voicemail, personalize your invitation, saying why you’d like them to attend. You can also call and thank key prospects for signing up for a course or event.
- Videos. Consider creating a short promotional video for your next annual event or an exciting CE course. Videos often have incredibly high engagement rates and are easy to share across social media platforms and in email campaigns. To involve your event guests, you could ask them to create a brief invite video highlighting who they are and what they’ll be presenting.
Following the event, be sure to survey attendees to get feedback. Getting your learners’ feedback is vital to understanding their perspective and improving your future events and overall CE program.
Discover more tips to advance your continuing education program
Learn more about creating successful CE events and courses during our 15 minute-webinar: How to Increase Learner Engagement by Adding Quizzes to your CE Content with Freestone LMS on February 23rd.