Online classes offer flexibility, which make them appealing to a wide range of people. They have become increasingly popular during COVID-19 and are a great way to connect while social distancing. Thanks to technology, participants can attend classes from the comfort of their homes or nearly anywhere with an internet connection. Instructors can be in the same town or halfway across the country. Giving students the option to participate in a live class and feel the excitement of being a part of the group, or watching a recording later if that’s more convenient, increases the likelihood a class or a series of classes will be successful.
Online classes offer more than just convenience
A key benefit of online classes is they can be watched more than once. That’s a popular option because it allows for a more thorough understanding of the course material. Studies show that repetition helps with retention. The more often a student can access the class the more value they receive. Exercise and mindfulness classes such as yoga, Pilates and meditation that are watched over and over become part of an individual’s wellness routine.
From artistic to academic, online classes can appeal to all ages
Online classes for cooking, art, writing, photography and other creative pursuits yield additional benefits when watched a second or even a third time. Students can gain new insights and achieve greater mastery when watching an instructor repeat the lesson. Revisiting the subject matter refreshes what a student learned initially while priming their brain to pick up additional details they may have missed the first time around.
There is also continued demand for traditional educational classes where students can earn a college degree, complete business courses to advance their careers or choose to study a subject or take a class simply for the joy of learning something new. Online courses make it especially easy and affordable for students of any age to remain lifelong learners.
Getting started: 10 strategies for increasing online class attendance
Instructors and teachers can use the strategies below to reach more people, attract additional students, maximize enrollment and increase attendance for online classes.
#1 Make and upload a YouTube video
Over 5,000,000 YouTube videos are watched every day. That makes it a powerful platform to share your message. Create a short but engaging video that describes your class and why students should enroll. In the description, provide a course outline and link to your website with class details and your contact information. Keep these bullet points in mind:
- Quality over quantity. Be succinct and offer value. People have short attention spans.
- Express the key reasons students should take your class. Clearly state the “why.”
- Use the video or a series of videos as just one of the steps in your promotional plan.
#2 Share on social media platforms
Social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok can spread a message quickly, especially if it has viral appeal. Whether you create free posts or use paid advertising, social media can help you reach a wide audience. It can take time to garner a following so be patient.
- Create a page for each platform you’re on with class details, your bio, relevant images and other messaging that will encourage students to sign up or learn more.
- Quickly reply to comments and questions left on your page(s). Being attentive, respectful and responsive to inquiries will show visitors your page is well managed.
- Use the platforms to send requests to friends and followers asking them to “like” the page you set up for your class and “share” your posts from that page for exposure.
#3 Build subscriber lists
As students visit your social media pages or your organization’s website, encourage them to join your subscriber lists. Gathering contact information allows you to reach out to them about current classes and other programs you may offer in the future.
- Make it clear when they sign up that individuals are agreeing to receive email and/or text messages from you or your organization.
- Immediately adhere to any email “unsubscribe” or text “opt-out” requests.
- Only send messages relating to the class(es) they’ve expressed an interest in.
#4 Use “keywords” for a text marketing campaign
Another way to get people to sign up for a subscriber list is make a “virtual poster” for your website or social media sites asking people to text in a keyword to learn more. Once someone has texted your number, they’ve provided consent and you can text them.
- Create posts on social media sites inviting people to text a keyword to your text line to get more information. For example, “Text INFO to 555-455-5555 for class details.”
- Print flyers with your keyword and text line to stick on bulletin boards in community centers, libraries, coffee shops and anywhere else potential students might gather.
- Add a Click-to-Text button to your website and invite people to text and ask questions.
#5 Create a countdown clock till enrollment opens or class starts
Generating enthusiasm is important to ensure students show up excited for your online class. Create social media posts and send emails or texts (if students signed up for them) with a countdown alert. Use a digital countdown clock or create colorful static images.
- Use a countdown clock showing the days and hours till class starts.
- Create colorful static images to post online that read, “Class starts in X Days!”
- Start displaying the countdown messages several weeks before the class start date.
#6 Create FAQs to address any issues or reservations people may have
Your online class could be exactly what someone is looking for, but they may hesitate to sign up for any number of reasons. Create a FAQ page and make it easy for people to get answers to questions they may have been afraid to ask. Post it wherever you have information about your class. Here are a few common questions to get you started:
- What if I can’t attend all the classes live? Will that affect my grade?
- Is there a payment plan option in case the enrollment fee is more than I can afford?
- Will the classes be available for viewing online even after the course has ended?
#7 Host an online kick-off event to get sign-ups
This strategy works best for non-academic courses. Host a free, kick-off event to provide more details and get participants excited. Use the opportunity to explain the benefits of your class, answer questions and let people get a sense of the type of instructor you’ll be. This is your chance to shine so be enthusiastic and, of course, be prepared.
- Promote the kick-off event via social media and through your subscription lists.
- Offer a discount at the end of the event to motivate people to register with 24 hours.
- Host the live event 6-8 weeks before your class is scheduled to begin.
#8 Send personalized inspiration to encourage live attendance
To ensure students show up for each live class, keep them motivated with personalized messages. Group texting works great for this. Send short messages or an occasional meme (if it’s relevant) to keep students inspired and focused on the subject matter. If your texts are meaningful and sincere, students will feel valued and their time respected.
- Send positive feedback or an inspirational quote to keep students engaged.
- Encourage students to stay connected between classes to share their progress.
- Let each student know you appreciate their attendance and participation.
#9 Request online reviews and testimonials and send feedback surveys
After the online class has concluded and grades (if relevant) have been posted, send students a brief text or email thanking them for participating. Include a link to an online review site, request testimonials and/or send a survey so they can provide honest feedback. You might receive suggestions for improving the class that can help you attract more students in the future.
- Review sites can provide helpful information for future students by sharing first-hand knowledge about a class so they can determine if it’s right for them.
- If requesting testimonials from students, make it clear their words (and names, if approved) may be shared in online and print materials to promote your class.
- Surveys can be instrumental in helping teachers know which parts of the curriculum students liked best and if any changes should be made to the class going forward.
#10 Create opinion polls to gain valuable information quickly
People love to share their opinions. A poll that gauges what a student is most interested in learning or which date/time is preferred is an easy way to get information. (Several free tools are available.) For the best results, keep the number of questions to 10 or fewer and provide clearly written multiple choice answers. Here are a few sample questions:
- Which of the following subjects is most interesting to you?
- Which day(s) of the week would you like to attend this online class?
- Would you be interested in taking the next class in this series?
Learn how texting can make teacher-student communication easier
Many online learning sites and educational groups have discovered the benefits of texting. In conjunction with email and social media to create awareness about class offerings, texting can be used to reach class participants quickly and easily.
It also offers a variety of tools to connect students and instructors. Whether it’s a conversation with one student or a group text to an entire class, features such as MMS (picture) Messaging, Scheduled Texts, Auto Replies, Templates and Dynamic Fields (that populate texts with names and other important details) save instructors time while providing students with personalized attention.