Supercharge Your CE: Taking Advantage of Niche Content
Did you know? Over half of members join associations to learn industry best practices and to educate themselves on specialized topics–topics they can’t find anywhere else!
What does that mean for member-based organizations? Well, they have to be proactive in providing content that is both useful and relevant to their members, as well as hits on points that more general education may miss.
As noted by Dr. Laurelle Jno Baptiste in a recent webinar, that’s where niche content comes in. Niche content is unique, tailored content that isn’t widely available. It focuses on specific topics or industries and provides your members with valuable information and insight. Typically, the better you tailor your content to your audience, the better your return on investment will be.
When it comes to continuing education, you want to offer courses that really matter to your audience, so focus on timeliness, relevancy, value, and specificity.
1. Set Your Targets
When deciding what content to create, you first need to think of your target audience. Niche content is based directly on its consumers, so if you don’t have a good grasp of your audience, you won’t be taking full advantage of the technique.
The key is to Create a persona: a fictional person who will represent your core demographic. You may have multiple personas for different factions of your audience; for example, you may have one for recent grads, one for industry veterans, and one for the group in between.
You can split your targets into as many personas as you want–just remember, each persona represents a group you want to cater your content to. If you aren’t going to make courses for each type, there’s no point wasting time on that persona. It’s best to set your focus on a few main targets–broad enough to capture the majority of your member base (if not all of it!) when they overlap, but narrow enough that you can tailor content specific to that group.
Once you have your personas, do your research:
- Will your topic be in high demand? Is this something your persona’s demographic will actually want? Is it relevant to their needs and interests?
- What topics are the most highly searched? This will help you narrow down your choices. If a topic is highly searched, that’s a good indicator of its potential success.
- Is your topic current or evergreen? Is the topic you’ve picked timely? Perhaps there has been something in the news recently about your topic. Alternately, evergreen topics are those that are timeless; you may want to touch on something that’s often missed out on but that remains highly important in your industry.
Still not sure what to do? Ask your audience! Host polls on your organization’s social media pages to find out what your members are most interested in; you may find that you’ve been missing out on some key areas of opportunity. When in doubt, it’s best to ask directly; your members will appreciate it!
As mentioned earlier, the more thoroughly you tailor your content to your audience, the better your ROI will generally be.
Consider Facebook or Youtube algorithms; once you click on a topic, they will curate your feed to be more relevant to what they perceive to be your interests. For example, say you click on a Youtube video about making paper flowers; you’ll likely be recommended more origami tutorials (or videos on other similar crafts) next time you go to your home page.
Member-based organizations can learn to do something similar. Pay attention to your analytics: is one of your courses doing particularly well? You may want to create more courses in the same vein; high purchase and use rates indicate that you’ve likely hit on a good topic!
Alternately, if you find a course is doing less-than-stellar compared to the others, you may want to avoid making similar content for the time being.
A good way to boost these results is to make your content highly searchable on your platform. When selecting a learning management system (LMS) to host your education, pick one that allows for tagging, categorizing, and filtering. Members will be able to look up keywords or search for popular courses–making your content easy to find and allowing for more accurate analytics. If a member can’t find it, they can’t buy it–creating a number of problems for your organization!
3. Make it Make Sense
Next, when developing your courses, you want to make sure you’re presenting your information in the optimal format. Make sure to divide your content into neat, digestible segments–this improves retention and increases understandability. If your course doesn’t make sense to your audience, it doesn’t matter how good its concept is–they’ll be too busy being frustrated and confused to get anything valuable out of it!
Because of this, you want to pay as much attention to the actual execution of your material (how it’s created and presented) as you do the topic selection process.
Look into splitting longer courses into modules. Consider: which is easier to process, one four-hour lecture, or eight half-hour lectures? Humans need time to absorb information and build mental connections. Additionally, if your course is too long, you run the risk of overshooting your members’ attention spans. Keep things tight and concise for the best results!
You may also want to add a degree of interactivity to your courses. Video hurdles–in which members are prompted to answer a question on-screen during a video–can help keep viewers on their toes and stay focussed. There are a variety of interactivity types that can be applied to course content, from multiple choice questions to drag and drop activities and more; when used at key points in a module, they can gamify the experience and keep members’ attention where it belongs: on your course!
4. Marketing Mastery
When wielded correctly, niche content courses can be a powerful marketing tool. After all, you’re providing something that isn’t available elsewhere!
First, start by creating a landing page for your courses; this will provide information on and display the value of what you offer. When making advertisements and building campaigns, you can link back to this page, inviting potential members to find out more—you want to drive as much traffic here as you can!
When your page is set to go, you can embark on a social media campaign to market your CE across the internet. When creating your campaign, be sure to take advantage of the many promotional tools the web has to offer; Canva, Hootsuite, and Jasper AI are all great options to keep quality marketing content coming.
Testimonials and quotes from members who have taken your continuing education programs are especially helpful in showing the value of your product. Worried about getting enough responses? A little incentive to help motivate members to share their experiences should do the trick; try offering discounts on courses or coupon codes to those who submit a testimonial!
Finally, when making your content known, make sure to pay attention to search engine optimization (SEO). By creating a wide web of content that promotes your courses across as many channels as possible, you’ll be able to boost your CE’s search page results. When people are aware of the quality, niche content you offer, it’ll be hard to resist!
When developing continuing education courses for your organization, it’s important to focus on finding a niche. You want your content to be relevant, timely, valuable, and a little rare–the more important but overlooked topics you find, the more interesting material you’ll be able to take advantage of.
Remember, your continuing education courses have the power to draw all sorts of new members to your organization–you just have to pick the right topic!
Want to learn more? Check out our webinar, Continuing Education: Your Shield against Economic Headwinds!