Recently, we launched our service, AcademyOcean.com. At the moment, it’s available only by invitation, and one of my current goals is to create a few case studies to show exactly how Academies work and explore all the details of the creation process.
Today I’m happy to present to you the first article in our Cases column.
How did we start out?
Serpstat is a client that started using an Academy long before we built a product for Academy creation. In my first article, I talked about how we originally created an Academy for our previous product. When we walked away from that product, several companies approached us with a similar problem when it came to educating customers.
Serpstat was one of first of these companies, and we were happy to help them create an Academy. (We even made them a simple interface so they could add courses without our help; in other words, it looked like a little SaaS.)
Now, a year later, I’m happy to update you on how Serpstat’s Academy is doing today.
Before writing this article, I asked Igor, Head of Content Marketing at Serpstat, some detailed questions. He is fully responsible for having created the Academy, so it was great to hear the information firsthand:
1. Why did you decide to create an Academy? What prompted you to do this?
What prompted us was the need for long-form content that would generate leads. On the one hand, this problem could have been partially solved with the help of PDF whitepapers, but there were a couple reasons why I didn’t want to create those.
First of all, it’s much more complicated to work with layouts in whitepapers (where to put pictures, how to place text, how to fit everything on the page, etc.).
Secondly, an Academy, from the point of view of interactivity, is far more interesting for readers. After all, a whitepaper is just a multipage PDF document.
And, thirdly, you can get much more data from an Academy — not just a potential clients’ email addresses, but also information about which courses they found interesting, how much time they spent reading them, and how they interacted with them.
2. What did you start with?
We decided to start by creating one course. Since I was doing this for the first time, it took longer to create than all the subsequent courses (we already have five of them at this point).
The topics of the first course were general (about what keywords mean in SEO). Because of this, we were able to attract the attention of people who lacked knowledge but wanted to gain it. In other words, in the course we provided not what WE wanted, but what LEARNERS (our potential clients) needed. When people got general, useful information from us, they became interested in how they could apply it in practice. And there we were, telling these already interested learners about our functionalities.
3. How much time did you spend?
Creating the first course took a fairly long time. I was doing this for the first time, and I was completely responsible for the process. There was a desire to make the course as interesting as possible, so it took me nearly five workdays (writing texts, creating screenshots and animations, and also dividing all the content into lessons).
In the future, it was much easier to create courses (about one day per course).
4. What did you do after you created the course?
We tried different things. Among the things that worked out well for us were:
- adding a link to the Academy on our site’s footer;
- sending out an email to our mailing list and creating a blog post announcing our Academy;
- writing about it on Facebook and Twitter;
- Guerilla marketing. For example, when we see a very relevant question on Quora, we may write a short answer and provide a link to the course in which we have answered the question in more detail. Down the line, anyone who sees this answer can click the link, educate themselves, and become a lead.
To enter new markets (and reach new audience segments) I think that what can work well is creating a whole course plus targeted ads on Facebook for the course. But we haven’t tested that hypothesis yet.
5. What were your results?
In the past ten months that our Academy has been active, we have received 2,100 warm leads through it. And from the total number of learners, 5% convert into paying customers even without the involvement of sales reps.
6. What are your plans for the future?
Now we are moving to the new AcademyOcean engine (from the one we used for a year). We can see that the team worked on the interface and added sections that were missing before. We are particularly pleased with the additional learner statistics. I know that there is now a Live-Academy function, and we will happily test it for on Academy.
Regarding plans for creating courses: we want to create a large course on our service’s API in the near future.
We will also try other marketing tools in conjunction with the Academy. As an example, we already configured automatic messages with Intercom, which let our customers know, at the right time, that we have an Academy. But we have not yet implemented the same thing for our mailing lists. So there’s still a lot of work ahead.
I’m certain that thanks to AcademyOcean we will be able to efficiently develop both lead generation and client loyalty even further.
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May your endeavors be successful!