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How To’s

  1. 6 Easy SEO Tricks to Make Course Listings More Visible on Google

    The secret to search engine optimization is that there is no secret. But a few easy SEO tricks can make your course listings more visible on Google. Not only will they help students find your course pages, they’ll also make those pages more user friendly and attractive for learners. 

    You might be wondering why we’re focusing on Google specifically. The answer is pretty simple — Google searches account for more than 85% of the global search market share. Optimizing for Google search is a high-impact way to increase the visibility of your courses across the internet. 

    We’re not going to tell you to hire a pricey SEO firm or rebuild your entire website from scratch. Instead, we offer real changes you can make today to improve your SEO performance. Because when it comes to search engine optimization, small changes can make a big difference.

    What Is Search Engine Optimization?

    Let’s start by defining our terms. Search engine optimization is the content, formatting, programming, and hosting decisions that help you show up first in search engine results. 

    For the purposes of this guide, we’re going to talk mostly about on-page SEO. That is, the changes you can make to content on individual pages of your website to improve your ranking. We’re not going to get into programming and web development. Although, if you really want to up your SEO game, your web developer probably has some suggestions.

    Easy SEO Tricks for Your Course Catalog

    Easy SEO Tricks to Quickly Make Course Listings More Visible

    These easy SEO tricks can apply to any page on your website, but we’re talking about how they can help with course listings because increased course page visibility often leads to more registrations for your program. 

    1. Digitize Your Entire Course Guide

    Printed course guides are still a powerful tool. Sending them directly to potential students can help interest them in your programs, but a print catalog can’t improve your SEO. Some programs try to get away with uploading their course catalog as a PDF on their website, but that won’t help either.

    Uploading your course catalog as a PDF does not help SEO since search engines can’t read the contents of PDF files.

    First, search engines can’t read the contents of PDF files. When your course catalog is a PDF, you miss multiple opportunities to rank in search for course types and individual classes. Second, it creates an accessibility barrier. Some people are anxious about downloading files that could potentially infect their computers. Others don’t have the bandwidth for big downloads. 

    Worse, if someone is visually impaired, their assistive tools may not be able to read all PDFs. 

    When people can’t read your content, they’ll spend less time on your site, which means Google will assume you were unable to meet the user’s needs. The search engine will be less likely to show your content in future searches.

    So, putting your course catalog online is good for potential students and for SEO. Without this step, none of our other easy SEO tricks really matter.

    2. Choose Keywords That Fit Each Course

    Keywords are a core element of search engine optimization. Search engines look for keywords to tell them what a page is about. If the keywords on your page match the ones a potential student typed into their search engine, you’re more likely to rank. Keep in mind that the most powerful keywords aren’t individual words at all. They’re keyphrases. For the blog post you’re reading now the phrase “easy SEO tricks” was one of our keywords.

    The most powerful keywords aren’t individual words, they’re keyphrases. Aim for at least 3 per page.

    For each page of your course guide, you should have a minimum of around three keywords. One, the primary keyword, should tell visitors the topic of your course. You can mix in a few secondary keywords to add context. 

    For example, if your keyword is “Beginners Acting Class for Kids,” you might include phrases like:  

    • Drama class
    • Acting training
    • After-school activities
    • Improve public speaking

    You can use Google Trends or other keyword research tools to find the right words. 

    3. Optimize Titles and Descriptions

    The most powerful place to include keywords is in your title. Let’s say you have a course that helps behavioral health professionals get certified. Your title should probably include phrases like Behavioral Health Professional Certification Training or Certification Training for Behavioral Health Professionals.

    Your secondary keywords can show up in your description. Don’t get carried away here. In the early days of SEO, the more you used a keyword, the better you ranked. Now, it’s all about context. 

    Your course description should be interesting and informative. Any keywords it uses should be grammatically correct and make sense in context. They should help the visitor understand what the class is about and whether it’s the right choice for them.

    4. Customize Your URL for Each Course Listing

    This is an easy SEO trick that many people miss. Every page in your course guide has a unique web address. It probably looks something like this:

    Make sure that the slug, or URL, for each course page contains your keywords.

    The part we’re interested in for SEO purposes is the text between the last two backslashes. This is known as the slug, and it’s a unique identifier for your page. You want to make sure that the slug includes the keywords for your course. So, if you have a course on How to Draw Animals your slug should be something like /how-to-draw-animals/. 

    Here’s what to avoid when choosing a slug: 

    • Don’t use an internal course number. /290340u57/ might make sense to you, but it doesn’t tell Google anything about your course
    • Keep it short. /how-to-draw-cats-dogs-chickens-pigs-with-artist-sarah-smith/ is too much and misses the keyphrase
    • Use real words and recognizable phrases, i.e. don’t shorten how to draw animals to /hw-to-drw-anmls/

    Most website content management software includes an option to customize your slug. Take the extra moment to do this and you’ll instantly improve SEO.

    5. Organize Your Course Catalog in a Meaningful Way

    Google doesn’t just look at individual pages. It also considers how those pages fit together. This is another case where improving SEO also improves the user experience. When you organize your course content in logical ways, both Google and your potential learners can easily find what they’re looking for. 

    Organize your course guide into logical categories and subcategories. Categories might include broad topics like: 

    • Career Development
    • Personal Enrichment
    • Business and Skills Training
    • High School Completion
    • Technology
    • Summer Camps
    • Health and Fitness

    Subcategories are more focused but still encompass multiple classes. So under Personal Enrichment you may have subcategories like: 

    • Arts and Crafts
    • Cooking
    • Outdoor Experiences
    • Personal Finance

    Try to choose categories and subcategories that your average student (or their parent) might search for.

    6. Include Location Information

    Mentioning the city and state where your class is located can make your listing more likely to rank for “near me” searches. So if someone types in “personal finance classes near me” your course listing is more likely to pop up in their search. 

    Skip this step, and you could be left off the list. It’s probably not enough to include the location of your organization on the contact us page. Make sure it appears on every course listing. 

    Think Beyond Easy SEO Tricks to Keep Improving

    The easy SEO tricks we’ve shared here will get you started. They’re a quick way to improve user experience and get seen on Google. But they’re just the beginning. Keep in mind that SEO is always evolving. What works now may not be a best practice in three years. Watch the headlines to make sure you never miss an update. 

    CourseStorm can help you create a user-friendly, search engine optimized course catalog.

    Our simple course registration software helps you stay organized, lets you customize your URL, and features location information for every class. For more tips on reaching more students, read our post on course catalog examples that boost enrollment.

  2. Low-Cost Course Promotion: How to Advertise a Class on a Budget

    When you think about how to advertise a class, paid ads might be the first idea that comes to mind. That makes sense, since paid advertising absolutely can help with course promotion. There’s just one major drawback to this strategy—the cost.  

    Most education programs don’t have massive budgets to work with. They need affordable, maybe even free, ways to promote classes. Fortunately, it is possible to advertise courses without spending a ton of money. To help you do that, we’re sharing some of the ideas we’ve seen CourseStorm customers use to promote their classes and programs.

    Course Promotion Starts With a Clear Message

    You’ll use the same basic information in many different ways to advertise your course. So the first step is to collect all of that information. You’ll want a clear and compelling course description, some relevant images, and a link that people can use to sign up. All of this should be easily found in your course catalog. 

    Set up an easy website link

    The benefits of straightforward website navigation can’t be overstated! When folks visit your website, make sure it’s easy to find your newest courses. 

    Don’t assume interested students will dig through an entire course catalog to find the class they’re interested in. Make sure the link you share on social media or other third-party sites brings the user directly to the sign-up page for that specific course. 

    With this information in hand, you’re ready to start advertising your course. 

    Ways to Advertise Courses for Free

    1. Send an announcement to your email list

    The first step is to prepare an email blast to send to your contacts. Announcing the new class to your existing customers first is good practice, because these are most likely to be people who have taken your courses before. 

    Include the course description and a registration link. You can also mention that you’re sharing the news with your email list first. People love to feel special and in the know, so an exclusive first look at upcoming courses can help build student loyalty

    Keep in mind that people get a lot of emails. You might want to send the announcement a couple of times over two or three weeks to make sure it gets seen. If you send multiple emails, use different subject lines for each one. You can also personalize email content and subject lines to make messages more appealing.

    2. Share on social media

    Create an eye-catching social media post to share the news about an upcoming class. If you’re sharing on Facebook or LinkedIn, you can share the link with a short description, and the platform will automatically include your image. 

    For Instagram, you’ll need to get a little more creative with your social media graphic since you can’t share links directly. Include a link to the course in your bio or as part of your Linktree. Don’t forget to mention the link in your post. See the example below for one way to do that. 

    Example of how to advertise a class on social media

    In fact, wherever you post, include a call to action. A call to action is a short, specific statement telling users what action to take when they view your content. Examples of call-to-action statements include: 

    • Register Now
    • Save Your Seat
    • Sign Up
    • View New Classes

    Encourage your staff to share the post on their personal social media pages as well to boost your views. If you’re into social media advertising, you can also “boost” it as a sponsored post.

    3. Add a link to your email signature with a call to action

    It’s easy to overlook the not-so-humble email signature! They’re relatively easy to change and that makes them an excellent place to share major announcements.

    If you’re announcing a new class, edit your email signature to include a button, graphic, or link to the registration page. You can ask everyone in your organization to share the link in their emails as well.

    4. Use your voicemail message to alert your audience

    Most voicemail programs are easy to update, so big news can be shared in that space too. Be concise and direct listeners to a place they can learn more.

    For example, “Registration for our new Adult Dance classes is open now. Visit our website to save your spot.”

    5. Get it on a local events calendar

    Most local and even regional news outlets have community calendars where you can share your class information. They might be called briefs, upcoming events, or community news. Members of the community can submit short listings for events, workshops, or classes. 

    Check your local paper or publication to see if they have something like this. If they do, make sure you follow their directions for how to post. Some will ask you to send an email to a specific address. Others offer the option to automatically add your listing using a simple submission form. It’s a quick and easy way to make your classes more visible.

    6. Create a Facebook event

    Many people use Facebook as a tool to find out what’s going on in their community. Create a Facebook event to get in front of this audience. Make sure you clearly state that registration is required and what the class costs. 

    Include all of the location and scheduling information. Then link to your registration page so people know how to sign up. 

    Mixxer Iron Art Event on Facebook

    7. Send a press release to appropriate media channels

    A press release can help your program spread the news quickly. Write your class announcement following standard press release format, and email it to your media contacts. 

    If you don’t know anyone at the local news station, visit their website. They should have a page that tells you where and how to submit news. Your local chamber of commerce may also be able to provide you with a media contact list.

    If you don’t hear back within a few days, you can send an email to follow up. Keep your email short and polite. Something like this: 

    Dear Editor’s Name,

    I know you get a lot of press releases and there’s a chance mine got lost in the shuffle. We’re offering a new class that can help adults prepare for in-demand tech jobs. It’s a timely topic since the tech job market is growing rapidly. I’ve included the release again below so you don’t have to go digging for it.

    Your Name

    Keep in mind that making staff and instructors available as sources, and generally being helpful to the press is a long-term investment. When editors and journalists see that you’re a reliable source who provides newsworthy information, they’re more likely to work with you. Keep building these relationships to get your classes the publicity they deserve.

    8. Host a live stream

    People love live videos! You can share your news with a live video on your favorite social media channel. Don’t overthink it. Here’s an easy recipe for a successful live experience:

    • Announce it a few days ahead of time
    • Plan for no more than 15 minutes
    • Prepare a list of talking points
    • Practice beforehand
    • Go live! 

    As an example, here’s how to start a live broadcast on Instagram

    How to Advertise a Class Inexpensively

    9. Drop it in the mailbox

    If you have mailing addresses for prior students, you can drop a postcard in the mail to announce your new class. Physical mail stands out because it’s less commonly used these days. That means students may be more likely to pay attention to this tactic if it’s used sparingly. 

    You can target your list by deciding to send it to the people you think will benefit the most. That could be only people who registered in the past year or only those who pay with cash or a check. 

    The US Postal Service also provides special rates for bulk marketing mail that will allow you to target residents in a particular zip code. They even have discounted rates if your organization is a nonprofit.

    Good design is really important for physical mailings. You want people to really look at your postcard, not lump it in with junk mail. Make sure to include a short website link where they can access more information. You might also include a QR code (more on those in a moment).

    10. Put up posters using easy-to-access QR codes

    Posters are still a great way to announce upcoming classes. They target a local audience and can reach people who aren’t already on your mailing list or following you on social media.

    To make it easy for folks on the move to find out more, use a custom QR code that can be scanned with a cellphone camera to share specific information. You can make them for free using an online generator. We like Unitag but Canva also has a built-in QR code app you can access if you’re already using this graphic design software to make posters.

    11. Increase engagement with a promo code or discount

    A promo code can entice someone to read more or take a chance on a new class. The discount can be limited to meet a specific timeframe, like the first week after the class is announced. Send it out to your email list or print it on your postcard mailing.

    You might even offer discount codes as a reward for signing up. Students who register for your new class can get a code that they can use for future classes or share with a friend. 

    Download the Class Promotion Checklist

    Every time you have a new class to promote, you can follow this list. If you can supplement with some paid advertising, great. If not, these tactics should still help fill your classes. 

    Want a handy checklist version? We created a printable, easy-to-use reference to make remembering where to share even easier for you. 

    Download a checklist!

    Of course, figuring out how to advertise a class is just the first step. Next you need to make it simple for students to register. That’s where we come in. CourseStorm’s simple online registration and payment solution offers a streamlined class sign-up process for every student.

  3. Why Students Love It When You Offer Payment Plans for Classes

    These days it seems like pretty much everyone is offering payment plans. Whether you need a new water heater for your home or just want a trendy new sweater, payment plans help make purchases possible. If your organization offers big-ticket courses that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, it might be time to consider offering payment plans to students. 

    Payment plans make it easier for students to afford professional credentials, certifications, camps, trips, and long-term enrichment programs. They can register now, rather than waiting to save up the full purchase price. And modern technology means that setting up payment plans can be easy for organizations too! 

    Why Offer Payment Plans to Customers?

    You may not think of your learners as “customers” but during the registration process, that’s exactly what they are. They’re shopping for a good or service, in this case an educational experience or credential. Your job is to make it easy for them to make the purchase that fits their needs. 

    Your students don’t want to miss out on classes just because they don’t have the full purchase price in their pocket right now. Payment plans allow your students to take the classes they need when they need them. 

    Offering payment plans for higher priced classes allows students to register when they want to, rather than when they have the full fee in hand. And it shows you care about your students.

    The result is that students choose the right time to take your classes based on their needs, not their bank balance. Classes offer learners an opportunity to enrich their life and even advance their careers. Those are opportunities that should be available to as many people as possible. 

    Yet, many people have experienced new financial stresses under the uncertainty of the last few years. Costs are increasing everywhere and budgets are tighter. Your students and your organization both feel that pinch. You may even need to raise prices to meet new circumstances. Offering payment plans can help smooth this transition.

    Setting up installment plans shows you care for students. You understand that everyone has different financial circumstances, and you want to be inclusive. It acknowledges the financial pressures some learners face, and shows that your organization will treat learners with respect. That makes your organization look good, even to students who don’t need a payment plan right now. 

    The Benefits of Offering Payment Plans

    Offering payment plans can seem like a new administrative burden. But the right technology makes it easy. Besides, this flexibility brings some real benefits to your organization. 

    1. Offer higher-priced classes with less risk. Often, big-ticket classes are more costly to produce. You may need to retain instructors with specialized skills, pay to maintain licenses and accreditation, get special insurance, or provide facilities and equipment over the long term. Setting all this up is a financial risk for your organization, but payment plans keep money flowing month after month.

    2. Gauge level of interest. It’s sometimes hard to tell why registrations are lower than expected for a specific class. Are students just not interested, or is the price scaring them away? Payment plans help remove some of the price burden so you can more easily gauge interest.

    3. Register more students. Spacing out payments makes classes more affordable since students don’t have to come up with a lump sum. That means you may get more registrations and be able to reduce class cancellations

    How to Avoid Potential Drawbacks of Installment Plans

    The obvious danger with payment plans is that a student will fail to pay the whole amount. One way to avoid this problem is by setting up the plan so that the full amount is due before the class starts. Learners can hold their seat with a deposit, but must pay in full before the start date. For longer-term classes, you can spread the payments out a little more, but still require full payment before the end of the class. 

    CourseStorm does not charge any additional fees for payment plans, to students or programs.

    Depending on your payment processor, you can sometimes incur additional costs for taking payments in installments. Make sure you ask about any payment fees or administrative charges before offering payment plans to students. CourseStorm does not charge any additional fees for payment plans. There is no cost difference to students between courses paid in full in advance or on payment plans.

    Setting up and administering payment plans can be labor intensive, unless you have the right tools in place. Many organizations never take the plunge because they think set-up will be difficult and they dread the administrative complication. Fortunately, unless you’re still using manual spreadsheets and mailed checks to handle registrations, those problems should be a thing of the past. 

    How to Offer Payment Plans and Never Miss a Payment

    Ideally, your registration system has built-in payment processing. The best course registration and payment tools also have payment plans built in, so students automatically get charged when a payment is due.

    Adding a payment plan in CourseStorm

    At CourseStorm, payment plans are built-in and easy to use. We manage all the technical details for you so you get consistent automatic payments. For any class that costs more than $100, you’ll see a handy button that lets you configure payment plans for that class. You can have different plans for different classes or choose not to offer the option at all.

    When students register, they can opt to pay the full amount upfront, or sign up for automatic charges. The system will auto-schedule payments based on the time left between registration and the date the registration must be fully paid off. 

    You can even set up custom payment schedules if you have a student in special circumstances. This kind of flexibility means you can work with students to meet their unique needs and help overcome hardships that might otherwise prevent them from registering. 

    You Know Your Students Best

    Payment plans are increasingly common for educational programs, and many customers have come to expect them as an option for higher-priced opportunities. 

    Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you offer payment plans. Whatever you decide, we’ve made it easy by integrating them directly into CourseStorm’s class registration and payment software. For more on how CourseStorm works, or to experience our surprisingly simple registration software for yourself, start your free trial today. 

  4. How the Right Enrollment Tool Can Save You Time and Effort

    You wouldn’t use a hammer to try to cut a board. Instead, you’d reach for a saw because it’s the right tool for the job. The same is true when you’re registering students for classes. You need an enrollment tool that can get the job done. 

    Some education providers reach for what’s familiar. They use Excel Surveys or Google Forms to gather information and populate spreadsheets. Those tools are fine if you have plenty of time and energy to spare. Just like a handsaw would be fine if you only had one board to cut. 

    But if you need to work at volume, you can save time and effort by grabbing a power tool. Just as a circular saw can speed up your carpentry project, CourseStorm’s automated student registration software can streamline enrollments. 

    What You Need From an Enrollment Tool

    You need information to register a student for your class. Most education providers use some sort of form to collect that data. Once you have it, you need to transfer it to your database so you can manage classes and track attendance and payments. 

    Your enrollment tool should include a registration form and payment processing to create a seamless experience for the student.

    Speaking of payments, modern students expect to be able to register and pay entirely online. So your enrollment tool should include both a registration form and a payment processing tool. Ideally, those two are integrated to create a seamless experience for the student. 

    Course management is challenging enough without having to juggle dozens of paper registration forms and spend hours entering data into a spreadsheet. You certainly don’t want to miss registrations because students have to mail in payment or turn a student away because they haven’t paid by the class date. 

    While both Excel Surveys and Google Forms can help you collect information, they’re less helpful when it comes to payment processing. Let’s take a closer look at how these tools compare. 

    Enrollment Tool Comparison Chart: Excel vs Google Forms vs CourseStorm

    Excel Surveys as Enrollment Tools

    Some organizations choose Excel Surveys because they’re already familiar with Excel and feel comfortable with the software. Plus, there’s no extra fee for Surveys if you already use Microsoft 365, which includes Excel. 

    Basically, organizations create a survey form with question fields. They then share the link to the survey with prospective students. The information automatically fills an Excel spreadsheet as attendees fill out and submit the form.

    This all sounds straightforward, but you run into problems when it comes to taking payment. There’s no integrated payment option. So you’ll need to send your students to a third-party site to finish registration, which means you may need to manually match registrations with payments. 

    Healthcare organizations should be aware that Excel Surveys and Google Forms are not HIPAA compliant, whereas CourseStorm is.

    The forms also aren’t very mobile friendly, which can disrupt the student experience. And be careful if you are a healthcare organization subject to HIPAA or other privacy standards. This method is not HIPAA compliant. 

    Your ability to manipulate the data once you have it will depend on your level of skill with Excel. If you’re already an Excel pro, graphs and reporting might be easy. Everyone else will face a steep learning curve. 

    Subscriptions to Microsoft 365 start at $8.25 per user per month; discounted plans are available for nonprofits

    Google Forms for Enrollment

    Google Forms is another solution you might choose because it’s familiar. Organizations that already use Google for internal email and word processing might try Google Forms for registration. The good news is that Google Forms is somewhat smoother than Excel Surveys and has some added tools that make it easier to manage your registration information.

    You still get shareable links, customizable survey fields, and cloud storage. You can also view charts and graphs in real time without any special effort. 

    Once again, payments are a challenge. You’ll need to link to a third-party payment service. This takes users away from your form and onto another website. 

    Like Excel, Google is not automatically HIPAA compliant. Organizations that need this level of security may have some extra work to do (and money to spend) to abide by privacy regulations. Access to support is limited and mostly involves community message boards. 

    Google Forms are part of the Google Workspace suite, which is free for nonprofits and individuals. For-profit businesses pay around $12 per month. 

    CourseStorm, the Integrated Solution

    CourseStorm’s online class registration software is specifically designed to support education businesses by combining registration and payment processes into a single tool. It streamlines the way you handle registration by providing an easy-to-use, customizable, secure, and comprehensive registration and payment system. CourseStorm’s software can integrate with your existing website and connect with Zapier to streamline automations. 

    The fully customizable registration and payment forms are secure and HIPAA compliant. They keep all of a student’s information together, even offering group registration for families or friends taking classes together. 

    Before CourseStorm, Westside Christian Academy spent 40+ hours manually pulling data and creating Excel spreadsheets for their summer camp registration.

    Westside Christian Academy in Westlake, Ohio, chose CourseStorm to save them time with registration for their summer camps. Last year their executive director spent 40+ hours manually pulling data and creating Excel spreadsheets. She is thrilled to have CourseStorm to make the process easier. “It’s beautiful—it’s like it’s made for me!” she said.

    You can share your registration form with parents or students as a link or embed it on your website. Plus, integrated email marketing lets you easily communicate with registrants. Both you and your students get automatic notifications about low and nearly full classes so you can cancel fewer classes. Automatic waiting lists help keep classes full. 

    All that for no setup or monthly fees—just a small per-student registration fee. CourseStorm is easy to use, but if you do need help, our customer support team is here for you. 

    Choose the Right Enrollment Tool

    Whatever method you choose, automating class enrollment saves your staff time and effort. Students appreciate the easy process and take more classes, and your staff is free to focus on more important things, like growing your program. In fact, CourseStorm customers enjoy an average 18% increase in enrollment the first year, and 15% each consecutive year that they use our impossibly simple class registration software.

    Want to see first-hand how CourseStorm automates the registration and payment process? Schedule a demo, or contact us to learn more.

  5. The Best Class Registration Forms Achieve These 5 Vital Tasks

    Online class registration forms can do more than gather information. They’re often your first direct communication with a student. You can use them as an opportunity to share information, better understand student needs, and tap into their insight. In short, well-designed class registration forms set the foundation for a positive student experience.

    To achieve all that without overwhelming the student takes some smart decision making. You want to keep your forms focused and relevant, but still collect and share the information you need. Let’s look at the basic tasks every registration form must accomplish. Then we’ll share a simple course registration form template you can customize with class-specific questions. 

    What Should a Class Registration Form Do?

    It’s easy to forget that class registration forms are a two-way line of communication. Collecting information from the student is only half their job. The other half is to provide the essential information a student needs to feel excited and prepared.

    Make sure that your class registration forms accomplish all five of the following vital tasks.

    1. Gather information about the student

    The first function of a student registration form is to gather all of the information you need to know about them. This may include their name, date of birth, and their email address or phone number. For some classes, you might also need information about the student’s gender, allergies, or disabilities that might need special accommodation.

    Be thoughtful about which information you really need. Gender, disabilities, and even date of birth might not be relevant in all cases. Show students that you respect their privacy by only asking for essential information.

    2. Share details about class requirements or expectations

    You can write a beautiful class description outlining everything students need to know, and they may still miss some details. If something is essential, include it on your registration form. Then add a box they can check to indicate that they’ve read and understood each item. 

    For example, the following paragraph packs in a lot of information: 

    “Family Float is a kayaking class for families. That means, children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. This is an immersive class, so you will get wet! Each participant should wear a swimsuit and bring a towel. Goggles and swim caps are optional. For your safety, you must wear your instructor-provided life jacket at all times while in the marked boating area.” 

    This might be a useful part of a class description, but it isn’t the best choice for your registration form. The friendly tone buries some of the details and students could easily miss important information if they’re reading quickly. They are more likely to come prepared if you list each requirement or expectation individually. 

    Like this:

    • I understand that an adult guardian must accompany my child at all times during this class. 
    • Both my child and their adult will bring a swimsuit and towel to every class. 
    • I agree that both myself and my child will wear our instructor-provided life jacket at all times while in the marked boating area. 

    checklist items on a class registration form showing that a student understands the expectations of the class

    It’s easy to take this advice too far. Although you want to cover the essentials, you don’t have to include every detail of your course. For example, the part about goggles and swim caps probably isn’t vital to providing a safe and positive student experience.

    If you do have supplemental information to share, you might want to include it as a linked PDF. Just keep in mind that students may not take the time to review everything. For the form itself, think about what information students will need to know in order to feel prepared for your course. Instructors can cover anything else during the class. 

    3. Include pricing information and ways to pay

    Clearly state the cost and method of payment on your registration form. Link any price-adjusting options so the total automatically updates. 

    For example: If you’re hosting an Intro to Photoshop course you may offer a discounted license for the software. Some students may already have a copy and want to pay for just the class. In that case, you could include two pricing options. One for the class plus software and one for the class registration alone.

    If you’re operating as a non-profit or providing free classes, you may also want to ask for a donation. Explain how your organization might use the donation. Wherever possible, include a suggested donation amount. A clear use and suggested donation amount can increase the likelihood that people will donate.

    Here are some ways to put this into practice: 

    • Your $3 donation helps cover administration costs for this class.
    • Foster a child’s creativity by donating $35 to meet the cost of class enrollment for one student.
    • $10 pays for your class materials, helping us offer this class to more students.

    4. Record consent for legal information or terms of use

    If you need any waivers, legal releases, or consent forms, ask for them on your registration form. This lets instructors spend less time on legalities, and gives students a chance to read and review material.

    Decide whether you need any or all of the following: 

    • Refund policy
    • Photo release or recording permission
    • Guardian consent for students under 18
    • Statements about potential allergens or hazards
    • COVID or other health policy statements
    • Guidelines for using equipment or facilities

    Even if you ask students to sign required documents when they arrive in class, include them with the registration form. This allows students to review them and ask questions ahead of time.

    5. Offer opportunities to provide feedback

    Feedback might be the most underutilized function of a class registration form. You don’t have to wait until a student has completed a class to start gathering their feedback. Opening a line of communication early shows students that you value their insight and are ready to listen. 

    Try adding questions like: 

    • How did you hear about this class?
    • On a scale of 1 to 5, how easy was it to register for this course?
    • What other classes would you like us to offer?

    Limit yourself to one or two feedback questions that the student can answer quickly. Too many questions can make your form seem cluttered and overwhelming. Remember, this is just the beginning of the conversation.

    A Class Registration Form Template Worth Copying

    When you’re ready to start building your own class registration form, aim for simplicity. In some cases you may only need the student’s name, phone number, mailing address, and payment information. Students will appreciate that you stuck to only the most essential questions.

    Example of a simple class registration form

    Some course providers fall into the habit of using one form for everything. So if one course requires special details, like allergy information, they include it in every form. The problem is that your forms quickly become bloated and complicated, which adds friction for the student.

    It’s smarter to have a basic form template that you adjust for each class. When you customize forms to collect and share the right information, you offer a better student experience.

    The checklist below will help you customize your forms. Use the optional fields only if you absolutely need that information to offer a quality class.

    Checklist for Better Class Registration Forms. Essential for every form: student name, phone, email, address, payment info. Optional, use only when needed: age gender or other demographic info; disabilities or allergies that need accommodation; details about class requirements; donation request; photo release or recording permission; guardian consent; equipment or facility use guidelines; feedback requests.

    Make Your Class Registration Forms Easy to Use

    Most importantly, your online registration forms should be accessible and easy to use. Make it mobile-friendly and use modern formats.

    When forms are relevant, easy to read, and full of useful information, online class registration is easier for students. And that’s the beginning of a positive student experience.

    That’s why CourseStorm offers built-in student registration forms and a range of customization options. We help you keep forms simple, while getting and sharing all the information you need to make a class successful. Contact us to learn more, or start your free trial and test the forms out yourself.

  6. How a Clear Refund Policy Can Encourage More Registrations

    No class provider wants to issue a refund to students. You want your classes to happen as scheduled and for students to be satisfied with the experience. But when weather, illness, or other circumstances disrupt the best-laid plans, it’s smart to have a clear refund policy. It lets both students and staff know what to expect. 

    We’ll show you how to write a clear policy that improves the student experience and makes life easier for your staff at the same time. We’ve even created an example refund policy that you can copy and customize to fit your needs.

    Why You Need a Clear Refund Policy

    Well-written refund policies are vital for any business providing services to the public, that includes course providers. A refund policy establishes expectations for both your business and customers and can protect you from potential financial losses and liability. 

    A clear refund policy lets students know what to expect if they need to cancel a registration and can protect you from financial losses and liability.

    Your policy lets registrants know what to expect if they need to cancel a registration. Having a signed or virtually acknowledged refund policy can also help you win a credit card dispute known as a chargeback. When your policy is clear, students and registrants can work with you directly without getting credit card companies involved.

    Example of a Clear Refund Policy

    Let’s start with a solid example of a clear refund policy. This example covers the common reasons you might cancel classes, as well as reasons students might need to cancel. It explains common situations and how you’ll handle refund requests. 

    Note that we are registration software providers, not lawyers, so this isn’t legal advice. It’s just an example of a clear policy you might use as a starting point.

    Example Refund Policy

    This refund policy covers class cancellations and refunds for registered students. By registering for classes, you indicate that you have read and understand this policy. 

    1. Weather-Related Cancellations:

    We may sometimes choose to cancel classes if severe weather makes attendance unsafe for students or instructors. If this happens, we will notify you by phone or email. You will receive a full refund or credit toward an upcoming class if we cancel due to weather. 

    1. Illness and Health-Related Cancellations:

    If an instructor is ill and unable to teach as scheduled, we may bring in a substitute or cancel the class. If a class is canceled due to instructor illness, we will notify you by phone or email. You may choose to receive a refund or credit toward an upcoming class if we cancel due to instructor illness.  

    1. Insufficient Enrollment:

    If a class does not meet the minimum enrollment required to run effectively, we may have to cancel or reschedule it. Participants will have the option to transfer to another class, receive a credit, or request a full refund.

    1. Personal Cancellations:

    If you cannot attend a class, you must notify us 7 days before the class start date to request a refund. An administrative fee of 10% will be deducted from the refund amount.  If you cancel fewer than 7 days in advance, you will not be eligible for a refund. 

    1. No-Shows or Missed Classes:

    Refunds will not be provided for no-shows or missed classes without prior notification.

    1. Refunds Requests and Processing:

    You must submit refund requests by email to Refunds will be processed within 14 business days after we receive the request. If you paid by credit card or online payment system, the refund will be issued back to the original payment method. If you paid by cash or check, refunds will be provided by check. 

    We strive to be fair to our students while ensuring the smooth functioning of our programs. Please contact for any questions or concerns related to our refund policy.

    You can adjust this policy to meet your needs. You might want to add or remove items depending on the kind of classes you teach. 

    How to Write a Clear Refund Policy

    The example above can help you write a clear refund policy for your program. Whether you use our language or write your own, keep these best practices in mind. 

    • Be concise. People tend to breeze over terms and agreements when registering. Keeping your policy brief will increase the chances that your registrants will read it. Your refund policy shouldn’t be longer than one page.

    • Use plain language. Legal jargon might make your refund policy sound official, but it won’t make it clear. Try to write in plain language an 8th grader could easily understand.
    • Write one policy for all classes. Your refund policy should be standard across all of your classes. Consistent rules make it easier for students to remember and apply your policies. 

    The Best Refund Policies Include These 4 Items:

    4 parts of a clear refund policy: time limit, policies, procedures, exemptions

    Your refund policy should clearly outline what students or registrants can expect. That means it should cover all common situations as well as the procedure for requesting and processing refunds. Check that your refund policy includes these 4 items:

    1. Time limit for refunds. Be clear about your refund timeframes. For example, “no refunds after the first day of class” or “refunds must be requested 48 hours before a class begins.”

    2. Policies for class cancellation. There are multiple reasons why a class may be canceled. Cover the most common ones (weather, illness, low enrollment) so students know what to expect.

    3. Specific exemption information. Tell students which fees you will refund in each situation. For example, some programs offer a special exception if the student gets sick. Others may refund a materials fee but not the class fees.

    4. Clear refund request procedures. Describe the procedure that a registrant must follow in order to request a refund. Link to necessary paperwork and tell them exactly where to send it or whom to contact. 

    It’s also good practice to review and update your policy yearly. If you make changes, email existing students and let them know. 

    How to Share a Refund Policy

    A clear refund policy is only useful if your students know about it. To make sure your registrants see your refund policy, share it in at least one of the following places: 

    • Your main website menu
    • As a link in the footer of your main website
    • As a link at the bottom of each course description

    CourseStorm customers can share their refund policy in two useful ways: as a link on their CourseStorm site or as a waiver on their class registration form.

    If you’re a CourseStorm customer, you can share your refund policy in two other useful ways. Adding it as a link in the intro text of your CourseStorm site can make it more visible. You can add it as a waiver on your class registration form. The waiver should include a checkbox indicating that the student has read and agreed to the policy.

    Share Your Policy Internally

    Your staff should also get a copy of your policy so they are ready to answer questions from students. Sharing the policy internally ensures that everyone is following the same rules. If you decide that certain staff members should have the power to make exceptions, tell them where to document those exceptions. 

    Clarity Makes Registrations Simple

    Nobody wants to issue a refund, but it’s good to know you have a clear policy in place when needed. Your straightforward approach will help students feel more confident in their purchase. Staff members will save time by having a clear policy to reference. Your program might even save money by avoiding chargebacks and other headaches. 

    Simplifying the class registration process is something we know a lot about here at CourseStorm. Our online class registration and payment software simplifies everything from policy sharing to group registrations, so your students get a seamless registration experience every time. Try a free trial for yourself, or contact us to learn more.

  7. How Value-Based Selling Can Help You Register More Students

    Most people don’t get into the education industry because they love selling things. Yet, selling your courses to students is an important part of your job. Think of it this way: students need to register for your courses before they can benefit from them. Because you care about students and want to help them, value-based selling may be a great fit for your organization. 

    Value-based marketing and selling puts the student and their needs at the core of your sales efforts. It encourages you to work with students to help them find the right learning experience for them. Along the way, a value-based selling methodology can help you register more students. Let’s explore how you can put this strategy to work for your program.

    What Is Value-Based Selling?

    Value-based selling is an approach to marketing and sales that focuses on creating value to the customer. For programs that provide learning opportunities, this starts with adopting a student focus. You should understand what students gain by taking your classes and find ways to offer value before, during, and after registration. 

    Value refers to the worth or usefulness of something. A class can offer quantitative value (earning a credential), or qualitative value (improving quality of life).

    Value can be a slippery term, but basically, it refers to the worth or usefulness of something. Some products and services have quantitative value — they can help customers save or earn money. Unless you’re teaching workforce development classes, quantitative value might be hard to prove for your courses.

    Most enrichment and personal development classes offer qualitative value — they improve quality of life for the student. 

    Examples of Qualitative Value Offered by Enrichment Classes:

    • Increased confidence
    • Improved wellbeing
    • Stronger social ties and sense of community
    • Greater cultural awareness
    • Better physical or mental health
    • Deeper self-awareness through self-discovery
    • Higher emotional intelligence
    • Fun and entertainment
    • More resilience and grit

    Use the qualitative value of your classes to find your unique value proposition.

    How to Identify Your Unique Value Proposition

    Students have more types of learning opportunities to choose from than ever before. They can take classes in-person, online or both. They can choose a college, school, organization or private instructor. Free resources like YouTube and public libraries make self-study an attractive option.

    Your unique value proposition is what makes your classes different from your competitors’.

    Your unique value proposition makes the case for why a student should choose the classes you offer. It’s an essential part of your program or organizational branding

    Here are a few places to start looking for your unique value proposition: 

    • Small class size
    • Personalized approach
    • Unique focus or specialty
    • Award-winning instructors
    • Partnership with a local organization or employer
    • Ongoing support
    • Robust student community
    • Expertise in a particular student population

    Maybe yours is the only program that offers in-person classes on this subject in your town. Perhaps you have special expertise in working with teens, or have a certification in trauma-informed instruction. Anything that sets you apart can form part of your unique value proposition. 

    Just keep in mind that something only adds value if students need or can use it. If you primarily teach adults, having a staff member with a Ph.D. in child psychology may not add value. Unless, of course, you decide to add parenting classes to your course catalog.

    Sometimes what looks like a drawback can actually add value if framed in the right way for the right audience. Being the only dance studio in town without mirrors on the wall might not add value. Unless your program embraces body positivity and believes that dance is about how you feel, not what you look like. 

    Build a Value Selling Framework Around the Student

    The trick is to identify your ideal student and research the needs that student is likely to have. Then you can create marketing materials, courses, and support systems that provide value for that student. 

    The danger in this approach is that you’ll fall back on stereotypes. Instead of guessing at what your students want, research what they actually need. Listen to their complaints and concerns and ask them about their goals. 

    Here’s an example: You may know that your average student is a 30-55 year old woman. She is likely either married or divorced and has 2-3 children. She has a full-time job and a family income of around $80,000 per year. She lives in town and has her own vehicle.

    With this information, you can make some guesses or assumptions about what this student might value:

    • Price may not be a major concern for her. So you might choose not to focus on cost savings.
    • You might assume she would prefer evening classes she can attend after work.
    • With her busy lifestyle and many commitments, she might not have much time for building social connections. Maybe she would value opportunities for relationship building and community connection. 

    The best way to check these assumptions is to ask. You can use student feedback forms or course evaluations to ask questions like: 

    • What do you value most about this class?
    • How will you use what you learned here in your everyday life? 
    • To whom would you be most likely to recommend this class? 
    • How could we improve this class? 

    How to Apply a Value-Based Selling Approach

    Most of the articles you’ll read about value-based selling focus on how sales teams can use it in conversations with customers. However, many of your students will register online without ever speaking to a member of your team. In that case, a completely personalized sales strategy may not be realistic. You have to rely on value-based marketing, instead.

    Value-based selling relies on conversations with customers; if students are registering online on their own, you’ll need to focus on value-based marketing.

    Here are a few ways to apply a value selling methodology across your marketing and sales platforms.

    Value-Based Marketing on Your Website

    When creating your website, look for opportunities to communicate your unique value proposition. Make sure your homepage and about us page explain the unique value you offer students.

    • Instead of: We teach painting, photography, and drawing to students of all ages. 
    • Say: We help students of all ages develop their artistic skills and realize their creative vision through painting, photography, and drawing classes. 

    If you have a blog, offer useful advice and lessons, rather than focusing on your courses and program. Sharing this type of information helps build trust with students. 

    Including Value in Course Catalogs

    Write class descriptions that highlight the value of each class or offering in your course catalog. Paint a picture of the results a student can expect from the course. Here’s an example from a sailing class: 

    Deepen your knowledge of sailing and build fundamental skills, while developing appreciation for the sea and its mysteries. Join a community of like-minded adult sailors, ready to embark on new voyages and share tales of the open water. Together we’ll explore essential sailing terminology, equipment, and safety, as well as boat handling and reading nautical charts. Whether you dream of leisurely cruises or competitive regattas, this course will help you launch an unforgettable sailing adventure.  

    This example tells the student what they will learn, but also highlights the qualitative value of the course. It promises community and skills, and implies that students will come away with stories worth sharing. 

    Value-Based Messaging on Social Media

    Your social media posts should also focus on value, but they need to get to the point more quickly. You can use them to announce a class, but also to share valuable content that students might be interested in. 

    Consider mixing up your social media feed with: 

    • Industry news
    • How-to content
    • Polls and open-ended questions
    • Creative prompts
    • Fun facts

    All of these types of content offer value to students. They can also increase engagement, which helps more people see your posts.

    Targeted Email Marketing

    Email marketing allows you to provide value by offering the exact classes a particular student may be looking for. You can predict that a student who has finished the beginner’s class might be interested in the intermediate one. A student who took a class in post-Impressionist painting styles might also be interested in a class on Expressionism. 

    With CourseStorm, you can automate marketing emails. Our automated email system offers recommendations based on the classes students have taken before. Our streamlined platform simplifies the class registration and payment process, which saves your students time. With no monthly fees, you only pay when you actually register a student.

    Start your free trial of CourseStorm today or contact us for more information!

  8. How the Power of Seasonal Marketing Can Help Attract Students

    There’s a reason you see more advertisements for florists in the weeks before Valentine’s Day. It’s the same reason gyms capitalize on the “new year, new you” weight loss trend in January. These businesses use seasonal marketing to make their promotions and campaigns feel more timely and relevant. Your organization can do the same for its courses.

    Seasonal marketing taps into the collective emotions, experiences, memories, and traditions associated with each season to create compelling marketing. These campaigns provide a sense of urgency by making courses feel timely. They also drive engagement because they align with what students are likely to be thinking and feeling at any given time of year. 

    Read more

  9. Educating Arts Educators: 6 Ideas for Professional Development

    All educators benefit from professional development. Teachers in the arts are no exception. In fact, art teacher professional development serves a double purpose. It helps professionals hone their teaching abilities while also improving their artistic skills. 

    Making art and teaching it are two separate but related skills. The best artist-educators find time for their own creative pursuits and also take opportunities for teacher professional development. 

    Fortunately, there are organizations that offer specialized workshops and classes for art teachers and other arts educators. We’ve rounded up some resources and suggestions for where to find these opportunities so art teachers can continue to work on their craft while supporting their students. 

    Read more

  10. Is Your Summer Camp Registration System Ready for Next Season?

    School’s out and summer camp season is in full swing. Is your program dealing with last-minute registrations, changes, or cancellations? Are you stuck managing a complicated camp registration system that overwhelms employees and frustrates parents? Is your team wasting a ton of time chasing down payments, consent forms, or other essential documents? Are you paying a monthly subscription fee for a program you only use six months out of the year? 

    If you answered yes to any of those, you might dread camp registration season. But there are actions you can take to simplify and streamline your system and process for next time. It’s never too early to start. 

    Read more

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