How to Grow Your Online Course with Word of Mouth

3 ways to grow your learners & your course at the same time

Pathwright Team



When we learn something new, our first instinct is to share it. After all, learning is about connections to ourselves and others. But most online courses are locked behind a paywall or login, making it difficult to share. Locked-down learning is not only less fun, but less likely to stick. And, it blocks the most potent marketing tool in a course designer's toolkit: word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is a marketing term for when people buy a product because someone they trust shared it with them — in a conversation, on social media, or in a presentation.

You can foster growth for your learners and for your online courses by creatively encouraging them to share what they learn — a win-win scenario!

3 Ways to Foster Word-of-Mouth

A positive learning experience is the foundation of word-of-mouth promotion. Once you have that, your learners will want to share their experience in your course, and you can help them do so with timely prompts:

1) Share accomplishments 

Learners earn small and large accomplishments throughout an effective learning experience — building their first website, making a quilt, cracking a tough math formula, articulating a thought, etc. Identify those uniquely positive moments and:

  • Prompt them to share accomplishments outside your course — on Facebook, Twitter, or with friends. You get the benefit of their audience.
  • Share great examples of work on your social media or website so others can see your learners' progress.
  • Give special recognition when your learners succeed in a big way. For example, post a brief bio of your graduates on your website or recommend them on LinkedIn.

We all love to see (and re-share) posts that showcase something we've accomplished!

2) Just ask

Asking people directly to share your course can feel awkward, but there are natural ways to do so that appreciative learners will be happy to help you with:

  • Prompt new learners to invite friends or colleagues to join them in the course.
  • Ask for reviews and post interesting ones on social media or your website.
  • Share your goals and ask your community to help you reach them. For example, you could share how many learners you hope to have in the community by the end of the year (and why), or you could share how many courses you need to sell to begin developing your next course. This is a time-tested approach favored by nonprofits, but anyone can do it! It works best if a for-profit company focuses on what they'll be able to offer next when the goal is reached.

3) Add extras

An additional incentive or two puts some icing on the cake for people who want to share your course:

  • Create a referral program where anyone who shares your course with someone who joins both get cash, a gift card, or a free course.
  • The best way to really learn something is to teach it. Give everyone who completes your courses the option to create their own group to re-take it with friends, families, or coworkers at a discounted rate.
  • Issue a certificate, badge, or award at the end of the course that includes coupons for discounted access for anyone they'd like to give a unique gift to.

How Pathwright helps people share your course

Pathwright's Share feature is a one-stop shop for sharing paths quickly and beautifully. Use your device's native sharing options (e.g., Airdrop, text message, etc.) in real-time, or use a QR code for convenient sharing at live events and in promotional materials.

Here's a quick overview of Share from Christian:

Use the Share feature for:


Prompt your learning community to share your paths with their peers. The Share feature generates an attractive visual card that shows your course cover. Anyone who shares it will see an aesthetically appealing representation of your course anywhere you encourage and/or incentivize word-of-mouth sharing on social media or through native share (e.g., Airdrop, text message, etc.).

In-Person Teaching, Events, and Conferences

The Share QR code is great for in-person teaching, events, and conferences. Now, instead of asking everyone to type in your website URL and click 2-3 times to get into a course, you can put the course's QR code up on your presentation slides (Pathwright, Keynote, PowerPoint, etc.) for the audience to scan with their smartphones. The QR code comes in handy in a printed syllabus for a class or at an event registration table or kiosk.

Promotional Materials

It's raining QR codes! They're everywhere, and with good reason. Whether print, live, or digital, a QR code is a very low-threshold way to quickly turn curiosity into a learner in just one step. Whether you promote your courses through ads, coffee shop bulletins, live events, or guerrilla marketing tactics, a QR code could come in handy.

Using Pathwright is dead simple and doesn’t cost a thing until you’re ready to launch a path.
Get started

Who else might like this?

Topics in this article

More in News

See all