Heights Platform Why You Should Do Market Research Before Starting an Online Course Business + How to Do it

Why You Should Do Market Research Before Starting an Online Course Business + How to Do it

6 minute read

If you have an online business, chances are that you already are conducting market research, whether you are aware of it or not!

Nowadays everyone with an internet connection can conduct thorough market research: some of the best and easiest tools to use are already available to you.

From a simple google search, to elaborate survey collection, there are many ways to carry out market research for your online business.

But what exactly is market research?

Conducting online market research means collecting data from the internet about your potential customers, their behavior, the level of competition in your niche, the ease of entry and much more.

In other words, this type of preliminary research allows you to better understand your target audience and evaluate how to succeed in a chosen market. The better you understand your prospects, the easier it is to come up with actual solutions for them and create an amazing product for them, whether you are selling online courses, digital products or even building an eCommerce store.

So let's dive right into it and see why conducting online market research can help you, your business and your future customers.

Why is it Important to Conduct Market Research?

Carrying out proper online market research requires you to invest time and sometimes money.

However, proper research can significantly help you and your business, let's see why:

Helps Your Identify Your Target Audience

Knowing your target audience is extremely important for creating a successful business. If you truly understand who your customers are, it will be much easier to come up with new online courses or product ideas, develop a powerful marketing strategy for your business and craft a product that really helps your ideal customers.

Identifying your "customer persona" also helps ensure that you are directly speaking to the customers and addressing all of their needs.

What are the main elements of building a customer persona? You might believe that simply knowing the demographics of your target market is enough in order really understand your target market.

However, aside from being aware of your customers' most public information, you should also try to understand their behavior, what they value and what drives them to make a purchase. This brings us to the next benefit of conducting market research:

Helps You Understand Customers' Behavior

Conducting market research will give you a better idea of who your ideal customer is and how they behave online.

Where do your potential customers hang out online? Are they prone to shop online? What sites do they like? What are their needs?

Understanding how your target customers behave online can help you improve your product, create a better user experience on your website and provide a solution to their needs.

Online market research is a great way to identify who your target market is and how your customers behave online: you can then use this information to facilitate navigation on your website, encourage product discovery and enhance conversion rates.

Helps You Validate Your Online Course Topic

Analyzing the market data collected from online research can help you reveal new business opportunities hidden in plain sight.

Thorough market research will validate your online course idea or help you find one in higher demand.

You will learn about your customers' needs that you might not have anticipated, and collect feedback to improve your online course.

"If I could start my online course from scratch today, I would spend more time understanding the needs of my target audience. As you're able to create multiple courses and lessons in one program, it is good to have an overarching idea of what your program will be about and who your target audience is"
Janet Yung, Heights Platform creator Read More Creators’ Advice

How to Conduct Market Research for Your Online Course Business

Now that you know about all the benefits of doing market research before starting your own online course business let’s see how you can actually get started.

Keyword Research

Keyword research can help you understand what your ideal customer is looking for in a more detailed way.

There are many tools out there designed to help you with keyword research that you can use to better understand your target market.

Tools like Ubersuggest, Ahref and Google Trends are a great way to explore the most popular keywords in your industry and understand the latest trends.

Keyword research is also useful to scope out your main competitors, understand how much interest there is in your keywords, and get new ideas about products and niches that you might have not considered yet.


Surveys can be a viable market research tool as well. They can help you gain more quantifiable data directly from your customers.

Most surveys found online gather their data from a random sampling of the population, so this is a great way to gain real-life information about a certain group of people.

There are many companies out there that offer to conduct online surveys for third-party is and you can be them to receive detailed information about a specific target market.

Surveys can also be used once your business is up and running to gain more information about your existing customers. For example, you could set up a survey at the end of your online course asking your students to provide feedback and suggest improvements to your program. This way you will be able to better understand your existing target market and improve your online course even further.

Industry Reports

Another way to gather data and information about your ideal target audience is to consult already made industry reports produced by someone else.

A few examples of these can be government statistics, industry reports and statistics.

Simply do a quick Google search for the report you are looking for and you will be able to access multiple resources and find what you’re looking for.


Your biggest competitors are a great source of information that can be used to carry out market research as well.

Before you get started with your online course it is good practice to go ahead and research your main competitors.

You shouldn’t be afraid of competition, we talk all about this in this article from our blog: 8 Powerful Ways to Beat Your Competition When Selling an Online Course

In fact, your biggest competitor can also be your biggest resource when it comes to understanding your target market. So go ahead and create a list of the main competitors in your niche and try to find out their business models what kind of services are they offering and if they are selling multiple online courses.

What is their marketing strategy? What is their refund policy? Try to understand their sales funnel and how they convert website visitors into paying customers.

Do they offer upsells? Finally, have a look at their website and see what their customers are saying about them, check out their reviews on their sites and on third-party websites.

From your competitors' reviews, you will also be able to find out information about their customers, who are also your potential customers! This is a very easy and direct way to gain insights into your target market and understand their needs.

When you’re looking at your primary competitors' reviews try to find some helpful testimonials about their programs. See what their customers are saying about their online courses and what pain points are not being addressed. This is a great opportunity for you to understand what your customers looking for, improve your own online course to fit their needs and create an overall superior product.

Another way to conduct market research is to be knowledgeable about the latest trends in your industry.

There are a number of resources you can use to gain insights about the latest trends, including Google Trends.

When you are looking at your niche in Google Trends try to understand if the interest in your topic is growing, declining or is it stable over time? Google Trends can also be helpful in understanding if the interest in your topic is a seasonal one or a more constant one.

Related Article: Digital Marketing Trends for 2022 to Promote an Online Course

This is a great way to help you better understand your topic and improve your marketing approach.

For example, if you find out that your online course topic is especially popular during the summer, Then you know that you should focus your marketing energy from spring until the summer months!

A/B Testing

Have you ever thought about conducting market research using paid ads?

A great strategy to learn more about your audience's preferences and test different products is to create different ads campaigns with A/B testing. The idea is that you are creating two (or more) ads for an identical product, but changing some details you want to test. You could test different titles, copy, content etc...

This strategy was used by Tim Ferris in order to come up with the best-selling name for his book. He used split testing in Adwords to test different titles and finally came up with "The 4 Hour Work Week" for his book.

To do this type of market research, you don't need to invest a large amount of money or even have a finished product: all you need is a simple web page, a call to action and your ads! Then you can run the different ads and see which ones are generating better results in terms of click-through rate.

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