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Tips for creating an online course trailer

A trailer is a powerful promotional tool that can help you promote your online courses. But how to create a course trailer?

An online course trailer, if well designed, is a great tool for promoting an eLearning course. Just like a movie trailer, a course trailer has the ability to engage and excite your audience and, in the best case, prompt them to purchase your course.

What is a course trailer

Widely used in cinema, a trailer is a short promotional film that is meant to raise interest and expectation about a movie or, more generally, a product.

In the case of an online course, the trailer aims to present in a few minutes (usually less than two) the contents and objectives of the course in the most attractive way possible.

Types of trailers

There are different types of trailers. Some are very simple and developed fairly quickly, others are professionally produced and may take a long time to produce.

So here are some common formats you might take inspiration from when creating your course trailer.

Trailer with testimonials from former students - One type of trailer that is fairly easy to create (at least technically, but less so logistically) is a trailer that includes testimonials from former students. In this case, the main advantage is to provide potential students with the opinions of those who have already attended the course and, probably, can best interpret the needs and expectations of your target audience.

Trailer with course clippings - Another fairly common trailer format is one that consists of one or more clips from the course. In addition to being very easy to make, this type of trailer is particularly useful for showing off the user interface, how to navigate it, and the teacher's approach. In other words, it gives your potential students a demonstration of what their actual learning experience will be.

Shock Trailer - In some cases, you may want to make a trailer using images and videos that are not directly from your course, but are consistent with the topics covered and helpful in grabbing the attention of your audience. For example, if your course covers topics such as occupational safety, you could create a "shock" video in which you show real incidents and explain to users how the course will help them deal with emergency situations.

Presentation Trailer - Another type of trailer is one that consists of a video of the instructor presenting the course. In this case, make sure the teacher is comfortable in front of the camera and has excellent communication skills. The risk is to scare away your potential audience!

Animated Trailer - The last format of trailer we illustrate is the one in which the protagonists are animated characters. You can use them to introduce them to the course and its benefits or, again, to create skits in which the protagonist solves problems at work thanks to the notions learned during the course. In both cases, work well on the audio script and avoid using artificial voices.

Finally, you might decide to create a trailer by mixing two or more of the formats presented so far. Remember, however, that your goal will be to provide students with the information they need to convince them to enroll in your course. Therefore, clarity and brevity should be your watchwords.

How to create effective online course trailers

As short as it is, creating a course trailer could be time-consuming and quite complex. In fact, the most difficult aspect will be getting the audience involved from start to finish. Here are some tips for creating effective online course trailers.

Intrigue your audience - Remember, your goal is to attract and intrigue your potential students. Therefore, avoid noting too many details about the course. After all, they can always elaborate on the syllabus, lecturers and any other information in the course detail sheet.

Outline the benefits - Explain to your prospective students what the course has to offer, how it will help improve their job performance or how it will increase their skill set and competencies. This is a great way to hook them and convince them that they need your course.

Be visually appealing - Make your trailer visually appealing. So avoid creating a video made of images that follow one another in a slow and monotonous manner. Instead, try to create movement, for example, by inserting videos and clips. Or, if you only have static images, play with the effects of appearing and disappearing graphics and transitions between images, but don't overdo it.

Add music and sound effects - A video's background music has the power to tell people how they should feel, so it's a very important element in setting the tone of the trailer. Add a catchy background track and play with sound effects to liven up transitions (e.g., sounds for moving text or on-screen elements appearing).

Take advantage of social proof - Social proof has a huge influence on people. If your viewers know that other people enjoyed your course, they'll be much more likely to buy it. Try incorporating some form of social proof into your video. This could be a testimonial from a satisfied former student, quotes from articles or reviews, snippets from a review site, or other tangible results (e.g., "91% of people who take this course find jobs within a month").

Give the user an action to take - You should use your trailer to persuade viewers to take a specific action: for example, by inviting them to purchase the course or view the presentation card. Otherwise, creating a trailer will be a huge missed opportunity.

So include a call to action that is clear and specific, but at the same time reasonable for your audience. You'll agree that it's not appropriate, after a one-minute video, to ask your potential students to buy a 5K course. Rather, ask them to visit your site or download the course brochure so they can learn more about the programs and content before being asked to make such an investment.

Don't put URLs in the trailer - If you want your audience to take a specific action at the end of the trailer, remember to make it easy for them - it will make a difference in conversions. It may seem trivial, but a final screen where you write "For more information, go to" will result in fewer conversions than a video that ends with a button that redirects the user directly to the landing page.

Harness the power of social - Course trailers have become increasingly popular with the growing use of social media. This is because videos are among the social content that can create the most engagement (clicks, shares, comments, likes, etc.). In addition, most online users learn about new products through videos they find on social or YouTube.

Once ready, then share the course trailer on your social channels to increase its visibility and encourage sharing among users.

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