Growing and nurturing a Learning Community is foundational to building and scaling a modern learning empire.
As an online education business (i.e. an academy, bootcamp, or micro-school), it’s important to have the right set of tools and resources to easily engage potential members, as well as your existing Learning Community, to inspire them to become active participants and advocates of your products.
While you can build a variety of learning experiences using Disco–-like Cohort-Based Courses, Self-Paced Courses, Alumni Spaces, Masterminds, and more–-an Event Series is a powerful way to attract and build trust with potential members by creating opportunities for them to experience your content first-hand. We’ve made it easy for you to create an Event Series, share the events across social channels, register participants, and use discount codes to incentivize registration and referrals. We’ve learned from many of our own customers how integral an Event Series can be to growing a Learning Community and marketing your premium offers.
Here are our top tips to help you build a successful Event Series on Disco:
Create an Engaging Event Series to Grow Your Learning Community
We know that creating, marketing, and running an Event Series is a time-sensitive task that requires a lot of upfront work. We recommend focusing on a theme and series of topics that would be of interest to potential members of your Learning Community. By getting clear on what you want to focus on, you can design an engaging end-to-end experience that takes your participants on a journey and familiarizes them with the type of content you offer.
Here are a few ideas for an Event Series:
An interview series
Design a series of events that feature guest speakers who are thought leaders and industry experts. Schedule events weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, and make sure to give yourself enough time for promotion and registration. Guest experts not only help you deliver valuable content to your event participants, they may also help you promote your Event Series. We recommend scheduling a prep call with each guest, asking questions they don’t get asked all the time, and creating space for event participants to ask their most pressing questions.
Want to check out an Event Series? We even host interview series weekly here at Disco with our Learning Empire Series. Twice a month, folks in and out of the online learning sector can hear from the pioneers that are operating some of the most influential and impactful bootcamps, micro-schools, and academies in the industry.
A workshop series
Whether you want to test out a few different ideas for a Self-Paced Course or Cohort-Based Course or you simply want to offer a series of events to further engage your existing community, a workshop series is a great way to deliver a more hands-on and practical experience. Depending on the size of your existing community, you could send out a survey to gauge which workshops members are most interested in and, based on the feedback, you could offer the same workshop multiple times (on different days/times to encourage more participation) or focus on an overarching theme (like brand building or business development, for example) and divide up content into separate events.
A challenge or weekly practice
A time-bound challenge or weekly practice series gathers members around a specific area of interest and motivates them to start, continue, and/or complete a series of goal-oriented activities within the timespan of the Event Series. With the support of a Learning Community, participants will find it easier and more enjoyable to dive into the activities and rituals that help them achieve their visions. While an interview series is more of a passive experience, a challenge or practice requires participants to show up, do the work, and do their best to achieve a milestone or complete a project by the end of the experience.
These are just a few ideas for how you can use an Event Series to deliver exceptional experiences and grow your Learning Community, but there are many more!
From a more technical perspective, Disco’s deep integration with Zoom allows you to easily create and market your Event Series. The process of having current and potential members register for and attend live events is as simple as clicking a button. With built in calendar capabilities, members can also add live events to their personal calendars (time zones handled automatically), and receive automatic event reminders before an event begins to ensure they never miss a live experience.
This deep calendar integration and ability to connect Zoom seamlessly is one reason the team at BatteryMBA leverages Disco to run their own Event Series:
“We really want to make sure that people don't forget about sessions. The calendar is a massive thing to help learners not forget. I remember in our early days, creating these Google Calendars was an absolute pain. [With Disco], other people can download it themselves in their time zones. You found a way to integrate both Google calendar as well as Outlook, which is important, especially for some of our corporate clients.”
Offer Free and Paid Live Events and Use Discount Codes to Promote
As a bootcamp, academy, or micro-school, chances are you offer a premium experience, like a Cohort-Based Course or a Mastermind, and you need to give your potential members a taste of what it’s like to be enrolled in one of your experiences before asking them to pay top dollars for a premium offering. An Event Series allows you to do just that.
We know that top-of-funnel marketing efforts are foundational to growing a Learning Community, and we believe that an exceptionally-designed and well-executed Event Series can take a potential member from being curious about your Learning Community to joining your community and purchasing more premium offers. Creating a free or paid Event Series can get you in front of potential event participants and help you better understand their needs, challenges, hopes, and goals. It’s also a low-touch way to test out learning content before building out a Cohort-Based Course or Self-Paced Course, which can be labor intensive. You’ll want to know what’s resonating before investing time, money, and resources in designing a long-format experience that requires more time, attention, and greater capacity. Live Events enable you to get in front of potential members, engage current members, and collect the data and feedback necessary to design premium offerings.
Choosing whether to offer an Event Series free of charge or to include a fee is entirely up to you and should be a decision that aligns with your business goals and growth objectives. Pricing psychology is a real thing, and it’s possible that free experiences will be perceived as having lower value, but we can also make the case that running a free Event Series decreases the barrier to entry. While you may need more promotion and registration due to the high drop-off rates of free events, you will undoubtedly attract potential members who are interested in your content.
If you do decide to attach a fee to your Event Series, you could offer limited and time-bound discount codes to create a sense of urgency and increase the likelihood of registration. Unique discount codes can easily be created and tracked right within Disco. Here are a few effective ways to use discount codes for your Event Series:
Invite guest experts to be featured in your series and create a unique discount code for them to share with their communities and networks. This is not only an effective way to build relationships with like-minded founders and thought leaders, but also a great way to extend your reach so you can promote your events to broader audiences.
Reach out to potential participants and invite them to your upcoming Event Series and offer them a discount code. We recommend creating a few unique codes to A/B test different channels and messaging creative to gain greater insight into what’s converting.
Incentivise your current community by sharing a limited number of discount codes with them to share with their networks. If you’ve already provided your members with an exceptional experience, they will likely be happy to help spread the word with or without discount codes. Help them become better advocates by making it easy for them to share your offering.
Whether you choose the free or paid path, leverage an Event Series to build trust with your potential learning community Members and to expand your reach beyond your current community.
Learn more about how Dribbble used a series of live workshops to better understand their ideal learner’s needs before launching their 12-week Product Design Course.
Build Trust With Members and Better Understand Their Needs by Incorporating Feedback
An event series catalyzes connection and helps you build trust with existing and potential members. By going through a series of live events together, participants will get to know you and each other in ways that are often limited asynchronously. In addition, being face-to-face with participants enables you to deepen your understanding of their greatest needs and challenges. It’s a powerful and mutual journey that not only brings your content to life, but creates an opportunity for you to design better experiences based on participant experience and feedback.
We believe that learner feedback is integral to creating and scaling a learning empire, which is why we built in an automated feedback survey that you can easily enable to be deployed post-live events.
When asked about the power of participant feedback, Tiago Forte, founder of Forte Labs and Building a Second Brain shares,
“They will tell you truths that no one else in the world can tell you, deep truths about your blind spots, your assumptions, and your weaknesses. If you take them in and you act on them, it's unlike any other kind of feedback.” Disco’s feedback feature empowers you to ask event participants for feedback immediately after an event is complete. Collecting feedback also ensures that participants feel a sense of safety and belonging because they know that their experience matters to you. You can go one step further by following up with participants who’ve contributed feedback, diving deeper on a call or via email, and asking them what could help make the experience better.
We’ve got more on pre- and post-event communication below, but we encourage you to enable event feedback to create opportunities for connection and dialogue with participants as you continue to build and grow your Learning Community.
Connect With Your Event Attendees Before and After Events to Build Deeper Trust
As you’re marketing your Event Series, chances are you’ll have rolling registrations and you’ll need to engage participants leading up to the first live event. Connecting with event participants prior to the Event Series launch is a fantastic way to build trust and to further engage them in the content and with your community. Disco’s attendance reports make it easy for you to track registration and attendance. You can reach out to participants directly on the platform or download a CSV file of the report to manage pre- and post-event communications. Here are a few ideas for how to best connect and engage with members before, during, and after your live events:
Design an email sequence that you send to event participants leading up to the event to share more about what they can experience during the Event Series and help familiarize them with the content they’ll be diving into.
Reach out to participants to submit questions or suggestions ahead of time. Not only will this help create engagement, trust, and momentum, it may also help you shift or shape your content based on the responses you receive(use chat, channels, and feeds).
Follow up after each event with key takeaways from the event to help participants reflect on and process their experience and learnings (create a private channel and invite members that attend each event).
Schedule 15-min 1:1 calls after the Event Series with participants to learn more about their experience. With attendance reports and feedback, you’ll have a ton of data to inquire about (direct message members right within the platform).
No matter what form this feedback comes in, it’s imperative you seek it out in anyway. Hyrise founder Dominic Blank credits this feedback loop as an integral part of the brand’s growth:
“That's also where you learn the most: the peer to peer feedback. You get to listen in on their call… That's where a lot of the learning comes from. Afterwards, you can connect on a peer-to-peer basis.” Depending on how you plan to curate your Event Series, you may also want to incorporate a registration process where potential participants are asked to answer several questions before being ‘accepted’ as a registered participant. This helps you gauge their level of interest, commitment, and, based on your questions, you may even get insights into what participants are hoping to learn or take away from the experience. Adding a layer of curation also helps potential participants reflect on their why and what they’re hoping to learn or achieve by participating in your Event Series.
Disco makes it easy for you to enable and manage applications for your Event Series and curate a series of questions. You can easily turn this feature ‘on’ in the settings section of your Event Series dashboard.
Building a successful Event Series requires time, intention, and care. We’ve provided you with the tools to collect data and insights to better understand the ‘health’ of each participant because we believe that going the extra mile to connect with participants and ensure they feel valued can help create life-long advocates for your learning experiences and online education business.
Record Your Live Events For Content Repurposing and Showcasing to Your Broader Learning Community
Live events are a powerful way to engage your Learning Community, but the reality is that not everyone who registers for live events will actually make it to each and every event. We know that the realities of life, work, and time zones can get in the way, even when participants are deeply committed to showing up. With Disco, you have the ability to add event recordings directly to your ‘past’ events so participants who weren’t able to make it live, or want to go through the content again on their own, can easily access the content.
Be sure to record your events in Zoom or any other application you’re using to gather your community and upload the relevant recording for each live event after event completion. Along with the key takeaways, you may want to let registered participants and attendees know that the recording is available to watch.
Expand Functionality of Your Self-Paced Course by Adding Apps
In addition to your live events, you may want to include evergreen resources for participants to access. Evergreen resources live in the left navigation of your course dashboard and include a rich text editor that enables you to share images, videos, downloadable attachments, embedded links, and much more. Resources can include guides, templates, additional learning content, or anything you feel can support members as they go through course materials.
You can also add custom pages to your left navigation and use the rich text editor to populate the page with everything from images to embedded links. Custom pages can be used to create a more welcoming experience for your participants and to showcase event content. Here are some examples of custom pages you could create for your Event Series:
A welcome page that summarizes each event
A community agreements page which helps participants understand the principled and permissions of the space (i.e. how to engage with one another)
Plus, you can link to external tools and apps like Notion, Airtable, Typeform, and more. Make sure your members don’t miss a thing by including everything they need to access in one dashboard.
Custom apps and easy-to-update settings give you full control over how you want to engage your Learning Community. It’s this functionality that can save your team time, money, and resources on the administrative side of things so you can focus on your potential and current members. As BatteryMBA’s Chief of Staff Amandine shares:
“We moved to Disco because we needed a platform on which we could run the program, which would minimize the time and effort we put into the admin, but also would increase our time in terms of content creation,” says Amandine, BatteryMBA Chief of Staff.
“So for us, we had reached a turning point. Disco was honestly the best platform we looked at in terms of enabling us to do just that. Everything is accessible on the platform itself.” Here’s a list of all the Disco apps you can include in your course and their functionality.
Deliver More Impact to Your Members by Offering Various Types of Learning Experiences
We built Disco to help you build and scale your learning empire by enabling you to easily offer a variety of valuable and impact learning experiences to your members. You can easily create Self-Paced Courses, Cohort-Based Courses, Alumni Spaces, Event Series, and Masterminds. You can even start with a blank canvas and choose each and every app and functionality you require for your unique learning experience.
We know how much time, effort, and resources it can take to build out learning experiences, which is why we’ve made it easy for you to not only create them, but to duplicate them and choose the components and content you want to bring over to the new experience.
Whether you’re building an Event Series or developing different learning experiences, our mission is to be the purpose-built OS that takes care of the operational and administrative tasks so you can focus on what matters most: serving your members and growing your online education business.