open door to learning

The Branding Strategies of Online Learning Sites

E-learning, or online learning, is exploding and there’s no end in sight. Research and Markets forecasts e-learning will grow to $325 Billion by 2025, triple the revenue of 2015. A third of college students are taking at least one course online, according to a survey by the Babson Survey Research Group.

Online Learning Options and Features

There are many, many alternatives, of which two of the most popular are LinkedIn Learning (formerly and Udemy. Each cover a variety of topics; for example, LinkedIn Learning offers over 600 courses on software development alone.

Along with the rise in popularity of online training, the functionality has dramatically improved. Solutions such as WizIQ can plug into an existing website and offer features such as online whiteboarding, real-time messaging, multimedia testing and automated reporting, including attendance and completion reports.

Competing in the E-learning Market

So how can niche sites compete with these big players? The same way that retailers have responded to the threat posed by Amazon, by offering expertise in a specific niche and by providing a depth of options sites covering more ground can’t match.

Below are three examples of how e-learning sites are positioning themselves based on differing core strengths.

College Audition Coach

The College Audition Coach site is one of the most focused I’ve seen; its mission is to help graduating high school students get accepted into the university theatre program of their choice. The brand is built around the founder, Mary Anna Dennard, who started her site to build upon her book, I Got In! It was the first online site of its kind for performing arts applicants when it launched back in 2011.

Online prep courses are the core offering on the site, with consulting, private coaching and master classes with theatre professionals also offered. Her track record and connections with theatre programs across the country are presented as key reasons to buy her services.

Victory Step Education

Victory Step offers prep courses for undergrad and graduate admissions testing, including the SAT, ACT and GMAT. The variety of instructional formats are presented as key differentiators for the company. In-home private tutoring and live group courses are given more weight on the site than online tutoring. The quality of their tutors and the flexibility of their programs to fit students’ and parents’ schedules are also presented as reasons to choose them over their competitors.


Luma offers learning solutions in a variety of industries such as STEM professional development and truck driver training, as opposed to the single focus of the other two companies. Their differentiator is their knowledge and application of the latest learning theories as applied to instructional design. They break curriculum down into small chunks they call eNuggets®, which they claim provide learners greater mastery of a subject more quickly.

Starting Your Own E-learning Site

If this overview of e-learning has piqued your interest in trying this yourself, there’s a helpful article from podia on creating and selling your own online courses.