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- Who: Ole N. Mai
- Website: gegenfeld.com
- Course Topic: Digital Marketing in German
- Interesting Stats: Quick-Courses converting at 25% on average
Who are you and what digital training company have you created?
I am Ole, co-founder of Gegenfeld, a German-based e-learning platform. Our mission is to empower startups, freelancers, and SMEs to establish a strong presence in the digital realm.
What market does your digital training server?
We specialize in the creation of online courses, guides, professional articles, and other forms of educational content. In essence, we craft informative materials. Our area of expertise lies within web development, digital marketing, and e-commerce.
When it comes to product-market fit, our web development online courses have proven to be highly suitable for the German market. There is a pressing need for web development competencies in the country. Both individuals and organizations seek to enhance their web development abilities to remain competitive in the rapidly digitalizing economy. Furthermore, online education has gained significant traction in Germany lately. This further boosts the demand for our offerings.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your online courses?
Initially, there is the hindrance of language. That’s because the bulk of online courses available are in English. However, our courses stand apart by providing in-depth, comprehensive instruction, often ranging from 20 to 50 hours per course. This approach enables students to attain a thorough understanding of each subject. Furthermore, our pricing strategy is accessible to a broad spectrum of self-learners. We leverage the benefits of economies of scale to keep costs low.
How did you get into the market?
It may seem mundane, but I have a fondness for viewing educational videos, such as science essays and documentaries, on YouTube and similar content. Many of these videos were sponsored by EdTech corporations. This inspired me to invest in some courses for personal enrichment. To my surprise, I discovered a significant disparity in the German market for EdTech companies and services.
Why did you decide to create a digital training company?
As previously stated, I uncovered a discrepancy in the industry, unsure if it was due to inadequate demand or an untapped market. To shed light on the matter, I embarked on an experiment. I introduced a novel course on one of the major worldwide platforms and waited for a few weeks to see if there was any interest. To my delight, I soon observed a steady influx of enrollees.
Thus, it became clear that there was a strong demand for our offerings. Given my prior experience as a self-employed professional, establishing Gegenfeld was a relatively straightforward process.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you launched your training company?
No, not completely. I executed the aforementioned tests to determine market demand with minimal risk, confirming ample potential customers.
Building the company has presented its share of challenges, as is to be expected. However, these obstacles have never induced doubt. Overcoming challenges is an integral aspect of entrepreneurship.Creating educational content, such as recording and editing videos, may be uncharted territory at first. However, this apprehension fades with experience. - Ole N. Mai Click To Tweet
From my perspective, I have grown comfortable and confident in front of the camera.
What are your online courses like?
As evidenced by my previous response, our courses primarily consist of video content. However, we adopt a multimedia approach, incorporating a diverse range of instructional materials, including written tutorials, glossary entries, animated presentations, coding challenges with integrated code editors, quizzes, tests, and more.
To enhance the learning experience, we also offer supplementary materials for download, such as PDFs, e-books, and templates. It’s worth noting that our courses are completely self-paced and do not feature live components. All content is available on demand.
Our video content is primarily comprised of clips that range from 10 to 15 minutes in length. However, there are instances where videos may extend up to two hours. To accommodate varying learning preferences, we offer two-course options: Quick-Courses and Masterclasses. Quick-Courses are free and typically one to two hours in length, while Masterclasses provide a more in-depth educational experience, encompassing up to 50 hours of content.
How long does it take you or your team to create a new course?
At Gegenfeld, our commitment to delivering top-notch educational content is unwavering. Every aspect of course production, from research and development to content creation and editing, is handled in-house by our highly skilled and dedicated team.
However, in the rare instance where a subject falls outside the realm of our expertise, we collaborate with external experts to ensure that the knowledge imparted in our courses is both accurate and comprehensive.
Crafting a single, in-depth course can take anywhere from two to six, sometimes up to twelve months. Still, we always have several courses in various stages of production to ensure a steady flow of high-quality offerings to our students.
Tell us a little about the process of launching your first course and getting your first enrollment(s).
The unveiling of Gegenfeld and our first product was a momentous occasion for our team, after a year of hard work on the platform and six months of dedicated effort toward creating our inaugural course.
The launch was met with immense excitement and anticipation, as we eagerly awaited the response from the market. To our delight, the course was received with tremendous acclaim, as evidenced by the swift influx of over 100 new members within just two months of its launch. This was a defining moment for us, as it solidified our conviction in the demand for high-quality, accessible e-learning content.
Do you have a lead magnet?
At Gegenfeld, we offer two membership options – Basic (free) and Pro (paid). The Basic membership allows users to access all our free Quick-Courses, which serve as lead magnets. With Gegenfeld Pro, users can explore the full spectrum of our platform’s courses. To entice prospects, we offer a 7-day free trial of our Pro membership, giving them a taste of the comprehensive learning experience we provide.
In addition to our courses, we provide an array of complementary resources, including templates, downloads, checklists, and e-books, to deepen our student’s understanding of the material. Our weekly newsletter, filled with “knowledge tidbits,” further strengthens the bond between us and our audience.In a crowded online landscape where free content is readily available, it's crucial for us to establish ourselves as experts by providing ample opportunities for prospects to engage with our brand. - Ole N. Mai Click To Tweet
Our approach seems to work, with our Quick-Courses converting at 25% on average. This high conversion rate demonstrates the effectiveness of our strategy of offering plenty of free content and lead magnets to win over leads and build trust.
What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?
We focus strongly on search engine marketing and sponsored content on YouTube. In terms of SEM, we are active in SEO and SEA. We regularly create guides, professional articles, and maintain an industry glossary to constantly attract new users organically. We are doing well with this so far, but we are still in this strategy’s leading phase.
Likewise, we also place advertisements in search engines such as Google and Bing. This is where the majority of our marketing budget goes. The great advantage of SEO and SEA is that we can address a target group at the right point in their customer journey due to the keyword-based marketing approach.
Furthermore, we place ads at every point of the customer journey. The pages advertised change from specialist articles to guidebooks to course pages. The same applies to our organic SEO strategy. We run YouTube ads for a similar reason.
The big advantage here is that we can choose which channels we want to advertise. Additionally, we have recently become active on Quora and are utilizing the platform to reach and engage with new audiences.
What online course platform are you using?
As we continue to grow at Gegenfeld, we have embarked on an exciting journey of transition and modernization. We are moving away from LearnDash and exploring new, cutting-edge solutions that better align with our vision and needs. Our talented technical team is thoroughly evaluating the latest backend-as-a-service providers, carefully testing and integrating each component of our tech stack.
It’s no secret that traditional systems can quickly become a bottleneck when demand spikes, so we constantly strive to stay ahead of the curve. For those just starting on their educational platform journey, we highly recommend all-in-one providers like Teachable, which offer a quick and hassle-free solution that frees up time and resources for more important matters, such as content creation and marketing.
However, as we continue to expand, we have reached a point where building our custom platform from the ground up is the best option. This means a significant investment in coding, but thanks to advanced BaaS providers such as Firebase and Supabase, as well as the power of GraphQL, the process has become much more manageable. Our goal is to provide our students the best possible learning experience, and we are confident that this transition will bring us closer to that goal.
A little tip for those who have a lot of course videos and are looking for a suitable video storage provider – check out Cloudflare R2.
Do you like it?
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
Initially, our first solution was carefully selected to streamline all our processes and eliminate the need for extensive coding. This decision was driven by the need to swiftly bring our first product to the market, without the hindrance of prolonged development time. With the implementation of an all-in-one platform like LearnDash inside our CMS, we were able to effortlessly integrate various services and launch our product with confidence.
What other tools do you use to run your digital training business?
We have meticulously picked our payment provider, opting for a merchant-of-record solution in the form of Digistore24. However, we have plans to transition to Paddle in the near future, as it offers a more robust and well-documented API.
Our tech stack is further optimized with the use of Cloudflare R2 as our object storage solution, owing to its seamless integration through its simple S3-compatible API.
In terms of marketing and customer support, we have relied on the expertise of Sendinblue for our marketing endeavors and Intercom and LiveAgent for providing exceptional customer service. Even so, as we continuously strive to optimize our operations, we are in the process of transitioning from Sendinblue to Active Campaign and incorporating the services of Microsoft Dynamics.
When it comes to event tracking, we use Piwik PRO.
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
I prefer to delve into books that are tailored to my specific interests and professional needs. Regrettably, this makes it difficult for me to endorse a specific literary work or training program.
Instead, I would suggest that you cultivate a habit of staying informed about the latest developments in your field by subscribing to a curated selection of two or three industry blogs. This way, you can stay abreast of the changes that are shaping your field and remain at the forefront of your profession.
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?
It is imperative to ensure that your platform remains devoid of any vendor logins, as far as possible. This not only provides a seamless user experience, but also saves you from the headache of a potentially cumbersome switch later on.
The establishment of a database or payment provider can lock you into a particular solution, making a transition a tedious and challenging task. This is especially evident in the realm of payment providers, where we have encountered this issue firsthand.
In terms of content creation, it’s crucial to strike a balance between perfection and practicality. While it may seem tempting to put in countless hours of effort to ensure every detail is flawless, this can actually hinder your progress and prevent your product from ever seeing the light of day. To avoid this pitfall, it’s essential to focus on getting your content out in a timely manner, even if that means accepting a few minor imperfections along the way. After all, the goal should always be to bring your vision to life and make a real impact, not to get bogged down in the pursuit of perfection.
At our organization, we understand the all-too-familiar dilemma of striving for perfection in content creation while also needing to meet deadlines.
To balance these competing demands, we adopt a multi-faceted approach by concurrently crafting several pieces of content. This approach enables us to allocate ample time and resources to each piece, while still consistently providing fresh, high-quality content to our audience.
However, we acknowledge that not everyone may have the luxury of this resource-intensive method. For those who face constraints, it’s crucial to prioritize and focus on the most impactful elements, embracing the Pareto principle of “80-20.” By focusing your efforts on what truly matters, you can deliver content that is both impactful and timely.
Please share some idea of revenue for your digital training company.
With a growing customer base of 4,000 to 5,000 active members, our paid content continues to be in high demand. Our commitment to delivering top-notch content has resulted in a consistent monthly increase of 300 to 400 new customers over the past few months.
Our Pro membership, which offers access to our premium content, currently retails for just EUR 19 per month. This is a significant reduction from its original price in 2022 of EUR 29, made possible through strategic marketing efforts in the coming months. By reducing the cost, we aim to attract an even broader audience and further our mission of delivering valuable content to a wider range of individuals.
As a raising provider of specialized training, we pride ourselves on delivering customized solutions to meet the unique needs of our corporate clients. However, due to confidentiality agreements and other factors, we respectfully decline to divulge details regarding the revenue generated from these bespoke offerings.
Please tell us a little about what the money you’ve earned from running your digital training company has done for you.
Personally, I benefit little to nothing from the direct monetary success, as any profit, except for backup deposits, is reinvested. This includes new employees, the expansion of server capacity, increased marketing funds and improved content standards.
I finance myself through a side project that I previously built up through self-employment. Thus, I haven’t raised my standards of living much.
In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?
We have about a 25 percent conversion rate for our Quick-Courses, which we use as lead magents. Therefore, we’re able to gain up to 700 new free-tier signups each month.
What has creating your digital training business done for you personally?
It also motivates me to never complete my own educational journey.
What advice do you have for people just starting out?
As mentioned earlier, you should use the KISS method.Keep it simple, stupid – really. Try to avoid unnecessary complexity and hold back your inner perfectionist. - Ole N. Mai Click To Tweet