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February 27th, 2020 Sell Online Courses

How can educators retain learners after their course finishes?

Many of our users devote a lot of time and energy into putting together their courses and finding students who would benefit from them. Attracting new students takes a lot of resources for most educators. Rather than throw those relationships away when the course is over, educators should provide value-added modules and offers that keep the student interested and give them additional information to help them succeed.

I suggest that you put this strategy to work to build brand loyalty and to maximize your revenue per student. Here are six tips that will help you do that more effectively.

1. Nothing says ‘thank you’ like a freebie.

When someone signs up for a course, you can send them a thank you message with free perks. This easy, inexpensive marketing tool is a gift of the digital age. So, when students sign up for a new course, send them a link to other courses that you may have written on similar topics. For instance, you can provide the first module of a three-part series. They can then purchase the rest of the series at a discounted rate.

I love this strategy and recommend it to those who want to increase their revenue organically. Also, it’s a win-win that lets your students save money while they continue to learn.

Free samples are a sure-fire way to delight your customers. It’s also a great way to get feedback on course material that you are still tweaking. For best results, match the free course offering with the student’s interests.

2. Run exclusive, limited-time sales to new members.

People are driven by deadlines. That’s true at work, paying taxes and in many aspects of daily life. I love to put this to work for me when I’m building user communities of students.

Here are some of the benefits of running limited-time promotions:

  • Maximizes revenue from first-time or infrequent students
  • Creates a sense of urgency
  • Targets a demographic that you haven’t sufficiently penetrated through other marketing efforts

Most people who are interested in a product respond well to a time-sensitive approach. This is true for seasonal items such as Christmas wrapping or pumpkin spice flavors in the autumn. This is a time-honored sales tactic used by some of the biggest brands worldwide.

For example, when a student purchases your course, you can send them a 20% discount code on other courses within 10 days, or 50% off if purchased immediately. This can also be done in a follow-up email.

3. Show similar courses students might like.

This is similar to the tactics discussed above but without the discounts, and you can use it to provide access to premium content. For instance, you can add prerequisites to courses to upsell students on packages of two or three courses instead of buying a single course.

Cross-sells are a similar marketing tool. When you cross-sell courses to students, you can show them how they would benefit from additional courses that can help them achieve their goals. For instance, you might offer a course on how to obtain a certification or how to find colleges that offer degrees in related fields that can lead to better employment opportunities.

4. Offer exclusive tutoring at a discounted rate.

Educators should approach new learners in a different way than established customers. One way to do so involves offering one-on-one tutoring. If you already teach individual students, you probably already have set rates. If not, you’ll need to develop a rate sheet first. Then, when a new student asks for help, offer individual sessions at steep discounts.

You can also offer referral bonuses of 20–50% in the form of additional discounts if students bring in new business by spreading the word about your courses and services. This is a fantastic option because it works for everyone and still brings in more revenue.

5. Create micro-content for the course at check-out.

Micro-content is based on a learning approach that breaks coursework into 15-minute intervals. Students can squeeze this content in no matter how busy their lives are. The idea is to offer valuable micro-content at check-out to increase the value of the sale.

I try to limit this to content that builds on the course purchased so that it truly benefits the student and gives them a deeper knowledge of the topic.

Here are my guidelines for this type of upsell:

  • Targeted: The micro-content has to be targeted appropriately. For example, I wouldn’t offer micro-content on how to can peaches if my course were on knitting scarves and hats. However, I might offer a video on how to market homemade products so that the student can monetize their new hobby.
  • Authentically helpful: Chances are, if you are producing online courses, money isn’t the sole reason you’re in the business. To this end, it’s important that the micro-content is genuinely helpful to your students. Otherwise, it can undermine your relationship with your student customer base. It should always be about what motivates and furthers the student’s interests.
  • Create useful, concise information: Make sure that you analyze the wants and needs of your target audience. This helps you produce concise content that engages students and moves along quickly. In other words, your students shouldn’t be watching the clock as they move through the material.
  • Make it social media friendly: Develop themes that students will want to talk about on social media. Make links to offers easy to share and consider a friends’ discount for students to extend to their friends. This gives your students that opportunity to receive discounts off their recommendations and attracts new students looking for a bargain.
  • Curate: There’s nothing wrong with curating information from other courses that you’d like to recommend. You can even include reviews of online products and services related to the topic. This prevents you from cannibalizing coursework material and adds value to the student.

6. Give a “premium” course option.

Here’s how this works. You can use this marketing technique in two ways:

  • If you have offered a basic version of the course for free as part of a promotion, offer the full version at a premium rate.
  • Break out the introductory material in the course and create a second course or series that you can sell as another unit.

This approach has a number of benefits, including:

  • It builds customer loyalty as the client gets used to purchasing your products.
  • It increases your revenue per sale.
  • It creates more opportunities to sell your course. For instance, someone with intermediate knowledge might just want to start midway through the course to pick up the advanced material they need to master the subject.

Providing quality content gives your learners reason to buy more of your courses.

To upsell to your learners, you have to earn their trust through valuable content. Packaging your educational materials creatively helps you present more options and attract a wider audience. Discounts, referral bonuses and other perks increase the value proposition of your courses. They may even renew interest in previous courses you’ve created. These six tips can help you connect to a wider audience and increase your ROI on the time, effort, and money spent designing your course.

Justin Ferriman photo

About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


6 responses

Leave a Comment

Informative and great post. I work in the elearning industry. I know new instructors in the elearning industry face some challenges regarding selling their courses.

Very nice blog. the opinion you gave is very authentic and genuine thanks for sharing.

Great tips.
I am likely getting LearnDash soon. From what I understand, many of those offerings are not possible to offer with LearnDash alone. Could you elaborate with some plugins (or links to directions if LearnDash is able) that would do the job for each of your 6 suggestions?

Hey Justin,

Thank you for another valuable and informative post. I have absorbed all the information but I have one question why you did not mention Udemy over here as they have their own traffic and help you upsell your newest course online. Have a nice day.

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