What are learners looking for in an online course, and how can you show them you deliver?
What’s harder: creating or selling your course? The answer depends on who you ask. Some course creators know their material backwards and forwards and don’t have any trouble turning it into amazing content—but then struggle to communicate the value of their course to their prospective learners. If you feel you are in this boat, it might help to take a step back and think about some of the major selling points both for your course, and for online courses in general.
Of course, not every course will have the same benefits and attractions. In thinking about your own top selling points, you should first take time to learn about your audience so that your message will resonate with them. However, the selling points for most online courses share a lot in common. Here are the top six, along with some suggestions for how each might apply to your course.
1. Accessibility: Can your learners take your course no matter where they are?
One of the greatest draws for online courses is that their reach is global. In almost any country, anyone with a decent internet connection can access online courses—including learners who might otherwise struggle getting to class.
The design of your course matters as well. It doesn’t matter if someone can technically access your course if using it is frustrating. Creating a course that works well on mobile or is accessible to users in areas with slow internet speeds can be a unique selling point as well.
- User-friendly design.
- Mobile design that is accessible on every device.
- Course pages are optimized so that content loads quickly.
2. Flexibility: Can learners work your course into their schedule?
Online courses can be more flexible than in-person classes in more ways than one. They aren’t committed to specific class times, and in many cases, the learning goals are more open-ended. One student might want to set a goal to complete a course in a week, and another might take a month, and both can get what they need!
Of course, some learners may still want set class times, where everyone can meet to discuss course content. But that doesn’t mean you can’t offer flexibility in other ways, such as through a mixture of synchronous teaching with shorter which learners can complete in their own time.
- No set class times so learners can study when it’s convenient for them.
- Micro content so that learners can fit in shorter, more frequent study sessions.
- Learners can set goals direct their learning.
3. Effectiveness: Does your course work?
One of the big questions many people ask about online learning is: does it work?
Of course, there are many cases of poorly executed online courses that haven’t worked at all. The same can be said of in-person learning! However, given the hesitation learners may have over signing up for an online course, offering proof that your course is successful will go a long way.
This is especially true if you’re trying an unconventional teaching method. Online courses can be great for trying new ideas, but if you go that route, it’s understandable if learners are a little wary. Back up your teaching methods with research and evidence, and you’ll not only convince learners your method works, you’ll get them excited to try it for themselves.
- Follow best practices in instructional design.
- Display reviews from other learners who have had a good experience.
- Adjust your course based on course metrics.
4. Engagement: Are you offering new and interesting ways to learn?
Speaking of experimentation, many of the newest teaching methods are also great ways to build engagement. If you’re creating elements for your course that are more fun or cutting edge–such as gamification or interactive scenarios—then that should be a top selling point to learners.
This holds true for more advanced teaching technology as well, such as AR, VR, and AI. If you’ve gone through the effort of integrating this technology in new and interesting ways, then this is a deep discussion point where you can get into the details about how and why you created your course the way you did.
- Gamification and other interactive elements.
- Branching scenarios that simulate real-life experiences.
- Differentiators that set your course apart from the competition.
5. Community: Will your learners find a group to keep them going?
A lot of learners join online courses because they want a peer group. This is true for hobbyists looking for others who share their passion, professionals who want networking opportunities, and those simply looking for a support group as they work toward a personal goal.
If your course provides a strong, welcoming community, your learners will not only be more likely to sign up—they’ll be more likely to stay for the long run.
- Course forum for learners to engage each other.
- Small groups for a more tight-knit experience.
- Support, accountability and goal setting.
6. Price: Can learners justify the cost of your course?
With everything you’ve put into your course, you surely want to set a price point that will be profitable to you—and you’d hope your prospective learners will see the value in everything you’ve done and want to pay for it. However, it’s not always that easy. Everyone wants a deal, and even those who are excited may not have room in their budget for your course.
You’ll have a hard time selling a course if you talk about the price up front. But if you can focus on all the other value points first, then by the time you get to the price point your work will be a lot easier.
Remember though, no one is going to buy a course simply because you worked hard on it. Instead, focus on what your course does for your learner.
- Will your learner be able to increase their own earnings with the course?
- Is the course priced competitively in relation to other courses on the market?
- Do you offer bundle options, discounts, or other deals?
Show your prospective learners how your course meets their needs and you won’t struggle to grow your enrollment.
The number one mistake course creators make when they go to market their course is they forget to connect what they’re offering to the most pressing needs of their prospective learners. The better your understand why learners are taking your course—and the more thoroughly you can target your marketing to respond to their needs—the more success you will have in attracting new learners.