In online marketing people like to talk about “conversions”.

If you have a website you want to drive traffic to that site so that these people are exposed to your offer. You want to convert these visitors into paying customers. If for every 100 visitors you get two paying customers then you have a two percent conversation rate.

In this case, marketers focus on two things to increase sales: driving more traffic to the offer and improve the conversion rate. If you have thousands of visitors to your site per day then even a slight increase in your conversation rate has a big impact.

By the way, two percent is often seen as a pretty decent conversion rate.

When it comes to an online course, the important conversion factor is course completions. That is, how many of the people who are enrolled into your course end up finishing it. Truth is, completion rates in the online course space are terrible.

If you have 100 people go through your course and only two people finish it, then your completion rate is two percent (naturally).

My personal opinion is that if you have a two percent completion rate then the course is a failure.

The content may be great but you are failing the ultimate end-goal and that is to get learners through the entire course so that they learn what it is you are trying to teach them. Somewhere along the line you are losing their attention.

Completions are the currency of an online course. The more people you have complete your course the higher the chance that these learners will recommend it to their peers (and if you’re selling this course then that is good for you). This also means you can better cross-promote other course offerings. Again, if you are selling these other courses then that can have a direct impact on your revenues as well.

But most importantly, if your completion rates are high then that means your learners are getting through all the content and more likely to apply what it is you are teaching them!

If you create an online course with the intent to sell it then clearly you want to focus on conversion rates for your website visitors, but don’t forget about the true currency of an online course. Take the time to use proper instructional design methods when you build the content so that you not only sell courses but so that people complete them as well.

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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


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Great advice Justin, thank you. Will you have a follow-up blog with tips on how to get more people to complete your training?

Thanks Mark – yes I generally do write often about ways to improve completion rates (gamification, micro-content, etc.). More posts will follow.

This is the truth. We use the example of, “Image you were teaching a workshop. At the beginning of the workshop there are 100 people and by the end of the day, only 3 people are still there. As the teacher, would you feel like you workshop was a success?”

Our approach to eCourse creation is to treat it like an artform. Humans are consuming media in such different ways than we were 5-10 years ago and so course creators need to adapt.

We need to create learning experiences that are more exciting than all the other distractions on the internet.

We created an interactive, choose your own adventure website to demonstrate many of the ways we can all apply to help create more engagement and participation from our students.

We think you’ll love it Justin.

Thanks for doing such great work with LearnDash. We use it and love it!

Great site Bradley, very impressive!

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