Whenever a course creator launches a course, they have a revenue goal that’s dependent on the launch: multiple four, five, or even six figures within an allotted time frame. Then, they judge the success of their course on the preliminary numbers from this launch. They may keep the product evergreen, or re-open course enrollment as another form of a launch in later months. However one goes about it, the standard approach is typically the same: a course’s success is measured by the number of purchases around the launch date.
However, this isn’t always indicative of the course’s long term success. It overlooks key details that determine the difference between a course with a superficially lucrative launch and a course that’s beloved and valued by hundreds and thousands of students. How a course does at launch says more about the ad spend, marketing tactics, and already-developed community or audience that the course creator has than it does about how much the course can affect real change and help its students. As a result, many courses are launched, they hit their launch goal, and then it becomes yesterday’s news.
The Real Problem With Courses That Focus Solely On The Launch
This launch-first approach robs course creators of extra cash and impact on the back-end because it overlooks the most key attribute of a course’s success: the customer’s (student) happiness and satisfaction. Sure, your content could be top-notch. But, the nature of an online course inevitably creates a degree of separation between the student and the teacher. After the purchase is made, it’s up to the student to hold themselves accountable to get through the course on their own.
Michal Kyselica is the founder of FORLOGIS, a custom-membership platform that creates interactive and digital solutions that promote a student’s user experience when they take a course. One of their clients is Robin Sharma, the author of worldwide bestseller The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, and Internet marketing consultant Frank Kern. FORLOGIS builds out a user-focused platform with an emphasis on user experience for the course creator, which solves the real problem that’s keeping courses from hitting new levels of enrollments: lifetime value. A lack of focus on lifetime value is therein the problem.
The Power Of Lifetime Value
Lifetime Value (LTV) refers to the value of the customer over their lifetime with not just your product, but your company. So, a preferable lifetime value for a course creator would extend beyond a customer’s sole purchase of one course, and into their purchasing of additional courses, upsells, coaching sessions, and otherwise. According to Kelly Duncan of Profitwell, this value needs to be higher than your customer acquisition cost (CAC), because this is how profit is really made: your customers spend more with you than you spent to get them.
Kyselica believes that a product’s propensity for lifetime value rests in the user experience – and, so far, their theory is proving to be correct, as mastering the UX of the platforms they build has yielded up to a 512% increase in lifetime value. “What most membership platforms don’t address is the fact that user experience is just as important as the initial sale. Getting new clients and customers into the platform is one thing. Keeping them there requires an intuitive platform that gives them exactly what they need when they need it,” Kyselica explained. Creating a customized experience that anticipates each students’ needs, concerns, and wants is key.
Implementing Course Features That Increase Lifetime Value
To tailor your course to student retention and satisfaction, evaluate how you can focus on the following:
1. Student engagement. Generally speaking, the shift to online learning in the wake of COVID-19 has put more of an emphasis than ever on how to make online courses engaging, which has spurred many larger conversations on how we pay attention when we aren’t physically with a course creator. One piece of advice that stood out to me was from Becky Hartnup from Vital Source. She wrote, “Emotions such as frustration, resentment and anxiety can affect students’ attention and concentration, their memory, and their behaviour. However, activities can trigger positive learning effects. Whether you incorporate gamification, creativity, intrigue or surprise, try to include some fun activities. This will make your lectures more memorable and re-energise your students if their attention is flagging.”
Incorporate opportunities for students to get excited about what they’re learning, to set goals, and to feel encouraged on how they’ll get to the end result. For example, if your course teaches students how to launch their own wellness coaching business, share success stories from past students and help them visualize what their future business success will look like.
2. Results. Of course, what determines whether a one-time customer becomes a repeat customer is dependent on the results that they received. Did they achieve what you promised them? This part can be challenging to maneuver in a new course, so make sure your first few batches of students receive extra hand-holding. Listen in conversations to where they’re struggling, what confuses them, and what else is standing in the way of their success.
Your first few ‘classes’ will likely receive more 1:1 attention than the rest – but once you feel certain that your curriculum can offer results based on these first students, you can amp up your launch tactics, knowing that your customer lifetime value will be high.