How to Increase the Lifetime Value of Your Online-Course Students
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Most course creators put the majority of their focus on a course’s successful launch. Who can blame them? “The Launch” has a considerable amount of expectation behind it. However, when crunching the numbers, something surprising emerges: The launch is not actually the primary determining factor of a course’s success. Rather, it’s its lifetime value. Statistics from FieldBoom show that the cost of finding and onboarding a new customer can be up to five times as much as re-selling to an existing customer, eaning that if you want to keep profit high, nurturing your current customer base (or, in this case, student base) is the way to go.
Nurturing an existing customer base should comprise more than half of a course creator’s focus when developing and continuing an online course, or set of courses. But how to do this? While every course and customer base is different, the following pieces of advice will help to keep your current students in the loop and focused, thus increasing retention rate and creating a lifetime value that exceeds your customer-acquisition cost.
1. Prioritize user experience
There’s one major issue that can ruin your course even after a student has already purchased: attention deficit. It’s one thing to purchase a course excited about results. It’s quite another to sit through an online course on your own time. Michal Kyselica is the founder of the FORLOGIS, a custom membership platform that assists authors, coaches and course creators in increasing the lifetime value of their product through emphasizing user experience. “People aren't paying for information," Kyselica explains. "There’s a bountiful amount of any type of information they need on the internet. What they’re paying for is results, and their user experience feeds directly into their capacity to receive results from your course.”
Their process is research-based, and they found that one of the factors that determines the quality of a user’s experience is ease in navigation. For example, if a student begins a course, then gets distracted and returns to it the next week, how easy will it be for the student to pick up where they left off? These little details add up to big results. The easier it is for a student to complete the course and secure results, the higher their lifetime value.
2.Create a natural evolution of products
To support your customer’s journey and encourage them to purchase from you again, create products in alignment with their journey. For example, perhaps your flagship course is “Social Media Influence 101.” What is a natural evolution from that first course that could keep students engaged? Maybe a second course in this case could be “How to Monetize Your Social Media Influence.” If they learned plenty and began to see results from the first course, they’re more likely to buy the second, the third, the fourth, and so on, because they now trust you.
You can capture the first batch of students through using email sequences. Power Digital Marketing calls this type of email sequencing the win-back Sequence. “Win-back series are used to encourage lapsed customers to re-engage," they advise. "You’ll know the timeframe that works best for your audience, but unless your product is seasonal, you will most likely want to reach out to customers who have not engaged in the last four-to-six months."
This should be a proper timeframe to assume that they’ve completed the first course, but also see how closely you can track who’s finishing and who isn’t. These email sequences can also be used to "bump" students who haven’t reached the finish line yet.
3. Offer discounts for loyal students
To further encourage students to continue their customer journey, consider combining the trust you’ve built with them with an irresistible offer. This could be something like, “Course Students Only: 50 Percent Off Course #2 for This Week Only.” This way, the student feels like they were part of something that gives them loyalty benefits, and the urgency of the discount deadline prompts immediate action. This also nurtures their lifetime value, because the more they purchase from you and the more they achieve because of you, the more likely they’ll be to continue purchasing from you in the future — even without a discount.
Get creative with how you nurture, but also reflect on the most important foundational need that will help the consumer establish trust with you: How you can deliver results. This is a direct reflection of the quality of the information you share, the action-items and deliverables that you suggest and the user experience that will keep them engaged enough to complete the course. It’s like building blocks: Once you have that first solid foundation of trust, you can continue to build and nurture for loyalty. This is not only preferable for your profit margins, but for your course’s reputation and the real-world impact that you’re affecting through your students.