14 ways to keep your learners engaged in e-learning

This blog was written in collaboration with Doug, SEO Specialist at Gravy and Kelly Newcomb, Marketing Manager at Plume. We would like to extend our thanks to Doug for reaching out and for his contribution to this content.

Previously a part of the informal education system, e-learning is now a rapidly growing industry of $250 billion globally. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, there has been an exponential rise in the number of people inclining towards picking up practical skills. Along with schedule flexibility and easy accessibility, online courses are a great alternative to typical on-campus learning.

 However, e-learning companies and online course providers have been battling the problem of decline in completion rates of the courses. Even though the courses have now become widespread, the high dropout rates persist. This democratic process of learning needs huge improvement in customer retention. 

In our blog post, we’ll take you through the reasons why the customer churn rate is so high in e-learning courses and how you can improve retention rates.

How to reduce customer churn rate in e-learning courses?

It’s being seen that learners and students enroll in the online courses very enthusiastically. Let’s learn the reason why motivation and enthusiasm dies in the process.

Why are the dropout rates high?

The completion rate of online courses is extremely low. The statistics of dropouts go as high as 40-80%. To improve these rates, it’s necessary to understand the problem as to why it happens.

Here are the reasons behind high dropout rates in online courses:

  • Poorly designed courses
  • Overestimating yourself and allocating too little time for online training
  • Browser compatibility issues
  • Lack of internal and external motivation
  • Absence of support from other students
  • Absence of guidance from instructors
  • Outdated course content
  • Improper communication
  • Objectives of the course being unclear or overestimated
  • Inexperienced instructors
  • The feeling of no sense of loss while quitting
  • Lack of peer pressure or accountability

14 ways to increase customer retention in online courses

1.      Prepare students before the course begins

One of the major reasons behind the high churn rate of online learners is the difference between the student’s expectations and the reality of e-learning. To solve this, you should set the right expectations before the course begins in order to clear up any unwanted assumptions and set students up for success from the beginning.

2.      Mention prerequisites 

Be clear in course descriptions if your course needs prerequisites before joining the course. If any knowledge or skills are needed, it’s a great idea to provide links and resources to students well before time. It’s your job as a course instructor to keep your students on the same wavelength while learning.

3.      Include time estimates 

One of the most appreciated benefits of online learning is flexibility. However, too much flexibility is the root cause of uncertainty and less clarity. Therefore, be as clear as possible about the timelines of the course, including key dates for any assessments or lessons, how long the content will take to work through and any self-study time. Providing a realistic idea of what the course demands from them can allow them to commit fully to the course.

4.      Provide reviews and stories from previous students 

When you think of traditional on-campus college classes, students have the opportunity to have discussions about their class selections with fellow students. It helps them to gauge their classes and instructors beforehand. You can create a similar experience for online student by sharing testimonials and in-depth stories about former students’ experiences with your course.

5.      Invest in tech support

It’s one of the most ignored factors. Course providers rarely show concern towards technological issues. Even though most of the online courses are easily accessible, you should not cross out the possibility of students having trouble figuring out the functionality of the course. Provide a detailed explanation of the tech requirements and be available to assist with tech issues throughout the course.

6.      Establish individual connection with the learners

Online course creators tend to conduct large classes for their personal advantage. However, if you have a small group of students in one class and interact with them personally, they will engage more with the course. Therefore, break your class into smaller groups and work with students on an individual basis.

7.      Introduce your course leaders

From as early as your landing page you should be introducing your course leaders so your students have a perceived sense of familiarity with them and an understanding of their expertise.

8.      Onboarding emails

Onboarding is essential for helping your students navigate around the platform and for that all-important expectation management, but onboarding emails also present an opportunity for your instructors to say hello and encourage your students throughout their learning journey. 

9.      Keep the learners motivated

Learners report to a digital screen in online courses, unlike the traditional setup. Without interaction with their peers, demotivation to carry on the courses starts building in. Therefore, build a learning culture where the course operator should encourage interaction between learners and with instructors. Create a culture that supports and values e-learning and makes it as good as classroom training. Also, be there for students and take follow-ups. When students know their progress is being tracked, they are more likely to finish the course.

10.      Create communities

Communities and forums are a great means of encouraging engagement, accountability and social learning. With a community, ideas sharing and feedback can be celebrated, reinforcing the learning materials, which will improve enjoyment of the course, information retention and the overall value of your e-learning course.

11.      Try one-to-one sessions

One-to-one teaching and feedback with a course leader or subject matter expert can really set your e-learning apart from the rest. This kind of offering is invaluable and will help foster a connection between your learners and tutors, resulting in learners who feel more accountable and engaged. This is especially important when your course requires students to complete assessments.

12.      Create engaging course content

If the nature of your course is relatively less interesting than usual, ensure that the content is engaging and inspiring in some manner. Include infographics, images, videos and transcripts to address core concepts. You can also include case studies and examples.

13.      Enhance guidance and support

If you motivate students to ask more questions, they will be inclined to be more involved in the course. However, it might not be possible for the course instructor to answer all the questions in real-time. Therefore, try to have frequent and regular interaction with the students on chat, or emails. You can also create a group on social media platforms where you can answer the questions of students. Try holding a daily or weekly FAQ session to provide your extensive support to the students. If managing this is too time-consuming for you, assign the task to a dedicated coordinator who can be a contact point for learners.

Although e-learning has gained immense popularity, there is still a lot of progress to be made. If you want the learners to attend your course in all seriousness and prevent the churn rate, keep experimenting with the aforementioned practices.

Oh, and did you know 50% of all churn is actually caused by failed payments? You can use services like Gravy to better plan your audience retention strategies and account for this lost revenue from failed payments. Reach out to us and learn best practices and tips, even if you don’t sign up.

Kelly Newcomb

Marketing Manager

Having worked both agency and client-side, Kelly has experience crafting and implementing multi-channel digital marketing and sales strategies. Since joining Plume, Kelly has proved herself to be adept at driving sales and increasing customer lifetime values through sales funnel management, content, SEO and PPC.

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