Create recurring revenue from your online course with subscriptions

Guaranteed recurring revenue. 

The three magic words that every business owner dreams of; the prospect of sitting back and letting the money roll in month after month with very little input. No lead generation or overtime in the office required.

For online course creators and training providers a subscription model approach offers new opportunities to work less and earn more by increasing the value you bring to your customers. Whether it be through increasing your engagement, creative digital marketing designed specifically for elearning or the development of further resources.

Why you need a subscription model

Traditionally we might look at online courses or training as a one-time purchase. Depending on the size of your business or elearning offering, you may have strived for repeat purchases by nurturing customer loyalty or referral programs. But while these incentives may be effective for any business, they are limited in their effectiveness. 

Not every customer is going to want to complete more than one of your courses, and maybe you’ve scrapped the idea of a referral scheme because your cash rewards were being spent elsewhere.

If you see your learners as purely transactional, you’ll never learn to nurture long term relationships and increase their lifetime value. Remember, it’s easier to get a customer to make a repeat purchase through added value (cross selling) or upselling, than it is to turn a cold lead into a customer.

How to turn your elearning into a subscription

You might be scratching your head thinking of ways in which you can turn your elearning into an ongoing subscription – but even if you offer one course, there are plenty of ways for you to keep your learners coming back for more with content and ongoing learning opportunities.

But how can you generate these ideas and keep them coming? Easy!

With these four key ingredients you can easily turn your online training into a recurring revenue stream.

Always be adding value

This might seem a little obvious, but in order to maintain an ongoing revenue stream you’ll need to be adding value to your customers beyond your original offering (such as your main course). To name a few you could try offering some of these to your elearning subscribers:

  • Weekly videos
  • Access to live Q&As
  • Interviews or webinars with industry experts
  • Access to an exclusive group
  • Mini-courses
  • Discounts for your courses 
  • Sneak peaks of your course/ speaking events/ books
  • Resources and downloadables
  • Tickets to an annual event
  • Reward schemes
  • Merchandise

Working from home? Why not use our list of creative digital marketing tactics for online course creators to start adding value to your course today. Make the most of your time and take the first steps towards generating a recurring revenue through subscribers. 

Don’t feel like you just need to have one subscription plan either, you could always try locking away your premium content for your highest paying subscribers.

Always be listening

If you don’t have a feedback system for your elearning in place you are seriously missing out on valuable information. Your users can provide you with feedback and suggestions you would have never considered – and as the very people paying for and consuming your online learning, they’re exactly who you need to be listening to.

When is a good time to chat? Inviting feedback shouldn’t just happen once. Set up email automation to ask your users at several points throughout interacting with your content for the best overview.

Of course, they’re not going to get it right every time and you can’t please everyone, but you’ll be able to resolve issues and spot opportunities to expand your offering just by putting some kind of feedback system in place.

Always be testing

As we mentioned, you can’t please everyone. So sense check suggestions and try and gauge demand before you waste resources on implementing anything. Do some maths and see if these suggestions will result in a favourable ROI.

Measuring value: Not every suggestion can be measured or output a tangible ROI. In some cases you’ll want to factor in lead generation, automation, churn rates and your time as a cost or value.

At Plume we see every project as being iterative; nothing is ever perfect – copy can always be tweaked and functionality can always be optimised. Not for a lack of trying. End-user needs will always be evolving, things will need to be added or taken away and there will always be something that comes up that no one could have anticipated…and actually, that’s exactly what every business needs. If you offered something perfect, threw it out into the market and then left it, you may at first see a surge in uptake, but after time these numbers would plateau before declining. Why? Because users want and need to be listened to.

Always be innovating

It’s important that you see these stages as parts of a cycle, not an end-to-end process. You need to be innovating to add increased value to existing learners and to attract new ones in order to dominate your niche or capture a portion of the market.

Once you have an iterative process in place where you’re listening and testing, you’ll always be trying new things, continuously adding value as you innovate and expand your offering. 

Final thoughts…

Subscription models are the future for elearning. Learn to nature relationships and increase the lifetime value of each of your learners and you’ll create a passive income through your business that requires very little time investment from you on a weekly basis. It’s the dream, and it’s easier to achieve than you think.

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