Online Business

How to Increase Your Online Course Completion Rates

February 2, 2021

Why are coaches and marketers so ready to get people into their courses and programs, but they couldn’t care less about the financial situation, the program fit, or the coercion to buy? Now, this is a generalisation. We know that not everyone feels this way. The fact that you’re reading this, means that you care […]

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I am the digital growth expert helping service providers to craft strategic offers and create courageous content that enables them to infinitely grow their online business. 

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Why are coaches and marketers so ready to get people into their courses and programs, but they couldn’t care less about the financial situation, the program fit, or the coercion to buy?

Now, this is a generalisation. We know that not everyone feels this way.

The fact that you’re reading this, means that you care about your own customer experience beyond the sales process.

Course completion rates are low. Seriously low. An article from Smart Company Australia claims that after extensive research, completion in the industry was “as low as 10% and as high as 60%” — which makes you think, huh, how many online courses have I not completed?

I’m sharing 5 tips for how you can increase online course completion — from the mistakes I’ve made, to the feedback I’ve heard, to the people that are doing a great job at this. Let’s goooo!


Industry Completion Rates

Apparently completion rates are HIGHER in 2020; more people are staying home, some have either become unemployed or lost client work, so that frees up more time to actually DO courses.

However no matter what you do, sometimes people will just not complete the course they purchased. That’s inevitable.

It’s all about increasing the engagement of the people that have purchased — and NEED or WANT to complete the coursework.

You owe it to them; what may seem like a small investment to you, could be a really large investment to them. Value the money people spend on you; and if people don’t spend money on your programs, it doesn’t mean that they don’t value themselves. There are a range of factors that go into why people choose to BUY programs and COMPLETE programs.

Let’s take a look at widely-used course platform Udemy, which also acts as a marketplace of courses. Often via this website, students will be part of many courses, and may only be enrolling due to the markdowns and false discounts that make signing up appear more desirable.

Udemy reports that the average student enrolled in a Udemy course completes just 30% of the content. And an average of 70% of students never even start the course! Umm…


Pay and Forget Model

This “model” is something that I invented, just to give a name to the process of an entrepreneur who almost exclusively sells online courses, and is REALLY good at selling why you need THEIR thing to you, yet… the delivery. Yeah. Not so good.

Let me walk you through a few ways you can spot an entrepreneur who cares more about sales than customer experience.

Firstly, but not exclusively, they’re VERY present in the sales process.

Secondly, they seem to be well-liked. Being well-liked isn’t an indicator of being good at what you do. Many also have a lot of affiliates, and they’re not always past students. Sometimes they’re other entrepreneurial friends, just trying to top up their money pile.

Additionally, they’re freakin’ good at pointing out why their course or program is different, amazing, life-changing. They know more, they can give better results, and the dollars that they personally have generated become a huge factor in selling you information.


How to Increase Online Course Student Engagement

As a course creator, you DO have an obligation to make sure your students are engaged. The parameters are up to you and how you’ve sold it, but here are a few tips to help with increase your student engagement.

This one is obvious, but don’t sell your online courses to everyone.

Get really clear on the niche you serve, your marketing messaging, your price point (a flash sale will bring in bargain hunters, not dedicated students).

Your email marketing sequences shouldn’t end after you’ve made the sale. Give your students a time guide for when/how to complete the online course via an automated trigger. A great example of an online program that engages students really well via email is Tyler McCall’s Online Business Association. The software used is MightyNetworks, which although I’ve never used, it’s an amazing tool for membership hosting. OBA gives you custom updates, reminders & alerts, more info about what’s new, what’s coming, where you’re at with your learning. Recommend 10/10.

Another way you could potentially increase student engagement is via dripping the content. You’re giving the student a time guide, or a clear next step or next stage. There’s an option here to also pre-sell your course too, and test your ideas or the format before you commit to creating a full course.

Lastly, most online course platforms have progress reports. Kajabi*, the all-in-one online business software that I use, has the option to allow you to track member progress, start date, end date, and the number of logins.

If you have an online course, put a reminder in your calendar (weekly, monthly or quarterly) to pull your progress reports. Send out an email to students that haven’t started, or have a percentage below 10%, and re-engage them with your content.

*This is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.


Good Authority is the podcast that questions authority on social media — and how we as marketers and entrepreneurs use that influence to make money online and build our personal brands. Listen to the full episode via:

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