Do You Have a Pricing Strategy for Your Online Courses?
Pricing is such a critical part of launching and promoting online courses, especially in this time when there is a lot of interest for online learning learning and competition from providers. I was part of a team that launched a portfolio of online courses for a higher ed institution and pricing was something we spent a lot of time discussing, researching, and strategizing. I recommend any online course provider do the same. There are many ways to incorporate pricing into a marketing strategy, but it starts with a business decision.
As part of the product development process, pricing needs to be addressed and evaluated in multiple ways. What are your goals and what is your value proposition? Ask your team these questions to identify what your position is on pricing:
Are you offering a premium product?
Do you want opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell?
Are you looking for high attendance?
Do you need to generate excitement for an initial launch?
What is the profit margin you need to achieve?
Then look at your competitors. If you decided you are a premium product, you should be priced the same or higher than your competitors. If you're all about volume, what is the lowest price that you can compete against?
When you understand where you stand on pricing from a business perspective, you can then incorporate price promotions into your marketing strategies.
Here are some marketing strategies based on the pricing strategy you settle on:
If you are offering a high-cost premium online course, try these marketing strategies to maintain your price point:
- Give something away for free. For example, one module or a worksheet or reading from the course.
- Promote premium benefits that come with the course, like coaching or 1-on-1 time with the teacher.
- Emphasize exclusivity and drive a sense of urgency with "limited time" or "course fills fast" language.
- Offer a payment plan that allows people to pay over time, even giving a discount for those who pay full upfront.
If you are offering a low-cost course where you want to gain high attendance, try these marketing strategies to attract students:
- Offer discounts. There are many reasons to offer a discount, including first time buyers, for people who download a corresponding white paper or webinar you provide, or discounts for groups from one company.
- Offer lower prices based on when they enroll. You can do this by promoting an "early bird" pricing deadline by a certain date or by offering a discounted price to the first 100 people who sign-up.
- If this is a new course, promote the price along with a special lower "introductory" price to entice people to sign-up for the first offering.
With any pricing strategy, keep an eye-out on your margin and test different marketing strategies to see what works best for your goals.