Offering online education and courses to individuals and organizations is a growing opportunity for revenue generation for your business.
We’ve all heard of the Great Resignation. All across North America and beyond, employees are switching positions, organizations, or even industries. While the rippling effect of these changes has caused inconveniences for many organizations, however, the Great Resignation also presents an opportunity for growth and revenue generation for your business.
Companies are seeking ways to keep their top talent, including through upskilling/reskilling their teams. They need high-quality, modern learning experiences that can be offered to groups of people. If you’re a knowledge expert in your industry with an existing content library, you’re perfectly poised to serve that need.
Individual learners are also drawn to e-learning, especially those who do not have the time or resources to return to full-time education.
In this article, we’ll dive into what revenue generation is and explore the key steps you can take to successfully generate and expand revenue for your business through online education including:
- Revenue Generation: What Is It?
- How Businesses Generate Revenue Through Online Education
- Who’s Involved in Revenue Generation with Online Education
- Generating Leads With Integrated Marketing and Sales Funnels
- Designing a Great Learning Experience
- Creating a Pricing Structure
- Improving Course Sales
- Diversifying Your Audience
- Reviewing Your Results & Repeating
In the context of online education, revenue generation is the strategic process of planning, creating, marketing, and selling educational material with the goal of generating profit.
Businesses can generate revenue by offering various educational products online, including full-length courses, lectures, interactive workshops, lunch-and-learns, and courses. If you are a knowledge expert, you can create a revenue model for your business from educational products.
To attract a larger audience to their offerings, many organizations tailor their educational products to other businesses in addition to their individual consumers. It’s a great way to provide extra value or training to clients, and simultaneously draw in new clients who are curious about your work.
E-learning is more popular than ever, and a great way to generate revenue while avoiding the staffing and overhead costs of in-person learning. If you’ve already invested time and resources into creating a robust online content library, why not leverage it into a direct revenue stream for your business?
Chances are that you have more existing content than you think you do. From a Frequently Asked Questions page to product demonstrations to an internal training manual, your expertise is likely already embedded in your business. Take some time to carefully review your existing content to design your online learning strategy. You will want to get buy-in from your team to provide their expertise and help gather, curate and repackage your content into formats that are appropriate and digestible for online learning.
Examples of online education products you can create for your business include:
- how-to guides
- training courses
It’s also good to keep in mind that you’re not limited to educating consumers one at a time, either. From individuals to group learning to customized corporate programs, there are many ways to scale your online education revenue source while making the most of your existing content and resources. In fact, since 2019, nearly half of US organizations have increased their income through e-learning.
Running a successful revenue stream from online education is a team effort. As previously mentioned, you will need to get buy-in from your team s to create the course material and lesson plans, but that’s not enough to make online education profitable. Who else needs to be part of the project?
What should your courses be about? Should you focus on creating live webinars, pre-recorded videos, or text-based lessons? Your marketing team knows your competitive landscape the best and can identify industry gaps where you’ll provide the most value. The marketing team also has a deep understanding of your target audience’s needs, preferences, and behaviors. And of course, marketing will be critical in framing your unique online education value proposition, especially if offering educational products is new to your core business.
Once your courses have been created, your marketing team or department will be responsible for distributing every educational product strategically in order to generate leads. Should you offer a free trial or promotion? Use a traditional public relations strategy or leverage podcasters and Instagram influencers? It all depends on the nature of your business and your clients.
Your sales team, supported by marketing, is responsible for lead management and conversion. If you have a sales model for your online learning products that includes a sales team, they will keep enrollment numbers up by communicating with prospects and maintaining strong relationships with students. You can also leverage your sales team to collect critical data about which of your courses and offerings are most popular, have the best engagement, and are generating the most revenue.
If you are offering your online learning products in the B2B space, your sales team will also be in close contact with corporate clients, helping to identify knowledge gaps and map out a learning journey for their employees.
3. Customer Service
Creating an online education program is a continuous process. Your customer care team has constant insight into customer satisfaction and can suggest improvements based on direct feedback and customer interactions. This will empower your education team to improve the quality of your products.
Creating an online education library doesn’t just create revenue; it’s also an excellent lead generation tool for your growing business. Offering online courses and learning products for your audience will help you attract new markets that have not engaged with your brand before, expanding your core business customer base and boosting your organization’s position as an industry knowledge expert. That’s why a successful online education revenue generation strategy requires a blended push-and-pull approach with both your sales and marketing teams.
Pro tip: Create shared success metrics and a single buyer journey with your sales and marketing team, from brand awareness to post-purchase. You’ll attract more learners and improve your retention rate. You will also be able to identify at which point of the buyer’s journey you can introduce your online courses to customers, creating an extra touchpoint with them that deepens the valuable relationship.
A blended approach is also important if you’re shifting to offering B2B products, as your target audiences are both the organization’s decision-makers and the individual learners. Aligning with your marketing team will help you create a strategy that guides external brand perception and communicates unique value to your wider audience, while members of your sales team can help you create and maintain personal relationships with financial decision-makers.
Grab your free Sales Funnel Template: How to Create a Sales Funnel to Sell Online Courses
How do you create high-quality educational products in a positive learning environment that will have your customers coming back again and again?
Similar to the process of designing buying journeys for your customers, you’ll need to design learning journeys for your students that allow them to build on their new knowledge and skills after they have completed their first online course. The goal is to create an atmosphere of continuous learning where your customers will feel motivated and will want to keep consuming more and more of your educational content.
One of the most common types of online education is self-directed learning, which is completed at the pace and convenience of the student. Modules can include pre-recorded videos, quizzes, articles, or practical exercises. Globally, 58% of employees prefer to learn at their own pace, which is why a self-directed online course is a great idea, especially if you are offering enrollments to your online courses to corporations in bulk. Offering self-directed online courses through your business also helps you avoid many common environmental learning barriers and distractions that come with live learning.
Not every student excels in this environment, however. Consider incorporating an aspect of social learning in your online learning products by creating an engaging community space for your students where they can interact with each other or with a dedicated instructor or knowledge expert. This community space could become a valuable resource for your business and a major draw for new potential customers in the future.
One last thing: make sure you’re using Universal Design for Learning principles in your instructional design process to provide flexible learning options so everyone can participate fully. The more accessible and inclusive your learning plan is, the higher your level of participation, engagement and customer retention rate will be.
Once you’ve created your educational material, you’ll have to decide what to charge and create a pricing structure. Work with your organization’s sales and marketing team to determine what structure will be most effective in helping you achieve your revenue goals.
Keep in mind that your pricing structure will affect the content of the educational material itself. How widely will you cover a topic? Should you offer an ultimate guide, step-by-step tutorials, or quick videos?
Common revenue models in online education include one or more of the following options:
- Individual course registrations: Learners can pick and choose their learning material
- Subscription-based learning: Subscribers have access to a bank of existing content or micro-courses
- Tiered pricing: Access is restricted by knowledge level or price.
- Certifications: Students purchase a sequence of courses required to attain an industry-specific skill or certificate
- Bulk Selling: An organization can purchase a large set of enrollments to your courses in “bulk”
Online training is just as valuable as in-person training, so beware of undercharging! In addition, it’s good to keep in mind that higher-priced courses tend to attract more dedicated and engaged students that are likely to stick around long-term.
If your business is new to offering educational content, your audience may not think of you as an industry knowledge expert just yet. Remember to take the time to communicate why the knowledge and education you provide is valuable and why your business is uniquely positioned to offer your audience and customers what they need. Don’t be afraid to leverage your existing customer base. If you use a platform like Thinkific Plus, you can integrate your online education experience with existing platforms such as Salesforce.
You may also need some financial incentives to pull learners in. Should you offer a free trial or a referral bonus? What about seasonal discounts? Should you work with industry partners to cross-promote your courses? Whatever you decide, it’s important to be sure not to underprice your products. Remember, you’re providing unique insight and value to every participant.
Already have robust existing educational products but not happy with the results? Try switching things up a little based on your user data. Ways to make changes include:
- Offering long and short versions of the most popular courses
- Including more video content in your courses to increase engagement
- Partnering with industry experts or influencers to gain a wider reach
- Incorporating more real-world examples in your content so students are able to relate to it
- Offering more in-depth dives on specific subjects
If you’re still not seeing ideal returns on your existing courses and online learning products, consider diversifying your audience to increase your potential revenue. For example, go beyond your usual audience to include both end-users and large organizations.
If your organization has already created successful direct-to-consumer (B2C) education products, a great way to expand your business revenue is to explore business-to-business (B2B) offerings. There is a growing market for your business to create and sell online programs to other companies looking to reskill/upskill their employees, provide them with education through a stipend, or readjust their core activities. It’s a completely new revenue stream.
Diversifying your audience from B2C to B2B requires a shift in perspective from creating courses and learning products for the individual student to a learning cohort. Good questions to ask yourself are:
- How can my business create learning journeys for groups of professionals?
- Are there programs I can offer for entire teams or departments?
- Can I break larger topics into more specific programs and subtopics?
You can also consider adjusting and bundling educational content for:
- Different levels of management
- Specific industries
- Profit and non-profit organizations
Once you have an established corporate audience, the next step for your business is to begin offering customized, branded learning experiences to entire organizations. This can include specialized courses, live sessions, and interactive features. Additional resources will be required to create and support these clients, but the opportunity for generating revenue is greatly increased.
Want to shift from B2C to B2B online courses? Check out some practical tips for creating profitable B2B online courses.
Like in most areas of your organization, data collection is critical to the success of your online learning experiences. Define your metrics of success for each course and learning product you build, including feedback systems like surveys, quizzes, and more.
Make an effort to review your results consistently to continue to improve your online education strategy. With the right resources, reporting and tools, your learning program will soon become a reliable revenue-generating activity.
Ready to scale your business and generate revenue with online learning?
With Thinkific Plus, you can build, design, market, and host online courses that are easily accessible to your customers and business partners.
Thinkific Plus is a scalable platform that is simple to maintain, seamlessly integrates with your existing software, and is customizable for your brand needs. Schedule a call to try it for free.