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3 Strategies for Using Discount Codes to Enhance Your Course Sales

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Done right, discount codes can quickly boost sales of your online courses. However, improper use can lead to an unnecessary loss in revenue.

On our blog, we’ve previously discussed reasons not to use mass online course marketplaces like Udemy to sell your courses.

Sure, the instant access to millions of potential customers is appealing, however, being forced to sell a course for $10 and giving up 50% of each of your sales…

Well, that doesn’t sound like such a good deal to me.

Don’t get me wrong, Ben and I have taken many high-value courses through Udemy which were likely worth closer to $1,000 due to the tactics they’ve helped us implement. But the reason I’m referring to this point is because sites like Udemy have become such a success due to the “fire sales” and massive discount offers they often implement.

But no matter how you’re choosing to offer your course content, there are ways for you to successfully leverage the power of discount codes to boost sales of your online course.

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We occasionally work with one particular WordPress plugin company which tends to offer large discounts every month of up to 40%. This is fine for a software company as you can “price in” these discounts and selling software only requires delivering lines of code which have already been written.

However, with an online course, you may have invested hundreds of hours creating your lessons.

We’ve discussed this in previous posts, but one of the most common mistakes we see new course creators make is not pricing their course highly enough for the value it delivers. If you are constantly discounting your material, potential customers will come to expect those discounts and potentially place a lower perceived value on your content.

But when used sparingly, discount codes introduce a sense of urgency to purchase your course(s).

This is no more true than at the launch of your course. One of the most effective strategies for building momentum for an online course launch is to offer a limited-time discount to early adopters.

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How many times have you purchased something online and received a discount code for your next purchase on that particular website?

Probably many.

This strategy has been around for decades, even with brick and mortar retailers. And it works.

If you offer multiple courses or are even planning to introduce new courses to your first in the future, you can use the same strategy to build your business.

For example, our WP Courseware learning management system for WordPress makes it simple to both customize your customer’s checkout confirmation email and create discount codes which can be used for any length of time.

This makes encouraging a customer to purchase another course within that specified amount of time simple by placing a limited-time discount code for another course within their checkout email…and what does that do?

Boost your sales considerably!

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This strategy is only applicable for course creators who have multiple courses, however, it’s likely the most powerful strategy listed in this post.

In this case, the course creator creates a la carte options for purchasing individual courses at full price. They then create a bundled course which includes all the content which is within all of their courses and offer a significant discount on the bundle.

Let’s look at an example…

Say you have three courses and sell them for $99 each. You might then add an additional purchase option to purchase all three courses together. If all three courses are added to the customers cart, you could then create a discount code which is only activated if all three courses are in the cart and list this code on your site.

The best part?

It works no matter whether you’re selling courses for a one-time fee or a recurring subscription. Think about that…

If you’re selling three courses for $99 each for lifetime and you offer a 40% discount for purchasing all three, the revenue looks like this:

  • 1 course sale = $99
  • Discounted bundle sale = $178.20
  • Increased customer value = 80%

If you’re selling courses for $49 per month and you have three of them, then you offer a 40% discount for purchasing all three, the revenue looks like this:

  • 1 course sale = $588 per year
  • Discounted bundle sale = $1,058 per year
  • Increased customer value = 80%
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These three strategies can certainly help you increase sales of your online course and as I mentioned, there’s no more important time to implement them than at the launch of your course.

However, for any discount strategy to be successful long-term, your course content needs to be high-quality, valuable, and actionable. Whether your strategy is to sell one course or 100 courses, if your students aren’t finding that it helps them reach the goal they set out to reach, they won’t come back.

So while it’s great to be thinking ahead to sales and marketing tactics when creating a course, just make sure that creating great content prior to launch is first and foremost. If you do that, adding a discount code strategy will be the icing on the cake!

About Nate Johnson

Nate Johnson is one of the co-founders of Fly Plugins, creators of the first and most widely-implemented learning management system for WordPress, WP Courseware. Since 2012, he has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, corporate training departments, and higher education institutions develop and deploy online training courses from their WordPress websites.

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