Pros and Cons Of Selling Online Course Subscriptions

Are you considering selling online course subscriptions? One of the biggest decisions you must make when launching an e-learning site is selecting the best pricing model for your courses.

Depending on your goals, target audience, and content, you might benefit the most from selling individual courses, selling a monthly subscription to one or more courses, or selling lifetime access to your course catalogue.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of choosing the subscription pricing model to sell your online courses.

What Should You Consider When Choosing A Pricing Model?

Before settling on a pricing model, you should dissect the true value of the course or courses you intend to sell. How much did it cost to create your content? Think about invested time, resources and expenses. This information doesn’t only determine the price of your courses but can help you figure out how many course sales or monthly subscriptions you would need to sell in order to cover your investment. It will also allow you to determine the monthly subscriptions or individual course purchases required to cover ongoing costs and reach your desired revenue.

The Pros Of Selling Online Course Subscriptions

There are many reasons why the subscription pricing model is becoming increasingly popular in the e-learning industry. One of the main reasons why businesses are drawn to selling subscriptions is due to the stable and predictable income that they can provide.

Online course subscriptions help you build up a stream of recurring revenue, where the customers you convert are automatically “purchasing” from your site every week or month. Not only does this bring financial stability to your business, but also allows you to get the most value out of each customer without having to constantly invest in marketing to draw them back to your site to make a purchase.

Selling course subscriptions also gives online education businesses the opportunity to establish a stronger relationship with students. When a customer purchases a subscription they instantly turn into a repeat client, as opposed to a one-time customer. As a result, it is easier to turn your courses into a daily habit for your students, boosting their commitment to learning on the site. 

Subscriptions are also more attractive to your potential customers for their pricing. A monthly subscription typically has a lower price, therefore a lower entry barrier, than an individual course. The greater affordability of a subscription allows you to appeal to a larger audience. Additionally, a subscription model can be expanded with access levels tiers. As a result, you can best adapt to different learning needs and budgets.

At the same time, potential customers tend to feel safer investing in a subscription rather than making a large investment on a single course purchase. Not only is the investment more affordable with subscriptions, but there is also less financial risk involved. The subscription can be cancelled at any time if they no longer want to continue learning on your site or can’t afford the fee anymore.

The Cons Of Selling Online Course Subscriptions

After going over the many advantages of selling course subscriptions, you might be ready to adopt this pricing model on your site. Before you make any rash decisions though, it is important that you consider the potential downsides of this option.

While the affordability of subscriptions is very attractive to customers, it can sometimes work to the business’s disadvantage. When first introducing course subscriptions, it might take you a long time to see any real profit from new subscribers. This can vary depending on how many monthly fee payments it will take to recover what spent creating your course(s) and marketing campaigns to convert your subscribers.

At the same time, subscription-based businesses have to deal with the highly saturated subscription market. Nowadays there’s a wide range of services and products competing to be a part of your monthly bills. A growing number of people depend on subscriptions for their daily tasks, from watching movies to using their work software. Adobe Creative Cloud, Netflix, and Amazon Prime are just a few of the more popular examples operating with this model. As a result, some people might be reluctant to invest in yet another subscription and get only temporary access, rather than full ownership, to course materials.

If you do opt for the subscription pricing model, you’ll have to keep close tabs of your churn rate, or the rate in which customers discontinue their subscription to your site over a period of time. Some students can end up cancelling their course subscription before you get a chance to make any profit off them.

It is crucial to remember that converting a subscriber is not enough, since a subscriber can cancel at any time. Your students need a good reason to justify the expense and stay committed to your site. In order to prevent students from cancelling their subscription and your churn rate from increasing, you’ll need to focus on increasing customer satisfaction. In online learning sites, this is predominantly determined by the value of your content. 

If you are choosing to offer course subscriptions rather than single courses, you’ll have to find a way to be constantly producing an on-going stream of valuable content. You’ll also probably want to incorporate other high-quality features such as discussion forums or private communities to increase your service’s worth. Otherwise, your students will have no reason to continue renewing their subscription.

As previously mentioned, subscriptions can bring in a more predictable income over time, but they also tend to require more work and management. For example, selling individual access to courses requires little support from administrators. On the other hand, managing several subscriptions and recurring payments over time typically requires more customer support.

Overview: Online Course Subscriptions

Bottom Line

With subscription services growing in popularity, many are making the hasty decision to incorporate online course subscriptions into their business. However, it is important to consider that there are many advantages and disadvantages to choosing a subscription pricing model for your online courses. Only by examining your short and long term business goals can you determine whether subscriptions are the best option for your site.

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