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The Secrets of Online Course Failures and How to Avoid Them

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

Online courses are a great way to learn new skills. But there are many reasons why they fail. In this article, we will be looking at the most common reasons for this and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you.

Secret One: Not Knowing Your Audience

The first secret to course failure is not knowing your audience. Sometimes subject matter experts build courses solely based on their expertise without much thought given to the needs of their students. Assuming your care about your students, doing a deep dive into the student avatar is essential for providing transformative student experiences.

Ask yourself the following:

What are the needs of my students? What are their goals? Who are they? What are they motivated by? What are their fears?

The answers to these questions are essential and must be known BEFORE you start creating your course. Knowing your audience will help you create a course that appeals to them and meet their needs. It will also allow you to target your marketing messages so that you can attract your ideal student.


Secret Two: Building Courses that Aren't Unique

Successful courses are not just about the content. They are about standing apart from the masses. One way to do this is to focus on the student's EXPERIENCE. The better the experience, the higher the completion rates. Current completion rates for non-post-secondary online courses are less than 13%. Happy students = better reviews = more $$. Have you ever taken a course that you didn't finish because the information was too dense or too dry or too theoretical? Or you didn't retain the information you received because you were bored or distracted or couldn't relate?

Course creators will have to think of how to create a course that is unique and that will stand out in a crowded marketplace. A good starting point is to identify what makes a course unique (by doing your research on the competition) and then work on ways to make your course even more original than others in the same niche.


Secret Three: Lack of Marketing Skills

Marketing is the lifeblood of any business, but it’s often the most overlooked aspect. For course creators, this can be a fatal mistake. The old adage of "build it and they will come" has been proven to not work.

There are many marketing strategies that you can use to promote your e-course.

Here are some tips that will help you market your e-course successfully:

1) Create a strong landing page for your product so that people know exactly what they are getting when they sign up.

2) Create an email list so you can stay in touch with your customers and offer them discounts or freebies.

3) Generate buzz on social media - share pictures of yourself or videos about your course with relevant hashtags.

4) Post testimonials from satisfied customers on your site to encourage others to buy


Secret Four: Building Courses Up Front

There's a tendency to want to build courses upfront and then sell them. But this methodology does not necessarily yield positive results. When you pre-build you can't be certain that you are hitting all of the pain points of your audience.

A better approach is to use more of an agile method. Create your framework and stay two steps ahead of your students but build as you go. This allows you to create content that is relevant and hits the mark. Your first group of students will in essence be your beta testers. The feedback that you receive from this group will be invaluable and will enable you to create a better version of the course than you had anticipated.


Final Thoughts

As the e-learning industry continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, course creators must get smarter with how they develop their courses, engage their students, create transformation and stand out from the crowd. If you can move the needle at all for your students then you will be ahead of the pack and you will be recognized for it.


About me

Simmi Behal is the Founder and CEO, The Virtual Producer. Course Planner & Process Specialist|Multimedia Producer of 40+ e-learning games & videos|Operations specialist for online businesses wanting to scale or sell without having their hair on fire.🔥 ⚖️

Need help with planning a new course? Or maybe you have one that currently exists that's not meeting the mark...

I offer Course Planning Workshops for new courses and Course and Program Audits for existing ones.

Please connect if you'd like to find out more.

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