When we meet with clients for the first time, we often get asked:

“How should we charge customers for our course? One off? Or should we sell it as a subscription? What’s the best option for us?”

It seems a pretty fundamental question, right?

In our experience, there are real advantages of subscription over one-off:

  • It provides you with a pipeline of future income (great if you are looking to increase the value of your company, or just sleep better at night knowing there are revenues to come).
  • It allows you to offer a lower initial price point, that may help conversion to sale. Yet the lifetime value of your customer has the potential to be much higher than what you’d receive as a fixed fee.
  • We believe it forces you to build closer relationships with your customer (which we’ll come onto next). This close relationship, if capitalised on, can provide you with key insights to improve your business and products, help you spot opportunities to cross-sell, and gain a deep understanding that can improve your business in many ways.

However, you have to earn the right to be renewed. You’re going to have to work harder to deliver immediate and ongoing value to your customer – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

You’ll also need to consider the nature of the learning product you’re delivering. Can it be completed within 2-3 subscription cycles – do we have any past experience that will give us a steer on this? If so, then a fixed fee may be the right route. Alternatively, you may be able to ‘drip’ content into the training over time – but make sure expectations are clear on this to the customer prior to purchase.

Consider the desired outcomes of your students from your online course too. Are they looking to develop a skill over a period of time, or are they primarily focused on the certification and credentials they will achieve upon completion?

If it’s the latter, it may be more difficult to retain subscriptions once they have achieved their goal. You’ll have to figure out a really compelling reason for them to get real value from you after they’ve finished – not impossible but the intentions may be already set from when they looked at your product.

As you can see, there’s plenty of factors at play. We’d argue that when you first start thinking about developing a digital product, consider the pricing model. Ultimately this may have a significant bearing on the choices you make about the format and nature of it. And if we can help you with conversation, we’d love to hear from you!

 
 
 
Author
Andy Jack
Andy works with training providers of all shapes and sizes to help them unlock the potential in their business. If not online, he'll usually be found up a mountain!
 

Want to hear more?

Sign up to receive to our regular updates.

By: Carlos Nisbet

September 4, 2018

Candle Digital are celebrating this week after been selected as technical partners for American curriculum provider The Options Group, based in Texas. The Halifax based […]

Read this post »

By: Andy Jack

November 7, 2018

Recently I signed up for an online course on ‘Design Thinking’ from the Interaction Design Foundation. Several days later, I received this postcard in the […]

Read this post »

By: Carlos Nisbet

September 24, 2019

Here at Candle Digital, we love Twitter! It’s a fantastic tool for building connections, sharing what we learn, spotting new trends and keeping in touch […]

Read this post »