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3 Ways to Transform the Growth Trajectory of Your Online Course From Linear to Exponential

I’ve seen it a thousand times…

You might be a seasoned coach, a best-selling author or a well-renowned speaker but when it comes to building and managing an online course, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the complexities and nuances of directing people through your system. And on top of that, you’re probably frustrated with investing thousands of dollars in Facebook Ads and having a website that hasn’t really been doing a good job of generating leads.

Unfortunately, I meet A LOT of amazing coaches who are so, SO good at what they do… but they lack a solid strategy and end up struggling to make the profits AND the impact they truly deserve!

Here’s the thing…

The difference between success and failure in the online course world, I.E. the difference between linear and exponential growth has nothing to do with spending huge amounts of money in marketing or the fanciest platform! It’s about making the right decisions and taking a very strategic approach.

If you’re struggling to get your online course business to the next level, and you want to skyrocket your profits, then I have three strategic actions you can take that will dramatically improve the profitability and success of your online course and also keep a steady stream of new clients coming through the door.

Remember, there’s no need to blaze a new trail when you’re expanding and improving your online course business. Instead, follow a proven path to success and strategies we’ve tested and proven with our own clients.

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1) Set Impact Goals and Build your Course to Deliver Results 

Every online course creator has income goals, but have you set your impact goals?

What I mean by that is, have you defined EXACTLY how you want to impact someone’s life and established what the final result would be after someone works with you?

Another way to think about this…

How are you helping people get to where they want to be? 

Because after all, that’s what makes your course great, right? It delivers results for your students…

When your course delivers positive results and outcomes, by default, you’ll benefit… but that’s not the main priority. The customer is the main priority, and if you get it backward, you’ll never be successful.

So, with that in mind, what can you do to ensure you are reaching your “impact goals” and building a course that delivers results?

FIRST, focus on ACTION! 

Just because you share valuable information doesn’t mean your students are learning it and putting it into action. It doesn’t matter how good the content is or how amazing your course looks.

Think this in another context -  you can’t learn to dive by watching a video. Right? You can understand how it works but until you start diving real learning won't take place.  

Now, let’s apply this principle to your online course. You’re trying to create some sort of transformation in your client, right? And for them to ACTUALLY learn the skill they have to practice it, right? 

Practically speaking, what I’m telling you to do is have some sort of application exercise after each lesson or module. Give students a way to apply what they’ve just learned. 

This could be an activity, a quiz, an evaluation of some sort…

This will make all the difference. Having them see what they are learning put into practice will give them small wins, help them see results, and keep them coming back to learn and grow more. 

SECOND, create content that keeps them coming back.

It seems obvious, but if students get their desired outcome and see results, they will keep coming back as you are able to help them get the transformation they are looking for. 

However, that’s easier said than done. 

To keep them coming back, you need to be intentional from the beginning - make sure ALL content is created to keep them engaged and help them ascend through your value ladder to continue seeing results.

From the modules all the way down to the administrative emails you send out, everything needs to be focused on bringing them back so they can complete the course and SEE results!  

Read more: 5 Secrets That Will Keep Online Students Coming Back for More

THIRD, break things up.

It’s easier to show students the progress they’ve made if you break things up and give them small wins. If a task or module is too hard and long, students will get tired and bored and never complete it. Game over for you… you just lost a client. 

On the other hand, if you break up modules and courses into consumable chunks, your students can easily see progress, celebrate accomplishments, and reach their goals.

Read more: How to Organize Your Course Content for Short Attention Spans

2) Identify Friction and Reduce It! 

Let’s start by defining friction.

Learning Friction™ is anything that slows your user down and stands in the way of your student getting that perfect learning outcome. It could be within the course’s content, it could be the technology platform, or even something as simple as the navigation of your site.

Steve Krug, writer of Don’t Make Me Think, identify friction as “cognitive load,” basically any thought involved in the task that isn’t required. 

Your goal is to reduce friction and have students maximize learning time. When you have that focus, that's when you're going to see the exponential ROI increases in your business.

Read more here: This is Stopping From Growing Your Online Course Business

Here are some ways to reduce/eliminate friction in your online course:

  • Good customer servicePeople will always have questions, concerns, problems, issues, and more. If you are there to help them overcome problems quickly, they will appreciate that and keep going. If they get stuck with no help, you can kiss them goodbye!
  • Consistent structureMake sure everything is consistent from lesson to lesson, module to module and course to course. When someone knows where the “Next Lesson” button is or the “Take The Quiz Now” button is, they like that! Don’t make them search. Don’t surprise them. We’re creatures of habit, and we want things in their place. 
  • Simplify the design – some people, when they look at our sites are like, “Wow! That's not fancy!”, and my response is you're right. It's not fancy, because all the fancy stuff is just a distraction. Designers like it because it looks good, but from an effectiveness standpoint, it actually does you harm.
  • Automate the flow – People don’t follow directions! Even when they are crystal clear. This is why you need to take control of the experience from the moment their credit card is processed. You can do this with automation. You should anticipate the learners first 15 minutes, 24 hours, 3, 5, and 7 days. Be proactive and create a Red-Carpet Experience that educates and trains them, so they start your course with as little friction as possible.
  • Save their place – Many students begin a module and then get too busy with work to complete it. They might not remember where they are, and this becomes a friction point. Your platform should know exactly where every student is at any point in time and allow to pick up exactly where they left off when they log back in.
  • Single sign-in – All of us are burdened by way too many logins and passwords. You and your program want to be part of the solution and not the cause for frustration. Imagine a client buys three programs from you…three courses, membership levels, etc. They should have one login and password…period! Enough said.
  • Compatibility with all devices – There are so many devices that learners use to experience your content: iPhones vs. Androids, Macs vs. PCs, Google Chrome vs. Firefox, etc. You must be able to function on each one of these different setups and combinations, or you’re going to be jeopardizing the learning outcome for a portion of your students.

If you want to dig deeper into this topic, I talk more about friction here

3) Up-sell and Cross-Sell

You will never grow your online course business exponentially by only focusing on increasing your number of customers - this is the most expensive and time-consuming way of doing it.

Increasing both your client base and the average amount each student spends on each transaction, is the most effective way to help you reach your business goals.

If you’re not offering your existing students additional products, you’re missing a HUGE opportunity for increasing profits, so it’s critical to do it correctly. Delivering more value or  great deal at the right moment, when your students are engaged, is one of the best ways of instantly skyrocketing your profitability.

Up-selling involves getting your customers to buy a more expensive product that adds value to their purchase. Cross-selling consists of getting your customers to buy an additional product or service that will help them achieve a more significant outcome or results.

If you make a great offer to your customers, more than 50% will probably get it, meaning all the money of the extra profit goes directly to your bottom line because it requires no extra effort/time/money, and there is no additional cost of sale to reach the customer.

While cross-selling and upselling are conceptually different, you can use them together for optimal results. Besides just persuading students to buy multiple products at the same time, you can also invite them to buy your more valuable digital products based on the amount of value you have added to them.

Although you can't force them to buy more or higher-priced products, you can lead them in that direction. Here are some ideas to increase cross-selling and up-selling opportunities:

1) Focus on increasing completion rates 

The completion rate is crucial for maximizing profits and customer lifetime value. Let’s suppose you have 10,000 students enrolled in a course. A 5.2% average completion rate will only give you a pool of 520 people to upsell versus 3,260 people from the 32.6% completion rate of some of our clients. 

I’ve mentioned this in other blog posts,  a high course completion rate is an excellent indicator of the quality of your learning experience. The higher your completion rate, the higher your upsell rate will be as well because completion indicates people are getting value. They'll actually want to buy your next product!

Also, as people get their desired results, they are also more likely to refer your course to their peers and colleagues. In other words, an increased number of people completing, referring, and reviewing your course is bound to increase your profits.

2) Cross-reference other products within the course content.

You certainly want your students to keep coming back and add more of your digital products to their carts. 

When students keep buying your products, their brand loyalty increases, and as a result, they are more likely to buy more of your digital products in the future.

Think about it. Just because you bought a pair of sunglasses that you love doesn't mean that you won’t consider other sunglass brands. However, if you buy another pair of sunglasses from the same brand, you are probably looking out those sunglasses above all others the next time you are going to buy ones. 

That's how it works. The more products of your products people buy, the more engaged they become. They start feeling like they're part of your "tribe". And that's the type of customer relationship you want to nurture.

In your online courses, you need to make sure that you provide different opportunities to buy more of your digital products throughout their learning experience, without using pushy sales strategies. Just ensure you take advantage of every chance to put more of your products in front of them.

3) Provide an answer to “what's next” at the end of each course.

When you come to the end of a blog post, you see links to related articles. When you reach the end of a YouTube video, you are encouraged to subscribe to the channel or watch additional videos. You may even get a discount code at the end of a shopping experience. The endings encourage you to extend your experience in some way. 

When it comes to your online course, great endings can help keep students engaged. So, provide an irresistible Call-To-Action which clearly states what you want learners to do NEXT.

Some learners will want to learn even more from you, so the end of the course is the perfect time to sell them other courses. Show them that it’s only natural that they take the next course. Not everyone will be interested, but trying to upsell or cross-sell can increase the average spend per individual once you promise value. 


By putting these three strategies into practice and taking action with your online course, you will be able to transform your growth from slow and liner to fast and exponential. Don’t forget it’s the small things that make a big difference! Is your course utilizing these three strategies yet? What’s keeping you from implementing them if you aren’t yet?

steps to make more money with your online course


Mike Weiss
Mike Weiss
Mike Weiss is the founder of Client Engagement Academy, The Client Engagement Membership Platform and Internet Sales Experts. He has become one of the top experts in online sales and marketing and client engagement. Mike's Client Engagement Membership Platform is leading the global movement utilizing modern technology and proven adult education methodologies to increase client engagement and course graduation rates causing profit margin expansion.

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