How to Monetize Training Courses with an LMS

How to Monetize Training Courses with an LMS

April 30, 2024
Training Strategy

Monetizing eLearning courses through your learning management system (LMS) is a worthwhile opportunity to transform educational content into a sustainable revenue stream. 

Let's dive into monetization strategies including promo codes, training credits, and a step-by-step guide to implementing these tactics to enhance engagement, maximize value, and boost earnings through your LMS platform.

What is digital content monetization?

Digital content monetization is the practice of turning online content (like articles, videos, podcasts, and eBooks) into sources of revenue. 

For instance, if you produce blog posts and add sponsored content or display ads alongside them, this is a form of monetization. Content gated behind a subscription paywall, where readers pay a fee to access premium materials, is another example of monetization. You're monetizing training content when you charge for individual courses, or create a bundle that leads to certification, and enable payments through your LMS.

See this example from the FinOps Foundation on how they monetize training content through certifications. 

Benefits of monetizing online courses

Monetizing content means creating high-quality content and distribributing it to earn revenue. 

But revenue isn’t the only benefit of monetizing courses. Here are a few other advantages that make a case for monetizing your content:

  1. Control the growth and evolution of your education program

Running an education program involves costs, such as development, hosting and infrastructure, admin, and marketing. Even free platforms like YouTube or LinkedIn have costs for maintaining and promoting content. Monetizing your courses generates revenue that covers or exceeds the program's costs. 

Going from a cost center to revenue generator lets you keep operating without relying heavily on external funding or resources. 

Even better: you can reinvest profits into further developing the program, hiring additional staff, or enhancing the technology and infrastructure needed to deliver educational content effectively. This flexibility helps you adapt and grow your program based on your goals and objectives.

  1. Create sustainable revenue streams

In a subscription model, learners pay a regular fee to access your course over a specified period. This monetization model provides a regular income stream and gives you a baseline level of revenue each month. Stability like this lets you cover operational expenses, pay employees, and invest in improvements without worrying about fluctuations in sales.

Plus, subscription payments are typically recurring. This gives you a clear picture of your future revenue, which helps you plan and budget better.

  1. Foster increased customer commitment

Paid learners are often more committed than free ones. After all, they've invested financially to access your content. This financial commitment represents a tangible stake in the outcome, as learners invest not only their time and effort, but also their money to acquire knowledge or new skills.

Paid learners are also more accountable and motivated to complete your courses. They’ll stay focused on their learning objectives and actively participate in course activities to get the most value for their money.

Should you monetize eLearning content?

Of course, not everyone has to monetize eLearning. You don’t have to monetize if:

  • Your primary goal is social impact or community service: If you focus on providing free or low-cost educational resources to benefit the community rather than maximizing revenue, then monetization just doesn’t align with your mission.
  • You aim for maximum accessibility: Monetization can create barriers to access for certain demographics, particularly those who cannot afford to pay for online education. If you prioritize inclusivity and want your content to reach as many people as possible, a free or donation-based model might be more suitable.
  • Your content type is typically elsewhere: If similar content is readily available for free elsewhere on the internet, users may be unwilling to pay for your content (unless you offer something truly unique or valuable). Plus, some types of content, like basic tutorials, just don’t easily lend themselves to being packaged and sold as standalone products or subscriptions. 
  • You have alternative sustainability models: If you have access to other funding sources such as grants, sponsorships, donations, or partnerships, you may not need to rely on direct monetization to sustain your operations. 

Strategies for effectively monetizing eLearning content

Here are some strategies Skilljar customers have used to successfully monetize their training programs.

Use promo codes

Promo codes boost course sign-ups and increase your learner engagement by reducing the financial barrier to entry for your courses. When learners see they can get a course at a lower price, they're more likely to join in.

Luckily, Skilljar streamlines the creation of promo codes so you can create customized offers that appeal to various learner segments. Your learners enter these codes themselves when they buy a course, or you can send them a special link that applies the discount automatically. 

Use training credits

Training credits are like gift cards for online courses. They're codes that you can sell separately to learners, who in turn use them to access paid courses on the Skilljar platform. Each code has a balance, and when someone uses it to enroll in a course, the course cost is deducted from the code's balance.

These credits are a great option for corporate clients. They can bulk purchase credits upfront and distribute them to their employees or team members (instead of buying courses individually). 

Even better, employees can use these credits to enroll in various courses that align with their individual learning needs and career development goals. This flexibility allows for a more personalized and adaptable learning experience tailored to each employee's role and skill level.

Adopt direct payments

Skilljar allows you to integrate your own payment gateway (like PayPal and Stripe) to handle eCommerce transactions for any courses or Learning Paths you offer. So, when learners buy your courses, payments go through your chosen gateway, giving you more control and direct access to your funds.

You can also set up custom payment gateways or external payment processing (with the help of your Skilljar Implementation Manager, Customer Success Manager, or Skilljar Support).

Target organizations to bulk sell your courses

To scale your monetization, establish partnerships with organizations to integrate your courses into their standard training materials. You can even go beyond standard offerings and create customized courses tailored to the organization's needs.

Partnering with organizations like this helps you sell in bulk and positions your courses as integral components of their training programs. That’s recurring revenue streams, increased brand recognition, and credibility within the industry for you.

Steps to monetize eLearning content

If you’re ready to turn your training resources into revenue-generating assets, here’s how to get started:

  1. Assess current training resources

Understand your existing training resources to prevent redundancy and duplication in course development. Compile a comprehensive list of your training resources. This includes courses, modules, presentations, manuals, videos, quizzes, assessments, and other educational content.

Once you inventory your existing materials, assess them for gaps or shortcomings. The most successful Skilljar course creators typically align existing material with established learning objectives, learner needs, and organizational requirements. 

This process may involve gathering stakeholder feedback, conducting surveys or interviews with learners, analyzing performance data, and benchmarking against industry standards or best practices. 

Checklist: Find and plug the gaps in your content:

  • Check if the materials cover the knowledge, skills, and competencies learners expect to acquire
  • Make sure the content fits learner needs. For example, does it match their job roles and skill levels?
  • Look for gaps in coverage, such as missing topics, concepts, or skills that are essential for achieving the desired learning objectives
  • Look for ways to make the learning experience more engaging, like adding interactive elements 
  • Gather feedback from learners, trainers, subject matter experts, and other stakeholders to identify areas for improvement. You can also analyze performance data, such as completion rates, assessment scores, and learner satisfaction metrics, to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in the training materials

Once you identify these gaps, fill them by creating new courses internally or sourcing external resources. 

  1. Understand your target audience

What is your audience looking to achieve by taking your course? 

What challenges do they face in achieving these goals? 

Does your course get them closer to their goal? 

How do they prefer to pace their learning (e.g., self-paced, instructor-led)?

What is the value they will gain for taking your course(s)? Do you think they will be willing to pay to achieve this? 

Once you understand what your learners want, create learner personas. These are representations of your typical learners, based on real data and insights from your research. 

Learner personas help you customize the learning experience to meet the individual needs of your audience. This maximizes engagement and increases the likelihood of learner success.

  1. Develop a content strategy

A content strategy provides a structured approach to content development and delivery. It outlines the sequence, scope, and organization of educational materials so that your course has a logical progression of learning experiences for participants. 

The best-selling courses offer high value to the reader. The content offers actionable insights, tips, strategies, and techniques that learners can apply immediately in their work or daily lives. It also goes beyond theory to provide real-world examples, case studies, and hands-on exercises facilitating learning and skill development.

With the insights from the target audience audit from above, you will have an easier time planning your course content. 

Pro tip: Write down the questions customers and prospects ask most often and check this against your content gap analysis to identify areas for development..

Also, courses can easily become cost centers. To transform your course from cost centers to profit generators, offer a variety of content types (like videos, interactive modules, quizzes, case studies, etc) for specific learning objectives and topics. For instance, videos can be used to explain complex concepts and hands-on activities for skill-based learning to maintain learner interest and motivation.

  1. Choose the right technology platform

Before you can successfully monetize your training content, consider how you will:

  • Seamlessly process payments directly through your platform
  • Automate sales management tasks, such as order processing and invoicing
  • Set up and manage different pricing structures 
  • Protect sensitive customer information and prevent fraud
  • Manage customer data, track interactions, and nurture relationships over time

You’ll need a platform that supports eCommerce integration and provides valuable analytics to help you gauge success.

Skilljar has native data and analytics tools for measuring program usage and tying this back to business value. Our LMS also has integrations with eCommerce and payment gateway software so you can package and price your courses seamlessly.

  1. Set pricing models

Most course creators opt for lowball pricing right out of the gate to attract an initial user base. The assumption is that the lower the price, the more learners flock to your course. 

This might be a successful marketing strategy out of the gate, but if your program is working and you set your prices too low, learners could assume the quality is low. 

Find the pricing model that works for your offerings based on the value they provide and competitive programs in the market. 

One model that works well is to start with free course options and gradually introduce paid ones to balance accessibility and monetization. This strategy attracts a wide audience and helps you gather insights to enhance your offerings over time, leading to sustainable revenue growth and a more successful eLearning program. 

  1. Implement marketing and sales strategies

Learners today have plenty of options and high expectations, so you’ll have to promote your course to them proactively.

Find out where your prospects spend their time. Where do they go to learn? This could be digital channels like email marketing, social media advertising, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), or offline channels like print advertising, events, and partnerships.

Once you know where to find them, develop creative and engaging promotional materials—like ads, landing pages, and blog posts—to get their attention and build interest in your courses.

For product-related courses, train your sales team to bundle them with other products or services to add customer value. For example, offer a free photography course when customers buy a specific camera model from you.

  1. Measure and analyze performance

Treat your course like a business if you want to maximize your monetization efforts. This means adopting a strategic and results-oriented approach to its development, marketing, and management.

To that end, you must monitor the financials of your monetization efforts. This means tracking your revenue, profit margins, sales growth, and customer acquisition costs over time.

Hear directly from the people taking your courses. Ask them what they liked, what they didn't, and what they want more of. This input informs improvements to your courses, ensuring their effectiveness and relevance.

Generate more course revenue with Skilljar

It's a lot to remember, and successful course monetization varies depending on what you're offering and how you're doing it. 

But a big part of monetization success is having the right tools to grow. Skilljar gives you powerful tools that can turn your knowledge into revenue. You get the data and analytical tools, audience-specific portals, built-in eCommerce and revenue generation functionalities, tools to enable assessment and certification, and more.

In the end, when exactly you monetize is up to you. If you’re ready to generate more revenue from your assets, request a session with the Skilljar team to learn how the platform can help you increase course sign-ups and learner engagement.

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