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Customer Education Coffee Chat

Skilljar’s monthly Coffee Chats showcase the different ways customers are using our platform, as well as tips and tricks from our own team to improve Customer Education efforts. This month’s Customer Education Coffee Chat featured a conversation with Skilljar’s own Jeff Richmond, Product Manager at Skilljar.  

One question on a lot of our customers’ minds is whether or not to monetize their Customer Education content offerings, and if so, how to get the most out of this opportunity? 

What is Monetization? 

Cutler Bleecker, Learning Experience Designer at Skilljar, defined monetization as the action or process of earning revenue from an asset. This month’s coffee chat explored different ways to earn revenue from your Skilljar platform – which is not the same thing as earning value. So when we talk about monetization at Skilljar, we also talk about it in the indirect sense of earning value for your customers — which could translate into revenue later on. 

Before embarking on a monetization strategy, keep in mind:

  • There is no one way to monetize your education platform
  • Monetization is not an all-or-nothing decision – you can monetize part of your platform, and then try something else later on
  • Not everyone needs to monetize their education platform – it could be something you keep in mind for the future, if at all

Cutler reviewed some reasons to offer a free model for training:

  1. Build brand awareness –  Prospects can learn about your offering through a Google search and find their way to your brand through a free training course
  2. Lead generation – Prospects can provide their email address in order to take your courses, and enter your nurture campaign as a result
  3. Conversion to paying customers – Convert the leads that come to your free courses into paying customers later on
  4. Product Adoption – Free training can help new customers come to understand your product faster, without the potential barrier of a price tag, leading to more satisfied users and product renewals 

All of these reasons provide value, though not in terms of direct revenue. 

Related: For more on the benefits of free training, see our ebook, The Free Training Fallacy: Why Paying for Training Isn’t a Roadblock

To Charge or Not to Charge (for Customer Training)? 

How to monetize trainingConsider your audience in terms of customer personas and the customer journey before you decide whether or not to charge for training.

  • Are they likely to see the value in your training and be willing to pay for it? Or will they be more inclined to explore free courses?
  • Will the fact that there is a fee attached make users more serious about completing the training? Or can you offer free training, but make it mandatory if they want to continue with the implementation process?
  • Can you lump the fee for your training into part of your overall agreement so the user doesn’t have to pay each time, but the costs are still covered?

Ways to Monetizing Customer Training 

Suppose you decide that paying for training makes sense for your product. The next question is, how much should you charge?

Jeff reviewed different strategies based on the size of your program.

Who are you training?

Training enterprises (businesses) – When a new customer signs up for your solution, they may automatically get access to your training. In fact, some Skilljar customers make this mandatory before their customers go through implementation. 

The cost for this is baked into the overall contract with the company. It could be a lump sum to include all customers or based on a subscription model for a subset of customers, but one way or another the company is paying for your training. Enterprise training also consists of private training sessions offered to customers that only focus on the needs of that customer in the training. For example, Skilljar customer Archer IMS offers private group training sessions to their investment manager clients. 

Monetizing Customer Education

Skilljar enables you to only show some courses to certain groups of users.

Training consumers
– This is when an individual learner chooses to pay for your training because they get something from it. A great example of this is how Zendesk offers a variety of paid courses in which the user receives certification in their customer service software upon completion of the course. 

Training the public – Some Skilljar customers opt to make their training available to the general public to increase awareness for their brand. These courses can be offered for free or for a charge, or a mix of both, and if you can convert someone who enrolled in your public course into a customer, you’ve certainly monetized the value of that course offering.

How to Charge for Training 

Pricing Models for Monetizing Customer Education

Jeff discussed different ways to charge for training:

1. A la carte (individual courses): Charge on a per course basis and customers purchase content as needed. You can charge differently for courses that have a live instructor versus those that are recorded

2. Subscription plans: Customers pay a flat fee for access to training resources for a certain time period (usually one year or the length of their contract). Customers could be issued a code to use to take the courses as part of their subscription in lieu of paying for each one separately. Or an entirely separate domain could be set up to handle the subscription plans, depending on how large the training group is. For example, Skilljar customer Zywave sets up a training domain for certain customers, where the content is branded specifically for that company

Monetizing Customer Education

Skilljar enables you to offer promo codes as a means of monetizing certain courses – a customer pays for a certain number of promo codes to issue so the course is “free” to the user.

3. Blended pricing:
Charge for some training while other courses are free. This tends to work well with an “a la carte” pricing structure, where different courses have different fees, or no fee at all. Then, you may want to add a premium or advanced training offering or certification on top of that, which has a cost 

4. Bundled training: Wrap training fees into an onboarding package, premium support plan, or service-level agreement (SLA). In this model, customers might pay a flat implementation fee that includes a mix of services, training, and other customizations

In summary, monetizing your training is all about creating value – whether this is in terms of actual revenue coming in or in the value this customer will bring to your business over time. There is no one “right” way to monetize your training and it’s up to each company to know their customers and know their training to figure out how to deliver the best experience that meets your business goals.

You’re not going to turn your training into a profit center in a week – it takes time, so think carefully about what you hope to get out of it and don’t be afraid to try different things over time. Find out what your users would find most valuable and try to start monetizing there.

Your Skilljar Customer Success Manager (CSM) is there to help you on your monetization journey. Also, check out these great (free!) resources as well: