Should eLearning be Free?

Should eLearning be Free?

August 30, 2017
Training Strategy
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It's true that eLearning programs facilitate customer education in a scalable and sustainable way. However, creating high-quality content is still time consuming, and training teams have a lot to consider when deciding whether to charge for these experiences. This post describes a few things to keep in mind if you're not sure whether you should provide free or paid content.

1. What does a customer need to learn to get value from a product or service?

Most products require a user to have a certain baseline of knowledge to provide value. If you don’t know how to use the product at all, you’re not likely to benefit from it. One way of thinking about pricing your training is to provide the basic level of training for free, but charge for more advanced training. This puts you in a position to give customers a taste of what the eLearning experience will be like and try it out, plus it helps make them successful. 

2. Does the business expect training to be a cost center, profit center or break even?

If you have a top-down directive to charge for your training initiatives, it’s a no brainer to do so. That being said, you still may not need or want to charge for all the services you provide. If you’re expected to break even, evaluate if there are more personalized programs you can charge for. As James Scott, Partner at Success Hacker, put it on our recent webinar, when you buy a microwave, you expect it to come with an instruction manual, but you don’t expect someone to come to your house and show you how to cook things with it. Think through the portfolio of education services you offer and put a price tag on the services that are higher value to the customer or more expensive to provide on a per learner basis.

3. Are other people charging to train users on your product?

When products become true market leaders, service providers and partners pop up to provide training to users. If other people are charging to deliver training about your product, it means this is a lucrative effort, and customers are willing to invest more for education. This is definitely a sign that you should consider getting a piece of the pie for your eLearning program.

4. Do you have infrastructure in place to market and sell your eLearning?

If you don’t have people to help market and sell your training offer, what’s the use in pricing it? It’s unlikely that you’ll see much traction. Think through your marketing strategy and see what you can do to ensure that if you do charge for training, you have the support to drive learners to it. This may include training your sales or account management teams, as well.


While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for pricing eLearning, the questions above can help you make the right choice for your business. It’s also important to remember that pricing changes with the market. What you charge for today may be free tomorrow and vice versa.

Do you have a different method for evaluating whether you should charge for training? Let us know in the comments.

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