When it comes to deciding whether or not to charge for training, we often hear companies struggling with the concern that if training has a cost, no one will take it. Unlike internal training (think: required compliance or health & safety courses), external training is often a voluntary activity. The perceived roadblock is clear — if customers aren’t required to take training and we’re making them pay for it, they won’t engage. Well, we (and more than half of our external training community) disagree.

In our recently released 2020 Customer Education Benchmarks and Trends Report, we found that 56% of respondents currently charge for training, and of that percentage, 74% expect to further monetize their training in the next year. To put it frankly, if fee-based training didn’t work, it’s unlikely that companies would seek to expand their monetization strategies in the future. That said, this doesn’t mean that all monetization strategies are the same. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Our research found that of the 56% of organizations that currently charge for training: 

  • 14% always charge (all courses are fee-based)
  • 31% charge for the majority of courses (most courses are fee-based, some are free)
  • 55% charge for some courses (the majority of courses are free, some are fee-based)

While the precedent for fee-based training is evident, it’s important to note that there is no single “right” way to charge for training or universally applicable monetization strategy. As you start to develop or expand your monetization strategy, let’s explore why and how free and fee-based training works.

To learn more about why offering fee-based training isn’t a barrier to engagement, check out our latest eBook: The Free Training Fallacy: Why Paying for Training isn’t a Roadblock

Why Free Training Works

It may seem obvious that training with a big “free” sticker attached is likely to garner interest, and there are certainly reasons to offer free training, including (but not limited to): 

    • Brand awareness
    • Lead generation
    • Conversion to paying customers (through free trials)
    • Encouraging product adoption

Given these benefits of free courses, It’s important to recognize that charging for training does not need to be a free OR fee conversation; you can have your monetization cake and eat it too!

Why Fee-Based Training Works

As TSIA’s Maria Manning-Chapman explains, “the barrier to adoption isn’t if training is free or fee, it’s consumption.” In other words, you can give training away for free, but that doesn’t automatically mean anyone is going to consume it. So what does determine consumption? In a word, value. If your courses and resources provide specific, easily identifiable value, the cost (within reason) may be well worth the investment. Other reasons to offer fee-based training include: 

  • Certifications and licensure
  • Advanced training
  • Industry/competitor precedent

Depending on your goals, fee-based courses can be a valuable component of your training program, but as we’ve hopefully now made clear, the monetization category can very well be free AND fee. 

To learn more about the benefits of both free- and fee-based training, and for tips on choosing the best monetization model for your program, check out our eBook: The Free Training Fallacy: Why Paying for Training isn’t a Roadblock

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