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5 Foolproof Ways to Increase Enrollment for Online Courses

February 19, 2020

More industries and organizations are tackling the digital space to increase their offerings and provide convenient solutions for their customers.

With 90% of American adults now on the internet, it’s almost crucial that your organization focuses its efforts on your online engagements, especially if you host online courses.

Online courses present a practical opportunity for those who want to learn and further their skills but don’t necessarily have the time to attend a class or aren’t in the right location. Many organizations offer online courses, like educational institutions for their students and businesses for their employees.

To truly maximize success for your online courses program, ensure you are building it on a foundation that promotes efficiency and provides genuine value. If you want to increase enrollment, first consider ways to make the registration process quick and easy, as well as how to market your courses to the right audience. 

How to increase enrollment for online courses

In this guide, you’ll learn about five top tips to optimize your online courses and ultimately attract more students.

Your organization works hard to provide unique and meaningful experiences. Ensure that you’re doing all you can to attract genuine students and facilitate a smooth and engaging process throughout the online course, from registration to the last class. Follow along with these tips to get started.

past student outreach

1. Contact past students 

As you prepare your initial marketing efforts, a good way to jump-start enrollment is to reach out to those who have experienced them before. Not only are they already familiar with your organization, but you can ask them for any feedback or preferences in what they want to see.

Besides announcing upcoming opportunities in your mass newsletters, send out a course catalog to your past students and get them excited. To get the best response, contact past students who have taken a similar course with you in the past or given previous positive reviews to your other online courses.

These are the students who are most likely to gain actual value from your courses. For example, if you recently offered an online course on “How To Build The Best Resume,” a good class to offer next is “How To Ace The First Job Interview".

Besides just letting past students know about the course, you can leverage your registration tool to further increase enrollment rates by:

  • Offering incentives like early-bird registration or a discounted ticket. Everyone loves a good deal. To motivate past students, provide an exclusive deal that’ll push them to sign up. If you have an early-bird discount, some forms can automatically apply that without the user inputting anything.
  • Filtering your users based on certain actions. For instance, if someone begins your registration form but doesn’t complete it, you can filter your system to find that specific user. From there, send a tailored, personalized message to them marketing new course offerings.

Reaching out to your past students provides lots of benefits for your online courses and can drive these students to enroll. Make sure you’ve kept a good track of your students in a centralized database to ensure you build on a reliable starting point.

online registration process

2. Optimize the online registration process.

As soon as people are interested in your courses and start filling out your forms, you don’t want your registration process to be what really turns them away. Ensure that your registration is hosted on your website and is branded accurately. “Shopping cart abandonment” is a real fear for many organizations, and can also plague your online course enrollment.

Most of the time, users will desert an online registration page because they get distracted or there are too many questions. Consider how you can form your online registration to bring the most online conversions for your organization. Ultimately, you don’t want the entire process to take too long and lose your potential registrant’s attention.

To keep your online registration as optimized and efficient as possible, make sure to:

  • Customize each registration form to its unique online course. If your online registration is turning away users, it might be because you have too many unnecessary questions that don’t even pertain to your course. Get rid of fields that aren’t needed and make sure to keep it short and simple.
  • Personalize online registration based on user choices. Some registration tools have conditional logic abilities that can continuously update your form to line up with the user’s answers. It can add fields if a registrant marks yes to a certain question, get rid of fields if they no longer apply, or even automate other actions like emails sent to the user. For example, if your online course has an associated course with it, put in a field asking if the user wants to register for that as well. If they say yes, the appropriate fields will be added; if they say no, the user’s registration experience will continue without interruption.
  • Let any device access your form. With mobile phones having more capabilities, it’s simply necessary that users can register on their phones no matter where they are. It's best practice to make all your online content mobile-friendly. Further, even if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, some forms once embedded on your pages will display a mobile-user interface for smartphone users.

With a capable registration tool, you can automate the process the process while also accurately processing data for your online courses. Ensure your online registration is easy and fast, providing a genuinely positive experience for your registrants.

group registration

3. Offer group registration

One of the great parts about online courses is the convenience of it. You can sign up and take advantage of this learning opportunity from anywhere, whether you’re in a different state or in the comforts of your own home. This is also a convenient opportunity for groups who need to take an online course together.

Oftentimes employers need to sign up their entire team for an online training course. They have to fill out the same company information over and over again for each student. Having an easy option to register an entire group can speed up the registration process and help you enroll more students.

Studies even show that offering group registration can net you 26% more paying attendees. With group registration, one person can create a head account and then add sub-units representing the rest of the group. This doesn’t increase your enrollment by just one student— your online course could be at maximum capacity with one application.

secure payment process

4. Let users pay on your site 

The last step of your online course’s registration process is payment. Though most organizations do accept registrations online, it’s not always guaranteed that they also collect payments online. And if they do collect payments online, there are still many factors that can cause the registrants to be wary.

For one thing, don’t send users to a third-party site to process their payment. This will not only confuse them, but they’re likely to be untrustworthy of a random page that isn’t associated with your site – especially if they have to input their financial information.

Consider these top tips to make the payment process secure and fast, ensuring that your registrants are officially enrolled:

  • Use an integrated payment processor to process payments within the online registration. Prevent shopping cart abandonment by making it easy to pay quickly.
  • Accept any types of payments, whether it’s credit, ACH direct deposits, or even other options.
  • Offer payment plans so registrants can release the financial burden of paying for something all at once. Receive their financial information and then automate the billing.
  • Automate your payment invoices as soon as the registration is processed. This way, users get an email immediately and can review the details.

It would be incredibly disappointing if you shepherded a registrant through the entire process and they end up giving up at the end. Ensure that there’s no part of payment that turns people away. 

email communication

5. Keep up communication with registrants

Once registrants have officially enrolled in your online courses, your efforts shouldn’t stop there. Make sure to consistently communicate with them through email and give them important updates on the course. They shouldn’t feel unprepared when that first class comes along.

It’s a good idea to automate your email communications and segment the recipients based on the online course so you engage with your students in a personalized manner. Also, schedule out the emails to ensure you send it off at the optimal time. Make sure to send emails that:

  • Confirm registration status as soon the application has been approved
  • Update students on course changes
  • Send students assignments and announcements from the instructor
  • Are only relevant to the reader. Segment your email recipients based on their online courses

Some registration tools will provide email templates for you to reference if you don’t know how to start. From there, customize each email to your online course and the context of the situation!

Your online courses’s email strategy is one of the best ways to engage with your students. This not only provides a positive experience for them during the sessions, but also sets the stage up for them to return for additional courses.

Conclusion

It can be difficult to attract students to your online courses, especially if registration numbers have started faltering. However, consider how you can elevate the registration process and reach your students better in order to keep the experience seamless, quick, and enjoyable. 

Increase enrollment twofold by using education software to help your online course's presence grow. See all available options on G2. 

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