6 Mistakes Causing Your Online Course Sales to Fall Flat

March 17, 2022 | 12 Min Read

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Do you ever wonder why some businesses seem to have the Midas touch and flourish with the sales of their online courses while others just seem to underperform or even have dismal sales outcomes, despite having solid training ideas?

Well, if you take a close look at their marketing strategies, the answer becomes more apparent and you’ll see there are common problems underlying how some companies promote their products.

To guide your business towards the success it deserves, let’s review how you can steer clear of these errors and sell more training

Although there are plenty of reasons why businesses fall short in earning higher course sales, here are six unintentional mistakes that top the list:


In this article you’ll find the top 6 reasons stopping you from selling more courses:

No.1 Unengaging course content

Interactive elements


Adaptive and branched learning

Course Certification

No.2 Weak value proposition

No. 3 Lack of brand identity and awareness

No. 4 Deficits in your marketing plan

Mapping out your buyer’s journey

Digital marketing

No. 5 Missing key considerations within your pricing strategy

Certification and Badges

Analytics data

No. 6 Utilizing LMS capabilities in a suboptimal manner

Course Content and Marketing

Technical and Customer Support



 No.1 Unengaging course content

First of all, when you are in the business of selling courses, it’s obvious you need strong content. Companies that fail to recognize this will see their customers taking their business straight to other course sellers. As such, your company needs to focus on including components for superior content, primarily by elevating the level of engagement within your course, particularly with interactivity.

Unengaging content

Interactive elements

Learner engagement encompasses a multitude of techniques to capture and maintain your audience’s attention and interest. Conventional methods of instruction like readings, assignments, and quizzes/tests can be made more immersive by increasing the level of interactivity within these components through: 

  • Gamification

Revenues for the Game-Based Learning Industry are projected to grow by a CAGR of more than 20% annually for the next five years, doubling the market to more than $10.6 billion by 2026. ~ Metaari

  • This critical component of your training program involves incorporating traditional and video gaming elements into your content in order to simulate the experiences of players in actual games. Learners usually are presented with a problem or a task to complete. When they accomplish this, they are rewarded with badges, prizes, points, or victories. Ultimately, the desired outcome is for learners to expand their participation, cooperation, entertainment, and motivation during the learning process.

Other types of interactive elements supported by your learning management system (LMS) include:

  • Drag and drop and sorting activities
  • Image hotspots
  • Interactive 360° videos and images
  • Live seminars and webinars
    • In-person classroom learning can be mimicked through videoconferencing platforms where two-way communication is made possible
  • Discussion forums
    • Students can interact with each other by sharing their ideas when they discuss course topics and related issues. Development of analytical thinking and problem-solving skills also take place, thus deepening the degree of engagement


  • Chunking information into small bundles allows course participants to take in short fit learning into their busy schedules. It can be done in any location and even on small screen mobile devices and can be done on-demand as modules are inherently easily searched up on the internet.
  • The duration of these learning opportunities can range from a few minutes up to 15 minutes, with an average time of about 3-5 minutes. Microlearning modules are complete entities on their own rather than part of a complete learning package divided up into segments. 
  • This type of learning is conducive to mastering one or a few skills or information and can use almost instantaneously in their workplace.
  • Productivity and retention of the acquired skill or knowledge are both improved substantially with a compacted amount of information relayed in a small amount of time.

  • With so many advantages offered, it’s no wonder that over 90% of companies plan to utilize microlearning as a part of their training in the coming years.


    Want to learn more about microlearning? Watch this highly recommendable webinar now! 


Adaptive and branched learning

  • Information is presented to learners in a branched learning pathway and is tailored towards individual learners based on how they interact with course content and respond to information when navigating through an online course. By providing a more individualized approach, learning is more relevant and less repetitive, thus increasing learners’ level of engagement.
  • Integrating this form of instruction along with providing engagement and quality for learners has the effect of reinforcing successful course sellers’ ability to procure more courses sales.

Course certification


  • Motivation and hence engagement for course participants often wanes as learners progress through a course. Incentives such as being rewarded with a certificate or badge upon completion of the course can help remedy this situation.
     However, earning a certification can also act to encourage course participants to keep moving forward, especially with the dry subject matter.
  • Acquiring certification also shows the world and other employers the new knowledge and skills that learners have under their belt and can boost their professional status and enhance their employability status to get promotions, salary increases, or even a change in their line of work.

  • Regardless of the underlying aspirations of learners, certification is fast becoming a feature that employees and businesses look for in online courses and provide all the more reason for your sales team to expand its offerings for this type of training.


 No.2 Weak value proposition

If your company fails to communicate to your prospective customers how your course will make a significant change in their lives and its objectives align with theirs, then your business and your course are likely to also fall short of delivering a strong value proposition. 

Without a buy-in for your audience, your course will lose its appeal to potential paying customers and worse yet, turn its sights to your competition.

But what, you might ask, does an exceptional value proposition convey? Basically, it will be a statement emphasizing why customers should purchase your product or service and not those of your competitors. It also provides your course participants with a commitment from your business that they will receive the advantage of solving a significant problem they have come up against in their workplace.




These undertakings involve in-depth knowledge about your customers and what needs improvement in their professional lives. Attaining insight into your learners’ psyche can be achieved through research and collecting information from your analytics data, such as learner feedback comments in evaluations.

Even observing trends about where learners stall at and appear to encounter difficulties as they move through your course modules, provides you with clues about what areas they require support. Alternatively, it can also signal to you where they are finding the most engagement with your content. If you are able to interpret the raw data with the help of your experts and research you have done, it will be more formulation of a more powerful value proposition.

Once they have completed your training, course participants will go through a transformation for the better with some aspect of their career (e.g., on-the-job activities, promotions, or salaries). Or else, learners might also reap personal-psychological gains that could subsequently stretch out into the realm of their families and communities. In either case, the end result of turning out more skilled and thus satisfied learners will impact your sales figures with more learners seeking out your quality training.

Of course, in order to persuade your targeted learners to purchase your course, your value proposition has to jive with them. So be sure to take the necessary steps to nail your marketing statement succinctly and trump the value statement proposed by your competitors.

You might want to start by emulating the best value propositions put forth by successful A-list companies like Apple and Uber, to name a few. In making this happen, you’ll see your customers gravitate towards your training and you’ll see your course sales flow in a more steady stream rather than a trickle in.

No. 3 Lack of brand identity and awareness

Within the marketplace, there are now many choices for learning any one topic online. As such, how do consumers choose from a selection of similar courses? Well, even though it might not be logical, what it often comes down to is that when faced with a choice they aren’t sure about, consumers often go with one with branding containing the most attractive-looking logos and catchy slogans and promotional material.

This sad reality can cause many companies with great or even superior online course training to lose out in sales to their competition simply because their rivals have done a better job at creating a more glitzy logo and website. However, creating a brand identity involves much more than presenting visually appealing messages.

Your brand is the single most important investment in your business”

~ Steve Forbes

Building a brand has got to be a top priority for your business if you want to come out on top of your competitors. Along with a solid value proposition, what you need to do is to make sure that your brand is perceived to be more credible and trustworthy than your competitors. 

Other assets such as IT support and the quality of your customer service are just as important to develop and create brand awareness versus recognition, which encompasses what consumers see on the surface. If you can provide excellence in these areas, it will bolster your customers’ decision to invest their training dollars with your business.

But also informing customers about your brand or creating recognition is oh so important. If your learners don’t receive the word about how your training can fulfill their needs and aspirations, then all the countless hours your team put into crafting your perfect brand identity and value proposition as well, will have gone to waste. 

So do your research and find out where your learners are spending most of their time. After that, make sure you get your brand into their head every chance you get and remind them that your training is going to alter their lives for the better. And when they have purchased one course from you and received a satisfying experience, your course participants will be riding on your brand loyalty bandwagon. 



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In other words, learners are more likely to stick with your brand and buy future courses and training from your company. What’s more, brand-loyal customers also go out of their way to offer testimonials and make recommendations within channels frequented by others who fit into the same persona groups. The impact of this consequence should not be discounted as it has the potential to reach many more of your intended audience members.

Again, if you look at successful multi-million dollar companies like Apple and Uber who tout strong value propositions are the ones where customers are also fiercely loyal to their brands too. Thus, if you follow in the footsteps of these businesses and have managed to deliver well-researched and carefully thought out, and straight-to-the-point messaging, there’s no reason why the customers in your business won’t buy into your brand value proposition as well. And needless to say, this effect will also augment your course sales.

No. 4 Deficits in your marketing plan

Every business has some kind of marketing plan, but it won’t guarantee higher sales. The difference between successful and underperforming marketing strategies lies in executing the proper research and carrying out the necessary actions based on what you find out. Not performing this sequence of activities is a recipe for failure and it will cause companies to lose sales.

Mapping out your buyer’s journey

So if you want to beat out your competition in the marketing department and find yourself amongst companies carrying out winning strategies, here’s what you’ll want to deliver:

  1. Start by creating a buyer’s journey map. The purpose of researching and mapping out potential pain points and problems plaguing buyers for your course is to enable your team to acquire a deeper understanding of what your customers think and feel from the time they first become aware of your training and then as they progress onto enrolling into your course. This journey culminates with navigating through your course and then finally reaches the stage of course completion, evaluation, and beyond.


When you fulfill this mission, your marketing team should be armed with the insight that will help them to first analyze your audience and define the different personas who are likely to purchase your course. It also has the effect of directing you on how to implement any changes or improvements into the content of your training.


2. Establishing personas or fictional characters with traits that represent the different customer groups, each with their own set of goals and behavioral traits. 

  • Demographics
  • Job-related details
  • Psychographics
  • Pain points and problems
  • Sources of information and influencers 
  • The decision process for purchasing


Conducting thorough research into formulating personas and buyers’ journey map(s) along with examining your analytics data on trends related to your past course participants can also provide scores of information about what marketing strategies to utilize in an attempt to motivate your learners to purchase your training course. 




Digital marketing

Specifically, ensure you put into action good copywriting that spells out your value proposition and reinforces your brand identity within your promotional messaging. Combine this with the use of search engine optimization (SEO) know-how such as running Google and social media ads to drive in web traffic to your landing pages loaded with pertinent keywords, and you’ll achieve a winning formula to drive success.


To round out a successful marketing campaign, convey your targeted messaging through the proper channels where your audience can be found. This includes your social media outlets, your video resources such as webinars or your own website resources in the form of blogs, white papers, and so on as well as referrals from existing customers, including their testimonials in written and verbal forms.

No. 5 Missing key considerations within your pricing strategy

Despite how fantastic a job you have done with marketing and developing your content to fit your learners to a tee, problems may arise for your company if you neglect your competition and set your prices without due consideration of what they have put in place. Setting a price point that is higher than your competitors’ can send prospective customers running to those same companies to satisfy their online learning needs.

To combat this issue, thoroughly scrutinize what your competitors are offering your prospective learners and do one better than them. Of course, you also need to be cognizant of any special pricing incentives they have put in place. Bulk selling, discounts, and special promotions are what your sales and marketing teams should focus on to attract and also provide value and in the end, intensify brand loyalty amongst your target audience.

Superior branding will assist you in taking advantage of upselling and cross-selling while upholding value for your customers. When this happens, they can rest assured that paying a higher price for your course remains a good deal for them.

Certification and Badges

Add in extra incentives such as earning badges and certificates, and you can further justify charging higher price points for your training, especially if none of your other competitors are providing these benefits.

Beyond keeping track of what your competitors are up to, performing some testing on your own to ascertain the optimal price is another wise plan of attack. Weigh your options with sound economics principles to back your decisions to raise your prices to sell more courses. This has the effect of losing your business a certain number of customers but may still net you a profit from your existing customers over the long run, as you keep competitors’ next moves at the back of your mind.


Course cost profit calculation



Analytics data 

If you want to join the list of companies that stays afloat, make use of your analytics data within your learning management system (LMS). The data will not only tell you about your decisions with your testing and other pricing activities already but help you anticipate your next steps, because pricing, in addition to marketing, is an activity that demands constant adjustment to allow you to keep in sync with your customers and stay ahead of the competition. Determining what strategies to stick with and which ones to abandon for another course of action are what your analytics data will help point you in the direction towards achieving success status with selling your courses.

No. 6 Utilizing LMS capabilities in a suboptimal manner

As you might now appreciate, analytics data collected and stored in your LMS is an indispensable asset. It highlights the importance of how your LMS can support your ability to sell more training. Generating data and preparing reports, presented in easy to interpret dashboard formats are just a few of the many functions that you can harness through your LMS.

However, many companies make use of only a few features offered by their LMS. They end up too focused on only a few functionalities related to content creation and course cataloging without bothering to explore and find out how to harness all the powerful tools their LMS is in possession of. The repercussion of this action is to compromise the allure to customers on the many previously discussed aspects related to selling at a higher level.


Course Content and Marketing

Choosing a powerful all-in-one LMS affords countless opportunities to increase enrollment in your courses, especially with the creation of interactive elements only limited by your imagination. The magic of H5P technology within the best LMSs enables external game-based software applications as well as videos, podcasts, AR and VR assimilation, pdfs, slide decks, and other forms of multimedia learning tools to be embedded into course content through compatible plug-ins.

Let’s not forget that the evaluation process can benefit from these technological attributes. An expanded range of methods with the ability to offer instant feedback can be made possible. An LMS that facilitates the ability to award certifications and badges once course participants complete training is almost an essential component for your LMS to have available. 

Be certain that your LMS has the capability to offer all important modes of learning such as microlearning and adaptive and branched learning pathways. Along with social media and discussion forums, these supplemental learning options provide flexibility for all different types of learners and enhance the overall UX experience, Consideration should be given to the fact that these types of learning are also conducive to mobile-device compatibility. 

Other robust integrations supported by an LMS enable better marketing and selling through email and drip campaigns by deploying MailChimp and CRM functions like Salesforce. In conjunction with SEO integrations, a world of difference can be made towards how well your marketing is carried out.


course marketing and promotion

Technical and Customer Support 

Even with tech-savvy experts within your organization, ever-changing technology and new innovations can stump or elude the talent within your team. The best LMS companies provide a technical support team that is available straight away to solve any difficulties you have on hand. To accompany this service, they design solutions that are geared towards the unique needs of your business. 

To satisfy your need for education and thirst for knowledge to stay at the top of your industry, invest in a top-ranking LMS company that has built up an extensive hub of information on eLearning subjects immediately relevant to your business in the form of blogs, white papers, and webinars on their website.

The information made available through this content can extend the know-how of your team so they can create exceptional training products and help your business sell more courses. You’ll find you eventually are able to join the list of star companies listed on the website of your LMS.


Although there are several common mistakes businesses can commit that can impact their bottom line sales to sell less profitably, carefully probing into which category of mistakes your business is committing can be a game-changer in helping you implement a corrective course of action to improve your sales figure. After all, you have just as much potential to improve your course sales profitability as your competitors as well as multi-million high achieving course sellers if you take the steps to solve any of those errors delineated in this guide. 


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