5 Ways To Get People to Finish Courses

adult learning course design instructional design Nov 06, 2020
Blog post title is five ways to get people to finish your course

Worst case scenario: You review course analytics and only 2% of people have completed your course all the way through. How annoying is that? The goal is to get people to buy your course and finish it so they can get results, right?

Want to improve that metric on your current course and especially when you design future courses? Here are five tricks to get people to start and finish your course.

1. Halve the Goal

From Jon Acuff’s book “Finish: Give Yourself The Gift Of Done”, we can apply this strategy to our own course design. He says that perfectionism prompts us to over-stretch. We believe that we have to set large goals for ourselves and our audience. The planning fallacy refers to human tendency to under-estimate the amount of time needed to complete a task. The bigger the goal, the more insurmountable it seems halfway into the process.

The Solution: Cut your goal by 50%. When you reduce the size of your course or module, or at least cut the learning objectives by 50%, this will encourage your audience to do more. Alternatively, you can double the time frame allotted to achieving it. Either of these strategies will encourage learners to finish each module, which will motivate them to keep going. And if it seems more attainable, the learner will be encouraged to finish.


2. Curate Useful Resources 

 If we borrow strategies that Digital Marketing has been using since the 2000s and apply those to our course design, learners will naturally complete courses. When we start with the user and tailor the course to their needs and wants, it becomes automatically more applicable and relevant to them. 

The Solution: Apply user-centric thinking to the initial planning of your course. Try to create a resource bank of relevant references and resources that your learner can keep coming back to and find easily. Design your course so it’s bite-sized and chunked, easy to find so they can keep coming back to it and apply bits and pieces to their life. 


3. Design Accountability 

People purchase courses from the safety of their computer screen with almost no accountability. They can easily start and never have any contact with a human through marketing automation and evergreen sales approaches. Whenever possible, design accountability into your courses.

The Solution: Brainstorm ways to up the human touch factor in your courses. Is it possible to have a live group touchpoint for learners? What about assigning peer mentors? Can learners submit something for review through Google Assignments? Can you assign due dates? Build reminders or notifications into your courses? At the very least, send an email and ask learners to send you something back. Facebook or Instagram communities can help to create accountability. Think about how you can increase the accountability by getting learners to come out of hiding and demonstrate how they are applying what they have learned in your course. Bonus benefit -- they will get better results from your course!


4. Promise and Deliver Outcomes

So many digital course creators promise the world to their audience. Have you been on the purchasing end of these courses? They often miss the mark. It’s because they aren’t designed to deliver results based on desired outcomes. 

The Solution: Reverse engineer your course design. Start with the user and their desired outcomes, then build a solution that will help them achieve those goals. Walk the learner through the process until they reach their desired outcome. This will encourage them to finish the course.


5. Reward Completion

It can feel a bit Pavlovian or “carrot and stick”, but people love rewards. There is nothing wrong with encouraging and rewarding good results. And, if you have designed the course and tested it and it does actually help learners get results, then why not reward them when they complete.

The Solution: Here are a few reward ideas that you could provide when a learner completes a course:

  • Access to a bonus module or tool
  • Discount on the next phase of your program 
  • Downloadable gift card 
  • Coaching session
  • Mentorship
  • Shout-out on social media
  • Special community access for “finishers”

If you enjoyed this read, please share with others. 

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