To shut down or not shut down your online course -- that is the question.
Maybe you want to pivot directions with your business, and your online course doesn’t match what your brand will focus on in the future.
Perhaps your online course isn’t as profitable as it once was and is taking up money you could invest in other areas of your business.
Either way, you’re seriously thinking of discontinuing your online course but aren’t sure how to do it without damaging your brand’s reputation or upsetting your customers.
Although it can be hard to end an online course you poured hours of work into, there are ways you can gracefully sunset a course without isolating your customer base or damaging your brand.
Today, we’ll go over four steps to retiring an online course, the first of which is determining if ending your course truly is the best thing for you and your customers.
Step #1: Ask yourself if you can revamp or repurpose your course
Before throwing the switch on your online course, it’s worth taking a step back to see if there’s anything you can do to salvage the content. There are a few -- three, to be exact -- situations where revamping or repurposing your course may be a better choice than shutting it down.
Situation #1: A failed course launch or low sales
A failed online course launch or low sales numbers can make any creator feel down in the dumps.
But declining sales figures don’t mean you must scrap your course and begin afresh -- maybe you need to revitalize it instead.
Johnson & Johnson, for example, recently updated their baby-care line to appeal to millennial parents after its baby-care sales declined by nearly 20% in the preceding years.
So if you think your course could be revamped, contact some of your best customers to see if they would test and review your online course.
Seeking insight from your customers on product development can be great for sales, as research has shown customers prefer to buy products from companies which generate product ideas from their user base.
After you get this feedback, gradually re-tool your course a few modules at a time so you can cater the content to their preferences.
Next, update your sales page (more on that shortly) and marketing plan so you can renew your existing followers’ interest and appeal to new segments of your audience, too.
That said, though customers may be excited to see your updated products and sales page, you may still run into a hiccup: increased website traffic, but few signups or purchases.
Not all hope is lost just yet, however, as that’s our second situation where a little polish on your existing content can go a long way for sales.
Situation #2: Lots of traffic but few signups and purchases
Getting lots of views on your product’s sales page but few purchases doesn’t mean your product is a dud -- it could simply mean your sales page needs to be more persuasive.
But like a musical instrument, your sales copy reaches its peak when combined with other tools and tactics.
Some of the best sales page tools include customer testimonials and a powerful call-to-action (CTA) button which urges your customers to make a purchase.
Asset Education, for example, included testimonials from teachers and students, as well as a video featuring some of their users, on their sales page.
That last feature -- a sales page video -- can make your page even more memorable and informative for visitors.
Sales page videos don’t have to exclusively feature testimonials, however.
The Recovery Village included a video on their landing page addressing their potential clients’ feelings and concerns, whereas HubSpot included four video case studies/testimonials on their HubSpot CRM landing page.
If you want to redesign your landing and sales page with these features and more, give the Podia Editor (our built-in sales page builder) a try with a 14-day free trial and see how easy it can be to design a sales page your customers will love.
Regardless of what tool you use to redesign your sales page, giving it a facelift can pay in spades for engaging current traffic and turning more leads into customers.
However, even the most expertly written sales page can only do so much for a great product that’s in an ill-fitting format.
In the next section, we’ll review how creators can respond if they have excellent course content that would be better delivered another way.
Situation #3: A great product idea in the wrong format
Creating an engaging online course can be difficult.
(Understatement of the year, right?)
But with the average product failure being 40%, it’s totally fine and normal if you don’t get your digital product “perfect” on the first try.
Though your online course didn’t get the acclaim you were hoping for, that doesn’t mean that it was a bad idea -- perhaps it would have been better in another format instead.
For example, let’s assume you had a lengthy personal finance course that taught students multiple skills.
However, online courses are typically best for teaching students one core skill and skills that can be learned within a couple of months.
You could repurpose your course into a membership program where you spread all of this information out over several months and where students can complete it with an online community, interactive activities, and group or private coaching.
If you want to keep all of the same information in a compressed format, you could offer an intensive mastermind group for highly-motivated students to complete.
As with a membership, you could take advantage of the intimacy that comes with a mastermind group and offer more community-based or interactive activities.
Alternatively, you could break your existing course into smaller, more digestible modules and sell them as individual courses that each teach one, and one only, skill.
This approach is especially viable if you’re discontinuing multiple products but still feel as if they contain valuable (and sales-ready) content to share.
Lastly, you could spread your course content into a series of ebooks instead. While ebooks tend to sell for less than online courses, that may be better for your bottom line.
Smaller price tags correlate to smaller barriers before customers purchase them, so if your full-fledged course comes with a price that scares customers off, you can make it more palatable with multiple, smaller products.
Before shutting down your course, consider if you can enhance or repurpose your current content instead (just avoid the sunk cost fallacy).