The secrets to creating a lasting and effective online course pt. 3

This post is the continuation of the last two. To make better use of your time, I would suggest starting with part 1 here and part 2 here.

3 key takeaways:

  • Increasing cognitive rigour results in the highest leads to the highest gains in achieving desired learning outcomes. In other words, when you increase the difficulty of the content instead of just asking students to memorize a list of items, they are far more likely to retain that information.
    • How can this help you? Stop asking students to memorize, instead, ask them to explain a certain process or why the answer should be X.
    • Certificaitons are huge. At the Traffic and Conversion summit in 2016, it was announced that a particular vendor was able to increase completion rates from 3% to 63% simply by providing certification. That’s a 21x jump!
    • Andrew O’Brien, Founder of Publicity Guy says that publicity is important because without good publicity, you are not an authority figure people want to follow and learn from
      • to achieve this goal, O’Brien constantly sends out newsletter featuring him in the media, which exhibits his authority
      • Of course, simplify being a publicity whore serves no one, thus O’Brien combines publicity with value because if you are not adding value to people’s lives, no one cares about you

This post will be a continuation of the previous one, which was basically a summary of the concepts covered in part 2 of the book. This part of the book is focused on best practices and how successful instructors have achieved what they have. In other words, it is a mishmash of advice from various authors. At first, it seemed poorly organized and scattered, but once I really got into it, I appreciated the fact that there is no good way to organize general business advice. Most importantly for me, this book is no longer just a book on “creating online courses for dummies”, it is actually more about “how to create a successful business”.

Taken the advice from this book into consideration, I will now post 3 of the most important take-aways right below the first paragraph of my post and will proceed to right my other learnings combined with my spin below. I hope you enjoy!

Understand you audience better:

  • There are many different types of learners (e.g. visual, auditory, kinetic, etc.), to reinforce the first bullet point from the 3 key takeaways, asking your audiance to apply the content cannot be overstated. By asking students to apply the concepts, you are engaging them and you are keeping the 15-20% of the population who are kinetic and those with dyslexia or dislexia engageed.
  • One effective way of providing support to students is through office hours. By setting up a fixed time, you can most easily scale your business.
    • In order to avoid one of the most inconvenient part of office hours, which is having to wait through irrelevant and “not-so-smart” questions which do not pertain to you, the instructor should classify students into buckers and create a few office hours based on where students are on the course, their experience, or their objectives.
  • Providing certificates can be the powerful way of setting yourself apart. Think about it from the student’s perspective: “I have learnt XYZ, I have an idea how XYZ can be applied but does anyone else care?” the answer in their minds is likely “No”.
    • The solution to this problem is certification. This feeds the customer’s need for recognition and allows them to have something to show employers/themselves/friends that they have achieved something meaningful
  • One powerful way to increase completion rates is through human accountability and human interaction
    • Tim Erway of Elite Marketing Pro says that double-digit completion rates can be achieved by locking all modules and only unlocking higher level modules ones the student has completed the previous modules and has interacted with their coach, who subsequently validates their understanding and unlocks the next module for the student.

Serve your customers better

  • One very interesting idea I stumbled upon is automating and guiding students throughout.
    • at the beginning, clearly, list the benefits of the course, and ask students how many modules/hours they can complete/dedicate per week and schedule weekly email reminders to be sent to them reminding them of the value of the course and how far along they are
  • Splintering the marketing funnel means looking at your modules and understanding that if there is 1 module that gets the best reviews, most complete and the happiest clients, then take that one module and make it it’s on separate module
    • in the case of the Drive Clean certification, I would make the module that teachers student about the process a $1.99 course that people can take to learn about the process and how involved it is

How not to market

  • Do not promote your promote your product using scarcity tactics
    • e.g. limited quantities remain at a 50% discount
    • This will not draw the right people to your course. You want people who can gain value from the course to join and for them to complete the course. But, but using scarcity tactics, you are essentially appealing to people’s fears, thus this group of customers are unlikely to be the motivated student who will benefit from your course


Hadi is Honours civil of engineering graduate with solid project management experience in the construction industry. Solutions-focused, results-oriented with strong business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit. Currently, he is working as an assistant site-superintendant with Darcon Inc. at one of Vaughan's biggest developments, Centro Square.

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