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How to Increase Online Course Completion Rates

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You’ve created an online course and invested a great deal of effort in making it impeccable. The number of people signing up for it is growing at an astonishing rate, but your completion rates are still low. Sill, don’t be discouraged. You’re not the only one facing this problem. According to some recent studies, completion rates for the majority of online courses are disappointedly low at just 13%. 

This is one of the major problems online course creators face. Namely, high course bounce rates indicate that your target audience doesn’t find your course relevant enough to complete it. And, this leads you to another huge problem and that’s missing out on the opportunity to deliver value to your students, boost their user experience, and harness the power of the greatest source of organic marketing- word of mouth referrals.

In light of these facts, let’s see how to increase your online course completion rates.

Be Clear about what your Online Course Covers

When they sign up for an online course, people expect it to help them solve a particular problem. And, if they notice that it doesn’t meet their expectations, they will drop it. You can’t even blame them for that. After all, would you spend time on something that’s nothing but a waste of your time?

The problem here is obvious- the way you promote your course is not precise enough. To target the right people and get them to complete the course, your ads need to be clear and to-the-point. You should highlight what your course is about, what topics it will cover, what skills the attendees will improve, and what problems it solves, helping people see whether it’s the right fit for them or not. 

For example, if your course is supposed to explain the basics of digital marketing, then you should emphasize that it’s for beginners and not all digital marketers. As soon as they figure out that they are familiar with all the steps your course focuses on, any experienced marketer will angrily drop it. 

Remember, your success in the online world is not about driving massive traffic to your site. To boost your course completion rates, you need to hook the right people, the ones really interested in what you have to offer.

Ask for Feedback

The reasons why people leave your course are multiple. Maybe it’s not what they expected or the way you present your content is boring. It could also be the lack of structure and organization. What about the relevance of the course? 

To find out what the problem with your course is, you need to reach out to your students once the course is over and ask them for feedback. And, one of the most effective ways to do so is to send them a survey. 

Ask them what parts of the course worked for them and what didn’t, as well as what motivated them to complete the course or discouraged them from doing so. Even though Google Forms would probably be enough, you should consider setting up surveys. Knowing that they will be incentivized for their answers, the participants will give you honest and valuable feedback

Break It into Smaller Chunks

Sometimes, lengthy courses may be too exhausting for your newbie students. If you’re moving from one topic to another fast, they won’t be able to catch on to all the steps and start lagging behind. Discouraged, they may decide to drop the course. 

Precisely because of this, you need to consider breaking your large course into smaller, logical chunks. For example, it’s always better to offer a series of 5 one-hour courses than just one lengthy, five-hour course. This is how you will manage to present even the most complex concepts in a simpler way and make them easily digestible.

Also, people’s attention spams have dwarfed over time and, to keep them interested, you need to pay attention to not only the length of your course, but also the length of each piece of content presented to them. Logically, online course videos that are under 10 minutes will have a higher completion rate.  

Build an Online Community

Experiencing small wins and overcoming obstacles is always easier when we have someone to support us. Knowing that they are a part of a group of like-minded people, having the same expectations and facing the same problems, your participants will be more engaged and motivated to finish the course.

So, to boost your attendees’ motivation, you should create online learning communities as a part of your course. Namely, studies show that the students that are a part of such a virtual team are 5 times more engaged and 16 times more likely to finish the course. 

Boost Transparency to Increase FOMO

Today, FOMO (fear of missing out) has become a true buzzword, especially in the world of digital marketing. But, what does it have to do with online courses? Well, it serves as a great motivation booster, used to get someone to take the desired action. 

Implementing FOMO with your online course is simple. All you have to do is use a platform that will make your participants’ actions and results transparent. This way, once a student notices that they’re lagging behind other participants, they will want to work harder and process through the course so that they can achieve the same results.

Reward Them

As an online instructor, you should go the extra mile in making your participants happy. Like I’ve mentioned above, your course needs to be relevant to them. However, this is sometimes not enough. To inspire them to finish your course, you will have to “bribe” them a bit by giving them something valuable to them. 

For starters, you should issue certificates of attendance and completion. Your attendees will want to have a proof that they have finished your course. This is something all major online learning platforms like Udemy offer.

Second, you need to give them a reward for completing a course. This could be free access to another course, full lifetime access to the course they’ve completed, a free eBook, a free consultation with you, checklists- anything they may consider highly valuable. 


Creating a profitable and converting online course means making it valuable to the people enrolling in it.

So, make sure your ads are clear enough to hook the right people’s attention.

Break your never-ending course into the series of easy-to-follow online videos and optimize the length of each section.

To motivate them to finish the course, build a strong online community and incentivize them regularly.

Most importantly, don’t forget to ask them what they think of your course and use their feedback to improve your lectures.

Hope this helps! 

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