There are several eLearning platforms that you can choose between to sell courses — each with certain features that make them “better” than their competitors.
For someone looking to get started as an eLearning merchant, it can be difficult figuring out which features are mission-critical, which are nice to have and which ones are just fluff.
Which is why we’ve put together a quick list of features that information product sellers can’t live without. Each of these features is key to the success of your online course business. Some will focus on user experience, some will focus on making it easier to build an online course, and some will focus on reducing your workload.
Let’s look into the features.
Easy Course Creation Using Templates
Next, an online selling platform feature that you must have is the ability to quickly and easily create courses. The longer it takes to create an online course, the less likely you’ll complete it (wasting time and money).
Neil Patel created an amazing online resource for starting and building your own online course website. About halfway through the process, he shows a step-by-step process on how to create an online course website using an online selling platform like Kajabi.
After you’ve finished reading through Neil’s guide, you should be able to create your own online course relatively easily, considering how actionable the guide is.
Looking at Kajabi’s LMS and selling platform, you’ll immediately notice how easy it is to create your courses, thanks to the premade course templates, called “Product Blueprints.”
Whether you’re looking to create an online course, a mini-course, or a membership product (among other things), Product Blueprints are super helpful as templates, because they are pre-built to have the basic structure already in place. All you need to do is take the course content and break it all down into that structure in a manner that makes sense from the perspective of the student’s experience.
As an entrepreneur, you should avoid spending countless hours doing menial tasks like setting up the layout and framework of your online courses — your LMS platform should have the functionality to help you speed up the process. This can be accomplished through templates.
Remember, a course creating platform that requires a lot of “extra” clicks and/or steps will only slow you down. If there’s too much friction, you may even be tempted to quit the project before your first course is even published.
Look for a platform that can help you finish the task of uploading and creating your courses easily.
It almost goes without saying, but we’re going to mention it anyhow. You must have a well-built website that has a simple and easy-to-navigate interface. According to statistics from Adobe, about 38% of website visitors will leave a website if the layout is confusing.
Most eLearning platforms have some type of website builder that makes creating a user-friendly website pretty straightforward. These online builders start out with a generic, cookie-cutter template which you must customize to represent your brand and message appropriately.
Remember that your prospective visitors are looking for someone they can trust. They need to know that you aren’t just repeating the same “garbage content” that they’ve seen from the previous website they went to. That’s why you need to look different.
If you house your online course business on eLearning course marketplaces, however, you’d be hard pressed to differentiate from your competitors. Even reputable eLearning marketplaces like Udemy don’t have teacher branding or course listing customization features that would allow you to create an online learning platform experience that’s truly yours.
Just like other online mentors or teachers, you’ll be forced to have the same course layout that’s inherent to the platform. This is Udemy’s dashboard for teachers or mentors. Notice how it lacks customization features that course creators can use to give their students/subscribers an experience that’s unique to their brand.
And because there’s nothing in the platform that allows you to customize the overall feel and experience that you’ll give to your subscribers, all the courses look the same.
If you can give your students a unique learning experience by having your own website layout, color themes, functionalities (among other things), you’ll be able to establish a strong brand image. Not only that, your brand’s (and your courses’) perceived value would also increase, allowing you to charge more and set yourself up as an authority in your industry.
This is a glaring (and critical) benefit that all-in-one LMS platforms can offer that eLearning marketplaces cannot.
Finally, you need to be able to communicate (effectively) with your subscribers. Unfortunately, not all platforms allow for this. In order to find out what your customers liked and/or disliked, you have much to gain if you create course completion quizzes and/or surveys.
Some platforms will allow your customers to review your course, but you don’t always get to see what they really liked and/or disliked. All you’ll see is a quick comment of what they think of your course — it’s good, but it isn’t going to be that targeted.
Elearning marketplaces like SkillShare is a perfect example.
Despite how professional, clean, easy-to-use, and renowned the platform is, it still doesn’t have any built-in features that would enable course creators to run surveys.
This makes it harder for online course business owners to get surgical accurate feedback from their audience about certain aspects of their courses. The course creator might get some comments about their course, but they cannot compel their audience to make a feedback on specific sections or elements of their courses. So there’s much less opportunity here for learning from the feedback to optimize your curriculum moving forward.
If you run your own survey, however, you can be more strategic in how you’ll obtain feedback from your audience, since you get to ask specific questions.
While a short review can quickly explain what they did or didn’t like, a short survey could really help to focus their feedback. For instance, you could ask them if they liked the interface, if the learning material was easy to understand, or if they experienced any issues, and so on.
When you think about it, you can even come up with more online course ideas from examining the results you’ll obtain out of your surveys. And because the ideas came from surveys, therefore, from your audience, you’d have already validated (to some extent) that your new online course topic is what your audience really needs.
As an eLearning entrepreneur, you need to focus more on your content and less on sending out emails and/or reminders — which is where automation comes in.
If you could automate your courses, your follow up emails, your “live” sessions and/or events, and more, why wouldn’t you?
Automation makes it easier to create everything you need up front so that you can work on other aspects of your eLearning business. As you develop more content, you can incorporate it into the automation workflow, creating a much more engaging sales funnel.
Remember, your job is to create value for your students. Through automation, you can consistently create more value by keeping them on a drip-style learning system.
The good news is, some LMS platforms have inherent automation features.
Kajabi, for example, has a Pipeline feature that allows you to create a string of commands and function that runs automatically (based on the trigger points and rules that you use).
In the sample pipeline above, once visitors opt into your form, they will receive the freebie email sequence, in this case, a thank you email with a download link to your freebie.
When you have an automated sequence setup just like the example above, you’ll become far more effective and productive at nurturing your leads. You don’t have to be that hands-on at managing your community, since your automation tools can help lead them further down your sales funnel.
Looking back at all of these features, it’s pretty easy to see why they are features you can’t live without as an eLearning merchant.
As an online course business owner, you have to make sure that your customers feel comfortable with your website, your products and/or services, that can connect with you quickly, and find value through your courses. Every feature highlighted above can help you with just that.
What are some of the online selling platform features that you can’t live without as an eLearning merchant? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Cheers!