Let’s face facts. The commercial online course market is getting crowded.

If you want your online courses to stand out WITHOUT spending more time and money, the answer is easy.

Use simple proven ways to infuse your courses with add-on value.

Here’s how.

1) Provide FREE prerequisite instruction or course prep resources.
Prep students for success in your course (or remove perceived obstacles for enrolling in your course). By offering a free prep course or free resources, you can help your students achieve a foundational level of knowledge or skills that will be critical to their ability to succeed in your course. This also help your students avoid technical or content overwhelm once they’re enrolled in your course.

2) Add stories to your video lectures/tutorials and learning activities.
Weave anecdotal stories into your video lectures and learning activities. Share case studies or scenarios from your own experience.Tell stories about previous students. Describe the success stories of clients with whom you’ve worked in the past. These stories will make your content more engaging and memorable. For instance, you might begin each video lecture with a story to grab your students’ attention and to emphasize the importance and relevance of what you are about to teach.

3) Offer optional extension activities for students who want to dig a little

From your students’ perspective, not all content is equal. Some students will want to go deeper into specific topics featured in your course. Be sure to offer links to resources and/or provide additional proprietary extension content or assignments. Your students will appreciate being able to self-select topics for further exploration within your course.

4) Invite experts into your courses.
Invite guest speakers to join you during live virtual Q&A sessions or virtual special events. This could easily be done via video conferencing (e.g. Zoom), Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, or YouTube Live Streaming.

5) Provide templates, swipe copy, and other done-for-you resources.
Providing fillable templates, swipe copy and other DFY resources adds tremendous value to your course(s) and your students. Anything that saves your students time, money, and/or prevents feelings of frustration and overwhelm will be greatly valued by your students. Offering these resources also fosters your students’ sense of trust and devotion to you.

6) Build motivational design features into your course.
Stay in front of your students. Celebrate their wins, and encourage their progress in your course. You can easily do this by creating an automated email sequence to check on students progress at specific intervals during the course. If you run a membership program, send a weekly or bi-monthly motivational message. Offers words and strategies to encourage your students to keep moving forward in your course. Make an even greater impact by adding video or audio to these emails.

7) Offer reviews, audits, and/or feedback.
Depending on your course topic, you can offer to review, audit, and/or provide feedback on students’ work in your course. This could be done during live Q&A calls. It’s especially easy to do this if you have a video conferencing tool that allows for screen sharing.

8) Provide discounts.
Offer students currently who are enrolled in your course(s) and/or course alumni deep discounts on your other products, events, services, courses. Explain to them how these additional ‘products’ relate to the course they are taking now course (or the one they completed) and the added benefits this other ‘product’ will provide.

9) Stay involved and engaged with your course completers and alumni.
Segment your email list, so that you can stay in touch with your course alumni and completers. Your email marketing and messaging to this group needs to be uniquely tuned to them. You’ve already won them over. They know, like, and trust you, which makes them a highly valuable to you. Treat them like the treasures they are.

10) Retain course completers and alumni with incentives and exclusive access
Although this would seem to go without saying, it’s critically important for you to make exclusive offers and/or provide exclusive access to your course completers and alumni. You don’t want to lose these folks. They are such an important asset in your business.

If you put some or all of these course add-ons to work for you in your courses, you and your digital courses and products will shine above those of your competitors.

Not only that, you will also be able to deeply engage and retain a fan base of loyal students who will actively refer you and your courses to people in their networks.

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If you have a course design related question or would like to request a topic for my next blog post, please leave a comment below.