At Candle Learning, we help training companies in several ways. One of the more ways we help is in guiding businesses on how to market and sell their new online learning products.

Early on in our discovery meetings, we often get asked:

“How should we charge customers for our course? One off? Or should we sell it as a subscription? What’s the best option for us?”

It seems a pretty fundamental question right?

In our experience, there are real advantages of subscription over one-off:

  • It provides you with a pipeline of future income (great if you are looking to increase the value of your company, or just sleep better at night knowing there are revenues to come).
  • It allows you to offer a lower initial price point, that may help conversion to sale. Yet the lifetime value of your customer has the potential to be much higher than what you’d receive as a fixed fee.
  • We believe it forces you to build closer relationships with your customer (which we’ll come onto next). This close relationship, if capitalised on, can provide you with key insights to improve your business and products, help you spot opportunities to cross-sell, and gain a deep understanding that can improve your business in many ways.

However, you have to earn the right to be renewed. You’re going to have to work harder to deliver immediate and ongoing value to your customer – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, right?

You’ll also need to consider the nature of the elearning product you’re delivering. Can it be completed within 2-3 subscription cycles – do we have any past experience that will give us a steer on this? If so, then fixed fee may be the right route. Alternatively, you may be able to ‘drip’ content into the training over time – but make sure expectations are clear on this to the customer prior to purchase.

Consider the desired outcomes of your students from your online course too. Are they looking to develop a skill over a period of time, or are they primarily focussed on the certification and credentials they will achieve upon completion?

If it’s the latter, it may be more difficult to retain subscriptions once they have achieved their goal. You’ll have to figure out a really compelling reason for them to get real value from you after they’ve finished – not impossible but the intentions may be already set from when they looked at your product.

As you can see, there’s plenty of factors at play. We’d argue that when you first start thinking about your elearning product, consider the pricing model. Ultimately this may have a significant bearing on the choices you make about the format and nature of your elearning product. And if we can help you with conversation, please get in touch!


By: Andrew Jack

January 3, 2017

You’ve got the idea for your course. You also have a good idea of who it’s aimed at, and know how you’re going to reach them. Now it’s time to start thinking how you’re going to present your content to your students, and what kind of experience you want them to have. But how do […]

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By: Andrew Jack

July 30, 2017

Recently we’ve been working with a partner to help them plan the marketing strategy for their new suite of online courses. They’ve got a great brand and reputation, years of experience in business development, a new fantastic product and had some strong ideas on how they wanted to approach things. By using the RACE framework […]

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By: Andrew Jack

May 18, 2017

A year ago this week, Candle Learning was born over a fish and chip lunch at the Tetley in Leeds, and wow – what a year! We’re really proud how far we’ve come in such a short space of time. We’d like to think we’re a little wiser and better at what we do, and […]

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