Strategies for Gaining Repeat Learners
Retaining existing learners is a crucial business strategy for many educators on Outschool. Find out our 4 tips for getting families to keep signing up for your classes.

We’ve all heard the old adage, “it’s easier to keep an existing customer than it is to get a new one.” Well, this is absolutely true — and there are some pretty compelling statistics that show why businesses find it worthwhile to put effort into customer retention:

  • Most businesses are at least 3 times as likely to sell to a returning customer than to a new customer.
  • A 5% increase in customer retention correlates with at least a 25% increase in profit.
  • Families who have previously enrolled in a class on Outschool are responsible for 75% of class enrollments each month. (As of October, 2021)

Customer service and retention has the power to significantly impact your success as an educator entrepreneur. Though your relationship with your learners and their families will often go beyond the transactional nature of seller/purchaser, the learners who attend your classes are still customers of your teaching business. Here, we share four strategies for gaining repeat enrollments:

1. Create a Fun, Safe Classroom

In an online learning environment, there are two main aspects to what you’re “selling” to a learner/family customer: skill or knowledge development and a positive classroom experience. Outschool’s EPIC framework helps educators create an outstanding learning experience that leads to successful skill-building. EPIC stands for:

  • Empowering — Let learners know that their voice matters by creating an open and encouraging classroom environment.
  • Passion-Driven — Teach subjects that speak to your own passions and experience.
  • Intentional — Thoughtfully select activities, tech tools, and topics for your lessons.
  • Connected — Promote inclusivity and focus on helping learners form enriching relationships with you and their classmates.

2. Build Strong Learner Relationships

Feedback from Outschool families indicates that an educator’s ability to build a positive rapport with learners can be the most important factor for a family when deciding which classes to take. The educator-learner relationship is critical to gaining repeat learners, as learners are unlikely to return if a relationship is lacking. Ways to nurture learner relationships include:

  • Schedule time to connect — Whether it’s through icebreaker activities or just setting aside a small amount of time during each class to give learners the chance to share their work, planning opportunities for connection will help instill a sense of belonging for each learner.
  • Find common ground — Even as adults, we find it exciting when we meet someone who shares the same interests as us, and children are the same. Seek that common ground and look for ways to incorporate it into the classroom.
  • Refer to private learner notes — Record relevant info about your learners that will help you best structure a positive learning experience for each child. Maintaining these notes can be especially important when teaching unique learners.

3. Request Feedback

Soliciting feedback is a critical piece of any program plan and can help you shape your instruction to better meet your learners’ needs. There are three primary opportunities for receiving feedback on your Outschool class:

Before class

Depending on the volume of classes you teach, you may have time to create a pre-survey or questionnaire for your learners to complete before your first meeting. If it’s not feasible for you to conduct a pre-survey, think about how else you may be able to gather information about your class’s needs, interests, and expectations before you begin. Do you recognize any of the names on your class roster from previous classes? Maybe you’ve even saved private learner notes about a few of your learners! For any learners you don’t know yet, take a moment to check out their Learner Profile for any useful nuggets of information about their skills and experiences.

Another way to get started on the right foot is to ask learners to share one thing they’re hoping to accomplish or learn at the beginning of your first live meeting. This can be included in your welcome post in the “For Enrolled Learners” section of your classroom. Remember that your welcome post can be a video, too! Video introductions feel more personal and can be a great way to start engaging your learners before you even meet them.

During Class

This is when you can assess in real-time how your learners are enjoying the class and make adjustments if your instruction doesn’t seem to be resonating as it should. By observing body language, engagement, energy levels, and general participation, you can discern a lot from your learners. Encourage learners to offer you live feedback with simple, but effective, tools such as:

  • The thumb-o-meter. After an activity or at any point when you want to check in with your audience, ask learners to give you a thumb rating for how they’re doing. Thumbs up is “awesome,” thumbs down is “not great,” and thumb sideways is “not sure” or “just okay.” If you get a thumbs sideways or thumbs down, that means it’s time to reteach or reconnect with those learners right away to ensure they’re taking in the key objectives of your lesson. Additionally, you could follow-up with a message after class to learn more about how you can make their experience better, if you feel it’s appropriate.
  • Word whip. Get fast feedback with a “word whip,” where you ask each learner to say one word (and one word only) to describe how they’re feeling, what they thought of today’s class, etc. This can help you gauge how learners are doing without taking a lot of time away from instruction. 

After Class

Finally, finish up a course by asking learners what they enjoyed about the class, what they didn’t enjoy, what their favorite activity was, etc. — this is valuable information that can influence future curriculum design. Right after a course ends is also the perfect opportunity to ask about what other kinds of programming your learners would like to see. Remember to follow our guidelines for messaging families to market your classes to make sure you’re building positive relationships and not spamming inboxes.

4. Grow Your Current Course Offerings

One and done isn’t conducive to repeat business. Building a class portfolio that includes a variety of different topics related to your teaching expertise plus a variety of class formats and times can be part of a successful strategy to attracting and retaining learners. This approach will help you broaden your reach to capture the interest of learners that prefer a certain schedule, format, or aspect of your class subject. With a diverse group of class listings, learners who have a great experience in one of your classes can easily find another course that interests them and become a returning customer. Remember to use any feedback you receive to help design (or re-design) classes that your learners will love! 

If you’re looking for some inspiration, visit the resources below that are updated bi-weekly with insights on what classes parents and learners are interested in right now. Remember that you should always create classes that align with your passions and teaching experience. Attempting to teach about a topic that is outside of your purview can result in a poor experience for your learners – which is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve with a diverse, high-quality class portfolio. Instead, we hope ideas from lists could help spark creative ideas on how you could take a unique approach to teaching a certain subject that you’re passionate about.

We hope these tips will help you increase re-enrollments and deliver an outstanding experience to your learners that keeps them coming back for more. For more insights into building your business, consider joining our business coaching program or visiting the Training Center where you can explore all of Outschool’s free professional development courses.

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