A Guide for E-Learning Businesses to Scale through Experimentation

Learn how to experiment your way to hyper-growth.

The global pandemic changed the way billions of students are being educated, accelerating the adoption of online learning. 


E-learning platforms continue educating the whole world while the pandemic rages on outside our homes. The result?


Coursera saw its user base increase by 66% (that's a little over 30 million!). Class Central saw a rise in 16 million learners. EdX saw 10 million new users and went on to become one of the world's top-1000 websites. Study.com expanded into 18 new markets within 90 days. 


This explosive growth is not just a natural consequence of the pandemic. It's more about their ability to leverage technology to scale and the result of experimentation. 


Coursera and EdX leverage machine learning to deliver adaptive content. Study.com was able to foray into new markets at a flip of a switch with a robust subscription management platform. 


While you need to continue leveraging machine learning, artificial intelligence, and NLP to improve content personalization and adaptive learning, you also need to start investing in platforms that give them the flexibility to experiment with pricing, bundling courses, and delivery models. An automated subscription platform lets you experiment with pricing models at scale and manage your product catalog seamlessly apart from offering multiple payment options.


There can be multiple hypotheses on what delivers value to your learners. The only way to test this out is by experimenting. Businesses that cannot run quick experiments and see time-to-value risk their existence. This guide tells you how you can experiment your way to hyper-growth.




What Can You Experiment With?


For any education business running on a subscription model, there are two main components to experiment with. One is the content engine, and the other is the revenue engine. Getting these two in order means hyperscaling for any e-learning business.



Content Engine


Experimenting with the content engine is crucial to deliver the best value. It's not just about the actual content you offer but also about how you break down the topics, mode of delivery and communication, and everything else you do to ensure knowledge retention and recall. Here are a few content levers you can experiment with:



Communication Modes


Group communication mode involves communication among two or more participants (as part of a group). They often work on tasks together. Individual communication mode involves direct interaction with the instructor, and tasks are usually completed singularly.



Interaction Modes


Online learning is highly prevalent now due to the pandemic. The other types of interaction include classroom learning (which can be aided by e-learning tools; for instance, by playing an informational video in the classroom) and blended learning, which might become common as campuses start opening up again.



Mediation Modes


The trainer can choose to communicate with the user/s through any or a mix of the following modes:


  • Community

  • Activity

  • Cognitive

  • Instant Messaging

  • Blogs

  • Video Conference



Teaching Modes


The instructor can choose to train their student/s via any or a mix of the following modes:


  • Tutoring

  • Coaching

  • Experiments

  • Team Activity



Content Modes


Content can either be produced in-house by the e-learning platform or curated from the contributions by external content creators. But the key is to ensure that the content continues to drive increased engagement through user-centric interfaces and deep user insights make the content more adaptive.



Revenue Engine


The most important prerequisite for revenue engine experiments is to ensure zero disruption to your day-to-day business. Some levers that you can play around with are:



Payment Options


Your users can choose different payment methods to pay, be it via online banking, or by giving their card details, or through payment gateways. The ability to support these is key to meeting your customers' needs.


Also, tailoring prices to each region based on their local currency is the easiest way for a business to take a giant leap towards global expansion. To give you an example, charging a native Bulgarian in Bulgarian Lev instead of USD can help you push up those conversion rates. What's even better is if your tech stack can fetch those exchange rates in real-time!


For instance, Chargebee integrates 25+ payment gateways to let you accept payments in 100+ currencies via direct debit, digital wallets, credit cards, and offline payments from anywhere in the world.  



Billing Periods


For a business that's student-facing, it's important to offer flexible payment options. Beyond the payment method, a student should be able to pay for the courses in installments. The easiest way to enable this is for them to choose the billing frequency. 


It's also important to set expectations in the form of minimum subscription periods, a period within which you can use onboard them and deliver value. Customers quickly churn when they don't see the value and before you know it, you have a leaky bucket problem. 


With Chargebee's billing logic, you can customize the billing experience based on frequency, date, and payment methods to accommodate based on learners' preferences.



Plan Management


Adding new courses to a plan or removing existing ones can sound like an easy task. But do it a few hundred times on top of your existing code with your developer, and you'll end up with a bloated product catalog in the backend. And within just a year, you'll be stuck in an endless loop of workarounds even to make fundamental changes in your course catalog. It's essential to have a lean catalog that lets you add courses, map it to plans, map it to add-ons without any code.


With Chargebee, you can manage multiple products and plans neatly with Chargebee's Product Catalog 2.0. Each plan can have multiple currencies, billing frequencies, add-ons, and metered charges attached to it without wrecking your catalog sanity.



Pricing Models


The most rewarding but tricky revenue lever is your pricing. Figuring out the right price point is a critical step to molding the right pricing plans and models. 



Flat Fee


A flat fee is a universal subscription pricing model for SaaS businesses. Here you offer different plans-say basic, gold, and platinum - at a fixed cost and charge your customers the agreed amount on a recurring basis. You can also bundle some of the plans to serve different audiences. 



Usage-Based


There are four different ways to charge your customers when you opt for a usage-based pricing model. You can base your pricing model based on the number of users, the total volume, or the tiers it covers. For instance, a customer using 15 licenses will have to pay $15 for the first nine licenses and $10 for the rest. Or even price for consumption depending on the slab it falls under, irrespective of the usage. For example, a cloud storage business charges $100 for 500GB, $200 for 2 TB, and $400 for 4 TB of storage space.



Hybrid


You don't need to pick only one pricing model. With a hybrid pricing model, you can charge a one-time setup fee, grant discounts, and combine the best of two worlds - usage-based and flat-fee pricing. For example, a customer who signs up for Plan A has to pay for every unit he consumes. And if he signs up for Plan B, he is charged a flat fee irrespective of his consumption.


You can experiment with these pricing models to find the one that works for you and continue to iterate as you add more courses and learners.






What your tech stack should enable you to do


A good subscription management tool helps you run quick experiments with zero disruption. Once you build your hypotheses and teams prepared, you can quickly go live with your changes.  



Quickly experiment with pricing


Flat-fee, tiered, or usage-based - there are many different ways to price your courses. And with each pricing model comes various benefits. What works for your e-learning company might not work for another. You can start small by experimenting with your price points or flip it over with a new pricing strategy. 


And it's not just your pricing model that you can experiment with to maximize value for learners and revenue for you. We've covered all revenue engine levers above. Get creative!


Paul Kapsner, the Director of Finance at Superfoods Company, says, "Our philosophy as a company is not to spend months deciding the right price before launching a new product. We go with what we think makes sense initially and then use the Chargebee platform to A/B test and decide on the optimal price. Chargebee enables us to roll out a new pricing experiment in 30 minutes. We're also allowed to make mistakes and find the right pricing point that suits our customer segments."



Game-changing features: 




Go to market faster


Be it launching a new feature, adding new courses, or expanding into a new market, the only way to one-up your competition is by time. The fastest mover gets the advantage. With the right tool to help you launch, your hurdles can become your advantages. 


Accepting new currencies, adhering to local compliance regulations and tax rates on invoices, and multi-language support for new regions can be intimidating if you have to build the capability independently. Integration with a subscription management tool that automates this will be your biggest advantage when it comes to global expansion.


Study.com managed to scale to 18 new markets in just 90 days. They provide more than 4500 online courses at all levels, including high school, college, adult education, and professional licensure. More than 30 million students and teachers use Study.com's content delivered through videos and developed by subject matter experts. "Chargebee has helped us acquire a more diverse set of customers. This includes a significant amount of international users who were unable to access the site previously," says Tim Beiser, VP – Partnership Operations, Study.com



Game-changing features: 




Provide a stellar user experience


Payment experience:


The minute a potential learner shows interest, either by going through your course catalog or your pricing page, you should start nudging them to a successful purchase. An easy way to do that is to reduce all the friction. 



Game-changing features: 


  • A checkout page that loads within their window without any redirection, 

  • User-friendly payment options that don't make them go on a scavenger hunt for their real wallet and offer them digital wallet options instead are a few sure-shot ways to ensure a great payment experience.

  • Mobile payment options at the same price so that your learner doesn't have to open their laptop. Yes, there are ioS friendly options too that let you avoid the 30% tax slab. 



Billing experience:


The choice isn't important only in courses or payment options. A learner expects choice in their billing terms as well. Especially for students financing their education in an uncertain environment like today, it's humane to give them options in paying their course fee over installments based on your pricing. 


While giving this choice of billing date and period to your learners, it's also important to automate these billing tasks in your backend. 


Game-changing feature: 


A flexible billing tool that automates whatever billing logic you set on any user or plan level and can give you back hours of your manpower.



Self-serve workflow:


The easiest way to provide a good customer experience is to leave them in charge of their subscription. Nothing screams transparency more than an end-to-end self-service workflow for customers. 


When A Cloud Guru, a leading Australian online training platform, wanted to implement a subscription management tool in their tech stack, they wanted a solid self-serve workflow. Chargebee helped them with that. "Even if a customer didn't talk to a salesperson, they could go online, buy a subscription, and get started. We had automated a big part of the process. So there was an easy transition between the Chargebee platform and A Cloud Guru, to handle subscription management and easily onboard users.", says George K. Tsigounis, (Former) Product Manager.


Game-changing feature:


A Self-service portal that lets members upgrade, downgrade, cancel, pause their subscriptions, and change their address or payment details. 



Actionable Analytics


To rinse and repeat the entire process, you need reports and dashboards that give you actionable insights on what worked with your experiment or what didn't. 





Game-changing feature:


An analytics platform that gives you a 360° view of your business growth on one dashboard and lets you go deeper into analyzing the root cause of all churn. It helps identify the next best revenue maximization opportunity from a mile away.






In conclusion


A subscription business is a gift that keeps on giving. With recurring revenue, you can ensure a steady income and stay on the hyper-growth path. With a robust subscription billing and revenue management system to support your experimentation, the financial benefits far outweigh the effort and resources you spend without one.


Chargebee enables businesses to experiment and scale their subscription revenue workflow and move strategy from the boardroom into the real world.


 The most significant opportunity for e-learning is now. Your customers are global, at home, and waiting for your knowledge. Get the right revenue platform to seize that growth.


 Click here to learn more.