If you don’t know me, I’m the director of community experience at SPI Media.
Since the beginning of 2022, I’ve been focused on creating a new type of community experience that I’ve never actually seen before. It started when I was tasked to create a subscription model for our course catalog, but quickly evolved into something much more unique.
Throughout this project, my team has been looking to solve a problem we see in the online course space. Or perhaps a set of problems:
- Oversaturation. The online course space is oversaturated. There is a course (or ten) for any and every subject you could possibly want to learn about.
- Completion rates. Online course completion rates hover between 5-15% (depending on the source). This tells us that people like buying courses a whole lot more than they like doing the work (no shade, I too am guilty of this).
- Time commitment. Cohort-based courses provide a better experience than evergreen courses but require a more significant time commitment.
- Outdated curricula. Cohort-based courses provide the opportunity to answer questions in real time, but the answers or solutions likely don’t make it back into the main course curriculum. Similarly, evergreen course content risks becoming quickly outdated.
- Time-consuming programming. Having a community component to an evergreen course will not solve low participation or completion without programming baked in, which can be time-consuming for community managers.
Ultimately I tasked my team with creating something more supportive than an evergreen course, different than a course community, and less time intensive than a cohort-based course. A comprehensive learning experience that anyone at any level of digital entrepreneurship would find valuable, whether they had purchased every course we have ever made or never heard of us. No big deal, right?
After A LOT of coffee and contemplation, the All-Access Pass was born, which is SPI’s version of community-powered courses. Keep reading to get a breakdown of the key takeaways from our findings.
Let’s get unstuck, community edition.
All Roads Lead to …
When it comes to community or courses, there is one universal truth:
All roads lead to the customer outcome.
Prioritize it above all else. If your customer can’t visualize the outcome they will get, they will not convert. This is why we took the concept of a course catalog and morphed it into a multi-dimensional experience that is measurable.
For us, the customer outcome is mastering the skills they set out to learn with a first-class support system that prioritizes accountability.
We measure the success of this goal through metrics (like engagement and course progress) while incentivizing success through accountability checkpoints and certificates of completion.
Two Ways to Focus on Customer Outcome
Take (calculated) risks.
We are making some significant changes and were intentionally thoughtful about how these changes may impact our incredibly supportive existing customers. This is why we aren’t just launching a course catalog.
The hill I will die on is that I want a person who has purchased every single course we sell to see the value of joining All-Access Pass. They already own all the courses, why would they join? Because it isn’t a course catalog. It‘s an immersive experience.
We have designed accountability programming, curated curriculum pathways, additional resources and materials, and ongoing learning opportunities with supplemental workshops. Oh, and a thriving community where it all happens (of course). There is so much value baked into the experience that the course content almost takes a back seat.
Do it your way.
It can be easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and feel like you need to follow suit. Member communities and newsletters are two prime examples of recent trends that everyone seems obligated to launch because everyone else is doing it.
It can be hard to avoid getting caught up in the trends, so go back to who your customer is and what outcome they want to get. Use your expertise and skill set to deliver that in the way that makes sense for you and for your customer. At SPI, we’ve seen a lot of creators leaning into cohort-based courses while we’ve chosen to prioritize a different route (the All-Access Pass) that better serves our customers.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. You have to be willing to adapt to a changing market, and what worked a few years ago may not be relevant today. This work is not set it and forget it. As Charles Darwin used to say: evolve or die (okay I might be paraphrasing).
Your Call to Action
Put your customer outcome into words if you haven’t already. Write it on a post-it and stick it to your monitor or the wall so you see it every day.
Need inspiration? Check out our All-Access Pass to discover firsthand what we’ve built for the next generation of course communities.