:Marketing / Marketing best practices

Student retention strategies to avoid—and what to try instead

student retention efforts student retention efforts

Good student retention strategies are vital for any organization. And, maximizing your retention is vital to keep profits flowing and to help your brand’s reputation improve throughout your industry. But, it’s all too easy to implement student retention strategies that can do more harm than good. Let’s look at the strategies to avoid, and why they could be doing more damage than you’d like. Then we’ll cover alternatives you can use to improve your retention.

Student retention strategies to avoid

There are plenty of retention strategies that fail to keep students and customers engaged with your brand or educational organization. Let’s explore a few of the most ineffective strategies and learn to identify them.

1. Unattractive loyalty programs

Many businesses and online schools think that loyalty programs will help keep their target audiences engaged indefinitely. Loyalty programs are a great idea in theory. But they can be implemented incorrectly, especially if they don’t offer good incentives. Unattractive loyalty programs can drive students away from your business and negatively hurt your long-term chances of success.

Some signs of unattractive loyalty programs are:

  • Aggressive or incessant sign-up requirements
  • Bad marketing
  • Too little benefit for the sign-up

2. Emphasizing speed instead of quality

It can be tempting to emphasize speed over quality. But, it can cause some serious damage to your retention efforts. All creators want to keep their content coming so their students always have fresh courses to take. However, emphasizing speed instead of quality, you risk the quality declining. If that happens, you target audience could feel that you don’t care about their experience; you just care about getting them to make an initial purchase.

This negative effect can even happen subconsciously. Some customers may dislike your brand without fully knowing why, but they still leave your company for a competitor because they notice a slip in the quality of the classes you put out in rapid succession.

3. Inaccurate ad targeting

The right online ads are targeted specifically for a unique audience with unique needs. If you advertise to people who aren’t in your target audience—or if you send the wrong ads to your current customers and students—you could hurt customer retention by:

  • Associating your brand with annoying marketing tactics
  • Making your customers feel as though your brand doesn’t understand them

In both cases, retention can be negatively affected enough that you lose those customers or students permanently.

4. Spam email marketing

Lastly, email marketing can help with student retention, but only if you use it wisely and sparingly. No one likes to feel like they are being spammed by emails. So if you’re constantly firing off emails to your target audience all the time, that’s exactly what they will think.

Keep it simple, and don’t market to your core audience every day or even every week (depending on your niche and what your marketing metrics indicate). Avoiding spammy email marketing tactics will make your ads more likely opened by your target audience and less likely to get trapped in spam filters.

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How to improve your student retention efforts

Ineffective student retention strategies can hurt your efforts. But there are ways to remedy them and implement solid alternatives. Let’s look at a few ways to how to rehab your retention.

Research your target market

For starters, be sure to do thorough research for your target market, so you intimately understand your ideal customers or students. By researching your target market, you’ll:

  • Put together better marketing campaigns with ads that speak more directly to your students
  • Engage more meaningfully with your target audience
  • Build long-lasting connections that boost customer retention for months or years to come

Research is the key to good marketing and customer retention tactics. If your research is subpar, go back to the drawing board and collect more information about key audience metrics, demographics, and other factors.

Offer free trials or products

Next, consider offering free trials or products to prospective customers or students who aren’t yet fully engaged with your brand. Free products can improve customer retention by:

  • Starting your relationship with a customer on the right foot—they see you as generous
  • Not requiring money from a potential client or student initially, which makes them more inclined to make a purchase later if they like what the free trial includes

Free trials start off your relationship on a positive note and increase the likelihood that a customer will be retained in the future. Using Teachable you can offer a free trial coupons or free products like PDFs or mini courses to students.

Invest in product quality before speed

Similarly, you should always invest in your course quality rather than quantity. A rushed product is bad forever, and a customer will notice that. But, a product that takes a little longer to finish but is better overall will help your students realize the full value of your course.

Therefore, it’s almost always better to delay a product or class if necessary to reach certain quality benchmarks. A phenomenal product that comes with critical features such as intuitive tools, customer-requested information, and more will stick in the minds of your consumers for a long time.

Offer real value in loyalty or referral programs

Lastly, take a close look at your existing loyalty program and make sure it offers real value to your long-term customers. Many people will sign up for loyalty programs or referral programs if there’s enough value to warrant it.

By offering extra value, you could boost customer retention significantly. For example, a program that guarantees a discount for future purchases is a great way to get people coming back to your brand for years to come. And with our new student referral program, you can do just that.

Loyalty programs or referrals can and should be utilized for educational organizations, as well. For example, a referral program that delivers a discount to your students to use on their next purchase has them looking forward to your next launch. It can also help you grow your student base quickly, too, as it brings in more qualified students.

Student retention strategies should work for you

Ultimately, developing proper student and customer retention strategies is the key to maximizing your profitability and making the most of your marketing efforts. But you have to be sure to leverage the right retention strategies, so you don’t accidentally reduce the number of long-term clients for your brand.

Author: Nahla Davies, Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed—among other intriguing things—to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.