104: The purpose of scheduling software within online course sales and delivery

I believe that scheduling software systems like Acuity Scheduling and Calendly (among others) is an absolute requirement for online course creators.

You’re doubting me, I know it – when I proposed this topic to my friends they thought I was nuts to insist so passionately about this!

Because, well, you’re setting up your online course so that you can leverage your time and offer your brilliance in a one-to-many capacity. That’s a great mission, it frees you up to work on your own art expression, hone new skills and become an even better ambassador for your craft.

But, the reason you’re setting up your online course doesn’t help your students get the success or knowledge they seek. Your objective has many folds and one of them is most certainly helping your students complete the program they purchase, enjoy the process and share your courses with others.

And, your online scheduling tool will certainly help with those objectives and has a direct line to increased profits – so that’s good enough right? We can stop the episode right here and you’ll go to https://techofbusiness.com/acuity/ to signup for Acuity Scheduling! Or maybe not – but hopefully by the end of the episode you’ll agree with me that the benefits of online scheduling are in complete alignment with your goals.

Let’s break down your course takers into 4 groups:

  • Interested but not purchased
  • New purchaser
  • Active participant
  • Lagging participant

And for good measure, let’s add a 5th group: graduate!

Your scheduling software is going to help you with course takers in each of these segments.

First up, our “interested but not purchased group.”

This is a really important group of people to nurture – they’ve given you some indication that what you’re offering is something they are seeking. They may have signed up for a free module from your course or attends your Facebook Lives regularly or your webinar or opens your sales emails or whatever other tool you use to help people find out about your courses.

When people get so close to signing up but don’t do it, getting them on a call can be really effective. You could offer a strategy call (either full price or discounted) in your nurture sequence and link to a set of open slots on your calendar inside your scheduling app. Or you could host public Q&A sessions and have people register for them through Acuity — I love this strategy because there can be a limited number of seats and that’s evident when people click over. This provides a sense of scarcity and exclusivity.

There are a ton of ways to leverage one-on-one and group calls during your sales process and the last thing that you’ll want to do is to try to figure out how to schedule them manually.

Acuity Scheduling takes into account time zones so your prospective student can schedule in their time zone even if it’s different than yours!

Having Acuity or another scheduling tool in your tech stack allows you to offer bonus calls and tiers for your courses. It would be far more time consuming and negate some of the benefits of one-to-many courses if all bonuses and scheduling was not automated.

Many course creators I work with host office hours or other group calls as part of the base tier. So how can we improve upon that and help our almost-students say yes – well, by going beyond the basic and offer a higher level of access to us! And I like to just provide a private scheduling link to my higher level purchasers – they get 10 sessions or 6 sessions or 3 sessions or whatever and they can schedule time on my calendar. It’s a huge benefit to your business and to their success in the program.

A bonus I like to offer is a finite number of reduced price one-on-one sessions and because Acuity can schedule, take payments and have coupons, it’s an ideal platform for this type of bonus.

In a nutshell, having some way for potential students to see that they can have a higher level of access to you is a huge incentive for them to say “YES.”

Now, for your people who just bought your course, you want to make sure they get started right away and get some quick wins. Offering all students a 10 or 15 minute kick-off call or a new students only group call once a week is a brilliant strategy – it’s all about over delivering at this point. They didn’t sign up for it, it’s just something you throw in as a hidden bonus.

This call might be the difference between them asking for a refund and becoming your unicorn student… seriously. It can have that much of an impact!

Not convinced that you need scheduling software for this? Well, it’s all about setting things up to make your business as easy as possible and free you up to do what you do best, right? So if you like scheduling and the high touch approach, I’m sure you could make a case for doing scheduling without software but know that it might mean you’ll be having calls outside of your desired time blocks, on days you’d rather be doing non-client focused work and accidentally booking calls with clients on your birthday! (OK, so I didn’t accidentally book a client call on my birthday but I did have someone request to book a podcast interview on my birthday last summer ~ fortunately I had scheduling software in place so it was evident that I wasn’t available that day!)

I mentioned for your new purchaser the benefit of quick wins and over delivering. This is the same for your students who are making steady progress. These are generally the people who skate through without much notice… most course creators don’t spend much time on their “good students” because the good students just proceed… but what if you have a scheduling tool that makes it easy to do more for your good students? Something that shows them that you see them and their progress and want to reward the milestones. It could be a free call for them to provide you with a video testimonial or feedback on the course, or it could be an invite-only Q&A session or anything else that gets you onto their calendar and invites them to show up for themselves!

It’s imperative to be connected with your students on multiple levels. So, if you’re using a community forum or online group of some kind, that’s a great base level. And providing access to you in a structured way through scheduling software makes the connections that much easier to manage and helps us also look extremely professional!

That’s actually one of my favorite reasons for using scheduling software – the perception that you take your business seriously. And, in case you’re wondering, there are several functions within Acuity that make it so that your entire schedule isn’t open for appointments. These include setting default availability for different types of appointments, blocking off time before and after appointments, presenting only a percentage of your available openings to someone booking time and more options that I truly cannot remember off the top of my head.

Let’s get back to these good students for a moment – without making an effort to connect with them on a personal level, the relationship might be a one time purchase, but helping them see that you care and notice that they are delving in and learning, that can take things to a whole new level.

And there is no ceiling on what we can offer and do for our students.

Now, for our course participants who seem to fall behind, stop or don’t even start, we can use high touch to bring them into the fold and help them get an ROI on their investment. If you’ve offered a refund window of say 30 days, you might see an uptick in refund requests at the end of the window from this segment of your purchasers because they truly haven’t taken any action and will place the blame on you.

So, helping them through the refund window to get a quick win or two is huge in avoiding refunds or disgruntled purchasers. When courses are sold in an open cart/closed cart method it’s pretty easy to pack a whole lot of value inside the refund window to keep people making traction but when your course registration is evergreen or always available, it’s still important to find a way to make an impact and help your students catch up and feel good about their purchases – enter the scheduling software once again!

Here, however, unlike any of the other groups we’ve discussed, it’s super important to make sure that there is no fee associated with any offers we present. My favorite offer to this group, which can be offered to anyone in the course, is to have co-learning sessions.

Essentially, that’s a 60- or 90-minute group booking on Acuity that will end up being a zoom call where everyone goes through the course at their own pace. They can ask questions in the chat and you can facilitate conversation at the beginning and take breaks and even break your participants into small group conversations. The idea here is to provide the environment where they can effectively get stuff done.

I actually do this with a group of women once a month to work on our businesses… we all do our own thing for 25 minutes then come back together to regroup then have at it again. We do it for 2 hours.

Once your refund window has expired, that doesn’t mean we should take the money and not care about our students’ course completion. Limited time bonus calls are a great way to re-incentivize your ghosted students. Think of it as a way to help these students get back on track.

I have a client who offers fitness programs online. She always leaves a buffer in the course content so that if people can’t fit in their workout or meditation or whatever, they have time to catch up and there is no shaming them. You don’t need to be in fitness to help people get back on track!

Our final bonus group of students is those people who complete the course they purchased. We want to have something to offer them after they complete. It might be a free success session where they share with you the takeaways and what they’ve learned and applied in their life. Or it could be upselling them into a virtual group program or one-on-one coaching/mentorship with you.

When we go from in studio to online, there are barriers that fall away like place and time but new barriers arise – those are accountability, focus and follow through. Having Acuity scheduling or another online scheduling tool will help you with these persistent barriers and help you truly connect with your students.

So, have I convinced you? Jump into the Expand Online Community which you can get into at https://techofbusiness.com/community/ or by sending me a DM on Instagram, I’m @techofbusiness.

I look forward to hearing about all your online successes. Thanks for listening and reading these notes! And I love getting to know podcast listeners, so connect with me on any of the platforms listed here:

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