The Explosion in Sales: Blip or Trend?

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The Explosion in Sales: Blip or Trend?

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Many, if not most of us, are seeing a very significant explosion/increase in enrollments this month. If the data for the first 13 days represents half of this month's sales, the total for this month will be far higher than any previous month and close to 3X April last year. Now, we all recognize that the Covid-19 shut down is working in our favor. We are among the very fortunate few who are actually benefiting from this crisis. 

 

The question is, does this represent a statistical blip on the graph, or does this represent a lasting trend. In other words, six months from now will we be seeing a continuation of this performance, or a regression to the mean?

 

Scenario 1: Business is changed forever. This is a permanent change in how people learn. In my area of management training corporations are not going to want to bring their people together in groups at some corporate training event for a very long time and will continue to assign them to online courses, now having recognized the efficiency of these courses. Less corporate travel, more comfort with online learning and conferencing. Things have changed forever!

 

Scenario 2: In six months (for example) when everyone goes back to work, this will be remembered as a bad dream that you can tell your kids about. Companies will want to get their people together in groups to share experiences, listen to their corporate trainers in all their brilliance, and our online sales will return to the long term trend line that is being violated by the current data. Things haven't really changed.

 

Which is it? 

 

Lawrence M. Miller
Management & Leadership Coach
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Or, scenario 3: the economic impact of the pandemic turns out to be persistent, and companies scale back their training budgets and headcount in response. This ends up disproprotionately hitting UFB, causing Udemy to pivot back to the marketplace and personal development courses (which actually seems to be where the sudden revenue growth is coming from)

 

My own prediction is that it ends up as a wash; this "new normal" has introduced a lot of people to online learning who never would have considered it before, and that will have a lasting positive effect. But long-term economic decline will hit corporate training and the number of people willing to spend even $10 on a course. Those two forces might just cancel each other out.

But, if UFB positions itself as a lower-cost alternative to other employee development programs, perhaps it could do a ju-jitsu move to actually benefit from this as well.

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I do believe that things have changed forever - but we may have a mix of people and businesses doing more online training even after this pandemic has run its course. I believe people are truly thinking "outside of the box" of past learning opportunities and noticing that it is possible and perhaps even more cost effective and efficient.

I look forward to positive movement forward!

Hanifa

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This month doesn't look any different than any other month for me. It's about average - maybe just slightly above average.

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I am thinking about the difference. My courses may be more focused on personal improvement, how to be a better team leader, etc. Maybe people are thinking "if I lose my job..." what will help get the next job. I haven't added any courses in the past year or changed anything of any significance, so I am not sure why the  difference.

Lawrence M. Miller
Management & Leadership Coach
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Where is your growth? Is it coming from Ads, Oganic, etc? Maybe a course or two is being more heavily promoted? Could also be a change in pricing of one of your competitors? Mabe they have set their prices higher for a competing course or two, making them more expensive than yours when there are no sales?

Just spitballing...

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So, this graph is more information than you want, but it is pretty much across the board. If you look at last month I had a huge increase in my Leading Virtual Teams course, which is understandable (that is the third from the bottom puke green bar). But, it was all up and this month, if you double the bar on the right, which is just through April 13th, you can see how it will compare to other months unless sales just die. 

 

I have heard from other instructors who are also seeing a big increase so it isn't just me. Not sure how it works for other instructors.

 

Enrollments 3years.JPG

Lawrence M. Miller
Management & Leadership Coach
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Oddly enough, my sales for yesterday were triple the norm. Surely, one day does not a trend make...but it was funny to see after our conversation. 

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Interesting to speculate! I think a lot of us will be wondering the same.

Yes, 3X normal sales here in the modern language department too.  No doubt that we're holding the aces, along with online delivery... errr... marriage counseling, Netflix..  

As for scenarios farther down the line, my powers of divination are not up to the task, though it can't hurt that a lot more people will have been exposed to eLearning.

Following...

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Please note this growth is particularly true for non-tech courses Smiley Happy

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I wonder is Udemy is just pushing these courses harder in paid ads becasue people are stuck indoors.

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@StephaneMaarek "Please note this growth is particularly true for non-tech courses" 

 

I wonder why that is true. It is normally the other way around. 

Lawrence M. Miller
Management & Leadership Coach
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@LawrenceMMiller I think people are more worried about keeping themselves happy for the next few months (cook well, play guitar, sing, start pottery and meditation) than learning a tech skill. The job market is shrinking and right now people don't have jobs not because of qualification issues, but because of the economy. That's my take

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Yes, that's what I thought

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I should be an anomaly then . I have courses in Engineering (not computer , but in mechanical, automotive )  and my current April is 5x  APril 2019 already . 

 

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Yes. I also see improved enrollments as compared to the past months. I can say that this month is going to be the best of all the months ever since I have joined Udemy.  I see a lot of people saying that due to this lockdown, they were first spending time watching online shows and movies. Now, they think that the lockdown period is getting extended over and over again, they feel like using this time to learn some skills. 

 

I think, once everything gets norma, we will see normal enrollments. 


Engineer, Engineering Academy-Nepal
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Hi Lawrence,

I'm also enjoying an explosion of sales and BFB enrollments. As for whether it will last beyond the coronavirus, who knows? I'm going to hope for scenario 1, but expect scenario 2. So if it continues, great! And if not, I can look back at this otherwise stressful time as having a Udemy-shaped silver lining. Whatever happens, I'm happy. 

Stay safe!

Mark

 

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Or, scenario 3: the economic impact of the pandemic turns out to be persistent, and companies scale back their training budgets and headcount in response. This ends up disproprotionately hitting UFB, causing Udemy to pivot back to the marketplace and personal development courses (which actually seems to be where the sudden revenue growth is coming from)

 

My own prediction is that it ends up as a wash; this "new normal" has introduced a lot of people to online learning who never would have considered it before, and that will have a lasting positive effect. But long-term economic decline will hit corporate training and the number of people willing to spend even $10 on a course. Those two forces might just cancel each other out.

But, if UFB positions itself as a lower-cost alternative to other employee development programs, perhaps it could do a ju-jitsu move to actually benefit from this as well.

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"ju-jitsu move" 😆

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Yes, that's the problem with UFB's fixed price contracts. During "down" times, the first thing every Corporate scales back on, is Corporate training. 

Organic sales need a little more focus for sustainable revenue.

The current sales growth we see may not be sustainsble otherwise.

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I have a different opinion than you @SivakamiS2017 , fixed contracts are a way to protect yourself in down times, because you have piece of paper that states you will get your money at the end of the month. Overall, fixed contract are low risk and thus low reward. 

 

For Udemy, UFB and marketplace complement each other great, because one brings steady revenue with a contract, which means low marketing spending and thus high profitabily. This results that you improve your cash flow situation to invest in adds for the marketplace, especially in the acquisition for new customers, which is fundamental for sustainable growth.

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Not really. When I was in the Corporate world, in multiple organizations, we had a tie up with Coursera. 

When business was slow, that was the first thing they terminated, or stoppef renewal for. It depends on the contract terms.

And we would not always renew them when things picked up. It depended on the priorities at that time.

It' s the same with several organizations, that my friends and college mates work for. That's the first thing to go. Training and Development.

Pay for time viewed can be  argued or bargained for, saying let's reduce views etc but the contract is likely to continue.

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Agree that training budget goes first, but Udemy has 1 year contract with companies, so the decline is not massive in a given month, and the impact is spread out. The same cannot be said for one-time purchases that people can cancel or postpone.

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Most contracts have loopholes. With sufficient notice, you can terminate it, sometimes with a fee.
But if its pay for minutes consumed, then organizations may just request employees to slow training for a while and not terminate the contract. 
Its sad that training and development is given such a low priority, though.

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I've got absolutely no doubts that this spike in enrolments is temporaray whilst people are housebound.

 

I wouldn't expect anything more personally and I'm just grateful that there's a silver lining for the duration that this thing persists....

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Just one data point on corporate training. 

 

I have been working/planning a major training event/process with a very large corporation, that would involv more than 1000 mid and senior level managers both going through online courses, doing assignments, and then attending a one week workshop at the corporate training center. 

 

Now, we are redesigning it to be entirely online and dropping the week of live sharing, etc. They are going to spend the money on the virtual work, but not on the more traditional workshop that would involve flying everyone to a central location. 

 

If that is indicative, the budget cutting will be connected to the safety issues of travel and congregating. I believe this is going to have more of a lasting effect than many imagine.

 

Lawrence M. Miller
Management & Leadership Coach
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@LawrenceMMiller That's also my experience.

 

I'm an full time executive coach/leadership trainer for 12 years, with on-site clients in 20+ coutries.

 

I made 90% of my money by delivering on-site leadership training programs and workshops.

That's 0 now.

 

Some clients simply postpone everything, because their business is still thriving and it's just a matter of safety and health.

Others have a massive need for training (for years already) and now turn to online training, saving usually between 50 - 75% on the training fee alone + no travel expenses. This is already generating much more business for my own online training programs (like bootcamps with small group coaching, etc.)

And some companies will shut down. 

 

I attribute the massiv spike in non-technical (but still business related) skills, to one simple fact:

 

People with an interest in tech are already tech-savy - hence they are open to online learning anyhow.

Executives, managers, etc. were still hesitant in learning "soft skills" online. Now they have no other option and hopefully see the benefit of online-learning.

 

On Udemy I see a 100% growth in April.

 

My mid- to long-term expectation:

 

UFB should not try to become the cheapest low-cost provider, but rather stay on course. Corporates cutting training-costs will look for an alternative and online-training will always be cheaper than on-site training, especially when you look at the overall ROI, from expenses, time-away-from-the-desk, to the option to revisit what you didn't understand even 3 years after signing up for the course.

 

BUT I also believe that it's a time where lots of "bad" online-courses will be offered, and Udemy should keep their standards high, in particular for UFB courses.

 

Stay safe, stay healthy, keep creating great courses,

A

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@LawrenceMMiller I am one who has definitely benefited as people seek ways of both coping and upskilling during this time. My courses are all in the spiritual side of personal development and this looks as if it will be my biggest month ever on Udemy.

Personally I think this is the harbinger for long term change, the greed is good mass consumerism mentality that has driven us all could not last given the appalling impacts it has had on the environment and our mental health.

I am a Scenario 1 thinker. Businesses will adapt, others will fold, many will kick and scream for Government subsidies to keep them going. It has really shown a light of how fragile capitalism is. Where is the money put aside for a rainy day or weeks or longer?

Many have discovered and are discovering simpler ways of feeling fulfilled now they are out of the mass consumer economy.

 

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I'm enjoying the bump as well... but I'm keeping something else in mind - discretionary spending might dry up. And so while I appreciate the bump today, I know it might not be there tomorrow. 

I'm working on creating new content, and pushing myself out there, but also making sure I squirrel some away for the lean times. 

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Something else that I didn't see mentioned is that just like many people are now turning their attention to online learning platforms, there are also many people creating training content and becoming on-line instructors.

 

In the Studio U there was a post mentioning huge delays to new course review processes, test videos reviews, and similar activities because there has been a spike on the instructor side as well.

 

That means more competition.

 

This might or might not affect everyone, but it can definitely have an impact as well, which could compensate, at least partially, the mentioned increase in learner numbers.

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Am I the only one not seeing any explosion? For me the month seems to be a bit lower than last month or maybe will end up at par. 

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Everyone is having sales for this month (april) 3 times than their average sales. It is for non-tech courses and for tech courses it is slight less i.e. 2 times than their average sales.

CEO
AXE Consultant
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Can you show the data from which you've used to reach this conclusion?

 

Whilst many people are experiencing a surge in paid-for enrollments, here are threads in which people from both business sectors are proclaiming that they are witnessing a drop in sales in contrast to a typical month...

 

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@DanielEvans 

That's just speculation and personal opinion/belief, expressed as if they were facts.

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I just looked at your courses, @BatMan , and since they are very much focused on marketing I guess this is the area most people and companies are cutting costs right now.

Less ads = less need for education they might think.

 

The opposite might be correct, and I doubled my Google Ad-budget in April, but for most this might be the "easiest" path to save some money.

 

That's my 2 cents to your question, and I hope it will pick up for you soon.

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May I ask if your Google ad budget is for your Udemy courses or a different endeavor?

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@SuperHero I played around with Google Ads for my Udemy courses, but that just doesn't make any economical sense. 
Worst of that idea: I compete with Udemy itself, advertising my own courses Smiley Happy
I only use Google Ads to advertise other, high ticket, online-courses.

I also sometimes push readership of my blogposts by running a campaign, if the costs are less than 2 cents/reader, to attract new readers of my leadership blog. Since I massively invest time into publishing new posts (48 as of now in 2020, aiming for another 60 posts by end of June) I play the long game.

Does this answer your question?

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Yes, I really appreciate it. I was assuming it was for other products, but then thought I shouldn't assume. Smiley Happy

 

For your high-ticket courses, have you compared FB costs to Google Ads? I'm just curious since FB is so expensive (until Corona, that is). Are Google Ads giving you better ROI than what you've experienced or heard about with FB?

 

Thank you for the details, especially your cost limits for blog posts. Awesome info. Thanks again.

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Fb works for me only when I run surveys, otherwise I haven't found my groove on fb. 
sales via google ads is far from where I'd like to have it, I'm experimenting a lot recently. 

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That sounds like a fun experiment. I'm doing a "no marketing" comparison of ebooks, YT videos, blogs, etc. for 30-60 days, then basic marketing for 30 days. I want to see which avenue is fastest starting from zero. (I do have an email list which I'm using for a non-Udemy course, but that's not part of this experiment.) I'd love to hear what happens as you work on the ads.

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Interesting numbers. I have not seen much difference in my Udemy course sales this month but I have seen a 70% increases so far in April compared to March for my personal site. The day people received their $1200 deposit closely rivaled with Black Friday/Cyber Monday level sales, the following day a little bit less but still very strong (and still strong a few days later). 
Another interesting fact is that since late March is that review numbers have dropped 38% while lecture completion has gone up over 100% in the same period. Can't wrap my head around that one. 

Greg Reverdiau - Airplane and Drone Training
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People have more time to sit and do the course?

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For sure. My courses are pretty long as while it's a prep for a certification, most people don't have the time to dedicate to it for an extended period of time, so this is actually the perfect time to tackle it and get it done. 

 

Greg Reverdiau - Airplane and Drone Training
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I do believe that things have changed forever - but we may have a mix of people and businesses doing more online training even after this pandemic has run its course. I believe people are truly thinking "outside of the box" of past learning opportunities and noticing that it is possible and perhaps even more cost effective and efficient.

I look forward to positive movement forward!

Hanifa

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Not a drastic change, but still change is change. I have also seen a change of 75% increase over last month's sales. This change is due to the pandemic that arose in countries. There is no way to have a face to face teaching, students are looking for online content and since Udemy has a strong platform base on web and hence it all ended up here. I hope it goes to the max by the end of the month.

#Stay Safe #Stay Home #Prepare online modules


@Hanifa wrote:

I do believe that things have changed forever - but we may have a mix of people and businesses doing more online training even after this pandemic has run its course. I believe people are truly thinking "outside of the box" of past learning opportunities and noticing that it is possible and perhaps even more cost effective and efficient.

I look forward to positive movement forward!

Hanifa


 

CEO
AXE Consultant
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wow! Great explanation, I appreciate it so much.

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Thnx a lot for sharing n discussing great ideas with us. I m so greatful to learn a lot from experts like everyone here since I m a new instructor. 

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I've seen an overall 2x sales in comparison with April 2019, which will make this my best month ever. Don't forget the period February till July is usually slow. This is crazy.

One thing though: I haven't seen this growth in all my courses. Some of them are just 'normal'. And the growth has mainly come from 'organic', meaning my top selling courses have been doing even better, the slow ones remained stable.

I wish this could last... but somehow I don't want to put my hopes too high here. A lot will depend on Udemy's policies. They've clearly decided to embrace this whole Corona situation for the better. However, what will be their position once everyone is back at work...

I'm crossing fingers, but have my doubts ... 

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Yes, we should not expect this spike to last post pandemic. But we can hope for some of it to remain 😉

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Hi. I have an update of sorts. my courses are in the data science category. My March-May was better than last year. However, I have had a sharp decline in June. Frankly, my June performance is lower than what it was 2 years ago. Has someone else also seen a decline in their sales 1 week into June in the data science or any categories? It seems that while my courses are discounted during the promotional sales, Udemy is not actively promoting them. Is anyone else in a similar situation?

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Yes, start to June has not been that promising for me either.

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June is off to a slow start for me as well.  More specifically, the first 2 days were huge, then it really slowed down. 

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