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11 Psychological Tricks to Increase Your Course Sales

6 min
Happy people holding paper banners in different colors.

The more sales you get on your courses the more revenue to your school. Along with more students, you also increase the quality and the value of the service you provide by having a larger community to support each other. But in order to do that, you will need to come up with effective ways to engage new leads to become learners.

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There are lots of marketing practices you can try out. Some of the most effective strategies combine psychology and advertising in an attempt to assess human behavior. These can help you understand how and why people think and act the way they, so you can better influence their decisions!

We have collected the 10+1 best psychology sales tips you can use for your own marketing. Ready for selling more online courses?

1. Priming – The power of branding

The priming technique helps people remember the key elements of the service you provide. This is how it works: When people think of a word, they should immediately get reminded of you. If they are able to remember you, it means they recognize you as a good brand and there are higher chances to buy from you.

A prime example is Coca-Cola and the association it has gained over the years with the color red and the popular Christmas advertisement:

With priming, your ultimate goal as a brand should be to help people remember you in a positive light. Make it easy for people to remember you using plain language, keywords related to your school, synonyms, and a unique sales statement that describes exclusively what you are offering.

2. Reciprocity – Returning the favor

Reciprocity describes the behavior in which two people or groups of people give each other help and advantages. It is the practice of exchanging items or services for mutual benefit, like special privileges the one party offers to the other. In simpler terms, this is understood as ‘returning the favor’.

A small treat that comes with a bill at a restaurant, a thank-you-note or a follow-up email after a job interview are great examples of reciprocity. In eLearning, a thank you page, a welcome email, an exclusive e-book, a video, or a free introductory lesson are some of the small treats you can offer to your learners. The secret for this technique to work is giving away the free thing before you ask for anything in return.

3. Social Proof – The Trust Factor

Social proof supports the idea that people adopt beliefs or actions of a group of people they like or trust. This refers to the desire to conform, to become part of a group, in an attempt to be liked and gain acceptance.

Using social proof as a marketing technique can be incredibly effective, because it creates the need for people to say ‘I belong here’ and increases engagement.

The best way to gain social proof is with testimonials, case studies, and reviews.

testimonial template
Testimonial Template on LeanrWorlds

Social media likes, followers and recommendations can also go a long way. Ask for customer feedback and reviews, then get their permission to share them!

4. The Decoy Effect – For Easy Upselling

This technique works great on pricing packages. The decoy effect takes place when one price point is intentionally included to entice you to choose the most expensive option. So let’s say you have three pricing options listing different prices from low to high:

Price 1: €69 for e-book/essential learning materials
Price 2: €115 for annual/monthly course
Price 3: €125 for a course and e-book/essential learning materials

The last price comes at a very small difference in contrast to the second, which leaves limited room for doubt as far as it concerns the option they should go for. This example shows that with 10 euros extra you get both the course, and the e-book along with other learning materials.

Intrigued customers are more likely to choose the last option since they can get the whole package with little – or in other cases, no difference in the price. The decoy effect serves a purpose here which is to introduce a middle option encouraging people to assess the quality of the product and make sure they get the best solution out of it.

This can also be achieved by bundling up courses and offering multiple courses in a cheaper price, which in fact increases your sales and how much the customer is willing to pay in total.

5. Scarcity – The Need to Buy NOW

Scarcity can give the impression that the product/service you are offering is on popular demand and while it used to be lots of it available, now there are only a couple left. This idea of scarcity – where a product or a limited offer is due to end soon, transmits the need to hurry up so that they get theirs or they enrol on a course as soon as possible.

To make it work, you can create the sense of scarcity through special offers that have an expiry date or any other course materials you offer as an addition to your primary product.

6. Anchoring – The Second Price

Anchoring refers to the idea that supports the human tendency to pay attention to the first piece of information presented – known as the anchor when making a decision. In making-decision, this happens when for example, they check the initial price of the product or service you provide.

During sales, you can add the sales price next to the initial price. This creates the anchoring effect which makes the second price seem reasonable even though it is still higher than the real value of the product/service.

Course with a discounted price
Course with a discounted price on the landing page.

7. Verbatim Effect – The Call to Action

The Verbatim effect refers to using simple and easy-to-remember statements that a site visitor or learner can take in quickly and retain to that information for some time. Recent data from Chartbeat shows that 55 percent of your site visitors are going to spend approximately 15 seconds on that first page.

Within that timeframe, you will need to say or present something unique to capture their attention. Using easy and common language for CTA statements such as ‘Don’t forget to check out this’ instead of ‘Upon leaving the page, make sure to check what we have for you’ can work well. Also, an attractive, user-friendly and easy-to-search course/school headline makes the identification process more effective.

8. Clustering – The Bullet-Points

Clustering is all about managing your web content in a way that maintains memory retention. Grouping similar topics together either by bullet points, font size, color or anything else that suits your site content, can help your visitors scan through the site and have a quick run-through on what the school has to offer.

It can be very useful especially if you are sharing a great deal of information or huge bulks of texts that are difficult to take in.

9. Loss Aversion – Take the Candy Away

Loss aversion is another useful marketing strategy you can use. This approach has a more profound psychological aspect to it and focuses on the idea that people don’t like to lose what they have already gained.

In other words, they don’t like their stuff to be taken away from them. Loss aversion can be used in freemium products/services.

For example, you can unlock a certain feature e.g. a limited time course that becomes available or some other privileges for the existing product, and then remove it unless the user upgrades their account. The sense of losing the product can urge them into buying the product and making a purchase.

You can even give them a free trial for their subscriptions after giving their credit card, they will be less likely to discontinue their subscription then.

10. FOMO – Fear of Missing Out

FOMO stands for ‘fear of missing out’. It refers to the anxiety that an exciting or interesting event is happening elsewhere – as usually seen on or informed by social media, and you would like to be part of it.

This type of fear can create a powerful emotion to the person who is slowly becoming intrigued with the idea of using the product or service and enjoying the benefits it provides. The feeling they get comes from the idea that there are missing out on something great while other users are already talking about it and getting rewarded by it.

You can also integrate the USEFOMO to your online school to take advantage of this.

Having a pop up with a user registering, downloading an ebook or buying a course will create a social fear of missing out effect, and a CTA at the same time to indulge a potential customer to buy.

Invest in the Experience

Another excellent idea is to talk more about the experience people get to enjoy whilst trying a product or a service. When promoting a course, you can focus on the type of education, eLearning offers.

Since this is very different from the traditional classroom-based learning, there is a way to present this as a course that provides a unique experience for the student, and preferably one that competitors aren’t offering.

This can be done through a helpful webinar, a well-designed e-book, an infographic, or tutorial videos that make the learning process easier and more enjoyable for the student. Gamification can give you a great advantage as well. When using LearnWorlds you can make use of badges to reward your students and encourage them to keep coming back for more.

If you don’t know much about psychology but want to increase your current knowledge in the subject to boost your advertising efforts, these tricks are going to prove essential to your marketing strategy. Besides, understanding human behavior is the key that leads to any business success!

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Content Creator at

Kyriaki is a Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team writing about marketing and e-learning, helping course creators on their journey to create, market, and sell their online courses. Equipped with a degree in Career Guidance, she has a strong background in education management and career success. In her free time, she gets crafty and musical.