Increase the engagement of your online course videos for a better ROI

How many times have you heard the expression “you don’t trade time for money”?

So why is it that when it comes to creating and selling online courses most of us are completely stuck in this mindset.

What I mean by this is that we still tend to equate the length of our programs with how much they are worth, instead of the return on investment they promise to the people who pay to take them.

Over the years, I’ve signed up for loads of online courses. And the reality is that I’ve finished very few of them because they took too long or I simply lost interest halfway through (or sooner).

Creating a 10 hour course might seem like it should be worth $10,000. But if your students don’t watch it, they are wasting their money and you have wasted your time.

However if you create a 3 hour course that is filled with practical action steps that folks can implement immediately – they will have a better chance of realizing a return on their investment – even if that investment happens to be $10000!

But even a 3 hour course is too much if it just becomes a data dump.

Who in their right mind wants to sit through a 3 hour virtual lecture? Even 1 hour is often way too long to keep me engaged.

For many thought leaders the temptation is to dive deep into the weeds in order to demonstrate an expertise that people who paid for your program already believe they have.

So the result is overly long presentations that meander into the unnecessary instead of fulfilling the initial promise laid out in the sales page.

Longer videos don’t have the engagement

So what can you do? Well the first thing to do is create bite sized chunks of knowledge that build upon the learnings that came immediately before..

People don’t want to stare at a screen for an hour if there aren’t cats or dragons on it.

According to a study by Wistia measuring video length vs engagement our attention spans are not very long. Indeed after 2 minutes engagement starts to drop off fairly quickly until it plateaus between 6 and 12 minutes at about 50%

But if you can keep your content videos under 5 minutes you can maintain engagement above 55%. That’s a big deal if you are thinking about creating a course made up of, let’s say, 4-60 minute modules.

Increase your engagement and deliver more value

So how do you do this? It’s actually very easy for you to make it easy for your students. Imagine writing down your course syllabus – planning out your content and then, instead of having to do a 60 minute presentation, you only have to take for 3 to 5 minutes on a specific topic within your larger program.

This approach forces you to cut out the fluff and think about your content in a way that is more accessible to your students’ learning capacity.

How does that work?

I’ll give the example from my own online program DIY Marketing for Consultants, Trainers and Professional Speakers.

This course is 9 modules long with over 3 hours of video. But each module is broken down into multiple units that anyone can go through at their own pace.

Make it a challenge!

During the pandemic people are finding it even harder to concentrate. So even the above Wistia study may be a bit of a stretch. But there are ways to help your students using micro learning supplemental programs.

I remember back in my university days when I would attend lectures with a professor and then break out into smaller study classes lead by a teacher’s assistant (usually a grad student) who would assign and grade our work.

Recently I’ve created a number of “micro-learning” challenges based on longer programs that were already on sale. The concept was the same as the university model where the longer programs were there to provide knowledge and perspective – while the shorter program acted as the more practical and simpler roadmap to implementation.

For example Ed Rigsbee has a program for speakers to help them sell their services into the association market.

In the “before-times” Ed held a 2-day intensive workshops in Las Vegas multiple times a year. However after Covid shut everything down he created a virtual intensive from previously recorded sessions. Having attended this program myself – his system really is fascinating.

But last month Ed launched his own micro learning program based on this content. The Selling to Associations Challenge: 30 Simple Steps to Dominate Your Niche in the Association Market takes the learning from the larger program and turns it into a 30 day action plan with a single task delivered each day via email.

As one of the purchasers noted in a recent email:

“I’m loving this. The step by step approach takes the overwhelm out of implementing the information from the intensive.”

Ed’s daily challenges are generally less than 3 minutes long and they give a very specific instruction that students need to complete. There are no excuses. Just do the work and he promises they’ll see results.

I’ve done the same thing with my full program with 30 days of short action-oriented videos that each contain a specific direction. You can check it out here.

There’s nothing magic in what we’re doing. Ed, myself and others have simply identified another way to adapt our content to the needs of the people we serve. Attention spans and focus are experiencing a pandemic-induced decline, so we’re making it simpler to implement what we know in our customers’ businesses.

So if you are thinking of creating a program or a supplemental tool to help people execute on your brilliant ideas, all you need to do is stop thinking about quantity of content and start thinking about how you can show real ROI through shorter, more engaging, content and products.

Aidan Crawford

Aidan Crawford is president of Short Circuit Media. His main job is helping consultants, trainers and professional speakers get their marketing in order by creating and implementing strategies to help them reach their target audiences.


Let’s have a quick chat about your marketing goals and see how I can help.
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