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Accelerating learning with Personal Plan

In March, we shared some of our findings from the first year of Personal Plan, our consumer subscription. This included research results – like the fact that subscribers are career-oriented and more consistent in their learning habits than purchasers – as well as some of our plans for the continuing pilot. We also shared that we’d be exploring new marketing strategies to grow Personal Plan and the marketplace overall. 


With some of these plans now underway, we wanted to share more details about what we’re looking to learn, how we plan to grow, and what this means for you.


Why we’re looking to grow Personal Plan


When we first began piloting Personal Plan, we stated that our goal was to introduce a subscription complement to our transactional business that created “increased learner engagement and greater revenue for instructors and Udemy.” We made Personal Plan available to a subset of learners in a few English-speaking markets so we could measure our progress towards that goal.


Over the last year, we tested different ways of positioning Personal Plan and individual course purchases. We sought to better understand which learners were interested in subscriptions, the right ways to introduce and frame the collection, and when to recommend a purchase vs. a subscription. We also built out new product experiences, like career guides and learning reminders, to help these committed learners jump straight into learning and stick to it.


Based on these results, we’re now confident that Personal Plan is on track to add value to the Udemy marketplace overall. Put differently, our data suggests that a marketplace that offers learners a choice between subscriptions and one-time purchases will be more successful than a marketplace with only a purchase option. So, we’ve opened up Personal Plan to all learners in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa. 


Where we’re headed next


In the coming months, we want to learn the best ways to grow Personal Plan as a part of the Udemy marketplace. So, we’ll begin testing new marketing approaches for subscriptions. Some updates will apply for all regions, while others will be limited to specific countries so we can learn as much as possible without disrupting instructors’ business (or our own). For now, we’re continuing to focus on English-speaking markets, with only English language content available in the subscription.


Here are a few of the things we’re looking to explore:


  • Optimizing the trial experience: Udemy has many ways for learners to test the waters: free courses, lecture previews, and of course our 30-day satisfaction guarantee. We want to understand if free trials are truly valuable in giving prospective subscribers a look inside Personal Plan, or if existing ways of previewing Udemy content are sufficient. 
  • Differentiating promotions for subscription content: We know that cost is a key part of someone’s decision to purchase, subscribe, or walk away. To better understand how it affects learners’ choices, we want to try running different types of promotions for courses that are included in Personal Plan vs. those that aren’t. We plan to use what we learn to build a holistic promotions strategy that includes both a la carte purchase and consumer subscriptions. 
  • Marketing subscriptions off-platform: We’ve begun promoting Personal Plan to audiences outside the Udemy platform, flexing the marketing muscle we’ve built over the years to grow this offering and bring new, valuable, subscription-oriented learners to Udemy.


What this means for instructor promotions


Whether you promote your courses once a year or dozens of times a month (hopefully making use of our new bulk coupon creation tool), we know it’s important to know you’ll be rewarded for bringing new learners to Udemy. We want you to be able to promote with confidence as we evolve our marketing to include subscriptions and a la carte purchases.


If you’re opted into Udemy Deals, then regardless of a particular market’s promotional schedule or strategy, we’ll make sure your coupons still automatically adjust to that market’s local pricing just as they do now. Your “best price” will remain the most competitive offer for purchase of your course for any given learner.


We’ll also begin more directly rewarding instructors for bringing in learners who choose to subscribe. We’ll retire the interim reward program launched at the beginning of the pilot, and introduce a new subscriber signup payment that gives instructors a bonus if their coupon or referral link leads to a new subscription payment. In this first iteration of the program, the bonus will be calculated as 50% of the net revenue from the payment for the new subscriber’s first month in Personal Plan. So for example, if you refer someone with a coupon, but instead of purchasing the course they sign up for Personal Plan and the net revenue is $29.99 USD for their first month, you’ll be awarded about $15 USD.


For now, these amounts will be reported like the interim reward program was: as a lump sum in the “Other” section of your revenue report, posted around the same time as monthly earnings for Personal Plan. In the longer term, we’ll look into expanding revenue reporting for both subscriber signup payments and standard subscription earnings.


Onward to growth and learning


Personal Plan represents an opportunity to better serve a valuable set of career-motivated learners, and to reward instructors whose content helps them achieve their goals. We’re excited to keep making the Udemy marketplace bigger and better – and we know that both instructors who participate today and those who aspire to participate in the future are counting on us. 


If you have questions or thoughts about this next phase of Personal Plan, we welcome them in the Instructor Community.

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