Progress and next steps for Personal Plan

In late April, we opened up our new individual subscription offering to a limited audience. We still have a lot more to learn from the Personal Plan pilot, so we’re continuing to expand carefully to ensure the best possible experience for learners and instructors. 

With our first month of data in hand, we wanted to share more about progress to date, outline some details regarding payout for participating instructors, and address some of the questions we’ve seen arise in the Instructor Community. 

 

I. Goals and performance

 

What are the goals of the Personal Plan pilot?

We believe that a subscription option, offered as a choice alongside direct course purchase, will lead to increased learner engagement and greater revenue for instructors and Udemy. 

Our goal is to find the right way to structure, package, promote, and deliver the subscription offering to achieve those outcomes.

 

How is Personal Plan performing so far?

In this first month, we’ve offered the option to enroll in Personal Plan to a limited number of learners in order to get a read on overall interest. We’re measuring things like the rate at which people subscribe, the patterns in subscribers’ learning engagement, and the subscription’s effect on direct sales. 

The limited exposure of Personal Plan means that we’re not drawing any firm conclusions just yet. However, early signs are promising, with all the above measurements meeting or exceeding our expectations. So, we’re ready to open up the subscription offering to more students in the US and other select markets in the coming months. We’ll continue to expand thoughtfully, monitoring effects on the overall marketplace as we go.

 

II. Revenue reporting and instructor promotions

 

How will revenue be displayed for Personal Plan?

We’ve introduced a new revenue type within the Revenue Report labeled “Individual subscription.” When individual subscribers consume your course content in a given month, this label will indicate your total earnings from Personal Plan (and if applicable, Udemy Pro).

 

When will Personal Plan revenue be posted?

Personal Plan revenue will be posted a few days before it’s paid out, approximately 30 days after the close of the month in which the relevant consumption took place. For example, May 2021 earnings from Personal Plan will appear in the May statement around the first week of July, and be paid out shortly after.

This is a different cadence than other Udemy subscription offerings like Udemy for Business, necessitated by local refund regulations. In some markets, Personal Plan may offer students the option to request a refund. When a student refunds their subscription, their payment and any consumption are removed from the overall instructor pool. Because instructors’ revenue is calculated as a proportion of the total subscription revenue, we need to allow time for resolution of refunds before instructors’ revenue is calculated and displayed.

 

How will instructor promotions interact with Personal Plan?

Students who have the option to subscribe can still apply and redeem instructor coupons. However, for courses included in Personal Plan, a student who arrives via instructor coupon may see the subscription offer in addition to the direct purchase option. 

We’ve heard concern from participating instructors about the potential for a subscription offering to cannibalize traffic you send via coupons and referral links. We agree that your promotions should be just as effective during the pilot as they would be without the additional variable of a subscription option. So, we’re introducing a temporary program to secure your instructor promotion earnings while we’re learning and piloting. 

In the long term, we plan to use the data generated by the pilot to determine the right way to treat instructor-driven traffic that routes to subscriptions. We’ll adjust or retire this interim program as the pilot progresses. For the immediate future, we want to maximize what we can learn while minimizing the risk to your promotions and securing your revenue.

 

How will instructor promotions be compensated differently during this interim program?

Each month, for instructors with content in Personal Plan, we’ll look at the revenue generated by your promotions among students who saw the subscription option, and among the corresponding group of students who didn’t. If your promotions generated more revenue with the group that didn’t see the subscription offering, we’ll pay you the difference as a lump sum. This amount will be posted to your revenue report monthly as an adjustment. You’ll still have the potential to receive additional subscription earnings from these students if they consume your content.

To illustrate, let’s take an example. In June, your promotions drive $150 among students who did not have the option to subscribe, and $125 among the corresponding group of students who did have the option to subscribe. You’d see an adjustment of $25 to your revenue to ensure you made just as much money from your promotions as you would have with no subscription option.

 

III. On the horizon

 

What are you focusing on in the near future? 

In the coming months, we plan to focus on three key areas as we aim to drive engagement and incremental revenue:

  • Increasing awareness and conversion: While we have a great start, we know there’s lots more to learn and improve here. We plan to continue expansion of the pilot, conduct research with current and prospective students, and adjust our marketing approach to help the right learners find and sign up for Personal Plan. This could include price testing, adjustments to the signup and onboarding flows, and the introduction of some new promotional channels.
  • Strengthening engagement and retention: The key to a successful subscription is retention. As we begin to see how our first subscribers engage and stick with their learning and their subscription, we should be able to understand and improve the effectiveness of our subscription-specific features and marketing.
  • Honing subscription mechanics: Certain mechanics that make perfect sense for direct course purchase make less sense in a subscription context. For example, a student in a subscription context doesn’t “enroll” in a course—they simply start watching. They may also want to purchase (or have already purchased) content that isn’t in the subscription, which they’ll want to access seamlessly alongside their subscription content. We plan to work through some of these details in the coming months, with the goal of maintaining useful reporting for instructors and an intuitive learning experience for students.

IV. Addressing instructor questions

 

In the first few weeks of Personal Plan, you all asked some great questions in the Instructor Community and to our Support teams. These ranged from technical questions about revenue reporting to strategic questions about the direction of the Udemy platform. We’ve compiled these questions into an FAQ, which you can view here.

As always, we appreciate your engagement, and we look forward to sharing more updates as Personal Plan progresses. 

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