As an online instructor, you should always try to create online courses that help your learners achieve a goal. Positive reviews are a natural result of having met your learners’ expectations, and Udemy is giving more and more relevance to reviews. Your students’ average rating determines
- whether or not your courses show up in Udemy’s search results and
- whether or not Udemy will actively market your course.
Making sure you get positive reviews is thus very important for your course’s success.
In this article, I’ll give you a step-by-step instruction for improving your Udemy reviews. We’ll identify common problems with online courses and then use them as an opportunity to improve our courses.
How to Ruin Your Reputation Instead of Improving Reviews
Let’s start by saying what you will not do:
- Ask friends on Facebook to write positive reviews
- Pay strangers on Fiverr, Upwork and Freelancer to post reviews for you
- Talk your learners into improving their reviews
Apart from the fact that these strategies won’t work (Udemy regularly catches people trying), these are less-than-ethical ways of improving your reviews short-term.
They’re not long-term strategies to be successful in teaching online. What we will do instead is find the reasons behind bad reviews and get them out of the way.
7 Reasons for Bad Udemy Course Ratings
Let’s take a moment to consider the 8 most common reasons why users leave bad reviews.
- Your course fails to live up to learners’ expectations
- Your course requires knowledge that your learners don’t have
- Your course suffers from technical problems
- Your course’s structure is confusing
- Your course makes it difficult to retain knowledge
- Your course is a reference, not a shortcut to learning
- Your course is boring and cumbersome, leading to high abandonment rates
Taking these issues into account while planning and constructing your course is a great idea, and it will lead to a course your learners will love. Improving an online course that’s been receiving bad reviews is also possible, but will require a little more effort.
Fixing the Reasons Behind Bad Reviews
Getting rid of the reasons for bad reviews is not difficult. We can summarize what it takes as follows:
- Aligning expectations and delivery
- Improving your Udemy course quality
Too vague? Here are the nitty-gritty details.
Aligning Expectations and Delivery
Let’s look at the first two problems we’ve identified. They’re both related to unclear course descriptions, a lack of knowledge and misaligned expectations. You may also want to read up on further details in this article.
Here’s a free, editable PDF template to help you get this part right.
Issue 1: Your Online Course Fails to Live Up to Learners’ Expectations
If learners feel they didn’t get what they expected, that’s a problem which can result from
- You over-promising and under-delivering (by accident or on purpose)
- Learners misunderstanding your course outline
- Your course description not being comprehensive enough for buyers to make an informed decision
Whichever the reason, it ultimately doesn’t matter. The result is always a disgruntled learner who, if asked to do so by Udemy, will not leave a positive review.
In order to avoid this situation, here’s what you’ll do:
- Make sure your sales copy, your course description and your introductory lesson describe your course as clearly and accurately as possible
- State what your course does and doesn’t include.
- Over-deliver, under-promise
Go ahead and make your sales-copy convincing, but afterwards you absolutely must back it up with a great course. If you can over-deliver, you’ll have raving fans.
Pro Tip: As the first step in your course production, state your learning objectives. Then, design your course around those. In your sales copy, don’t promise more than your learning objectives in your sales copy, and you’ll be safe.
Issue 2: Your Course Requires Knowledge that Your Learners Don’t Have
For obvious reasons, not being able to follow the instructor’s explanations due to a lack of previous knowledge is frustrating for learners and leads to bad reviews very quickly.
Before learners buy, it should be obvious to them whether or not your course is right for them:
- If you build upon knowledge you expect your learners to have, specify that knowledge unambiguously.
- Don’t go overboard. E.g., you shouldn’t need to point out that learners need to be able to use a web browser and have a computer when they’re buying an online course.
Improving Your Udemy Course Quality
If you’ve followed my advice so far, you now have learners in your course who’re learning what they expected to learn. They bring along the required knowledge, know what to expect and don’t expect more than you’ll deliver. That’s good. However, there’s still plenty of opportunity to annoy your learners if you don’t get course quality right. Problems 3-5 describe issues with your online course quality.
Issue 3: Technical Problems in the Course
Typical examples of technical problems in online courses are bad video quality or bad audio. Udemy has started taking care of this by only allowing good quality courses to be published. However, there are other issues like broken links which can be just as frustrating for learners.
Issue 4: Your Course Structure is Confusing
Your course structure needs to be designed in a logical way. There needs to be a golden thread leading from the first lesson up to your learning objectives. If you jump around randomly your learners will have a hard time learning. Explicitly write down your course structure before you start creating your course. If you have a course already, take a step back and make sure your sections are structured in a logical way.
Issue 5: Your Course Makes It Difficult to Retain Knowledge
Surprisingly, this is something Udemy instructors often don’t give any thought to. Do you?
There’s science behind learning and just watching one video after the other is not in line with what we know about learning theory. You absolutely need to make sure you get learners to and leave their passive role. Repeat important points and make lessons more interesting by challenging learners to become active.
Udemy tools to create more interactive lessons include:
- Q&A discussions
- Quizzes: Quizzes are not just for knowledge assessment. They’re a great repetition tool, they engage the learner and point out items that learners should revise once again.
- Projects and exercises: Simply ask learners to go and do some research, set up a website or anything else that is relevant to your course. More info here.
- Provide downloadable files. These can include workbooks, checklists etc. that will get learners to apply what they’ve just learned.
- Links to external resources: Interrupt a chain of video after video by sending learners to external resources to investigate.
Issue 6: Your Course is a Reference Instead of a Shortcut to Learning
If you dump everything you know into a course, you’ve failed to create a course. A course is a shortcut to learning. Dumping everything you know is called creating a reference. References are important, but they’re not why people buy courses. If you want people to learn quicker, you need to think hard about
- what you want to achieve (learning objectives), and
- how to guide learners along a logical path towards those objectives in the most streamlined way you can think of.
Sure, provide links to additional sources of information. Tell them where to go if learners want more information. Within your course, stick to your learning objectives and try to get your learners to those objectives.
Issue 7: Your Course is Boring and Cumbersome, Learners are Left Alone
Many online courses suffer from high abandonment rates. When do learners abandon a course?
Maybe the reason is in one of the problems discussed previously, but there can also be subtler reasons for learners not sticking around. When they feel left alone, when they’re bored, when learning has become too cumbersome, when they just don’t feel a course provides value to them they may simply drop out.
Here’s what you can try to prevent that:
- Increase your instructor presence.
- Interact with students using Q&A.
- Discuss completed projects.
- Send out announcements in regular intervals.
Positive Udemy course reviews are a major element in making your Udemy courses successful. Positive reviews for online courses are not something you buy or trick people into – they’re a direct result of great quality courses. Great quality courses are digital assets that form the foundation of your online course business – whereas low quality courses with great marketing are simply a scam.
Here’s a free, editable PDF template to get your course introduction right from the start: