You can have the best trainers and educators, a fantastic learning management system (LMS), great content, and incredibly competitive prices. But if you don’t have students clamoring to get in the door, then your online course is going nowhere—fast.


If you’re responsible for boosting enrollment or subscription rates to any type of eLearning platform, then you know how challenging this process can be. 

Thankfully, there’s a secret to more paid subscriptions: using the right incentives to bring in students and keep them engaged throughout their user journey. 

No matter what your course offerings or who you’re targeting, here’s how to get more sign-ups and subscriptions (and keep them, too). 

Digital incentives: the latest trend in educational technology

It doesn’t matter if your learners will be studying cybersecurity, coding, financial literacy, professional development, continuing medical education (CME), or something else. We’re all human. And we all love incentives. 

That’s why using digital rewards is a growing EdTech trend, helping to generate buzz and lots more signups. Digital learning and development incentives can help to keep your subscription rates high and your learners happy. 

Specifically, assuming you’re using the right gift card platform, it can be easy to offer a wide variety of rewards to both potential and current students, at different points throughout their lifecycle. Whether it’s easy-to-redeem gift cards to their favorite stores and restaurants (Amazon included), or virtual prepaid cards (MastercardⓇ included), these types of rewards make great additions to your already-great offerings. 

Indeed, digital rewards are an easy and affordable way to turn leads into new cohorts, and to keep current cohorts motivated and engaged throughout their journey. 


3 ways to use digital incentives to increase enrollment in online courses

Using incentives is a straightforward and simple way to increase subscriptions in any type of online training course. 

In other words, the first and more direct way to use incentives in your EdTech go-to-market strategy is to give people a reason to sign up. 

Specifically, here are three ways to use digital gift cards to attract customers. 

Offer a signup bonus

Getting more registrants can be as simple as giving them a bonus for signing up and/or for opting into bundled packages. 

This can look like an automatic gift card on signup to popular brands like Amazon or Starbucks

Or you might pick a brand that specifically aligns with your offerings. For example, a course for IT professionals might offer gift cards to Apple or Best Buy. 

Alternatively, you can offer virtual prepaid cards to Visa or Mastercard. Programs often use this type of reward as an education reimbursement. 

This is how one Giftbit client offering CME leverages digital rewards to get more registrants. They offer different packages with different annual costs. In turn they provide proportionate gift card incentives on signup (i.e. they offer larger gift cards for a higher subscription fee). Students automatically get an email with their reward, thanking them for signing up. 

Or get creative! Another Giftbit client uses digital rewards to incentivize registration for large groups, like a group of employees for example. The main point of contact (i.e., the person who signs the whole group up) receives a virtual prepaid Visa that matches the registration fee.  

Prizes and giveaways

Offering prizes and giveaways to registrants can be a great way to promote your eLearning platform, too. 

You might offer them in addition to signup bonuses, or use them to drum up excitement on social media and/or boost other marketing efforts. 

Please note that there are often strict laws around sweepstakes, so be sure to check what’s allowed in your state or province. 

Pro-tip: There’s a time and place for giveaways, but if your goal is to maximize engagement on your platform, then you may want to consider offering smaller rewards to everyone, versus one big prize to one winner. 

“I have found it better to give everyone a $5 gift card and maximize engagement,” says Nat Salvione, Giftbit CCO.

Early bird registration

Another great trick to drumming up that excitement is to offer digital rewards for early bird registration. Limited time offers are an easy way to create more urgency and incentivize potential students to sign up, now


3 ways to use digital incentives to maintain enrollment in online courses

Yes–if you run any type of training or professional development course, then you want lots and lots of new students. 

But of course, you also need a plan to keep the students you already have. There’s lots of competition in the EdTech space. If you’re not able to keep your students engaged, it’s going to be a lot harder to keep them. 

Here’s where digital rewards can come to the rescue again. Sprinkle them in throughout your student journey (noting that even low denomination gift cards can work well here), and your students will have a reason to keep logging in (and to keep their subscriptions active). 

There are a few ways to use incentives for participant engagement, all of which work well on their own or in conjunction with each other. Here’s what works for Giftbit clients. 

Performance-based rewards

There’s a reason your kindergarten teacher put little gold stars on your homework—we all love recognition for a job well done. 

So one easy option is to reward top performers for achievement, mastery, and proficiency. 

rewards catalogContinued participation rewards

Perhaps it’s not mastery that matters for your course, but persistence and staying power. In this case, you might offer training completion bonuses and other rewards for continued participation. These types of professional growth rewards are fun and effective. 

For example, one Giftbit client provides continuing education to Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). These are students who are required to keep their certifications up (and have lots of options to choose from when it comes to this professional development).

So this client awards them points when they complete certain education activities, which they can later redeem on gift cards of their choosing. 

Tiered rewards

There’s a reason that gamification is a growing trend in EdTech: it works. 

To gamify your learning program, give students benchmark rewards as they progress through your modules. Course complete rewards are also popular. 

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3 ways to create a growth loop for online course programs

Finally, you can use digital rewards to create a growth loop that will boost your overall EdTech marketing strategy. 

Indeed, the initial motivation behind offering skill-building incentives is often about drawing in new students and subscribers. 

But ultimately, it’s your well-trained (and well-incentivised!) students and subscribers who will be the best ambassadors for your learning program, helping to create a future-proof growth loop for your program. 

Reward referrals

It’s marketing 101—referrals are an incredibly effective way to get more high quality leads. Studies show that leads from referrals have higher conversion rates and higher lifetime value than other customers. 

The simplest way to incorporate this power of referrals into your EdTech marketing is to use gift cards and/or prepaid virtual cards, which you can provide to both the person making the referral and to the person being referred (everyone loves a win-win). 

Reward reviews

Similarly, you can encourage your happy cohorts to help spread the word about your great program by incentivizing them to leave online reviews. 

This is how OpenPhone used Giftbit to double their customer reviews, using a simple Zapier integration


To recognize our customers' loyalty, we offer rewards when they leave us reviews.

Our team needed an automated way of sending gift cards. Now thanks to an integration with Airtable, these can be sent instantly by simply flipping a switch — making things much faster & efficient!

John MacGaffey
Growth Marketer, OpenPhone

Reward community participation

Finally, we don’t need to tell you how critical community participation is in your program. Active message boards and support forums improve both your customer support and your user experience, and they can be a great selling point in your marketing efforts. 

So why not offer points-to-rewards to your active learners? Not only will this help make that community great. It will also keep people active on your app and help ensure their continued participation. 

Similarly, you might also use digital incentives to increase survey response rates from your participants. Collecting this type of real-life data in turn can help you to make your courses better and better, creating an invaluable growth loop. 

Regardless of how you choose to use digital rewards to attract and engage students for your online course, you’ll need a lightweight way to integrate them into your existing workflows. Watch a quick demo now to see how Giftbit can help.