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Boosting Class Enrollment With the FOMO

Nic Lyons

May 5, 2021

Your students are busy people. They have jobs to go to, errands to run, and maybe kids, pets, or aging parents to care for. Even if they’re really excited about taking your class, getting them from interested to enrolled isn’t always easy. If you want to move class registration to the top of their to-do list, you need a motivator. Take a page from the retailer’s playbook and start cultivating the FOMO.

This cutesy acronym stands for a powerful marketing tool—the Fear of Missing Out. It’s the realization that if they don’t act now, they might miss their chance. A few simple adjustments to your marketing messages can put FOMO to work for your class. 

How Does FOMO Encourage Class Enrollment?

If you’ve ever purchased a limited edition product or hurried to buy something because the sale was about to expire, you’ve experienced FOMO. It relies on a principle psychologists call loss aversion. Basically, people don’t like losing something of value. When you present your course, workshop, or event as an opportunity that can be missed, people are more likely to act now rather than putting off enrollment until tomorrow.

Retailers use this tactic all the time to encourage customers to take action. Countdowns, limited time offers, and exclusive sales make a purchase feel more urgent. If shoppers wait, they’ll have to spend more money to get the same thing, or they could miss out altogether.

Although some retailers create artificial scarcity to encourage sales, you don’t have to do that. Your class enrollment is naturally limited by the number of students your instructor can teach at any one time. Even if you’re running an online class with no natural size limit, you probably do close enrollments between sessions and may offer only a few programs each year. If students wait too long, they’ll miss the opportunity. When you draw attention to these limits, you cultivate FOMO. That helps learners overcome procrastination and enroll. 

Here are a few adjustments you can make to your marketing strategy and class registration page to start cultivating FOMO for your potential students.

1. Start a countdown to enrollment close

If you leave enrollment open all the time, students can always put off enrolling until tomorrow. There’s no urgency. But if you only enroll students twice a year during specific enrollment periods, they know they have to act before they miss out. 

Start by setting enrollment deadlines. You should list them prominently on your class registration page as well as in emails, on sales pages, and on any social media posts related to your class. 

Then start your countdown. You can email prospective students and post to your social media several times during the enrollment period. You might use phrases like: 

  • Enrollment closes soon
  • Only x days left to enroll
  • Don’t miss your chance

How early you start your countdown depends on the length of your enrollment cycle. A class that enrolls students twice a year will have a longer countdown than a workshop that happens once a month. 

Even something as simple as highlighting your enrollment deadline in red on your class registration page can add extra urgency.

Screenshot of class seats remaining alert (circled in red) in CourseStorm registration page

2. Share your seat limits

Phone showing email text reading "“We only have four spots left in Plotting Your Financial Future: A Financial Planning Workshop for Horticultural Professionals. Don’t miss your chance to cultivate your financial wellbeing and start working toward your retirement goals. Register now.”

If seats in your course are limited, say so. Small courses and workshops should highlight the fact that they have space for a limited number of students. Larger classes can let students know when a course is close to selling out. To automate this process, CourseStorm offers a built-in tool that appears when a class has five or fewer seats left.

You can also include messaging in your countdown emails or social media posts. Here’s an example: 

“We only have four spots left in Plotting Your Financial Future: A Financial Planning Workshop for Horticultural Professionals. Don’t miss your chance to cultivate your financial wellbeing and start working toward your retirement goals. Register now.”

3. Offer limited-time promo codes for early enrollment

You don’t have to wait until the end of the enrollment period to start cultivating FOMO. Limited time promo codes can help you create urgency from the very beginning. This is especially useful if you need a minimum number of students to justify running the class and want to get the schedule locked in. 

Consider offering a promo code to give early enrollees a discount on the cost of enrollment. You can also get creative with these incentives. For example, you might offer the first 10 students who enroll a promo code for 10 percent off their next class. 

4. Create a waiting list

Waiting lists are incredibly valuable. They can help increase the urgency to act by showing that your course is in high demand. At the same time, they give you a direct line to interested students. You might ask a student to share their name and email to hold their space on the waiting list. With that information, you can build a shortlist of potential students to email when the next enrollment period opens. 

Waiting lists also offer social proof, they show potential students that others are interested in the course so they should be too. The only thing people hate more than missing out is knowing that someone else got the thing they missed out on. 

In short, building a successful waitlist takes some thought, but it’s well worth the effort. (And if you’re a CourseStorm user, CourseStorm’s built-in waitlist feature can help you get it right from the start!)

Don’t Miss Out on the Power of FOMO

If you’re not thinking about ways to cultivate FOMO, you might not be promoting your class as effectively as possible. Think about how you can highlight scarcity, deadlines, and demand to encourage potential students to enroll now. 



If you’re looking for a class registration solution, CourseStorm can help with built-in tools that make it easy to take students from interested to enrolled. We’d love to talk with you! 

Nic Lyons

Nic is skilled in scaling start-up edtech and education organizations to growth-stage success through innovative marketing. A former journalist and copywriter, Nic holds a postgraduate certificate in digital and print publishing from Columbia University School of Journalism's publishing course.

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