If you’re in the market for online registration software, price is probably a primary concern. For non-profit organizations, the cost can be even more of a concern. Of course, price isn’t the only factor to consider.
Simply comparing pricing doesn’t take into account things like the time you save from having all the right features integrated. Sticker prices don’t show you how much your registrations will increase because of how easy this software is to use. You can’t measure time saved on a price comparison sheet.
If you’re suddenly wondering whether your registration software was such a good deal, don’t worry. We’ll walk you through the questions you should ask to understand how much your registration software is really worth.
1. What is this software designed for?
This might seem like a silly question to start with, but it’s actually a vital one. Many education programs are using software that wasn’t built for them. They’ve picked a solution like Eventbrite, which is great for one-off events and ticketing, but just wasn’t designed to manage courses. Or they’ve chosen a tool like Shopify, that’s awesome for selling physical products, but lacks many of the features that make class management simple for students and instructors.
This isn’t a criticism of either software. Both are great at what they do. But trying to use software that wasn’t built for you can cost you time and money in the long run. Someone on your team will waste hours manually entering data or students will have to enter their information over and over again every time they register. That extra effort will cost you, either in labor hours that could be spent on something else, or in customer satisfaction. That’s a price no one wants to pay.
The best registration software for classes is designed specifically for class registration and payment so make sure you find software specifically built for those functions.
2. What features does it offer?
If you’re looking for course registration software, you want a tool that handles the full student registration system. It should help you with marketing your courses, collecting registrant data, and of course, processing payments.
Does your current software offer features that make the registration process simple for students? Features like:
What about features that help you bring in more registrations? Features like:
- Customized registration forms
- Promo codes
- Built-in email marketing
- Abandoned order reminders
- Enrollment warnings
- Waiting lists
Consider how much each of these features is worth to you. For a concrete example, look at the value one program gained by sending automated class recommendation emails to students. In just two weeks, the program brought in $2,300 in registrations from class recommendation emails.
Mobile-friendly registration lets students register on the go, increasing their satisfaction and making registration more accessible. Features like customized registration forms and waitlists let you capture student data about their interests, minimizing the time your staff needs to spend on data collection later on.
In short, each of these features represents added value for your program. That means that registration software without these features is essentially leaving money on the table.
3. Does it integrate with other services we use?
We firmly believe that you should always use the best software for the job, that’s why we always recommend getting a purpose-built registration system. Since no software can do it all, integrations can come in handy.
For theaters and other arts organizations, look for software like CourseStorm that integrates with tools like PatronManager. Non-profits might benefit from an integration with Little Green Light.
Integrations like these can save you time, which ultimately saves you money. No more entering data multiple times. Integrations can also help you bring in more donations by rolling your student list into your donor list. When it’s time for your annual campaign or other fundraising push, you can easily include your students in your mailing list.
Consider if and how a software solution integrates with other tools you might be using. Does it seamlessly connect to your email marketing tools like MailChimp or Constant Contact. What about scheduling tools like Google Calendar or Apple Calendar?
We’ll say it again. Integrations save you time, which saves you money. Consider what those integrations are worth to you.
4. What is the registration experience like?
Ultimately, registration experience is the true measure of value for any registration software. Low-cost options can actually wind up costing you more money if they’re difficult to use. Potential students may just decide not to register if the process is too challenging.
Before investing in new registration software, run a few trial scenarios and rate the difficulty of each one:
- Try to find a specific class in the course catalog
- Register for a class
- Register multiple family members for the same class
- Register using a mobile device
If you get frustrated while tackling these tasks, imagine how students might feel. Consider the registrations you might be missing from students who won’t stick with a challenging registration system. Thinking this through will help you determine the true cost of a registration system.
5. How is their customer support?
Responsive customer support can save you time and frustration. If you have to wait two days to even get a response to a question you could be missing out on registrations. Worse, potential students might not wait for you to figure out your technology and will find another source for their education.
Unfortunately, the quality of customer support can be hard to gauge before you start using a software solution. Some have great sales teams, but drop the ball when it comes to customer support. If you can, chat with some other programs that already use the software.
- What kinds of issues have you run into?
- How long does it take customer support to respond to you?
- What medium do you use to communicate with customer support?
- How do you feel about their support?
You can also take a look at the software’s help library. Do they offer clear guidance? Is it searchable?
Consider the value of responsive customer support and useful help pages. How much time will you save? Remember, less time spent on technical issues is more time you can spend on directly serving your students.
6. How is the software priced?
Finally, take a look at how the software is priced. Some software providers charge fixed monthly fees in addition to per-transaction fees. Others might charge based on the amount of student information stored in the system, or the number of administrators. Consider how these factors will affect your program. If your registrations stay fairly consistent year-round, fixed monthly fees may not pose a problem.
On the other hand, if your program is like most, you probably have a busy season and a slow season. There may be months at a time when you’re running no classes at all. In that case, the fixed monthly fee starts to feel a lot more costly.
Additionally, some registration software solutions require a contract. You’re locked in for at least a year. If your program experiences an unexpected change (ahem, pandemic) you might be stuck paying for a solution that no longer fits your needs.
Consider whether a fee-per-transaction model might make more sense for your program. That way, the software provider only gets paid when you do. It makes your program a lot easier to scale. Look for one that offers free, unlimited support and unlimited students, classes, and administrators. Your student registration software shouldn’t limit your program growth, it should support you through every stage.
Cost Does Not Equal Pricing
By now we hope you see that pricing is one thing, but cost is something else entirely. Budget-priced registration software can cost a lot more than you realize. It’s important to look beyond the sticker price to understand the value you’re getting for the money.
Do you want to run the numbers and see how much your software costs (or saves) your program? Use our registration software cost calculator below and see what the actual cost is.
We believe CourseStorm should only get paid when we help programs enroll students, so we operate on a percentage of the credit card transactions and offer unlimited customer support, student data, classes and, administrators. Contact us to learn more.