Measuring Your Association’s eLearning ROI

Measuring eLearning ROI

There is a lot of talk about the return on investment (ROI) of eLearning within the corporate training and development world, but less emphasis is put on this performance indicator in the association space. Still, whether your organization is not-for-profit (or what I prefer to call “for purpose”) or not, it’s important to understand where your eLearning investment is most impactful and how it has helped your association meet its goals. Likewise, it’s always important to know whether your programs are working and how they can be improved – to lower costs, drive member recruitment and retention, and ultimately add value to your association.

Before we get into the specifics of how to measure your association’s eLearning ROI, let’s take a minute to understand the definition of ‘Return on Investment – ROI’ and the formula used to perform the calculation.

ROI is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. To calculate ROI, the benefit (return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment; the result is expressed as a percentage or ratio.

The return on investment formula:

ROI=   (Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment)
                                                                             Cost of Investment

Demonstrating the ROI of training programs is cited as one the biggest challenges professionals in education and training face. I believe this is because few Education Directors have the understanding or tools necessary to measure eLearning ROI. Let’s change that; starting with a free tool we’ve created just for associations, the eLearning ROI Calculator. Go ahead, download it now!

Now that you have the proper tools, the first step to measuring your association’s eLearning ROI is understanding your Investment – how much capital and human resources are being expended for your online education efforts? Remember to include all costs related to creating or converting content, content delivery (your LMS and web conferencing platform), content maintenance, and learner support, as well as marketing. Many of the common costs associated with online member education are included as line items in the calculator. If you think of more or one does not apply to your organization, feel free to modify the worksheet.

Next, you’ll need to determine your revenue from online course sales. Depending on how your eCommerce is setup, you’ll need to reference course sales reports from within your LMS, or possibly from your association management system (AMS). Look for total course sales for at least the past 12 months.

With the raw figures in hand, it’s time to input the information into your eLearning ROI Calculator and run the actual and projected return on investment functions. If your association is just getting started with online learning or you’re performing a preliminary assessment to determine if investing in eLearning is worth the costs, use the average cost of your educational products to perform the Revenue calculations. Armed with the data from these calculations, your association can now make strategic decisions about how to invest in online member education.

For many associations, eLearning has proven to be a great source of non-dues revenue. One of our association partners has reported over $26 million in revenue for online course sales since they began offering online member education in 2006. What’s your association’s potential? It might be more than you ever imagined!


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Amy Bassett

Marketing Director at Digitec Interactive

In her 5th year as Digitec's "resident cheerleader," Amy has made a habit of skipping around the office sharing her "sparkle" on a daily basis. Her outgoing personality and fascination with cake means she is always planning someone's birthday around the office. When she is not counting down to "cake time," Amy is busy meeting with folks at national conferences and sharing her love for eLearning. During her time as Director of Marketing at Digitec, Amy has authored numerous white papers, case studies and newsletters. Amy received a B.A. from Rollins College and an A.A. from Valencia College, where she studied marketing and economics.

Spirit animal: Otter (nurturing, playful, and easygoing)
Diet-breaker: Cake!
Comfort object: "Well-loved" teddy bear
Personal vice: Using "too many" quotes and exclamation marks!
Useless talent: Can break out of handcuffs
Unreasonable paranoia: Odd numbers
Wishes more people cared about: Proper grammar

  • Akanksha Garg

    Interesting article! We had also asked the same question to our associates – to gather how professionals in the learning industry value ROI of training. We got some interesting ideas that can definitely be followed to understand the impact and utilization of a training event.

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