Why Online Training Fails: 10 Common Pitfalls (and How to Avoid Them)

21st March 2023


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Maybe you have launched a training program and it’s not reaching its goals, or you are looking at launching a training program, you are aware of some significant challenges and you don’t want it to fail. 

Whichever group you fall into, this blog is written to help you understand what can make your training program fail and the steps you can take to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

Let’s look at the factors that contribute to why online training fails and what can be done to avoid them.

Common Reasons Why Online Training Fails

1. Lack of analysis and alignment

Without proper analysis and alignment of your program objectives to those of you and your partners, the training may not meet the needs of the learners or the organisation, resulting in a lack of engagement and effectiveness. Training programs should be designed and implemented in a way that maximises effectiveness and ensures that learners can acquire the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

As well as initial analysis, it’s important to continually examine feedback and data to ensure the training program stays on track and doesn’t lose any effectiveness.

How to analyse and align

  • Conduct a needs assessment to determine what knowledge and skills the learners need to acquire.
  • Define clear learning objectives that are aligned with the goals of the organisation.
  • Use data analytics to track learner progress and identify areas where learners may need additional support.
  • Create engaging and interactive content that incorporates a variety of learning styles.
  • Provide opportunities for learners to apply their new knowledge and skills in real-world scenarios.
  • Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the training and make adjustments as needed based on learner feedback and performance data.

2. Inefficient launch

Without launching effectively and selling the benefits of your training program, it’s unlikely that you will get your audience on board. A launch plan should form part of the program development stages. At this point, audiences should be consulted to discover pain points and goals. This information will help you to create an engaging training program that focuses on helping your learners achieve their objectives.

How to launch successfully

  • Whether an internal or external training program, when you’re planning, be sure to research what drives your audiences. 
  • Listen to your department heads as they have a clearer idea of what the learning objectives are. With their help, you can formulate outreach messages. 
  • Work with marketing to create an outreach strategy and accompanying campaigns that continually communicate the benefits of your courses and program.
  • Get managers on board early. Once they’re sold, ask them to discuss it in person with their teams. They can also use the key messages created by the marketing team.
  • Create a buzz – use email and social channels to get people excited about it. 
  • Develop a launch plan that clearly and concisely communicates the benefits of your training program.
  • Offer incentives for compliance and high scores achieved through gamification.

Related Resource: How to successfully implement training for external partners

3. Undefined goals and objectives

Defining a clear direction allows training programs to remain focused and deliver desired results. Measurable goals and objectives also allow you to track the success of the training program in the future, as you can monitor the progress towards achieving the goals and objectives. By doing so, you can identify any gaps in the training program and make necessary adjustments to ensure that it remains effective and relevant. 

How to define goals and objectives

  • Clearly define the goals and objectives of the training program, and communicate them clearly to all stakeholders.
  • Identify the desired outcomes of the training, such as increased productivity or improved customer satisfaction.
  • Develop a clear plan for how the training will be implemented, including timelines and milestones.
  • Use measurable indicators to track progress towards the goals and objectives, such as completion rates and learner feedback.
  • Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the training program, and make adjustments as needed to ensure that it is meeting its goals and objectives.

4. The training program and content are not engaging

No doubt, providing engaging content encourages learners to learn. Boring, unengaging course content will result in a slow uptake, lessened knowledge retention and low course completion rates. In addition, unsupported learners will often lose patience and not see the training through if they experience issues that are not quickly resolved.

How to keep learners engaged

  • Ensure content is relevant to them and their organisation’s goals.
  • Include interactive elements in courses to encourage engagement.
  • Use rich media, for instance, audio and video (even AR and VR if budget allows), to liven up courses and break up content.
  • Manage learner expectations by creating detailed course descriptions, including length, outline, qualifications and technical requirements. 
  • Implement microlearning to allow learners to absorb as much information as possible.
  • Use gamification to help motivate learners and encourage competitiveness between learners.
  • Provide incentives for completion to achieve higher course completion rates. 
  • Ask your learners for feedback to enable you to continually improve your training offering. 
  • Adopt a learner-centric LMS that has been specifically built for the purpose. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to an LMS. 

Related Resource: How to Impart Product Knowledge Effectively Through eLearning

5. Lack of executive or stakeholder buy-in

Without the support and involvement of key stakeholders, such as executives and managers, ensuring the training program is aligned with organisational goals and priorities can be challenging. It can also lead to a lack of funding or resources, resulting in limited access to quality training materials, tools and support. 

It’s important to ensure, from the start, that the training program is perceived as a valuable investment.

How to get buy-in

  • Involve key stakeholders in planning and development from the outset.
  • Clearly communicate the goals and objectives of the training program and how it aligns with organisational priorities.
  • Demonstrate the value and benefits of the training program to stakeholders, such as improved performance or increased efficiency.
  • Provide stakeholders regular updates and progress reports to keep them informed and engaged.
  • Encourage stakeholder involvement in the delivery of the training program by assigning them roles as mentors or coaches.

6. Unclear learner pathways 

Learner pathways are structurally set for individual learners and should be relevant to their roles and learning objectives. Without clear learner pathways, you will face problems with course completion and learner progression. Learners are unlikely to continue their learning journey if the next step is not prominent.

How to keep your learners on the right path

  • For each learner (or set of learners) focus on the overall learning goals and build a pathway to achieving them.
  • Invest in a learner-centric LMS that puts the learner front and centre. It should be clear to the learner which courses form part of their journey and will help to keep them engaged. 
  • Create periodic milestones with quizzes, assessments and badges, enabling progress to be assessed by the learner and managers. 
  • Ensure you have professional learner support in place to allow your learners to log issues, receive timely responses and stay on track with their learning. 

7. Course bookings and payment appear unsecured

Not everyone does, but in some cases, charging for training is the right decision. It can be really effective at encouraging participation (a topic for another article!), but only so long as you make the process as easy and pain-free as possible. 

Like any online purchases, consumers are only likely to enter their details and confirm the purchase if the site uses a secure payment portal. If people don’t feel secure adding their payment details, they are unlikely to continue their purchases.

How to set up secure payment portals

A good LMS will have an integral shop that allows learners to purchase courses without leaving the learning platform. This offers security and a greater likelihood that purchases are completed. Make sure to use reputable, recognised payment portals that learners are comfortable using. The likes of Worldpay, Stripe and PayPal are good places to start. 

8. No user or learner support

What happens when a learner forgets login details? Or isn’t sure of which course to book themself onto? Many businesses don’t consider how these issues will be resolved, which leads to frustrated learners, low course completion rates and a lack of engagement with your brand and training programs. Giving your audience confidence in knowing there is support available to them is crucial for continuous learning.

What support do you need to offer?

The quicker you can respond to your learners, the better. Offering them a variety of ways to contact your support team is vital. It is also crucial to ensure your support channels are multilingual to cater for global audiences. Where possible, you can encourage learners to ‘self-support’ by providing them with a comprehensive knowledge base. Some of the most common support requests.

9. No internal team to continually optimise the program

Training programs are not a ‘set and forget’ function. As well as keeping the learning platform working as it should, consider course content and the constant flow of new learners and learning material. If you leave your program to go stale, objectives won’t be met, you could see a drop in reputation and, more importantly, less revenue. 

Outsourcing to professionals

While running a training program using internal resources is possible, sometimes aspects of program management are overlooked. It also involves employing a dedicated team which can be time-consuming and costly. Using a managed learning service provider ensures your training program is continually optimised and maximises your ROI. By outsourcing this function, you can be sure that learners are supported, content is kept fresh and up to date, and the training program remains fit for purpose. It also means your internal teams can focus on core business objectives.  

Related Resource: Outsourcing vs In-House – Which is Best for Delivering Your Training Program?

10. No promotion of the program to your audience

So, you’ve developed a training program but you’re not seeing the volume of learners you need for it to be a resounding success. Getting people on board with your program is a key component of overall success. 

Ideas for getting learners on board

  • Use website-based locators that offer end-users the tools to view training statuses.
  • Offer learners the opportunity for self-promotion with certifications, badges and partner accreditations.
  • Use incentives to reward the completion of training goals and KPIs.
  • Link certifications achievement with tiers and statuses to encourage participation in additional training. 
  • Offer discounts for increased engagement with your training and brand.
  • Create internal competitiveness by including gamification within your training courses.
  • Promote and support communication for partners and with broader communities.


There are several ways you can improve your training program’s effectiveness. The more you understand about increasing engagement, the easier it will be for you to get your program on the path to success and for it to start meeting its objectives.

Now that you’ve learned about the common pitfalls of online training, take the next step in improving your channel partner training program. Check out our blog post on ‘8 Ways to Create Effective Channel Partner Training‘ for practical tips and insights.


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