(Adapted from a guide by Upcoach- Click here to read the post in its entirety)
The coaching industry has transformed significantly in the past several years (especially with the aftermath of the pandemic), so we surveyed 100 coaches and 100 coaching clients to figure out what’s working, what clients want from their coaches, and how coaches are approaching 2023.
The 100 coaches surveyed are a mixture of life coaches, executive coaches, and business coaches from around the globe. Similarly, the 100 coaching clients we surveyed had spent at least $2,000 on health, business, life, or executive coaching in the past 12 months.
Here are some key trends uncovered by our survey, along with actionable takeaways to help you deliver a better coaching experience
1. Group coaching will continue to rise.
We had a hunch that group coaching is a growing trend, and we finally have the data to back it up! About 62% of coaches said that they offer group coaching, and of those that offer group coaching ,nearly half of them (49%) have at least a 50% program completion rate.
In contrast, of those who don’t offer group coaching, only 34% have at least a 50% program completion rate.
Upcoach co-founder David Henzel noticed this trend with his own course, Managing Happiness, when he increased course completion rates from 7% to 94% by transforming it into a group program with weekly Zoom calls.
2. Clients want more hands-on accountability.
We also asked coaches that offer group coaching if they also organize accountability groups that meet outside of scheduled coaching calls (so clients get on weekly or monthly accountability calls together without the coach).
About 85% responded that they do offer accountability groups.
Award-winning coach Todd Herman believes accountability is one of the three critical pillars of coaching.
So, if you’re trying to scale your impact without sacrificing quality, accountability pods are an excellent solution to ensure that clients stay on top of execution without requiring your time.
Clients also realize the value of group accountability, and 62% said they are willing to pay more for accountability groups.
In addition, when group coaching clients were asked what the most valuable aspect of the coaching engagement was, about 50% stated that it was connecting with others struggling with similar challenges.
Finally, when asked what could have made the experience better, 62% of clients said that more accountabilities would have been nice:
3. Program completion rates continue to be a struggle.
Only 43% of our respondents have at least a 50% program completion rate. Obviously, if your clients don’t complete the program, you’re probably not delivering the impact that you set out to achieve.
So, what can you do to help clients complete your coaching program?
The data shows that giving clients a habit tracker can significantly improve program completion rates.
In fact, 72% of respondents that utilize habit trackers (and check them weekly) have at least a 50% program completion rate. In contrast, only 44% of respondents who don’t utilize habit trackers have at least a 50% program completion rate.
4. Investing in better software to deliver a more seamless user experience will be a key trend in the coming years.
Today, about 38% of coaches are running their programs with multiple platforms, which creates a poor customer experience as your coaching clients will have to dig through multiple platforms and apps to find assessments, assignments, and other essential program materials.
While poor program navigation may seem like a small detail, it can significantly impact your course completion rates and even your NPS scores. For example, if your assignments are spread across different platforms, clients might forget to complete one and show up to a coaching session unprepared, which will set them back in your program.
So even though clients are trying to make the most of your coaching services, they probably won’t attain the promised value if they aren’t keeping up with the material.
So, it makes you a more effective coach as you’ll be able to gauge client progress at a glance and hold them accountable. This can help you deliver better results and increase retention, as clients that are held accountable are more likely to complete the program and achieve their goals.
Fortunately, coaches realize that delivering a great coaching experience is often a matter of leveraging better software. In fact, over half (54%) of respondents said that if they received an extra $100 to invest in their business each month, they would put it towards better coaching software:
To give you an idea of what kind of software coaches are using, here’s a full breakdown:
5. Administrative work is still a major time suck for most coaches.
About 58% of coaches spend at least two hours per week on administrative tasks, and about 28% say they spend at least five hours per week doing administrative work.
Of the coaches that charge at least $200 per hour, about 74% of them spend at least two hours per week on administrative work. That means they are spending about $400 worth of time on administrative work!
An additional 37% of coaches spend at least five hours per week on administrative work (at least $1,000 worth of time per week!).
One of the best ways to cut back on admin work is investing in a coaching platform that automates basic admin tasks like meeting scheduling and consolidates client messages. If you are looking for an all-in-one platform there are many options to choose from. You can alsoake advantage of a virtual assistant (click here to schedule a time to meet.)
6. Referral programs and brand/influencer partnerships are the most popular marketing channels for client acquisition.
About 35% said that the most effective strategy to grow their coaching program was referral programs, while 27% said that partnerships with other brands and influencers were the most effective growth strategy.
Fortunately, your clients are more than willing to send referrals. In fact, 98% of the clients we surveyed stated that they referred at least one person to their coach, and 51% referred three or more people to their coach.
7. Most clients (75%) find their coaches on Google or social media.
While referrals are a great way to generate some extra clients, you should consider building an inbound marketing machine, as 75% of coaching clients find the coaches they hire through social media and Google searches.
As only about 17% of coaches actively invest in traditional inbound marketing efforts, it’s still a blue ocean. To help you get started, here are a few different inbound marketing strategies you can leverage to build your presence:
Write a few blog posts per month on a topic you’re an expert in
Select one social media channel (LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) and post consistently (at least four times per week)
Build an email list and connect with your audience regularly
So, whether you’re a new coach or a veteran looking to scale your existing coaching program, consider implementing the above-mentioned marketing strategies.
When we asked coaches how they plan to grow their business, most (57%) said they plan to work more hours, while the second most popular growth hack was offering group coaching (55% of respondents plan to offer group coaching).
8. Most coaches plan to grow the business by working more hours and offering group coaching.
Group coaching is one of our favorite ways to grow, as you can help a variety of people solve the same problem in a single coaching session. A coaching platform specifically for group coaches offers everything you need for your training program in a single platform.
9. Most clients prefer to work with licensed coaches.
About 92% of the clients surveyed worked with a licensed coach, and 55% cited licensing as a critical factor when evaluating a coach.
There are plenty of different places to become certified, like the International Coaching Federation (ICF), though you can also get a certification specific to your niche.
10. Clients value frequent communication and accountability.
Nearly half (49%) of all satisfied clients said their coaches communicate with them at least four times per week.
In addition, 62% of people said that they would have made the coaching experience even better.
11. Creating an inbound marketing strategy is worthwhile as most clients search for a solution for weeks before hiring a coach.
About 68% of clients consider hiring a coach for at least a few weeks before signing a contract.
In fact, only about 32% hire a coach after thinking about the problem for just a few days.
This is another reason why creating an inbound marketing strategy is vital, as potential clients usually search for solutions to their problems for several weeks before making a purchase.
12. Building an excellent track record and improving your coaching skills is perhaps the most important thing you can do to sign more clients.
About 68% of clients cited experience as a critical factor when evaluating a coach. The second two most commonly mentioned critical factors (55%) were licensing and personality.
So, if you’re struggling to sign more clients, consider coaching your friends for free to build some case studies and improve your coaching skills. Then, when you talk to clients on sales calls, tell them how you’ve helped other people overcome the exact same challenge.
13. Create a program that only requires about two to six hours per week for clients to complete as only about 23% put in more than six hours per week.
All the clients surveyed were happy with their results, and 66% put in two to six hours per week to the program.
So instead of selling people on the idea of creating more content and giving more work, think of how you can help people achieve their end goal with as little work as possible.
14. Niching down and becoming a specialist can be a great way to attract more clients as the majority (58%) decided to work with a specialist coach or a generalist.
Coaching clients want to know that you have the solution to their specific problem. So rather than trying to be a general coach with a lot of experience solving various problems, niche down and become the best at solving one specific problem.
For example, rather than becoming a general business coach, consider becoming the best coach for startups struggling to find product market fit.
The Future of Coaching
Whether you’re an industry veteran or just entering the coaching profession, these industry trends should give you an idea of how you can improve your coaching approach to increase client satisfaction and drive in more revenue.
As you’ll notice, a common trend that most coaching clients want is more accountability, community, a seamless user experience.
Megan writes content for SaaS companies and digital marketing agencies to increase traffic and conversions.
She's worked with brands like Chatfuel, Single Grain, Copyblogger, and others and have also been featured in leading publications like the Content Marketing Institute.