How to Stand Out in Your Category: Buyer Insights for Learning Management Software

July 25, 2023
Contributor: Caroline Hogan

Buyer behavior insights to help you level up your marketing strategy.

The demand for learning management system (LMS) software is on the rise in the U.S., with a 52% increase in searches on our comparison sites Capterra, GetApp, and Software Advice over the past year. But with almost 1,300 LMS products listed on these sites, how can sellers make sure they stand out and get their fair share of buyer attention?

Each year, our software advisors speak with thousands of decision-makers evaluating new LMS software for their business. We’ve mined those conversations for insights that you can use to fine-tune your messaging and create a unique positioning that speaks directly to the needs of learning management system software buyers.

Key insights

  • Many businesses using general-purpose software need a dedicated LMS tool.
  • The top driver for current learning management software users is the need for improved functionality, efficiency, and user-friendliness.
  • Most buyers want LMS software to have functionalities such as content authoring, course library, certification, and compliance management.
  • Typical buyer budgets for LMS range from $15 to $40 per user, per month.


Businesses using general-purpose software are seeking learning management systems

Based on our advisors' conversations with software buyers, 41% of businesses that currently use general-purpose software such as emails, MS PowerPoint, and YouTube, are seeking dedicated learning management system tools to better meet their training and development needs.

While these everyday office tools are convenient and familiar, they come with limitations. For example, many businesses use emails to share important information, including training materials, course timelines, etc. Despite being an easy way to distribute information, emails lack advanced features, such as centralized course enrollment, learner progress tracking, and comprehensive report generation, which can help ensure an effective training program. 

Likewise, some businesses leverage MS PowerPoint’s multimedia elements to create visually appealing training presentations. However, the program lacks interactive features that are offered by dedicated LMS software.

By investing in purpose-built LMS software, businesses can unlock the full potential of a robust platform designed to enhance training experiences, streamline processes, and drive improved learning outcomes for their employees.

→ Pro tip

Identify your buyers' limitations and demonstrate how purpose-built LMS software like yours offers dedicated features that will lead to better outcomes. It's important to clarify that despite requiring more upfront investment and time to implement, having a learning management system tool in place will improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Why buyers switch to a new LMS software

According to our user review data, there are three main reasons businesses become dissatisfied with their current LMS tool and search for new software: limited functionality (42%), inefficiency (15%), and difficulty using the software (14%).

Working on these challenges can improve your rating and retention rates:

  • Enhancing functionality: Insufficient functionality within an LMS limits users' ability to meet specific business requirements and deliver quality online courses. For instance, an instructor may require advanced assessment features, such as automated grading, to streamline the evaluation process and provide timely feedback to learners. If the LMS lacks this functionality, the instructor cannot utilize automated grading and has to spend additional time on manual grading, which may delay feedback delivery.
  • Boosting productivity: Inefficiencies within the LMS can frustrate users due to decreased productivity. For example, slow loading times in an LMS can significantly disrupt the users' learning experience. When learners access the LMS to view course materials or participate in activities, prolonged loading times may reduce engagement and degrade comprehension, impeding their overall progress.
  • Improving user-friendliness: Lack of user-friendliness in an LMS makes it difficult for users to navigate and utilize the system effectively. For instance, complex course setup processes can hinder instructors from organizing their course materials efficiently. If the LMS has a non-intuitive interface for creating and structuring course content, the instructors may spend excessive time trying to navigate the system and encounter varied difficulties in presenting the material in a clear and organized manner.

→ Pro tip

Ensure your sales team can gather specific requirements from prospects and offer product demonstrations tailored to their unique needs.

Complement demos with customer success stories that validate how your software improves productivity by offering advanced functionalities and a user-friendly interface. Client testimonials will help you build trust with prospects.

LMS software features buyers value most

When we asked software buyers what functionalities they were looking for to manage their business’s core learning management needs, a specific set of five LMS features emerged as crucial: certification and compliance management, extended enterprise, mobile learning, content authoring, and course library.

Buyers are placing greater importance on meeting industry regulations and standards and the demand for compliance management functionality rose by 29% over the past year. 

Simultaneously, the focus on professional development and upskilling has significantly increased, leading to a higher need for features that enable certification tracking and management. 

And the growing prevalence of remote work models has led organizations to seek efficient online training programs and certifications to ensure consistent learning experiences across their distributed teams.

Businesses have also realized the significance of delivering engaging, tailored and interactive content to their learners. This has increased the demand for content authoring functionality in LMS software by 88%. Additionally, having a comprehensive course library in an LMS offers buyers a valuable collection of pre-built courses, saving time and resources during course development. 

→ Pro tip 

Filter and compare your ratings against competitors to help you position your product, highlight key strengths and illustrate how reviewers use your software to solve business challenges. 

You can also promote how your product stacks up against the competition by showcasing earned awards and third-party badges based on ratings and popularity.

Typical buyer budgets range from $15 to $40 per user, per month

The average LMS software budget varies across different industries due to the unique training needs and priorities within each sector. However, the overall average budget businesses are willing to pay per user, per month is $26.

Companies in the consulting industry are willing to pay a higher cost for LMS software with advanced customization features that allow them to deliver specialized, high-quality employee education and provide certification for their training programs.

The education sector requires robust LMS platforms to support various tasks related to teaching and learning, such as course management, content delivery, student assessment, and collaboration. Higher budget allocation is required to accommodate a large number of users (students and teachers), along with the need for extensive course cataloging, integration with student information systems, and other education-specific requirements.

The software and technology industry ranks third in budget allocation for LMS software. This is driven by the need for specialized training content, skill development programs and certifications, access to technical courses, advanced reporting and analytics, and integrations with other tools that are commonly used in the IT sector.

Ultimately, LMS software budgets can vary significantly depending on the industry in question and the complex nature of their operations, and the need for cutting-edge solutions it requires.

→ Pro tip

When determining the pricing for your LMS software, it's important to consider the industry in which your target buyers operate, as some industries may have more complex requirements that can drive up costs. To evaluate how your pricing stacks up against your competition, you can use Capterra's LMS software pricing guide.

Rise above your competition with strategic insights

LMS software marketers face enormous pressure to set their product apart from competition in a crowded marketplace. But with the right insights, you can better understand the key priorities and pain points of your target audience and address them directly in your product messaging to claim your fair share of buyer attention.

With more than 9 million active software buyers on our sites every month, Gartner Digital Markets can equip you with the strategic insights you need to level up your marketing strategy and become a leader in your category.


Get access to top-quality software buyer data with our intent data services and gather the intelligence that will boost your conversion rates.


Software Market Insights: Talent Management

Software Market Insights: Talent Development

A complete guide for software providers to effectively position your talent management and development solution and engage B2B buyers.

Caroline Hogan

Caroline Hogan is the Senior Director of Vendor Marketing at Gartner Digital Markets, where she manages the marketing strategy for the vendor platform. She has more than 20 years of marketing experience, leading initiatives from brand strategy and demand generation to customer retention and advocacy. Connect with Caroline on LinkedIn.


Methodology and buyer demographics

Software buyers analysis 

Findings are based on data from conversations that our advisor team has daily with software buyers seeking guidance on purchase decisions. The data used to create this report is based on interactions with small-to-midsize businesses seeking LMS tools. For this report, we analyzed approximately 3,000 phone interactions from April 2022 to March 2023.

The findings of this report represent buyers who contacted Gartner Digital Markets and may not be indicative of the market as a whole. Data points are rounded to the nearest whole number.

The buyers we interacted with are largely small businesses representing a growing majority of LMS software purchases. Below you’ll find the demographics of the buyers so you can see the size and type of businesses, from annual revenue to industry.

Get the Gartner Digital Markets Newsletter

We value your privacy. By submitting this form, you agree we may use your information in accordance with the terms of the Gartner Digital Markets Privacy Policy.

Connect. Convert. Thrive.

Connect to millions of in-market software buyers around the globe with our all-encompassing suite of marketing services.