What is digital coaching, and does it work?

a woman with yellow hair is in front of her computer to attend a session of digital coaching

Whether you're working on your personal growth, or your team craves professional development, digital coaching is a powerful tool that you shouldn’t ignore.

Coachees even report an 80% increase in self-confidence and businesses see up to a 788% ROI. (See more coaching statistics)

Table of contents
What is digital coaching?
Traditional coaching vs. digital coaching: What's the difference?
Is digital coaching effective?
Benefits of digital coaching
Challenges of digital coaching
Who would benefit from digital coaching?
How does digital coaching work? What can you expect in your first session?
What to look for in a digital coaching platform
Uncover your inner genius with digital coaching

What is digital coaching?

First, what is coaching? Coaching is a science-backed process through which a coach uncovers the strengths and blind spots of the coachee and helps them unlock their true potential.

Anyone who’s ever tried to do something alone and failed realizes the importance of having an expert outside observer who can point out something they failed to see on their own.

Digital coaching, also known as virtual coaching, takes the practice online and incorporates data-driven insights to provide a personalized experience anyone can access, anywhere.

Sometimes people use “digital coaching” to describe a human coach who holds sessions online or via Zoom. But truly innovative digital coaching platforms take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, evidence-based assessments, and data-driven insights to enhance the human coaching expertise.

The F4S platform has even developed a free AI-powered app, Coach Marlee, that breaks down barriers and makes coaching accessible to all.

Traditional coaching vs. digital coaching: What's the difference?

Just like traditional coaching, digital coaching can connect you with a real human being with the expertise to ask insightful questions and uncover blind spots to help you tap into your full potential.

But unlike traditional coaching, digital coaching gives you the option to work with an AI-powered coach that uses data insights to uncover what's blocking you from being your best self. It also allows you to participate in coaching at your own pace, wherever you have access to the internet.

F4S, for example, is a digital coaching platform that was built upon 20+ years of motivation research. Our AI-powered Coach Marlee was developed by expert coaches and scientists, and asks you questions and customizes your online coaching based on your answers and your unique needs.

By harnessing technology, we're able to make coaching more accessible to all (instead of the elite few)!

Is digital coaching effective?

Research says yes! Here's what digital coaching through F4S has achieved for our users:

  • 90% improvement in wellbeing: Of those who participated in our nine-week online coaching program Vital Wellbeing, 90% reported a boost in wellbeing. This evidence-based program teaches emotional resilience skills to help you overcome self-sabotage and live a more fulfilling life. See for yourself (it's free!).
  • 62% decrease in employee turnover rate: Teams that take advantage of all that F4S has to offer report a 62% reduction in employee turnover. By assessing each individual's affinities and seeing how they play into the team dynamic, F4S helps everyone harness their best skills and collaborate better.
  • 90% success rate in achieving goals: Our Goal Catcher program is designed to assess a person's unique motivations, prompt them to home in on their most important goal, gain clarity, and, of course, achieve it! In fact, 90% of participants achieve their goal in just four to nine weeks.

Other studies have shown virtual coaching to be effective, too.

A 2011 study by Rhonda M. Berry and colleagues compared distance coaching to face-to-face coaching, gleaning perspectives from 102 coaches. They found no significant difference in problem resolution between the face-to-face and distance coaching conditions and concluded that there is "tentative evidence" that distance coaching and face-to-face coaching may be equally effective.

Another study published in the International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring found that phone and internet-based coaching had positive results and even advantages over face-to-face coaching (though the authors do recommend a blended approach).

Benefits of digital coaching


When you do live coaching with a human, it’s synchronous: You must both be there at the same time. Scheduling appointments can become a hassle because you must align both of your schedules. But with digital coaching using artificial intelligence-you unlock the power of asynchronous communication. You can go at your own pace, pause when you need a break, and pick up where you left off, no appointments needed!

Emotional security

During coaching sessions, it's common for tough topics to come up. You might discuss your struggles with self-esteem with a life coach or describe your difficult boss to a career coach. Because you're not sitting in the same room as your coach, digital coaching offers a feeling of anonymity that can make it easier to discuss difficult topics.

Lower cost

Cost-effectiveness is perhaps the most alluring benefit of digital coaching. Technology removes the financial barrier that holds far too many people back from living their best lives.

What's more, F4S provides online coaching for free through our Coach Marlee app, meaning that no one will ever be denied access to quality coaching just because they don't have the money for it.


Another benefit of digital coaching is that it makes coaching available in pretty much any location. As long as you have internet access, you can chat with your coach, do skill-building exercises, and map out your dream life. You aren't tied to a location or forced to sit in traffic to get to your coach's office.

Access to a larger pool of coaches

Again, because digital coaching isn't bogged down by location, you have access to a bigger pool of coaches. It doesn't matter if your coach is in Melbourne or Malibu-you can still work with them!

Data insights

Pairing coaching with data insights is powerful! You can take our science-backed F4S assessment, which analyzes 48 motivations with up to 98% accuracy, and use those insights to drive your coaching sessions.

Challenges of digital coaching

It requires commitment and consistency

While digital coaching is more convenient, just like traditional coaching, you still need to be committed to the program and keep showing up in order to see the best results.

You may miss the in-person connection

As effective as digital coaching can be, it still can’t replace the in-person connection. You might miss being able to see every facial expression and read the body language of your coach, and for some, it may be harder to open up when they’re not in the room with their coach.

Luckily, F4S has the option to talk to a human coach if you want!

It’s not immune to technical difficulties

If you don’t have a stable internet connection, digital coaching can become a technological headache. It can also be a challenge for those who aren’t accustomed to technology (but it’s a learnable skill!).

Who would benefit from digital coaching?

Teams with untapped potential

If you’re the leader of a team, you’ve likely struggled to boost engagement and motivate your employees. Coaching is a fantastic tool for doing just that.

We even have a Team Building online coaching program that will help you discover each team member’s preferred communication style, and help the entire team collaborate better and make decisions faster.


Entrepreneurs are notoriously pressed for time. You're trying to grow and scale a business (fast!) and barely have time for breakfast. But the personal and business growth you could gain from coaching is unmatched. By opting for digital coaching, you'll be able to unlock your full potential from your phone in between meetings or while taking a lunch break.

If you've got a big idea and need an extra push to go after your venture, Start Fast is for you. This eight-week online program will help you take initiative and finally see your idea become a reality. Build confidence, learn to think quickly on your feet and break through the resistance that's holding you back from starting your business.

Leaders and executives

Executive coaching promotes leadership development by driving personal discovery through insightful questions and holding you accountable as you work toward your goals as a leader.

Even better, you can opt for digital coaching that's based on research. F4S has two programs that leaders can particularly benefit from:

Personal Power: Do you struggle to command attention in a crowded room? Do you feel overly nervous when speaking in front of your team? Our Personal Power program helps you unlock your innate ability and show up at work with more confidence. Developed specifically with leaders in mind, Personal Power will help you navigate the waters of office politics, understand your influence, destroy your limiting beliefs and learn how to speak with your body language to show executive presence.

Multiply Your Impact: Leading a team isn't easy, but once you learn how to harness the power of each individual member, you'll go places! Multiply Your Impact is an eight-week online program that helps you activate personal leadership within each team member, get better at giving feedback and increase autonomy so each person feels empowered about their decisions.

Anyone who wants to increase their emotional intelligence

Reading others, managing emotions and connecting deeply are all useful tools when you want to have more fulfilling relationships. Emotional intelligence is a skill anyone can master-with the right tools, of course.

Our digital coaching program Increase EQ is an evidence-based way to gain the tools and skills you need to become more aware of emotions in yourself and others and respond appropriately. Learn how facial expressions and even tone of voice contain so much information about what's going on internally, and figure out how to decode when words and tone don't match.

Anyone who wants to hone their intuition

Do you ever question your intuition? With our digital coaching program Trust Your Gut Feel, you can learn how to listen to that small voice inside to make better, faster decisions. In this program, Coach Marlee will help you overcome the fear of trusting yourself and teach you the skills to listen to your inner voice.

How does digital coaching work? What can you expect in your first session?

You’ll get different experiences depending on the digital coaching platform you choose. Below, we’ll walk you through what a typical online coaching experience is like with the F4S platform.

First, we recommend taking our brilliantly accurate F4S assessment. It’s based on more than 20 years of research and will deliver a report of your 48 different motivations, helping you understand what drives you, how you prefer to learn and how you prefer to communicate.

Taking the F4S assessment will help inform Coach Marlee (your personal AI coach) on how best to motivate you, and she’ll be able to better recommend the best programs for you based on your goals and your assessment results.

From there, you’ll choose from one of our science-backed online coaching programs. Whether you're tasked with building a team at work, or you want to learn how to zoom out and become a big-picture thinker, we've got something for everyone.

Once you’ve selected your program, the fun begins! You’ll be introduced to Coach Marlee in our app; she's an AI-powered coach chatbot that will ask questions and guide you through your program with a personalized touch.

Let’s say, for example, you’re a leader of a team and really struggle to make decisions. You’ve been told you overthink and overanalyze and need to learn to “trust your instincts” more. But how do you go about doing that?

To begin with, Coach Marlee will ask you a lot of questions to unearth your true motivation behind your goal. This may seem tedious at first, but hang in there! What she’s trying to help you realize is that there are deeper motivations beneath your surface goal. You may think you want to make better decisions because you want to be a better leader, but if you dig deeper, it’s because you crave the sense of fulfillment and achievement you’d feel if your team trusted you as their decisive, quick-thinking leader. Coach Marlee will help you visualize the consequences of reaching (and not reaching!) your goal to boost your motivation.

Next, Coach Marlee will walk you through an exercise to create a tangible, measurable way of knowing that you’ve hit your goal (otherwise, how will you know if coaching worked or not?).

And lastly, Coach Marlee will have you write out what you’ll do to celebrate achieving your goal. (We told you digital coaching was fun!) And remember how we told you digital coaching helps hold you accountable? That means for good things too! Coach Marlee will remember what you tell her and remind you to reward yourself when you’ve reached your goal.

In your first coaching session, Coach Marlee will provide you with information to help you toward your goal, and of course, ask probing questions to help you uncover and understand the way you work. For example, in Trust Your Gut Feel, she’ll teach you the definition of “internal criteria” and ask you questions to help you find out what your internal criteria are.

At the end of the session, Coach Marlee will provide you with a personalized coaching action for the week. Think of it as an activity or experiment that will help you toward your goal. In this case, she might have you use the internal criteria you’ve just uncovered to make two decisions this week. This will help you toward your goal of trusting your gut in the decision-making process.

What to look for in a digital coaching platform

Before choosing a digital coaching platform, consider the following:

What is the coaching strategy of this platform?

Every coach should have a strategy. For example, F4S grounds its coaching in 20+ years of motivation research and the guidance of expert coaches and scientists. Our coaching process typically begins with an evidence-based assessment that uncovers your motivations and guides the process of personalizing your coaching program.

What digital tools does the platform offer?

Many people benefit from having digital tools that enhance the coaching process. Be sure to look into the digital tools that the platform offers. F4S provides an online journal where you can type out, keep record of and reflect upon your progress during your journey. It also has a place for you to track your goals, as well as a Resources page where you can find extra videos, PDFs and other resources that your coach may leave for you after each session.

Does the digital coaching platform provide access to a certified coach?

Digital coaching with AI is great, but sometimes it’s beneficial to connect with a human coach. In this case, check to see if the platform provides access to certified coaches. Coach certifications vary in scope and prestige, but they signal that the coach has undergone extra training to receive their certification. Be sure to ask what the certification entails.

F4S has a training program led by our founder and pioneer in the coaching world Michelle Duval. Certified F4S Coach & People Leaders are trained in the F4S assessment which allows them to help clients apply the science of human motivation to their life and work and unlock their full potential.

Through our digital coaching platform, you can connect with an F4S certified coach if you so choose.

Does the digital coaching platform offer a free trial?

Digital coaching can be pricey, and before you make an investment, it’s a good idea to try it and ensure it’s the right fit for you. Check to see if the coaching platform offers a free trial before you make a decision.

The F4S assessment and Coach Marlee are completely free to use for individual users and teams (up to five people), so you don’t need to worry about a free trial ending too soon!

Uncover your inner genius with digital coaching

Digital coaching uses science, data insights and the power of technology to make coaching more accessible to the masses—what’s not to love about that?

If you or your team are looking for an evidence-based way to lean into strengths and uncover blind spots, give digital coaching a try.

Get started with digital coaching for you and your team (for free!) today.

The world's best digital coaching tool

Our programs were designed by world-renowned coaches. Sessions only take 5-15 minutes. Get started for free with your personalized program now.

Recommended program for you:

Our expert coaches developed this program to help you achieve crazy big goals, or learn how to inspire others to. This is especially helpful for leaders or anyone wanting to achieve awesome things in work and life.

Coach Marlee (your amazing AI-powered personal coach) will analyse your unique traits and goals to personalize the program so you see results as quickly as possible.


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“The Team Building program was a great tool to get to know my team and to explore how can we improve our way of working”

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"Marlee really helped me to understand how to cue in on body language and tone when speaking with others, in order to connect on a deeper level"

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“I’ve always found it daunting to be a leader, I have never sought out to be the one in charge. The positions have always found me. I now have new confidence. I especially like the concept of leadership through context. Very empowering”.

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