6 Things We Can Learn From Content Marketers to Design Better Microlearning!
We can take some great notes from our friends over in the Marketing department. Through content marketing strategies, Marketers have mastered the art of customer education, communication, compelling calls to action and customer conversions. Their content has been designed and developed within the limitations and parameters of the various social media channels and platforms, and still have managed to generate sales, gain subscribers and generate brand loyalty. Through these social media campaigns, Content Marketers have mastered the art of grasping the customer’s attention by being able to sell a service or product in less than 30 words or 30 seconds!
Now, think about how effective that methodology could be when it comes to microlearning… ultimately, we are metaphorically selling knowledge to our “customer” – the learner. As we know, true microlearning focuses on one core learning objective per nano-module and, as Learning Experience Designers, we are responsible for the absorption and adoption of that knowledge. How can we apply various content marketing ideologies to make an impact on our audience, our number one customer?
1: Determine Your Objectives and Goals
As Content Marketers define their objectives when putting their strategy together, Learning Experience Designers need to ask similar questions around their strategic intent. Why are you doing this at all and what is in it for the customer? (In our scenario, it would be the learner).
You can try to sum up your microlearning in a mission statement, which beautifully answers the questions most learners ask, “what is in it for me?”. Try the below mission statement formula as your strategic intent for your targeted learners.
We provide [target audience] with [type of content] to help them [business goals].
So, for example: “We provide Call Centre staff with interactive microlearning modules on demand, that upskill them on conflict management, in order to retain customers”.
While the mission statement covers what your audience will get from your strategic intent, you also need to think about how the organisation will benefit from it. That’s where your business objectives come in. Ask yourself the following questions:
What is the learning content going to do for your organisation? Does it create awareness? Does it help identify key talent? Does it incite behavioural change? Does it improve customer service? Does it help speed up processes? etc.
2: Know Your Audience
When it comes to content marketing, customer personas are critical for a campaign’s success. Who are the customers they are targeting? To get this component wrong in a content marketing campaign can result in a high-priced media campaign that generates no leads and zero return on investment.
The same applies to learning campaigns. Your client is paying you to create learning that yields results and will more than likely look at the ROI or ROE. So, you need to ask yourself: Who is my typical learner? What excites them? How do they like to learn?
They are more than just an employee number within an organisation. Use learner persona templates to get an idea of who these learners really are, so you can design a solution that resonates with them and has the desired impact.
3: Decide on Content Types
Having mapped out their objectives, strategic intent, and uncovered who their customers are, Marketers decide what format to best deliver the content within the budget parameters. This is decided based on the customer personas and how the customers will most likely respond to, and consume, the content. For example, Marketers who want to promote a new low-calorie energy drink targeting 20 to 30-year-old females, with a keen focus on fitness, may respond best to video stories on Instagram, or a sponsored blog article on a popular fitness website.
The same principles apply to your learner audience based on the learner personas we discussed previously. What form of content would best be suited to their learning preferences and learning environment? Take into consideration which devices they may use the most and whether they have access to Wi-Fi. You also need to consider the time of day they prefer to do their learning, etc. There are many learning asset types to choose from, and the microlearning solution may include infographics, interactive videos, rich media articles, podcasts or various other formats. Just remember to ask yourself: “What option will make the most learning impact?”.
4: Use Catchy Titles
When it comes to blog posts (and there are millions of them!) Marketers need to create a catchy title for their blogs or articles. These are known as a “hook” to pique the customer’s interest and get them to click and read the article.
Again, this is a superb way for Learning Experience Designers to hook their learners. Catchy titles for microlearning modules answer the typical learner’s question “what is in it for me?”. Imagine how much more exciting it would be to use any of the examples (or something similar) in this article: 101 title ideas for your next blog. Let’s use an example; imagine you are designing a module around “Fire Safety Awareness”. Typically, your first module would be titled something like “Module 1: Introduction to Fire Safety”… yawn. What if you decided to title it something along the lines of “Fire Safety 101: All the Basics You Need to Know” or “How Much Do You Really Know About Fire Safety?”. It adds a level of intrigue, enticing the learner, instead of the usual mediocrity of module names that learners are used to.
5: Measure Results
Part of the Marketer’s job is to measure the success and impact of their campaigns. These metrics are crucial in proving ROI, especially to clients. This campaign data or user insights (in the form of hit rates, click through rates, conversions, blog subscription sign-ups or lead generation) can also be used to identify performance gaps and recalibrate campaigns, when necessary to improve results. This data is usually gathered from Google Analytics or various social media channel dashboards.
Similarly, Learning Experience Designers need to measure the effectiveness of, and identify knowledge gaps in, their microlearning solutions. Through the use of SCORM or Tin Can, learner metrics such as assessment scores, drop-off rates, activity completion rates, time taken to complete courses and learner drop-off points, can be tracked and measured via the Learning Management System. This data is then analysed, and any content that needs to be updated for improved impact can be implemented and re-measured.
Another great way to gain insight into your solution is to get feedback from your learners, in the same way that Marketers do with their customers… send out a learner satisfaction survey to get useful information and feedback around their learning experience. This insight could include what they thought of the course content, UX/UI, quality of the design, etc. Through this useful intel, you might uncover something that the team has overlooked, but is creating a barrier or drop-off point for learners.
6: Promote Your Content
Marketers don’t just post their content online hoping for the best; they have a plan that helps drive viewers towards their core content. These launch campaigns can take the form of “teasers” or display banners posted across various channels that help to create awareness, curiosity and calls to action. For example, a lead-up campaign for a white paper release can take the form of teasers posted on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Sina Weibo, etc. to drive traffic to the download content.
Learning Experience Designers can follow the above examples and create a fun launch campaign for their microlearning roll-out, creating some pre-release hype. Gain buy-in by using hints as to what is in store for learners, or clever copy and appealing graphics. These learner campaigns can take the form of emailers, desk drops, or QR codes hidden around the office that link to teaser videos. Be imaginative and get your learners excited about your course!
It’s time to shake up the world of digital learning, and what better way to do it than by applying tried and tested methods used by Content Marketers? You are, after all, “selling” educational content to your learners. These learners, who are people just like you, consume online content daily. So, by applying a content marketing approach and talking their language, you can create a sense of familiarity and trust. Put on your Marketer’s hat. See what magic you can create and gain some loyal “customers”!
Author: Kate Atkinson