Engaging Today’s Online Learner

Laura Overton demonstrates how learning from marketing experts can help you engage your learners.

44% of L&D leaders say that their learners are reluctant to engage with online learning.[1]

Engaging today’s online learner can be a tough task – when you’ve spent countless hours developing your content to the point where it’s ready for consumption, suddenly, you’ve got to figure out how your staff and volunteers will engage with it and put it to maximum use. Content that isn’t used is wasted time; a precious resource poured down the drain. So how can we inspire our learners to engage with the content prepared for them? At the March CLC meeting, we took a look at how content marketing experts might handle the challenge.[1]

Firstly, you need to understand your audience. This is vital in the delivery strategy, as you want to make your content as appealing to your target audience as possible. The key is to try and get inside their heads, then present them with exactly what they’re looking for – it’s probably not the latest version of Moodle! If you have the content that will result in the outcomes they require, it helps you grab their attention.

Secondly, you need to think about the journey that you want your learners to on as they engage with you, and what questions they will have along the way. Successful organisations will proactively move learners from awareness to interest, then get them engaged and applying what they learn in the workplace and ultimately to influence others and make them aware in the process. Make sure that what you’re doing naturally leads them into the next stage of the journey.

Thirdly, develop a connection with your audience. What is it about this programme that will entertain them, inspire them, educate them or convince them that they need to engage with your content? Successful marketers use these four areas as the parameters of creativity, to connect with and convert their audience into supporting receivers.

Create the sizzle with your content. Content marketers have thoroughly researched what really gets the attention of time starved audiences from the way they write headlines through to how they use graphics, video and even bullet points.

Use every available channel to attract them towards the most satisfying learning you have to offer. Only half of the learners that took part in our Learner Voice study believed that their company clearly communicated opportunities –this is something that we can easily remedy.

Finally, engage your influencers. Save yourself time and energy by letting others do the work for you – by engaging key people who are likely to influence other staff, you are more likely to have a campaign that receives much more engagement than if you spent the same amount of effort engaging every single person. Our research shows that the key people to engage are line managers and supervisors.[1]

A successful learning delivery strategy requires time, energy, money and resources. The best thing we can do in promoting learning is to learn from how others are engaging people, and when 93% of marketers use content marketing,[1] it’s likely that translating these techniques to our learning delivery will boost engagement and campaign success.

Laura Overton is the Managing Director of Towards Maturity, an independent, not-for-profit benchmark organisation that helps businesses examine their learning culture, with a view to improving their business bottom line.

[1] See Towards Maturity, The New Learning Agenda, 2013.

[1] Download more how to be in our 1 page hints and tips sheet in the Towards Maturity Benchmark Centre.

[1] See Towards Maturity, Learner Voice 1

[1] Content Marketing Institute, “B2B Content Marketing in 2014: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends in North America,” ed. Joe Pulizzi & Ann Handley, Oct 2013.