They know that they make the best burgers in town, but McDonald’s still spends billions of dollars on marketing. If it is fried chicken, then it has to be KFC, but the makers still market aggressively. The truth is that your learner has choices, so they won’t come to you. You have to take your offerings to them!
Marketing is no longer a dirty word in eLearning. In fact, now it is not even an option. As eLearning designers, you HAVE to take your courses to your audience and convince them of their value. Else there are just 0-5 percent chances that they will take them.
The time has come for you to double up as a marketer. Below are some smart marketing tips to make your courses fly off the blocks:
1. Know your audience
The first rule of marketing is: Create buyer personas. This rule applies to eLearning too. You shouldn’t start creating an eLearning course without knowing exactly who your learner audience is.
The key is to think of your learners as customers. Take the time to learn about your audience and create detailed learner personas. Delve into their lives and psyche to find out what makes them tick, their needs, motivations, workplace challenges, and the solutions they seek. This knowledge will help you create customized marketing messages that will resonate with your audience. Knowing about your learners will also help you create courses that are relevant to them and provide the solutions they seek.
2. Tease your learners
The trailer comes out long before the movie hits the cinemas. Ads come out in newspapers and commercials flood primetime long before the restaurant opens. Excerpts and posts, tweets, and contests centering around the pages and the characters show up on social media long before the book is launched. These are all ploys to make us sit up, take notice, and get all agog so that when the restaurant opens its doors, we make a beeline for it or queue up in front of the stores to get our hands on the book.
Teasers grab learner attention and excite them more than marketing messages because the former gives a taste of the actual product. A well-designed teaser not only wows the audience but also leaves no room for doubt in their minds about the relevance of the program.
Here are some pointers:
- Don’t wait for the course to be ready to roll out the teasers. Start the teaser campaign at least 20-30 days before the launch.
- Don’t give out all details in the teaser. A teaser should contain enough material to grab learners' attention and make them curious but not enough to do away with the need for the course.
- Ensure that you highlight the VALUE of your course in the teaser.
- Drop hints in your blog posts and newsletters.
- Roll out the teasers and take the opportunity to elicit learner feedback. Ask them if they like what they see or what else they want in the course. This gives you the chance to tweak your course and make it more relevant.
- Work with the marketing and communications teams to create and deliver a knockout teaser.
3. Enlist the support of influencers and evangelists
It is natural for us to trust the recommendations made by a trusted acquaintance than belief in a marketing message sent out by an unknown entity. So it is good for the chances of your eLearning program if it comes recommended by those whose opinion matter in your company. These influencers and evangelists can be the members of the C-suite, managers, opinion leaders, and team leaders. Do not forget the employees; these Internal Evangelists can be an enthusiastic lot, and some even have large social media follower bases.
Keep the following pointers in mind before you go about enlisting the support of influencers and evangelists:
- Consider as evangelists folks whose opinions are highly regarded within the company.
- Build rapport with the influencers in your organization before you ask them to put in a good word about your course.
- Convince the influencers about the benefits of taking the course. Send influencers enough information about the course to help them judge for themselves.
- Give them the copy that they would send out to their fans and followers, and remind them regularly.
4) Nail down a brand identity
Creating a distinct brand identity establishes you as someone who offers unique and useful learning experiences, always. Your brand identity is your personality, and it should lay bare everything that your audience wants to know about your eLearning program to trust your message and take your courses.
Ensure that your brand identity contains the following pieces of information about your program:
- What types of eLearning courses do you offer?
- How are your courses different from those offered in the past?
- What are the benefits of taking your eLearning courses?
Before you create a brand identity, keep the following in mind:
- Know your target audience very well. Create learner personas and study these (review point #1).
- List the emotions that you believe will resonate with your audience. Then craft your message using words, imagery, sounds, and associations that convey these emotions.
- Ensure that the fonts, colors, layouts, images, words, and mood across all promotional material are consistent and speak the language of your company.
5. Leverage the power of email marketing, blogs, and newsletters
Emails, blogs, and newsletters are powerful marketing tools to not only help you promote your eLearning program but also stay on top of the learners’ minds. Create effective email campaigns, sticky blog posts, and newsletter that audiences can’t wait to read with the following tips:
- Send out regular emails and newsletters and frequently post on your blog to remind your audience of the value you provide. But do not go overboard; your learners are already overloaded with information.
- Don’t skimp on the details in the mail, newsletters, and blogs. If you have launched a course or rolled out a new learning module, make sure that you explain clearly its contents and what benefits the learners can derive from it.
- Plan your campaigns meticulously. They should not be hurriedly put together. Here are some tips on how to create a compelling and sustainable email campaign using the teaser method. And these tips will help you create effective newsletters.
- Identify the objective behind your marketing campaigns. Then create messages that resonate with the goal.
- Hook your audience with intriguing subject lines, catchy titles, and scannable content.
- Work closely with your design team to create campaigns with attractive layouts.
- Work with your marketing team to figure out the right time and day to shoot out the emails and newsletters and post the blogs.
You are actually the best person to market your own courses because no one else knows them better. So put on the marketer’s hat and get going!