As legendary retailer Sy Syms said in 1974, “An educated consumer is our best customer.” That is still true today—education is one of the most effective ways to engage customers and build brand loyalty. Yet despite having a goal of teaching and enlightening the audience, content marketing programs do not always achieve the type of engagement needed to truly captivate and delight customers, build brand loyalty, or drive revenue and growth. There is one key step you can take to change that: work with instructional designers.
Instructional designers and design firms bring a needed skill set—they help structure educational content and create online learning experiences that truly capture the attention of your audience.
Here are four reasons you need an instruction design strategy as part of your approach to content marketing:
- You need to be a teacher.
Instructional design is about explaining a process or an idea efficiently and effectively. Because the practice is about how people learn in different environments, instructional designers and design firms have a strong understanding of which learning strategies work and which are not as effective for certain types of audiences. They also understand different learning styles and how to integrate them into online learning experiences that enable customers to absorb the information in the most efficient way. This expertise can help you design a learning program with the proper content, technology, and level of interactivity for your subject matter and audience.
- Learner experience is critical.
Customer experience is key to the success of any online learning program. The first step to creating an effective and valuable learning experience is to capture the attention of the learner. Customer facing learning is voluntary, so you really need to give your audience a reason to click and look. The next step to creating a useful educational program is to put the learner in control of the pace and direction of his or her own experience. An instructional design strategy enables you to create this kind of experience—by effectively assessing the needs of learners, recognizing what customers need to accomplish from the experience, and aligning the customer’s needs with your marketing and business goals.
- It is time to go beyond traditional content marketing assets.
Fixed forms of content like white papers, articles, and videos have a place in all content marketing programs. The one thing most of those assets lack, however, is interactivity. “By adding interactive elements to the customer experience, you immediately engage the customer and help them find value in the content,” says Dr. Keith Gibson, Senior Design Consultant at Allen Communication. And an interactive online course is a way to draw customers into an experience and, in a sense, have a conversation with them. That helps the information really sink in. Research shows that consumers who complete an online course are five times more likely to buy a product compared to direct marketing; and 90% of those consumers are likely to recommend the experience to a friend.
- Your competitors are already working with instructional design firms. Many well-known brands are incorporating online learning experiences in their content marketing, with measurable results—KitchenAid’s Kitchenthusiast blog, HP Expert One – The Learning Center, and the Learning Center in the Adobe Connect User Community. Read these case studies about how instructional design strategies have contributed to effective content marketing for some of our clients.
Online learning experiences are the next wave for content marketers serious about educating their audiences. These experiences create consumers who are more likely to buy and champion the brand, because you helped them get what they wanted and achieve their objectives. An instructional designer or design firm has the skills you need to create effective online learning experiences and take your content marketing to the next level. Are you ready?
If you’re interested in more on consumer education read Allen CEO Ron Zamir’s Consumer Education article<!–read our white paper–> or look for Manya’s upcoming blog about what questions to ask when developing your consumer education strategy.
 Harvey, B. (2006). Consumer Education Produced High ROI. Next Century Media.