Whether you’re a solo eLearning hero or you’re like the Avengers and you have a whole squad, we are counting down 10 tips that’ll help you put some POW into your program!
Start preparing NOW. If you already have content, decide what’s worth keeping. Prioritize it, organize it, and start adding more to it. If you don’t have any online content, hold a brainstorming session to think about how you’ll go about creating some. You can’t launch an empty LMS! Record a few webcasts or start a podcast series to get you going. Some companies offer turn-key online courses that you could buy or revenue share so you have something to offer initially.
As part of your prep work, spend some time determining what style of online education your members will find most valuable. You’ll hear all sorts of terminology in the eLearning world – MOOCS, Moodles, gamification – don’t be overwhelmed by this! After you and your LMS have spent some time together, or after you’ve gotten feedback on your first few offerings, you can start introducing new types of learning experiences.
Associations have a tendency to use language and abbreviations that are only meaningful to them internally without realizing the public won’t understand their system of communication. Think about your naming conventions – is it a webcast or a webinar? A course or a workshop? A session or a seminar? Nothing is more confusing than customers hearing multiple terms that really mean the same thing. Use the same terminology across the board – in your LMS, on your website, on social media, and in the marketing messages.
You’re going to be putting a lot of hours in. You’ll have dreams about your online content and LMS (at least I did!), so create a list of what you know you’re going to need help with and outsource it. Now. Ask a colleague or friend to help work on your images and templates, to proofread and spruce up PowerPoints and handouts, or to edit video and audio recordings. All of this is time-consuming and you’ll need to be focused on system integrations, working with instructors, and more. If you have very limited resources or no tech-talented friends, acknowledge that you’re going to be learning and doing some of this yourself, and make it part of your project timeline.
Stick to them! If you’re launching a new platform or new online course, choose your “go live” date and work backward from there. Be sure to include input from your vendor and IT department, particularly when it comes to integrations. Yes, things will happen that will throw you off track but while one thing may be broken, it’s likely you can still make progress in other areas. Also, do the time-consuming stuff first. Get it out the way. You can finesse language and add flair later!
YOU are the eLearning expert. YOU are the eLearning hero, so OWN it. You know all the ins and outs of the system, how you use it and how you could use it. Be intentional about owning your role and eLearning program. Stick up for it. People will notice and before you know it, you’ll be part of business decisions and one for the go-to people when integrations with new platforms are being considered.
Have fun with your products. We’ve all gotten emails asking us to “register for this webcast” or take part in another workshop. Aren’t you more likely to sign up for something that has a clever title and an intriguing description? If you work with very technical content that allows little room for clever titles, shake things up once in awhile and do a fun, casual, free webcast for your members. It will get them into your system where they’ll discover everything else you offer, which is exactly what you want!
Launching any new product or platform is a BIG DEAL! Make it a party! Have a marketing campaign in place and ready to go. Send an email blast giving away a teaser or sneak peek of your new product, plus a promo code for a discount off their purchase. Offer Amazon gift cards to the first 20 people who make a purchase. Promote on social media and plant some of your eager members to post about it for you. Go all out every time you add something new!
It’s easy to get caught up in your daily workflow and an overwhelming number of emails and forget to listen. Reach out to a customer occasionally with a personal email to say “Hey, I noticed you recently earned a certificate by completing a course in our new online learning platform. I’d love to hear about your experience.” If you notice you’re getting the same “How do I do ___?” or “Where do I find ___?” questions over and over again, it’s likely there is something you can do to improve the user experience by tweaking some language, re-ordering steps, or creating a short, instructional video. Also be sure to do a little crowdsourcing by asking people what they’d like to see more or less of. It’s a good way to get some direction if you’re trying to figure out “what’s next?”
Incremental improvements increase investments. If you consciously focus on making improvements to your platform and updating your content, your customers will keep coming back to you, knowing that you are providing the best experience, the most relevant content, and the most bang for their buck. They will invest more money knowing they are getting a quality product, and they’ll refer others. Work closely with your vendor and subject matter experts on this one. Vendors often have regular new releases and you want to make sure how to maximize new features. Your SMEs are the ones with the pulse on the industry to know what’s changing or trending.
Last but not least, you have to keep it fresh. You can’t just flip the “on” switch and walk away. Release new products regularly – at least monthly. If that’s too much, be creative, take something old and make it new again. Package content with a similar theme and sell it as a bundle. Utilize your association’s newsletters and social media to promote your online learning opportunities. Start your own newsletter! Do whatever you can to keep your eLearning at the forefont of your members’ minds…and wallets!