An Instructional Designer’s Case for Consumer Education
Why is instructional design becoming increasingly important to consumer education?
In the past months, we’ve been focused on how consumer education is creating a new marketing landscape. Since we regularly work with the best-known brands on over 100 projects each year, we’re often able to track movements in the training world. We have seen several thousand of you visit our portfolio and consumer education site. AllenComm’s success in moving its design to the world of consumer education and marketing presents a great opportunity for all of us who believe and work in the field of instructional design.
Why Consumer Education
It’s been a learning experience to talk with clients across industries about how to upgrade the ways they educate not just internal employees but the buyers of their products. It’s become very evident that marketers and brand managers are acutely aware of the fact that in today’s always-online culture, consumers are increasingly tuning out traditional marketing. Cutting through the noise to make your brand and product a long-term value is in our instructional sweet spot, and it resonates now more than ever.
It’s important to note that we’re not just talking about more content marketing. Instructionally driven consumer education strategies connect much more deeply with audiences, allowing the audience to “pull” exactly what they need, when they need it. By thinking broadly, organizations who use consumer education are reaching their audiences earlier in the purchase process and growing their brand reach, winning customers over before their competitors can. Not only does consumer education increase reach it also creates brand champions. When freely provided with valuable educational tools, customers are 94% more satisfied with their purchase.
Companies are already building consumer-education strategies. Recently, for example, I was planning a trip to Alaska and searching for camping equipment. I stumbled onto a very informative page from REI. Their focus was not on a product but on tutorials on how to pick a tent and sleeping bag. I got the information I needed for my trip, and my opinion of REI as a valuable retailer invested in helping me make the right purchases increased. This same thing is happening across industries. We believe all these endeavors can learn from what we, as an industry, have accomplished in training and educating employees and consumers. The following are some examples that are being practiced today by leading companies in the market:
- In the financial industry, companies are selling not only their credit cards, but their personal financial planning tools: http://www.mastercard.us/tools-and-tips/index.html
- In the health and wellness industry, companies are adding value by showing consumers how to utilize product benefits: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/healthy-eating
- In the retail industry, companies are trying to differentiate their brands through educational apps, adding easy to access resources around their products: http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/c/womens-training/apps/nike-training-club
The Allen Difference
Despite this positive push toward better consumer education resources, such campaigns still draw too heavily on push-based content-marketing strategies. We believe that the most effective consumer education approaches align strong brand strategies with the best adult learning technologies and principles that allow learners to pull exactly the right information at their point of need. Research has shown that customers who find the right educational assets are 29 times more likely to buy compared to ads alone. We’ve seen these positive results as we have developed best-practices for building interactive learning experiences that unify company messaging, are personalized to the learner, and integrate subtle but powerful branding. These instructional design approaches allow us to build complete brand and learner experiences for our clients and their audiences. For example:
- Use existing messaging as source content to create personalized learning by roles, allowing your audience, whether a sales rep or a customer, to find the information they need in no more than 1 to 2 clicks
- Create a central brand education portal, with built-in analytics and dashboards, allowing you to monitor results and streamline the user experience across a range of mobile and desktop devices
- Incorporate a unified visual strategy across the program and include interactive tools and strategies, not just passive content pushes, to help learners consume information at their pace
- Integrate ecommerce features into your learning to remove purchasing barriers and create a seamless transition from education to sales
- Build a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy into your design phases to ensure your consumer education campaigns attract the widest possible audience and spread your brand messaging
With instructional design and marketing continually merging to create valuable consumer education, we challenge both sets of professionals to look to each other for new ways to engage their consumers. Our vision is to continue to work with our partners to drive this sort of brand and education innovation, helping our partners build and control the most-used and most influential sites and content in their industries.What is your organization dong to build brand leadership in consumer education? Share with us below.
If you’re working on instructional design or content marketing and want to upgrade your approaches using the latest consumer education strategies, contact us for a 20-minute consumer education demo.