Thanks in large part to the mobile mind shift of consumers and the anywhere/anytime availability of information, customers today aren’t exactly struggling to find what they need online. Rather, it’s often so available that they’re keen to ignore the “noise” of pitches and traditional ads in favor of content that informs and engages. (Thirty-two percent of them, in fact, block ads entirely using software—but that’s another story.) It’s not just ads that are effected. The entire landscape of education is changing as students turn to online courses and audiences flock to how-to videos instead of picking up instruction manuals. This movement is called the learning economy, and it’s a marketplace valued at a considerable $91 billion. Substantial, right? Let’s turn a laser focus on the learning economy and explore why (and how) your business should embrace it.
An In-Depth Look at The Learning Economy
Before we can talk about the learning economy, we must define it. Modern consumers have the power of choice and unlimited access to information across a variety of channels, and the learning economy simply describes how expectations have shifted because of that access.
The point is straightforward: How we’re collectively learning has changed, and that’s having an impact in terms of conversions. Consider education in particular. Fifty-eight million students enrolled in an online course in 2016, continuing the trend of digital education as a hot market. Then there’s the how-to heaven also known as YouTube, a site that reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than cable where annual “how to” searches have an annual growth rate of 70 percent. It’s worth noting that consumers aren’t just watching these clips—they’re also buying as a result. According to The Big Know, one in three Millennials make a purchase thanks to how-to videos they watched online.
What does this mean for you? Your brand can take a page from the instructional nature of online education and video tutorials to better generate and nurture leads. How? For the answer, let’s turn to the experts at The Big Know. I’ll be breaking down their recent report—The Marketer’s Guide to The Learning Economy—in greater detail shortly. For now, though, I’ll let them school us all on the intricacies of learning content and branded education:
“Branded education, from a quick personality quiz to a full-blown branded academy, can position brands as a guide for consumers seeking self-understanding, self-betterment, achievement, or simply the ability to make smart purchase decisions.”
Why the Learning Economy is Important for Business
While the ultimate goal is always to eventually convert, brands use content for a variety of reasons leading up to that end-game. For example, some content is created to entertain and engage. Content created to inform is what’s known as branded education, and it’s the cornerstone of the learning economy. Why? For starters, it helps you reinforce your value proposition in a way that’s easily digestible and authentic. Here are a few other reasons embracing branded education is important for your business:
- It allows you to repurpose your content across a variety of channels. When you create content that aims to inform, the options for cross-channel distribution only grow. For example, take a white paper and create a social media campaign, series of sales flyers, webinar, or e-course.
- It can create brand loyalty. Consider gating some access to your most valued content in a way that’s tiered to best benefit your most valued customers. That way, you’re rewarding loyalty with additional exposure over which you have control. As The Big Know reports, “Online learning with valuable, dynamic content can give your membership and loyalty program true differentiation versus the typical price discounting that drives such programs.”
- It’s fast and cost-effective. Consumers who access learning content don’t just get information—they also give information in the form of data. Examining analytics surrounding content consumption can help you create tighter personas and deliver more value quickly. Plus, it’s far less expensive than doing that legwork offline.
If you want to stay competitive, you need to get out in front of the movement that is the learning economy. You can start by diving even deeper into the subject with the leaders from The Big Know at their daylong Learning Economy Summit in Chicago this spring. To register or for more information, click here—you don’t want to miss this one.
If you can’t make it to the live event—and, well, even if you can—be sure to download The Big Know’s in-depth whitepaper. In this post, I only scratched the surface of what the learning economy can and should mean for your business in today’s digital world. For the rest of the story, download The Marketer’s Guide to the Learning Economy.
What is your experience with branded education? Are you delivering the content your audience of digital learners want and need? Let me know in the comments.
This article was first published on The Marketing Scope.