Are you seeing a lower return on traditional premium content such as white papers, webinars, e-books and more?
Alternatively, do you find that the greatest results don’t come for the amount of work you put into creating it? If so, you are not alone. While these offerings can provide detailed insights for prospects, not every prospect will see the value in them.
That said, we continue to offer premium content to build trust and intelligence about prospects throughout the buyer’s journey.
And yet the problem remains: Where do you draw the line between offering free, useful content and loading your expert knowledge and insights?
Some brands are starting to define this fuzzy line by developing their own learning management systems (LMS) as a private hub for paid access to their best educational resources.
And yes, you can even create an LMS in HubSpot. Here you will find out what a learning management system is, what advantages it offers and how you can transform content into your own guided learning course.
Let’s dive in.
What is a Learning Management System (LMS)?
First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with a definition.
A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software application for managing, documenting, tracking, reporting and providing educational courses, training programs or learning and development programs.
It’s a portal that users can log into to access only the premium content you’ve designed specifically for your paid audience. (Paid can mean literal financial payment or the currency of the data / membership).
While online courses aren’t new, using a Learning Management System (LMS) to deliver premium content is still uncharted territory for most brands.
As marketers, we always try to create valuable content. However, in a crowded marketplace, even if you have a strong content marketing strategy in place, it can be difficult to demonstrate value in your content.
This is where a guided learning course can come in handy. A guided learning course can provide in-depth solutions to your prospect’s challenges and ultimately deliver better quality leads to your business.
This makes LMS invaluable to anyone looking to create a guided learning course, as courses must build on top of an LMS.
Let’s consider an example to examine the importance of guided learning courses. For example, suppose you have two competitors and both are hosting a webinar on “Email Marketing Strategy”.
To differentiate your own brand, imagine you take a one-hour webinar instead and break it down into a dozen topics for five to seven minutes each. That could easily be offered as a 12-module course.
Your prospect can now go through the content in their own time and only explore the sections that are relevant to them, instead of having to listen to a one-hour webinar. The perception and value are magnified and match the way your prospect actually wants to consume the content.
Why use an LMS?
Once we know what an LMS is, it’s time to investigate why. When you learn what an LMS is and how it works for users, let’s examine why it can transform your business.
1. User accessibility
Right now, most marketers create an e-book, promote that PDF through blog posts and social posts, and then use workflows and emails to “guide” prospects and contacts throughout the journey.
We can tell when someone is downloading the PDF, but we have no idea how much they are using. In the case of email, information on the user side of the equation can then be lost. So many of us delete emails or forget what exactly one phrase is being searched for in an email. It can easily become a mess.
An LMS allows the user to flexibly return to the trip and see what they need to see in a comprehensive portal.
Users no longer have to rely on email. Instead, they can reference each step of the learning path, see what’s next, and have a more realistic and user-friendly experience.
2. Traceability of the buyer’s journey
On the marketer side, an LMS gives us more data points to better understand a prospect’s position on the buyer’s journey – especially when an LMS is used for lead management and training.
Imagine a world where you can watch your buyers discover your content during their awareness phase, and move through deliberation and decision-making within your ecosystem.
It is possible to track a prospect’s journey during the buying stages with guided learning courses tailored to users at different stages of the buyer’s journey – this is what it looks like when really creating content for the buyer’s journey.
In a webinar or PDF, you wonder how much someone has consumed. You do not have access to the data with PDFs. You know potential customers downloaded it, but did they actually consume the information? For the most part, it’s the same with user-level webinars.
Using guided learning or an LMS, you can see each module or page that they viewed and how far the course users have come. You can measure to make sure it is generally effective, and you can also measure intent and automate your systems based on topic performance and even individual chapter performance.
3. Consumption across devices
Would you like to receive a bonus for creating a guided learning course where users sign up to consume? Think of a smooth cross-device experience.
How often do we start a video or an article on our laptop while we are working or researching to continue it later on our phone? This is especially true if the content is longer than a 2 minute video.
If a user is a member of your LMS, he can go to his laptop, his phone, his iPad … wherever he wants to consume content and there he waits for him. That wins at UX!
Examples of guided learning courses
What does a learning management system look like in practice? Let’s look at two examples right under our noses.
1. HubSpot Academy
The HubSpot Academy is a great example of using an LMS for lead generation and trust building.
In academy courses, users learn the philosophy and mindset of HubSpot. Users can find out more about HubSpot before purchasing any HubSpot product or service. However, users can also learn about a wide variety of other marketing, sales, service, and web design topics without ever becoming a HubSpot customer.
Consider the Marketing Software Certification course. Instead of a PDF with screenshots, users can go through videos with screen sharing options, download study guides, and take quizzes and exam assignments on the go to evaluate progress.
2. SEMrush Academy
SEMrush offers solutions for SEO, PPC, content, social media and competitive research. To appeal to both prospects and users, the company launched the SEMrush Academy, a digital marketing-led learning course with courses on SEO, content marketing, PPC and more. The SEMrush Academy is free and offers certification when users take courses.
Best of all, the guided learning courses include both video and text with some of the most well-known digital marketing professionals in the industry. While all courses are offered in English, many of them are also offered in Spanish.
Whether you are a content marketer looking to improve your game or are already a SEMrush customer, you will undoubtedly find value in their courses, which range from beginner to advanced.
For more inspiration, check out the 60 Best Free Online Courses for Anything You Want to Learn.
How to use your content in a guided learning course
When you think, “Wait a minute … Now do I have to create all this new content?” First take a breath. Yes, new content is needed. However, you can also reuse existing content while creating new content for your LMS strategy.
Most of your existing content can be converted into a guided learning course.
You can revisit popular e-books, webinars, column pages, blog posts, slide decks, and more to create a multimedia course for your clients. You can even turn toolkits and related offerings into guided learning opportunities.
For example, you might consider taking your e-book and using each chapter as a chapter or module in your course. Additionally, you can take some information on the subject from various blog posts and turn it into a checklist or template format for users to try for themselves.
At Impulse Creative we can transform our brand plan e-book into the brand plan course and create a completely new offer. This is what it would look like:
You have the idea. Each chapter becomes a module, and the topics in those chapters become the videos that make up the course. This allows you to keep videos shorter for higher consumption.
Also, be sure to do a content check to see what parts you have and what problems are being resolved before putting them in buckets. Then you can take any of those buckets and create a course.
The content you have will act as a storyboard so that you can script your videos. Then you can use the existing content as bonus material in your courses with a slight update.
Brands are at a critical tipping point today … Traditional content can feel stale – and users demand more.
The LMS offers a great opportunity to serve different facets of your company, from lead generation to sales to customer success. Ultimately, you want to find out how an LMS can meet your own business needs as well as the needs of your potential customers.