The end goal for every department is usually to acquire new customers and retain existing ones. At the same time, we want to ensure our customers are successful and improve their experiences along the way. Marketing, for example, focuses on writing engaging content and leveraging real-time data to deliver that content just in time. Marketing and learning and development (L&D) have more in common than we might think. As L&D professionals, we should follow marketing’s example and create the right content for our audiences at the right time, leverage data to better understand what content is needed when and design unforgettable learning experiences along the way. The sad truth is that we don’t.
Content Engagement Cycle: Create Unforgettable Experiences
One element that marketers do really well is the content engagement cycle, which takes a look at when to engage whom with what kind of content. We often only think about one single training program instead of looking at the entire journey our learners take throughout their time with us. Mapping out the learner life cycle and assigning content that engages them along the way does not only help create unforgettable learning experiences, but it also helps with the transfer of knowledge after a training session ends. Because, really, the training wouldn’t end at all, would it?
Content Strategy: What Is It?
Marketers leverage a content strategy to help them plan their content engagement cycle. According to Kristina Halvorson, CEO and founder of Brain Traffic, content strategy is the “creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.” It lets you manage your content as a business asset. “Content” includes the content you write but also images and multimedia. Ultimately, having a content strategy in place helps create meaningful, engaging and sustainable content and allows you to identify the right content at the right time for the right audience. You can easily identify what content already exists, what should be created and, more importantly, why it should be created.
It’s time for L&D professionals to take a page out of marketing’s playbook and look at how we create engaging and thought-provoking content, how we plan our content for the next quarters or even year, and how this strategy helps us drive performance.
Chances are, as an L&D professional, you haven’t worn a marketer’s hat yet, and you are unsure of where to start. Here are three easy steps to get started with a content strategy in just one afternoon:
Step 1: Create a content task force.
You probably already have a lot of content in place. Often, however, there is no central repository that you can reference or one person responsible for maintaining it. Step 1 is to book a room for one afternoon and gather your stakeholders together. They include, most likely, your instructional designers, your facilitators, your copywriters and someone from marketing.
Step 2: Summarize what you already have.
Create a content strategy template. This can be a very simple spreadsheet outlining, for example, content titles, descriptions, delivery channels, production timelines, measurements and responsibilities. List the content you already have in place and that you use on a regular basis.
Step 3: Repurpose content.
The last step is to determine what content you can reuse for the next two quarters. Think about upcoming training initiatives, look at the content you have, and mark the pieces you can reuse or leverage with minimal changes. You will be able to see current gaps and identify what further content you need to drive performance.
Once you have this basic concept down, you can start advancing your content strategy and think beyond repurposing content. On average, 65 percent of your content should be created from scratch, 25 percent should be curated and 10 percent should be syndicated.
The Modern Learner
Modern learners want information right at their fingertips when the need arises, and they want to apply it in that moment. A thorough content strategy will help you identify exactly what content is needed to drive an individual’s performance. If you are able to put measurements in place, such as video views or click-through rates, you will be able to see which content is in high demand and which content has barely been touched. Don’t be afraid of deleting content you don’t need anymore, but recycle wherever you can.