Is Online Learning Right For Your Business?

Barry Kelly
May 27, 2015 1:13:26 PM

We have distilled down the four most important questions you should ask as you evaluate your opportunities.

Do you have something of value to deliver?

Are you well-positioned to create an online learning or blended learning business? Do your products involve a learning curve? Do your customers use and adapt your products or services in exciting ways? If so, owning that educational relationship could bring a tremendous amount of value to your company. A quick way to check the temperature is to conduct a search of how many unauthorized YouTube channels and blogs are currently inspiring and educating your customers. If there are more than you can count on one hand, you are missing an opportunity.

Note: If you are a media organization or publisher, there’s no argument: You already have the makings of a valuable online learning business. There are easy ways to leverage your in-house editorial expertise and content— something that can help you grow your bottom line along with your connections to your advertisers, consumers and business partners.

Do you have a receptive audience?

Is your audience willing to engage in learning with you? If the answer is yes, your next step is to understand the market value and business model. There are three main delivery models in online learning: Paid courses (a la carte and subscriptions), ad/sponsor-supported, and free (designed to support engagement, content marketing, or product adoption).

Do you have established marketing channels?

Online learning is most successful when you have marketing channels already in place. An established audience or customer base will help you gain traction quickly, and provide you quick feedback on new product releases. Which marketing channels work most efficiently? We find that old-fashioned email marketing still tops the charts for online learning product conversion. Site cross-promotions and social media are effective channels to grow a vibrant, profitable business too.

Do you have the content you need?

Once you’ve established a need and have a sense of your go-to-market strategy, content and expertise are critical to success. If you decide to offer learning experiences led by subject- matter experts or instructors, you’ll need to train those individuals. Often businesses with internal content and editorial teams can get to market within weeks, even from a standing-stop. Others— those who work with a network of experts on different subjects—often find that those experts are perfect for creating an online learning project. In most cases organizations can repurpose existing content (such as articles, how-to-videos, slideshows, blog posts and “help” sections of web sites) to help their audiences learn.

Choosing content wisely gives you a huge head start in the world of online learning. “Why wouldn’t potential learners just go online and access similar content for free?” is a question we get asked all the time. The answer: It’s all about “curation.” The value of a structured educational experience can’t be underestimated. When you deliver a specific, targeted module of learning content, everyone wins. By editing down to truly useful information you help learners reach a specific goal—become a better marketer, train for a marathon, write a novel, build a deck, prepare for a new baby, etc.—you’ll create a service that prospective customers are willing to pay for and will return for.

Increase profitability of your business

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