Personalization helps learners feel important, and cuts down on irrelevant messaging.
People naturally prefer things that were designed for them. Not only does it make them feel valued, it also tends to be more relevant to their needs. It gives them a sense not just of belonging, but of ownership, and with that comes a deeper buy-in to the product or service itself.
As an online course instructor, there are many ways you can use the psychology of personalization to your benefit. By delivering content your learners care about and helping them feel at home in your course, you build something naturally more appealing to their interests and needs. Here’s how to start.
1. Know your learners.
How well do you know your learners? Have you defined an audience for your course, and do you know whether those taking your course match that profile? Sometimes markets surprise us, and the course we thought we were designing for one group unexpectedly catches on with another. If that happens to you, focus more of your attention on this new demographic, and see how you can create material that better serves them.
On the other hand, if you’ve created a more generic course, it’s time to refine your idea and find a niche. No one wants a “one size fits all” solution. Pick your people and market to them.
2. Segment your communication.
When learners first sign up to your course, they create a user profile which tells you a few things about them, most importantly their email address and what courses they’ve enrolled in. These two bits of information are all you need to create a targeted email list.
Many online instructors don’t properly use email segmentation in their marketing. They create one big master list, and all their messages go out as email blasts. However, this means that many learners receive emails marketing courses they don’t care about or are already signed up for.
Instead, use email segmentation to send more focused messages to smaller portions of your master list. Think about separating your enrolled learners from sales prospects, or creating new lists for students based on their enrollment history.
3. Use relevancy to offset the information overload.
One of the great benefits of segmented email is that it cuts down on the sometimes overwhelming barrage of information your learners experience very day, not just from your course, but from other sources as well. Segmented emails—as well as other targeting marketing campaigns—replace an overload of meaningless communication with relevant content.
So, if you are sending out an email to a segmented list, you can use it to suggest related courses that your learner might be interested based on ones they’ve already taken. Or you could send them study tips based on their performance in their most recent test.
4. Call them by their name.
We all know that when we receive a marketing email with our name at the front, it’s just been pulled from a database and inserted automatically. After all, no one’s painstakingly hand-typing thousands of emails to each individual customer.
And because we know this, you might think seeing your name in an email header would have lost its charm. Yet even though we know better, emails that use the recipient’s personal name perform better than those which don’t.
The thing is, we’re all hyper-sensitized to our own name. When we hear it spoken or see it in writing, it jumps out at us, and we pay attention. So as much as we all know it’s a little fake, addressing your learners by name in your automated emails will grab their attention.
It’s also a subtle cue that this email is intended for them. That may not mean a lot if you’re blasting an untargeted email to a massive list, but if there are indications within the email that it’s been tailored to their interests, then using their name will have more significance.
5. Put your learners in control of their settings.
Finally, allow your learners to set their own communication preferences. Not only is this important for GDPR compliance purposes (your learners have a right to unsubscribe from mailing lists, and you have a duty to tell them before you add them to any), but also prevents you from sending too much information, or information which isn’t relevant.
For instance, if you have a forum set up, your learners may want to receive notifications for any posts made on a specific topic, or for any posts in which they’re tagged. They may want to hear about upcoming courses, but they may not want your weekly newsletter. By helping them customize those settings, you can rest assured you’ve done your best to deliver the most valuable content according to your learner’s preferences.
Your learners crave relevance. Deliver it to them through personalized marketing.
When it comes to the psychology of personalization, the bottom line is that your learners want communication from you to be relevant. They don’t want emails designed for learners on a different learning track, they don’t want to be pitched courses they’ve already purchased, and they don’t want to read articles that aren’t catering to their needs and interests.
However, by using personalization in your marketing, you not only determine what kind of learners you attract, you also put that person in charge of their marketing experience with you. It delivers a customized experience with only marginal effort.