While most industries scrambled to adjust to the changes brought on by the pandemic, e-learning, an already growing industry before COVID-19, became the sole method for education across the globe. As students traded their backpacks for iPads and teachers grew accustomed to lecturing in front of a screen instead of a classroom, the future of education became digital and the demand for a unique, engaging curriculum became much more dire.
The United States e-learning market is set to grow by $12.81 billion between 2020 and 2024, creating high demands for marketers as the landscape continues to shift. With endless resources for e-learning, whether it be for personal growth, schooling, or corporate development, marketing strategies must reflect individual needs for a personalized, 1:1 journey.
The Pandemic’s Impact to the E-Learning Industry
The COVID-era solidified the need for accessible, cost-efficient, and engaging e-learning platforms. The way information is absorbed has drastically changed within the last decade, moving from textbooks to tablets, and will continue to evolve as the years go by. What does this mean for marketers? The stakes are much greater when it comes to standing out among the crowd. From the classroom to the cubicle, e-learning is a rapidly growing industry, offering marketers the opportunity to bring fresh, innovative strategies to the forefront.
In the Online Open Course
The first massive online open course launched in 2006 and since has skyrocketed into a league of its own within the e-learning industry. As of 2020, over 180 million people use open courses, with one-third of those learners joining at the start of the pandemic. Brands such as Codecademy, Masterclass, and LinkedIn Learning allow anyone to access a massive library of educational materials at the click of a button, giving those who were left looking for a new job access to specialized courses from the comfort of their home.
In the Mobile App
Today, a curriculum for a semester-long course can fit nicely into a pant pocket. It’s easy to learn from anywhere with a mobile device — the interactive language-learning app, Duolingo, being one of the most successful examples of this. Learners can now master Italian on the train and Portuguese in the park.
When most of the world was in lockdown, many people started a new hobby to fill their day. With 24/7 access to courses and penny-saving options, the versatility of mobile app education has made it one of the fastest-growing ways to learn. This sector has maintained a steady growth rate of 20% since 2015 and is currently valued at more than $22.4 billion. In 2026, it is predicted that mobile e-learning will be worth almost $50 billion. The expectation from learners is that their favorite e-learning mobile experience will be as interactive as their most-used social media app.
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In the Classroom
The pandemic made its biggest hit to mandatory, K-12 schooling. By the end of the 2020-21 school year, on average, students in grades first through sixth were five months behind in math and four months behind in reading. Widening preexisting opportunity gaps, the pandemic hit historically disadvantaged students the hardest, with the largest barrier being technology proficiency among teachers and students and lack of resources. This being said, e-learning still came to schools at full throttle, increasing usage from 27% pre-pandemic to 69% in the fall of 2020.
With or without the pandemic, the future of the classroom is digital, with over 65% of US faculty members advocating for online learning courses and resources, and 75% believing that digital alternatives will replace textbooks by the end of 2026.
In the Workplace
Even before COVID-19, the relevance of e-learning within corporate America was high. In 2017, 77% of US companies used some sort of online learning platform. Now, over 90% of US companies use e-learning for staff training and compliance. With more hybrid or remote workforces, this percentage will continue to grow and in doing so, reduce costs for companies by minimizing expenses related to instructors, travel, accommodation, and equipment.
The Message for Marketers
What does all of this mean for marketing? The continual growth across the e-learning industry makes 1:1 personalization and the use of zero- and first-party data all the more crucial when focusing on user acquisition, engagement, and retention.
E-learning platforms allow students to have voluminous libraries of information at their fingertips, making learning more accessible than ever. Students need marketers’ help to make e-learning a seamless experience. Here’s how to do it:
Keep the Connection
With education becoming more digital, it is important that learners feel they have a connection with the courses they’re taking and that their individual needs are being met. Modern students have high standards when it comes to their online learning, and marketers must step up to the plate to deliver individualized experiences that drive results.
The Inkredible Learning example displays recommended courses based on what the learner has most recently completed. This type of campaign builds a sense of trust between student and brand by tailoring course-specific content. Not only can this increase engagement, prompting the student to browse through more courses, but it can also improve retention and churn rates when they are motivated to sign up for another.
Taking a course from the couch is a luxury, but also leaves room for distraction. Reminder campaigns can be a useful tactic, especially for self-guided courses, to help keep students’ motivation and focus high.
Inkredible Learning sent an email that followed the learner’s course progress based on the behavioral data collected. This updates the student on where they are at in their educational journey and inspires them to go back for more.
Gamify the Experience
Break up text-heavy campaigns with a visual and engaging experience. Polls and scratch-offs are a fun way to immerse students in the content being shared.
The Inkredible Education example notifies the student with a rich push on their mobile device, leading them to a scratch-off landing page to reveal a new test and discount.
E-learning has completely changed the way the world consumes information. As it continues to evolve, marketers have a front-row seat to the changes, making them the communication link between e-learning brands and students.
Marketers are the innovators of 1:1 personalization for e-learning brands. Be the reason a student’s life is changed by education this year.