Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a TSIA webinar hosted by Maria Manning-Chapman on the state of customer training. Maria has a wealth of information about the customer education industry and utilized data compiled from member inquiries, benchmark survey, and topical industry surveys. This webinar focused on the trends uncovered in this study, particularly those related to revenue, content, and offer development. In the following post, I will summarize some of the key trends and insights Maria presented. If you’re interested in listening to the full webinar, you can view the 30-minute presentation here.
Maria began the conversation by talking about revenue, with a particularly insightful first point - when reflecting on whether training should be free or fee-based, keep in mind that free training does not necessarily yield consumption of your offer. Whether you choose to apply a price tag to your customer education program or not, it is critical to think through your strategy for driving consumption of your resources. In my own experience, I’ve met many professionals in the customer education industry who assume that free content will be more widely absorbed. However, as Maria explained, this may not be the case depending on how you encourage customers to understand the value of your content and decide to invest time in the training program.
On a related note, TSIA data shows that there has been a year-over-year increase in education business models that incorporate monetization into their strategy. They have also seen an increase in the portion of services revenue from education subscription packages. That said, these subscription packages are not without challenges, namely that the renewal rate for this type of education offering hovers at only 50 percent. This does not mean subscription packages are bad or ineffective, it just clarifies the need for a strong renewal strategy.
When it comes to content, Maria shared an interesting continuum of micro and macro content, with current trends leaning towards the development of micro content. While micro content - short, bite-sized pieces - are ideal for performance support, in-app training, and increased discoverability, longer form, macro content is critical for developing competencies across your user base.
Maria also shared that the number one shortcoming of education organizations is not using data to understand the performance and impact of your training program. According to TSIA’s research, 60 percent of education teams are not tracking how training affects critical metrics like product adoption and customer retention. Tracking and analysis of data is essential for understanding how to drive consumption of your educational content among your target audience.
Many education teams believe that if they develop great content, their program will automatically be successful. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. In addition to great content, successful education programs must also be thoughtful about offer development. This includes building a strategy around planning, packaging, refining, and iterating on your model and using data to monitor your progress.
Have more questions about monetizing training and common models in education? We’ll be hosting a webinar in April with Maria on the topic. Register today.