Inbound marketing is all the rage these days and is supposedly eclipsing more old-school forms of outbound marketing. This makes logical sense in the digital age of the 21st century where people are proactive in looking for information they need or that interests them. If your company provides useful content, you’ll naturally “pull” those people in as they search the Internet. It’s a different kind of approach from “pushing” your message out through mass media channels like television, radio and print to people who may or may not be interested in what you have to say. What if learning professionals take this basic idea and apply it to their eLearning efforts? Does it make sense to engage in a kind of inbound eLearning?
Short answer: Yes! Here’s why:
Inbound eLearning has a Different Starting Point
Instead of creating content that assumes everyone is at the same starting point and has the same need for the content, you start out thinking about how users will want to use the content so that they will “pull” in what they want or need. Rather than just presenting the content on any given topic the same way for everyone, you build in a structure that allows the user access it the way that best suits them. You’re essentially anticipating the reasons why a person would want to pull any particular piece of content. This allows learners with different needs to exercise some judgement about what they learn.
Why Inbound eLearning Works
Here’s the secret to the success of inbound eLearning: The vast majority of employees want to do well in their jobs, and they love workplaces where they are given the tools and trainings they need to perform well. In fact, one study found that workers value good training above a lot of other workplace perks such as mentoring or tuition reimbursement (source). Another study notes that 68% of workers say training and development is the most important workplace policy (source). All you have to do is give them what they already want so they can pull in the learning!
Features of Inbound eLearning
The features that characterize inbound eLearning are mostly about creating an environment in which learners have greater flexibility. When learners can easily find the content they want, can access it when and where and how they want, and move through the content at the pace they want, then you’re looking at inbound eLearning. The learner has far more control in their engagement of the material than would be present in more traditional outbound or push learning.
Inbound and Outbound Approaches are not Mutually Exclusive
It’s worth noting that I’m not suggesting you need to choose either inbound eLearning or outbound eLearning. After all, you’re always going to have to “push” some eLearning content out to your learners, such as required compliance trainings, but there are probably many areas where your company would benefit by taking advantage of the inbound eLearning approach.
As you can see, the differences between inbound eLearning and outbound or “push” eLearning aren’t rocket science, but they’re important. Your company’s overall learning and training efforts will be greatly enhanced when you take the time to understand when to use each type of learning and look for ways to incorporate more inbound eLearning if your approach has largely been outbound in the past. One key to making the most of both types of eLearning is finding an LMS (learning management system) that is flexible and easy-to-use but robust enough to meet your needs and grow with your company. Sign up for a free trial of the eLeaP LMS to discover how it can work for you.