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Creating Content for the Three Learning Styles

Re-purposing content can serve a higher purpose than saving money and time: your customers’ learning style.

Content marketing for learning modes

When marketers talk about re-purposing content, they usually focus either on reducing costs or extending shelf life.

This makes perfect sense considering the immense growth of content marketing and its increasing importance in most companies’ marketing mixes. Many marketing teams are hard-pressed to create a steady supply of truly original and useful content for their customers.

Modes of Learning

For those of you who have school-age kiddos, think about the last time you were at a recital or play (the rest of you—think back to your second-grade Thanksgiving musical.)

These events are an orchestration of modes of learning. Some children sing, some dance or act out scenes. Others narrate or play in the band. The same thing happens in the classroom. Good teachers lecture for a while, have the kids work alone and in groups, use multimedia and assign fun projects.

The three modes of learning most of us are familiar with are visual, auditory and tactile (kinesthetic).1 Although the theory is constantly advancing, experts agree that people express preferences for how they like to learn and what feels most comfortable to them.

Content Modes

Most of the content marketers produce fits into the visual mode. It’s generally faster and less expensive to produce copy than audio or video content. About 40 percent of us prefer to consume content in this mode, according to British Journal of Educational Psychology.2

That doesn’t mean our blog posts, infographics, eBooks, tweets and emails don’t reach or resonate with 60 percent of our potential audience. It simply means they have to work harder cognitively to absorb it.

The growth of auditory content has progressed exponentially. The explosion of smartphones, readers and tablets has made podcasts, video, webinars and screen casts available instantly to millions of consumers. While there is a visual aspect to some of these mediums, the audio carries much of the meaning. Imagine watching an interview or a video of a keynote address without sound, for example.

More difficult to satisfy are those consumers who prefer to interact with content. Savvy brands and agencies attempt to reach these consumers by creating interactive tools and calculators, providing opportunities for them to contribute user-generated content, incorporating gamification elements into Web properties and incorporating content within apps.

helpscout

The team at Help Scout, for example, has been spectacular at integrating their on-boarding process into welcome emails and the application itself. As highlighted above, the new user is provided context sensitive help cues to robust content designed to help smooth and speed the adoption process.

Other fantastic examples of weaving kinesthetic design around content include:

 

Using Learning Modes in Your Content Plan

So how might you accommodate these learning modes in a practical way?

  1. Blog article. Let’s take the case of a normal, high-quality blog post. It’s got great content and great visuals, so it will appeal to our visual learners right off the bat.
  2. Podcast. If you’ve got someone with a voice for radio, have them convert your article into an audio file. Otherwise get  professional talent from a source like from Voice Talent Now (on the lower end) to VoiceBunny (on the higher end) to  do it for you. Link and promote your audio version with your blog article.
  3. Whiteboard Video. Take your audio and use it as narration to a whiteboard video version of your article. Leverage your visuals and communicate key concepts with simple slides. This will appeal to both your auditory and visual learners. Popular resources for creating these videos are Videoscribe by Sparkol and Animoto.
  4. Slideshare. Sometimes, creating a traditional PowerPoint version of the article may be as close as you can get to tactile interaction. The reader must advance the slide controls to consume the content.
  5. Downloadables. Occasionally, content will present you with the opportunity to create resources such as worksheets or spreadsheets. These are ideal for the kinesthetic learners. They get to take all the actions to register for and download the resource. Then they either print it or interact with it on screen.

 

Learning Modes for Content Promotion

If we are going to the trouble to create interesting and relevant content via learning modes, it makes sense we would be  more effective in reaching our audience by promoting it the same way.

  1. Twitter. 140 characters of visual communication. Add a photo to kick up the visual appeal.
  2. Video ads. Short, attention-getting video on Facebook and other platforms can draw your visual and auditory audience.
  3. Rich or interactive banners. These can be effective, particularly when used on your site. They are one way to appeal to tactile learners with minimal investment.
  4. Email. Email acts as a hybrid vehicle; it contains a high degree of visual communication requiring interaction to access growing levels of detail.

When thinking about your customers and prospects, look at how they interact with your content—it might yield an  interesting layer of insight for your sales and marketing efforts. Some organizations base their outreach methods on a series of emails, initiating the sales process with those who respond. Others favor phone contact, the old smile and dial.

Understanding the types of content with which a prospect or customer has engaged may give insight into the mode of communication they prefer. Here are is a thought starter for setting up event tracking within Google Analytics to track interactions with content on your site. Consult with your IT team for implementation to make sure you don’t jack up your stats, like bounce rate, for example.

Here is Google’s Event Tracking Guide, for reference.

Step 1

Ensure you have event tracking enabled in your website analytics code snippet (ga.js). If not, modify the JavaScript embed code to activate action tracking:

Google Analytics Event Tracking

Step 2

Modify the Urchin code to match your tracking schema and reporting needs. This will contain your category (Visual, Auditory or Tactile), action (Read, Listen, Submit, etc.), label (name of the content – ‘Content Marketing Calendar’).

There is also an optional ‘value’ component which could be used to assign a numeric score to the interaction in support of lead scoring or customer profiling. Finally, there is ‘non-interaction’ which affects bounce rate. The default setting will not affect bounce rates.

_trackEvent(category, action, opt_label, opt_value, opt_noninteraction

 

Step 3

Create the custom links that will measure your content interactions. For example, let’s assume we have a video from a conference where one of our associates delivered a stunning presentation. We would like to measure content consumption in the Auditory learning mode by using the following type of custom link:

<a href='path to video' onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Auditory', 'Listen', 'SMX Israel Panel Discussion']);">Play</a>

 

Once everything is setup, you can test your new action tracking by interacting with your content to view the results. The events will be captured in your Google Analytics “Content” section. In the left hand navigation, select “Behavior” then “Events” then “Overview”. You should see your activity here. You can then drill down to see your “Events Flow” for more insights into user behavior.

Have some fun exploring learning modes. Share some of the insights you gain from your customers and prospects.

  • http://thedsmgroup.com/ Jason Diller

    Awesome post @chris

    • cluttjohann

      Glad you like it Jason

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Chris, all good points! We prefer our content to be served along different channels and through different means. I prefer text-based content, others prefer video-based content. Some dig the podcast bit. Polling your readers from time to time and patiently sifting through your content, to spot patterns, helps you adjust your delivery with the preferred learning style of your audience. Finding a match makes all the difference in the world, for at that point you’ll be building stronger bonds with your audience.

    I’ve been uploading videos with many of my posts. Doing so draws in readers who dig my text but adds a personalized, authentic touch too, as nobody else can speak with my voice. Going the video route also vibes with folks who prefer to watch a message being explained as opposed to reading text. The scanning crowd might appreciate video too.

    On any level, great post :)

    Tweeted!

    I found this post and left this comment on Kingged.com, the content curation network.

    • cluttjohann

      Good to hear others are getting traction with this method. Excellent point about deepening the bonds and trust with your audience when you take the trouble to find out what matches their preferences.