When the need arises to train a large department within your organization on a new marketing campaign, or you find yourself having to relay crucial marketing information to partners or associates in a short amount of time, traditional e-learning methods just won't cut it.

Fortunately, e-learning has evolved, bypassing the days of online content libraries that were as boring as they were long. New training methodologies help you distill your information and dispense it quickly and effectively to even the largest of teams.

Here are some tips on how create powerful and engaging messages while slashing the time and costs.

Ditch the PowerPoint, bring on the HD video

If slide-based trainings bore the pants off you, then why are you still using them to share information? It's time to bring HD video off the bench and into the game. If you're training a team about the new brand messages being rolled out for a certain product, don't say to them what the messages are—show them.

Effective, engaging videos pull people in, and do a better job of explaining the new way the product is being marketed. For instance, using carefully selected music and sounds can paint the vibe of the product's target audience. And including 10-second clips of target-specific characters describing a new product conveys the whole message visually.

Your employees will understand, enjoy, and remember what the product is all about far better than if they had merely read a few slides.

To add high-end video effects, remember to...

  • Change scenes, move a character, or add a bullet every 6-10 seconds.
  • If you want a professional-looking video, use professional-grade equipment, lighting, and microphones. Your iPhone in a dimly lit room doesn't cut it.
  • Harness crowdsourcing to improve the quality. If you're looking for a clip or image, designers have posted sample work that's very good and affordable to crowd-sourcing sites

Interaction is key

E-learning is great at saving both money and time, but it often overlooks the human component. Remember that people retain more when they're able to interact and converse with a real expert than when having details force-fed to them through a one-way channel.

Without two-way interaction, learners will tune out; they will be more likely to fail to complete courses, or to forget most of what they learned. They'll respond more positively and be more invested in a class that gives them an environment where they feel like part of a community.

Imagine an online course in which instructors teach in front of a green screen so that a compelling background can be added, and the students at work are able to ask questions and interact in real-time with the trainer via a chat screen. This type of technology is readily available; it is affordable, and it works.

Imagine training an agency partner about a new product for which they're going to build a campaign. But the agency is in another state. No problem: your head of marketing can instruct the class via an interactive online course and be the expert to field direct, live questions from the partner.

Even simpler? Have a pre-recorded training session delivered online at a specific time to the agency partner. Your head of marketing logs into a chat screen and stands by to answer questions as they come up. This approach calls for less time commitment on the part of the marketing exec, while still fulfilling the same need for live interaction on the part of the trainees.

To get effective interaction with learners...

  • Choose the right on-screen expert. Dry, boring, or arrogant equals death to interaction. Find someone likeable and approachable.
  • Use a tool like Adobe Connect that has advanced video and voice interaction.
  • Look for opportunities to interact—polls, Q&As—throughout the presentation. If you have gone 10 minutes without interaction, you've failed.

Use shorter training segments that make use of "edutainment"

Marketers get that the best way to meet their audience is online and in very short snippets. It stands to reason, then, that the same approach should apply to delivering training information about your company's marketing initiatives.

You'll reap rewards if you make your trainings accessible by offering live courses as well as on-demand playbacks, and keep the training segments as short as possible: three minutes or less.

Think about this: Viewers of an effective, three-minute movie trailer walk away with an understanding of the entire two-hour movie. The same is true with training. By creating short, attractive, compelling video trainings, you can effectively educate a very large audience in a very short period of time. The message is quicker, the learning retention rate is higher because employees are being entertained, and the content is very easy to deliver.

To get started, focus on the 3-5 key takeaways you want your audience to retain. Cut any content that doesn't directly teach to those topics. Retention will skyrocket because the message isn't cluttered with unnecessary information, and you'll find your employees better versed in whatever you're trying to teach—whether new product info or simply new messaging.

To reduce content and stay effective...

  • Before you get started, clearly define 5-7 ideas you want to be learned, then stick to them.
  • Focus on what's important and include only what's needed vs. what's nice-to-have. Typically, about half of content can be removed at the early stages.
  • Learn from Apple and sell your story with images. Tim Cook's iPhone 5 intro educated us about what the device could do—by using images, images, images. And we got the message.

Here's the takeaway

Companies that offer marketing-related training to employees or partners can now deliver the most concentrated, impactful training imaginable via next generation e-learning.

If marketers consider their training sessions the way they approach the campaigns they create, employees will learn more... and it will show in the bottom line. More effective training methods equate to a more efficient business and greater profits. It really is that simple.

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Marketing Training: How to Make E-Learning Effective

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image of Tom Graunke

Tom Graunke is the founder and CEO of StormWind. He is an e-learning luminary with 20+ years of corporate messaging and training experience and previously founded Mastering Computers and KnowledgeNet.

LinkedIn: Tom Graunke