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5 Marketing Mistakes Affecting Training Completion Rates (No, Really)

Written by Julia Borgini

Published on September 29, 2016

Quick question: The last time you signed up for training, did you finish it? If you're like me these days, probably not. Even though I was very excited about it and read through all the marketing materials for the training, I just couldn't bring myself to finish it.

Which makes me wonder about the relationship between the marketing of training programs and their completion rates. Are we spending too much time on the marketing and not enough on the programs themselves? Is the marketing just so persuasive that we're disappointed with the training and so never finish it? Quite possibly, though it's probably quite unintentional.


Here are five mistakes that companies make with their training marketing, which unintentionally affect completion rates.

Mistake #1: You're marketing to the wrong audience

This is the top mistake by most marketers, as they've simply missed the mark when it comes to their audience. They think they're marketing to administrator users, when in fact it's business analyst users they should be speaking to. This happens because you're out of touch with your audience and are just guessing about what interests them.

The fix: Speak to your support teams to find out who your customers are, what they care about, and what types of work they actually perform in the product. Develop both a training and marketing persona document so everyone's on the same page (literally) and know who they're talking to. Then revise your marketing to match.

Mistake #2: You don't understand why customers want to take your training

Just because someone is a customer does not mean they want or need your training. New, existing, and advanced level customers all have different information needs, and understanding why they're looking for training is critical to project completion. That's because motivation is a big part of participation, so marketing that speaks directly to that motivation and evokes the right emotion is a powerful thing.

The fix: Customer reviews and feedback from previous training sessions/courses can help you dive into their motivations. Infuse this throughout your marketing to hook them from the first read.

Mistake #3: You're using the wrong language in your marketing

The words you use in your marketing are important to the success of the program. Use too much jargon or specialized terms only a small percentage of your customers use, and you'll lose them immediately.

The fix: Listen in on webinars, Q&As and support calls to see what kind of language your customers are using, then start using it in your marketing.

Mistake #4: You market your training the same way, year after year

While the training program can remain the same, the marketing shouldn't. Customers change and so should your marketing. Ones who responded to social media messages and eBook downloads last year may now want longer marketing content this year because their decision makers want more formal information.

The fix: Switch up your marketing on a regular basis so it still engages your customers and entices them to sign up for your training programs. Test variations of the marketing of successful campaigns to see how they stack up against each other.

Mistake #5: You're not tracking marketing stats to see how you're doing

Marketing may sometimes seem more art than science, but at a certain point science certainly comes in to play. At least the numbers portion. You should be tracking marketing stats for your training programs alongside the stats for each program in order to see how they're doing. How else are you going to know if the marketing is working or not? Or is better than last year? Or has fallen off in the last quarter? Measuring the data will help you plan future campaigns, and also future training programs.

The fix: Use online tracking tools to help discover website KPIs like visits and shares, but also heat mapping tools to see what customers are looking at on each page of your marketing.

Prepare More Completion Certificates

It might seem strange to think about it, but your marketing can have an effect on the completion rates of your training programs. By making some slight tweaks to your marketing, you may notice more customers completing their programs. They'll be satisfied by the training, and you'll be satisfied with your very effective marketing.

Originally published Sep 29, 2016 12:00:00 PM, updated Sep 29, 2016