Instructional Design

4 Mistakes From the Marketing Playbook That Destroy Content Engagement

You take the time to develop eLearning content and then send it out to employees, only to get back disappointing and lackluster adoption rates. Where did you go wrong?

Captain Obvious moment: if you can’t even entice employees to click a link or open an attachment, they’re probably not going to click through and consume your generic learning material. And sure, there are a number of possible reasons , but in many cases, missteps in eLearning creation might be the main culprit of bad click rates.

We contend that the best content is both developed and delivered with an eye toward marketing.

Here are 4 mistakes straight out of the marketing playbook that could be causing low engagement rates with your eLearning content.

Reason #1: It Doesn’t Connect Emotionally

When you scroll past a link on Facebook or thumb through the day’s headlines, you’re most likely to click on those that connect to your personal experience. It’s not happenstance: It’s marketing. Those stories and links are displayed based on your personal preferences because social media and news websites know that they’ll score more click through when you connect information to your job, family, life, and overall circumstances.

The same goes for eLearning: Without a personal or emotional connection, such as hitting on certain pain points or speaking to an employee’s leadership journey, it’s unlikely that a learner will even click, let alone read or watch. Disney is a great example of a company who masters the art of connecting to emotions.

Reason #2: It Doesn’t Solve an Immediate Problem

Whether you’re wondering what’s for dinner or you’re thinking about how to improve customer service, clever marketing tactics make sure that content matches and talk about something that you’re experiencing right now. Make it relevant and helpful. The best content speaks to and solves a real problem that the end user is having, and the same should go for your eLearning content. Not only is it timely, but the best content also solves problems quickly. Remember: Even great content that doesn’t really address current needs is going to be passed over for quicker, more relevant results.

Even really great content will be ignored for quicker, more relevant results.

Reason #3: It Doesn’t Help Achieve a Goal

All employees have specific goals, be they short term or for the next five years. Learning materials that are “marketed” properly increase learner buy-in because they speak to and help employees achieve those goals. Maybe it’s climbing the leadership ladder or increasing overall sales, but eLearning content should explain exactly what’s in it for the learner.

It’s the same tactic marketers have been using for decades. Why buy a product? Because it makes your life easier, or increases contentment, or even promises to make you better at the things you do every day. Use the same strategy for your learning initiatives.

Reason #4: It’s Boring

We’ve all clicked on a link for sheer entertainment purposes. From movie trailers to cat videos, it’s not always about education. By offering some entertainment, products and brands offer viewers a measure of trust for future media. It was entertaining once, so users are more likely to click through on future offerings, even if they’re more educational than entertaining.

The same can be said for eLearning. No, it’s not all fun and games, but by using clever storytelling, animations, and specific scenarios, it’s possible to keep learners entertained so they’re better engaged with the material overall.

By thinking less like a HR pro and more like a marketer, the pain of creating great eLearning that no one experiences can be a thing of the past. It’s a hard sell to learners that have been burned in the past, but by rectifying those mistakes, it’s possible to increase buy-in, click through, and eventually, concept adoption.


Bad eLearning sends one clear message from your to your employees: “We don’t care about you!” Companies who value their talent invest in them, and one of the top ways to show employees you value their time and work is by providing them with great learning to help them progress in their career. Innovation stems from employees that feel valued and care enough about the company to want to make it better.

Connect with us here to find out how we can help you build learning that says to your employees: “We Value You!”