8 Practical Ways to Improve Your E-learning Content and Copy


The E-learning industry is growing at a rate of 7.5% per year.

I’m convinced that E-learning content, however, is growing at a rate far higher than this. Why? Because of the recent explosion in online courses, digital teaching and the Edtech sector. As the sector becomes crowded, it is imperative that your course or service stands out. If we all agree that this is a problem, then what is the most important part of your course? The copy and content (of course). I’ve gathered eight powerful tips to help you create copy that engages your audience, whether on your course or interested in your service.

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Image by Negative Space

Implement these tips and you’ll have awesome content in just a short while.

  1. Bring your Copy to Life.

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Image from Baselinegroupny.com 

Great E-learning pops off the page. It seems active and not stale. Lively and not still. But how can you inject some energy into your words?

  • Strategic use of adverbs: Adverbs can serve to emphasize important bits of information. They can add energy to otherwise dull paragraphs. Don’t overdo them though or they can obscure the points you’re trying to make. A few examples of adverbs: ‘sadly’, ‘properly’, ‘boldy’, ‘generally’.
  • Tell (relevant) stories: Use anecdotes to clarify meaning and increase interest in your content. Try align your story choices with the audience your content is for. Again, this is so your content is easy to understand.
  • Make it scannable: Your audience should simply be able to look through and instantly find useful information. You can make it scannable by structuring your pieces logically.
  • Write it for a kid: Even if your content is for an adult audience and your E-learning is highly technical, a 14 year old should be able to grasp your points. Writing at this level prevents your audience’s human instincts that try to block difficult tasks - such as reading difficult information- from functioning.

Liven up your copy to keep it engaging. Boring content just doesn’t cut it in this day and age.

  1. Surprise your Audience at The Right Times.

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  Image by Jillian Morkan

Aim to surprise your audience every so often. This is often hard to get right. You need to be tactical with your surprises. Here’s a quick rundown of how to do this:

  • Reframe topics or facts in an interesting way: Fun facts, figures and analogies sprinkled among dull or dry topics can quickly bring your words to life, keeping your audience engaged.
  • Be positive when your audience doesn’t expect it: This encourages them to continue learning and surprises them at the same time.
  • Vary fonts and colors, in a logical way: Keeping your E-learning design consistent and intact, strategically edit the colours and fonts to guide your audience to the most pertinent lessons.
  • Exclamations should be deployed sparingly, but effectively: Exclamations and similar punctuation will typically be more frequent in courses targeted to audiences at high school and below. Using such devices can work for audiences of an older age, but only sparingly and in places where surprise is actually expected.

Why should we surprise the audience? So that they keep wanting more and more. Ever wonder why your favorite show leaves you wanting to know more when the commercials start. Cliff hangers. Your content should do the same, keeping your learners riveted.

Liven up the transitions between topics to create a small but important surge of excitement for your audience.

  1. Don’t Forget the Hit Headline

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Image by Kaboompics.com

Whether it’s your content or your website copy, headlines need to draw your audience in. There are many ways to do that. Having regular headlines makes content scannable and so it’s advisable to use them often, in an intuitive sequence.

  • Clarity: Make it explicitly clear what each section of content is about. Your titles should tackle the subject head-on to reduce confusion.
  • Purpose: Think carefully and creatively about what you as a business hope to achieve with each headline and integrate this into your plan.
  • Simplicity: Ensure that your headlines are catchy, understandable and not overly long. Think about the way you present them as well. Fonts, italics, bold and so on. Make the style consistent.
  • Exciting: Your headlines must be exciting to get read. This is true of any copy or content. Here’s a tool to help you gauge headline intrigue.

Hit hard with your headline. If it’s your copy in question, it’s often the only chance you have to hook your audience.

It’s nearly always worth spending a considerable amount of time refining your headline so that you get it just right.

  1. Introduce Topics in a Powerful Style

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Image by Pixabay

Your introductions need to be solid too. Your E-learning topics should be presented with power. All of your content needs to be solid - this should be your key takeaway from this article. Rich but readable. Conventional but surprising. Your intros should ignite the passion within your audience inducing them to continue reading (and learning).

  • Introduce solidly: Generate renewed interest for your readers by keeping the copy positive and upbeat.
  • Provide context: Explain your topic thoroughly and concisely in your introduction by ensuring you have included adequate frames of reference.
  • Keep it the right size: Don’t be too lengthy or short in your introduction. If you only use a single paragraph that’s more than five lines long, split it up. Short introductions can also make your audience feel cheated so avoid them if possible.
  • Make it exciting: Include the outcomes for your section so that your audience are motivated to keep going and continue their learning journey.

Excitement is the name of the game. You may start off with something considered dry by your audience, but don’t introduce it that way!

All of your copy needs to be solid, deliberate and make its mark on your audience in the way you desire. The introduction is no exception.

  1. Keep it Sharp

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Image by Icon0.com

Focus. Focus. Focus. This tip is common for a reason. The depth and volume of the internet, online/offline apps and the E-learning industry mean that almost every topic imaginable is covered and accessible to anybody. However, barely anyone writes about anything in exactly the same way or from the same angle. You can make your content great by being different and useful. Don’t worry about discussing unusual or niche topics if they’re useful to your audience.

  • Cut the waffle: Be ruthless when checking your content so that learners aren’t confused. Your ramblings may be interesting to you, but they’re probably a waste of time for you audience.
  • Don’t be scared of depth: Feel free, however, to expand on your subject if it will help your audience. If they’ve purchased a course then they’ll be expecting good value for their money.
  • Don’t dilute your lessons: Try to keep each lesson separate. Sure, you should connect the dots and cross-reference when it makes sense. But cramming too much into one section is a big no-no if you want your course to be seen as professional.
  • Repetition (is your friend): Reiterate the key points so that they’re easier to remember. You can vary how you talk about key points so that different sections of your audience have a chance to understand something they didn't previously.

Sometimes you can keep it focused simply by keeping it short.

  1. Structure is Simplicity and Simplicity is Everything

Great content is structured and formulaic. Being too unconventional in your copy or content presentation can be highly damaging for engagement. Again, enjoyable content is scannable and can be broken into small parts. Structure makes your content simple, simple content makes learning easier for most people.

  • Don’t cram: Divide your content and copy into appropriate sections. It’s best to plan this before you even start. Think about how you present the content so that it leads logically from one section to the next.
  • Use white space: Word blocks even creep out bookish college professors. Break up your copy and content so that it is scannable. White spaces are places where notes can be made on print-outs.
  • Watchout for inconsistencies (especially in transitions): Make sure to formally declare the end of one topic before starting on another. Your transitions should be smooth and clear to avoid confusion. Ensure the information itself doesn’t contradict previous information.
  • Keep the structure itself simple: Don’t try to use highly sophisticated numbering and orders as these can easily backfire. Often, the experience for the end user can be dreadful.

Whether you plan before or after you write or whatever your methods are for writing your modern audience requires structure. They demand it. Attention spans are low and the last thing your learners want is to get lost when looking for information.

Structure is key.

  1. Learn Everything you can about Your E-learning Audience

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Image by Markus Spiske

One thing E-learning providers should never stop doing is research. Your findings inform everything, or at least they should do. If you write content or copy the most important topic you should research is the audience. Here’s a few insights you should look for:

  • Who are they? Age, gender, race, location, interests, hot topics. Everything about them can help inform your content.
  • What are they learning? Think carefully about what they need from this. Ensure that you are helping them reach their objectives.
  • Is your content accessible? Can they benefit from having it in different forms, would the effort required to create these be worth it?
  • What helps keep them engaged? By doing your research you’ll be able to find relevant news topics and potentially useful information that you integrate into your content to pleasantly surprise them.

Get to know your audience and over time they will get to know you. The effort will be worth it.

  1. The Ending is Crucial

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Image by Miguel P

Content needs to be consistently solid. The closing words of your content need to be focused and conclusive, refreshing the subject matter while reflecting on it. Try to make your copy inspiring and indelible so that your audience feel like they have deepened their understanding. This way good word spreads about your course as you have imprinted positive memories in the minds of learners.  A few techniques for doing this are:

  • Be specific: Make it clear what section is ending and possibly what’s up next. Tell your learners what you expect them to have learned.
  • Summarize: Round up all the points you have made and add a quick statement that summarizes each key point. Be sharp and clear.
  • Present it is an achievement: Make sure you congratulate your learner in some way. This keeps motivation high and releases dopamine helping your reader to feel happier- liking your course more.
  • Encourage direct engagement: Invite readers to comment and reply to your courses. Create forums around your course, copy or content and try to cultivate an E-learning ecosystem feedback loop. This helps you to rank highly on the web as well as boost revenue sources.

End on a high note and deploy strategies to keep your audience engaged and taking the actions that you want.

Takeaway

Now you should have some ideas that allow you to better engage your audience. Writing copy and content isn’t rocket science. Get out there and implement these tips.

  1. Bring your Copy to Life.
  2. Surprise your Audience at the Right Times.
  3. Don’t Forget the Hit Headline(s).
  4. Introduce Topics in a Powerful Style.
  5. Keep It Sharp.
  6. Structure is Simplicity and Simplicity is Everything.
  7. Learn Everything you can about your E-Learning Audience.
  8. The Ending is Crucial.

Liven up your copy to keep it engaging. Boring content just doesn’t cut it in this day and age. You can find more information on writing specifically for Edtech here.

About the Author
Author: Anthony Clayton
Anthony Clayton is a freelance copywriter (writefullyso.co) and marketing strategist who specialises in Edtech and E-Learning. He works with startups and small businesses, writing and improving copy. He loves solo walks and appreciates clever advertising.

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