Here is a paradox.
This generation of school children is beyond tech-savvy, and this is the school’s main responsibility to teach ICT skills as the 21st century essentials. Ironically, just a small percentage of teachers are willing (and capable) to use technology in classroom, let alone developing technical skills in their pupils. According to SAM Labs 2017 report, four in five U.S. teachers say they haven't received the training they need to effectively use the technology they're asked to in the classroom. Has anyone dared to collect statistics in less developed countries?
As an R&D and IT consulting shop, Logicify is building a network of connected EdTech businesses and service providers. As a part of this network, EdTech startupers often share the challenges they face with outreach and marketing – teachers are reluctant to try new EdTech products. Educators fear that they would fail to adapt to a new technology, or that the technology will “steal” their jobs. Some teachers are unwilling to use technology because of a lack of time, skills, resources, confidence (underline as applicable). Some are just skeptical they would benefit from it.
We gathered a few helpful marketing tips for EdTech product owners and startupers to make their products more teacher-oriented, engage larger audience and increase the conversion rates.
A few things to keep in mind while developing an EdTech solution:
1. The rule of thumb is to create the product with the user in mind. Know your users and, on every stage of the development process, be sure you build the tool teachers want, instead of the tool you think teachers want. For the product to be a success among pedagogues, make sure it has an input from educators and considers teachers workflow and the cyclic nature of school life.
2. Discover real use-cases from your users (freemium service of Google Analytics is a perfect tool for this) and give your users a feedback mechanism: in-app widgets, chat or Contact Us forms. Carefully collect and analyze behavior and feedback from real users and let your product develop around these insights. Be ready to adapt and improve the product per your users’ needs.
3. Make your product as simple as possible.
3.1. Take advantage of modern touch-screen technologies and multitouch interfaces to free your users from the necessity to use the keyboard and mouse.
3.2. For the front-end part of your application, create an intuitive UI (user interface) keeping UX (user experience) in mind. Even such a simple thing as customizable font size would add to your product’s UX as eyesight issues are a common side-effect of teaching.
3.3. For the back-end part, make sure the source code is optimized, and this would not take your users long to install, update and launch the application.
There are a few targets EdTech product owners need to hit while marketing their solutions when retaining existing users and engaging new ones:
1. Retaining existing users
When targeting educators who already tried using the app, the foremost thing is to show that it meets their needs (is useful for educators) and is easy-to-use (there is nothing to fear even if they are not to tech-savvy) by
creating a squeeze landing page and listing all the products benefits concisely
recording video-tutorials to train users how to use the application
adding an FAQ or Q&A sections and a Contact form
giving users a mechanism to leave feedback and share their impressions on and experience with the app
2. Engaging new users
When promoting the EdTech product for new users, you could benefit from the following tips:
- Make special sales. Educators start looking for EdTech products to use in their classrooms during holidays. Announcing a Christmas or a Back-to-School sale during this time would help to encourage purchases.
- Give freebies to gain trust and reputation among your users. It is always a nice move to include a free trial package, a sample, or a limited subscription into your pricing model as people love being treated for free. More so, most educators like to test the product before paying money for it. More often than not, educators conduct thorough and timely research to guide their technology purchasing decisions.
- Define your purchasing decision maker. For EdTech products, in addition to its owners, there are several stakeholders: administrators, principals, teachers, parents. So mind that the executives who decide whether to buy the product or not are barely the ones who would eventually use it; at the same time, teachers whom your application targets may not always be free to choose and pay for a product they’d like to use as the principal should approve it first.
- Build lasting relationships with people in education communities. Visit school and district events, seminars and conferences, meet educators and introduce your solution to them. This way, educators would see a solution-maker not just a seller in you.
- Collect friendly testimonials from your users as these would add validation to your tool. Products without enough visible customer satisfaction, especially distributed at a high price, are not likely to attract new users.
- Do not underestimate the word of mouth; it means a lot in teachers circles. Ask existing users who tried and liked your product for referrals. Sometimes, a group of talkative teachers could do better than a professional marketing team. Educators trust their colleagues and are used to relying on recommendations when they seek new digital products.
EdTech can make educators’ life easier, but only if they overcome the fear of change and feel capable of using it. Teachers need support from authorities and administration as many schools even in developed countries still lag behind in access to technology. EdTech product owners, at their end, should persuade educators they would benefit from the offered solutions and engage larger audience to use them. The best strategies for this is finding the balance between simplicity and functionality by making educative apps as user-friendly and as targeted as possible. Just as a well-written textbook, an elaborated software application - developed and designed with the user in mind - can reach students not just in one classroom but all over the world.