Learners as customers

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The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art serves as my office when I’m in the City, and I used it for contemplation and sustenance between sessions of the World Online Marketing Conference today.

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Online commerce has lessons for learning professionals putting together learning platforms. For example, the people today were really hot about live help as a sales tool. Text chat comes in many varieties. It’s a no-brainer if you’re selling from your website. Likewise, shouldn’t live help be a component of any important in-house learning event?

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve advocated treating learners as if they were customers. If an online marketing champ were running training, she’d be testing new approaches every day and pouring over heat maps of traffic every night. She’d be minimizing distractions, making navigation drop-dead simple, and calling drop-outs to see what went wrong. Every lesson, workshop, and pointer would provide a way for users to leave review. stars

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Social networking sites account for more web traffic than news and information sites. Here’s the bad news for online marketers: people don’t go to Facebook to shop. They visit social sites to see what their friends are up to, to send messages, to update their profiles and check other people’s profiles, to look for people, to listen to music, or to write a blog post. Here’s the good news for learning professionals: people go to social sites to commune with others; that’s the vehicle for most learning in organizations.

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So much for another day at the office.