5 Key Insights On How To Increase Users Of Your eLearning Authoring Tool: A Case Study

5 Key Insights On How To Increase Users Of Your eLearning Authoring Tool: A Case Study
Summary: In this article we break down 5 key insights of scaling Easygenerator from 1K to 30K users.

How To Increase Users Of Your eLearning Authoring Tool: Scaling From 1K To 30K Users At Easygenerator

Early 2013 Easygenerator relaunched from a downloadable software solution to a SaaS product to facilitate creating eLearning courses for eLearning experts, teachers, and Instructional Designers. That mission statement sounds incredibly dated today, as we shifted our focus completely to facilitate informal learning and agile eLearning development alongside the 70:20:10 model instead of traditional top-down formal learning.

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We just signed our first 3 enterprise customers such as Nielsen, Unilever, and T-mobile who are now using Easygenerator company wide, and we just hit 30K users, a great opportunity to reflect on how we got here. In this article we break down the shifts we made with Easygenerator, 5 key insights of scaling Easygenerator from 1K to 30K users, and our vision for the future of Easygenerator and sharing knowledge.

The shift from from top-down formal learning content to informal learning content is happening now.

Why We Shifted To The 70:20:10 Model And Agile Content Creation

In 2013 the market for authoring tools was completely aimed at eLearning experts or Instructional Designers; if you worked at a Learning and Development team you fitted our target audience, at least so we thought.

Most of our target audience already used other authoring tools, which after a steep learning curve, they got to know well and could make their content pixel-perfect. We wanted them to come over to us, but needless to say, they didn't.

We even had a Net Promoter Score (more on this later in this article) of a negative -22.

This happened for the following reasons:

  1. Technology.
    Easygenerator was windows only. Obvious solution: We had to move into SaaS, which we did!
  2. A lack of training or user manuals.
    Or put in other words: People didn't understand Easygenerator right from the start.
  3. Easygenerator is an expert tool.
    We also believed we were!

So we were either too limited for Instructional Designers or too complicated for users without eLearning experience. We could not address both these issues at the same time. We had to make a choice who to our new audience was going to be.

After analyzing our most used features, surveying a subset of users who we believed were our new target audience. We changed our mission: To allow everybody to quickly share knowledge with Easygenerator.

We identified our new target audience Subject Matter Experts for a few months, but then it became very clear: Our audience was everybody who wants to share knowledge.

This insight had a drastic impact on our road map and forced us to hyper-focus on only offering a set of question types, content items, and the ability to track learners' results without having to set up a Learning Management System.

Our road map consisted of 3 tires:

  1. Improving the User Experience from signing up to Easygenerator to sharing learning content to your audience.
    Everything that caused friction was analyzed and removed if necessary.
  2. Stability.
    Our tech team identified a few steps we had to take to scale the increasing usage of Easygenerator.
  3. Enterprise features.
    Whitelisting, basic admin functionality, and branding options have been the only features we have added to serve our new enterprise clients. We already had the option to export to an LMS.

After continuous development and gaining market insight by surveying our CEO’s personal network of L&D managers. We noticed that a lot of companies were dealing with the same problems:

  • Too much learning requests for small instructional teams.
  • Time to market for learning content was too long; the business has moved on by the time any pixel-perfect course reaches the right people. Courses created by a traditional learning function consisting of Instructional Designers.

Enterprises need a solution that enables everybody to create learning content and not make low impact PowerPoint slides of which you have zero insight.

In 2016 we signed our first 3 Enterprise customers after an initial pilot. These enterprises also recognized the same challenges: Nielsen, T-Mobile, and Unilever and are now using Easygenerator to handle:

  • Formal content such as compliance guidelines and HR related content such as onboarding gets created by either Easygenerator in large courses or they have their instructional designers use whatever they feel they need.
  • Smaller requests, and less formal request (the 20 and 10 part of the 70:20:10 philosophy) are created by employees themselves and immediately shared either via an LMS or simply by sharing links to courses that run in the Easygenerator cloud.

After our switch our Net Promoter Score went from -22 to a +53 over a period of three years. And we gained a lot of insight in people motivation to go for Easygenerator.

5 Key Insights Easygenerator Got From Scaling From <1000 Users To 30K Users

1. It Only Takes An Average Of Only 60 Minutes To Publish The First Iteration Of A Course And Cost Per Course Drops Dramatically

Speed: Just like software has a constant iterative process if improving, we believe the same should be possible to learning content. What we found out is that it takes a new user an average of 60 minutes to publish their first course!

How we found out? We analyzed* the first “real” session where a user added a multitude of question types and pieces of content and published the course in one of the four ways we offer.

*We’ve discarded the first session of users where they are just snooping around in Easygenerator and browse around features and question types.

Reducing Cost: The side effect of serving enterprises with a fast time to market for learning content is that the average costs per course dropped dramatically to <30 Euros per course. People share knowledge on the job, without much process, it’s on demand, and fits beautifully on the 20 or 10% of the 70:20:10 philosophy of Learning and Development.

2. Learning Management Systems Are Holding Back Distribution Of Knowledge, Instead Of Facilitating It

We’ve already predicted it here and here in 2014, but now we have the data to support it: The end of the LMS is near, or at least it could be. Users who share knowledge share links directly instead of uploading it to an LMS. Users only use Learning Management Systems if they really have to, if it’s enforced within their organization. Even then, if the content allows it (for example a small how-to or work-instruction, they still avoid using LMSs).

Only larger and more formal official requests seem to be uploaded to Learning Management Systems (compliance-driven content for example), but as the 70:20:10 rule states: Most learning doesn’t take place in a formal setting, but in an informal setting or “on the job”. We are still not currently sure where to position Easygenerator, in the 20 or 10 region, but most of our content fits in the 30% of non formal part, even within our Enterprise customers.

Course Publishing with Easygenerator

Share link: 69.57%, Download SCORM: 17.81%, Download HTML: 11.10%, Publish to Coggno: 1.52%

We’ve asked our users what the reasoning is for using an LMS and the outcome is always that content that’s compliance-driven or has to be shared company wide is very suitable for an LMS. But if content only needs to be distributed within a team or has to be distributed fast, an LMS is provides hardly any value.

Even some of the Enterprise customers acknowledge that more larger and formal learning requests have to reside within an LMS, but informal and bite-sized content is best to be spread directly, without the least amount of friction, to keep up the pace of the business.

3. Customer Support Is A Product Feature, Not An Afterthought Or A Sales Lead Machine

The biggest insight our sales and product department had in the past few months, was that hardly any new customer subscribes to one of the Easygenerator plans without contacting our support team. Because choosing an authoring tool is hard, there are so many options on the market and Google is not your friend in this case. We obviously believe we provide the best value with our software (so do our users: Rating Easygenerator with a Net Promotor Score (NPS) of 53!). But what often makes us stand out besides user friendliness is the fast and accurate support we are able to deliver.

How we are able to pull this off?

We are big fans of Intercom! A great app that allows as to build in chat windows in Easygenerator and allows for the whole Easygenerator team to respond immediately to a question anytime, and anywhere, because of easy-to-use mobile apps.

4. Get To Know Your Users, Just By Talking To Them!

In the beginning of Easygenerator, we had thought that most of our users have an eLearning background: Instructional Designers, trainers, or coaches. We didn't have the data to get good insight into who our users actually are. What we had to learn was that eLearning experts often get the assignment to look for an authoring tool for others to use, instead of using it themselves. Asking for “the role” of a new user on our sign up form was misleading us in the beginning.

But as we scale and mature as a team, we found out that most of our actual content creators and end-users are Subject Matter Experts (aka you! Someone who obtains knowledge and needs to share it in a quick and easy way).

You know how we find out? Just listen to them, ask, at scale!

5. Simplifying Works: Easygenerator User’s Net Promoter Score: From -22 To 53+, Which Is Good, Very Good

Next to revenue, we religiously monitor our Net Promoter Score to measure the progress we make with Easygenerator. Our CEO wrote a great blog post on how we use Net Promoter Score at Easygenerator.

Last year we started doing NPS surveys and we are now at a 53 score, which makes us very happy. One of the reasons we achieved this score is that we decided to focus obsessively on getting Subject Matter Experts (aka you!) to create content without any learning curve. We are still continuously innovating and developing Easygenerator, always with the focus of speed and ease.

We firmly believe in the insight NPS gives us; we are working on a lot of user experience (UX) improvements on both the authoring as the output side of Easygenerator. And the only way to form an opinion on the effectiveness of changes is NPS. Because as much as we love to talk about design at Easygenerator, NPS is the only truth.

The Future Of Sharing Knowledge With Easygenerator

We now achieved product market fit, but we identified some main focus points for the future:

  • User Experience will shift to mobile even more. At the moment we are redesigning our course output to make the shift to a more mobile first strategy.
  • Artificial Intelligence.
    • We are doing tests using artificial intelligence to assist authors to create even better learning content. For example, with IBM’s Watson you can detect the readability of your content, if the sentiment fits the topic and audience, and if your tone of voice is optimal for your readers.
    • We are thinking of giving you real time assistance in creating your content in the most instructional sound way possible, so that your content has the highest learning impact
  • Big Data.
    • Next to A.I. we can start thinking of comparing your content to other people's content with a similar topic using Big Data. We can give you feedback how your peers are performing and how audiences engage to content.
    • Peer review.
  • Gamification / personal branding for authors.
    • We are investigating how we can make certain authors who create a lot of content within Enterprise a score or a rating, so we motivate users to create content and allow Enterprises to build a strong body of content. What we hope will happen is that "User X is known as 'the expert on y'".
eBook Release: Easygenerator
Easygenerator is an online e-Learning authoring tool for people without an e-Learning background. Create courses and quizzes and host them in our cloud and see learner’s results at no extra charge. Uploading to your website or LMS is also possible.