That's How to Apply Digital Marketing Best Practices to ID!



Director of Development and Innovation at RedSaberes, Emily Justin-Szopinski, joins me to talk about the overlap between digital marketing best practices and instructional design best practices. She also shares a little bit about user retention models that have been most successful for her company. Spoiler alert: let your learners know there is a human on the other side of the course!


Connect with Emily on Linkedin.


The following transcript was auto-generated and may contain typos or spelling errors.


Leslie Early

Okay, today I have Emily Justin-Szopinski with me today, Emily is the director of development and innovation at, pardon my Spanish, I'm going to try my best, at Red Sabreres. So bear with me, it's in this role that she has had to wear dual hats: part instructional designer and part marketing and business strategist, which is why we are going to talk about the crossover between these two roles today, the crossover between digital marketing and instructional designer. So thank you so much for joining me today, Emily.


Emily Justin-Szopinski

Thanks for having me. I'm so excited.


Leslie Early

Yes, I'm excited to have you here. Um, do you want to take a couple minutes before we jump in and maybe introduce yourself?


Emily Justin-Szopinski

Sure. Um, I'm Emily, Justin Chapin ski. And I'm originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But I've lived in Thailand for the last 15 something years. And I've been working in instructional design, specifically in elearning for some time, like 10 or 12 years or something like that. And it's just grown. And I feel like the the more that I've been in it, the more I see how many different things are really related to instructional design, like marketing, for example, but also like sociology, which I also studied. And like graphic design, just, you know, communication strategy, and all that all that good stuff.


Leslie Early

Yeah, there is a lot of crossover. And I think that's what appeals to a lot of people I think, who are in instructional design now is like, there's no one career path to get here. And also like, you if you have lots of different skill sets like that, I think it's a career that you can use all of those different things.


Emily Justin-Szopinski

It's the ultimate career mashup. Right?


Leslie Early

So basically, we're gonna be talking about digital marketing, and sort of how that how some of those best practices can also be used when you're working on instructional design projects. But I think people listening to this probably know what digital marketing is, we all sort of know what this is. But I just wanted to hear your definition of what you think this is. And and, and what that means to you the term digital marketing?


Emily Justin-Szopinski

Yeah. Well, I mean, I think in a in a business setting, it's definitely the strategic communication of the identity of your company. But not, not unilaterally, not just like me coming out and saying, like, yeah, says, read some of your days, and this is who we are. And you know, just drink up all of that information about us. But rather like where you let people know who you are, but then also and even more importantly, understand who, your users and clients and people that follow you understand what they want, and what they need and how they're communicating and how they're seeing you in this digital space.


Leslie Early

Yeah. So I mean, I am curious. So when you're handling like digital marketing, and business strategy for your company that you're in right now, what is like, for me digital marketing, like the extent of my personal brand, digital marketing is like LinkedIn, that's like, the only place I am. What does that mean for your company? I'm just personally curious, like, Where are you guys marketing? And how's that working for you? Well, I mean,


Emily Justin-Szopinski

I think something that's really important to keep in mind is that like, so the first step before you get to any sort of posting on whatever social media you decide to use. The steps before that is really defining well, like who your public is, like, who your target is we want to communicate with and understanding how they best communicate. And so right now, since we're just starting out, we're mainly focusing on LinkedIn, specifically for communicating with leaders in the education sector. And then for communicating with teachers. We're using Facebook, and then we're also a president on Twitter, mostly because most of the experts that we work with are most active in Twitter. And so we definitely like they First about the audience and how they they communicate with each other. And then we go where they are.


Leslie Early

Hmm. And that makes a lot of sense. And that's exactly why I'm using LinkedIn is because this is where it's Yeah, I mean, the podcast is to connect with other people in the industry. So. And that's where all everyone is that I know. And you're so right about teachers being on Facebook, like that's the big one. Right? I also heard...


Emily Justin-Szopinski

Oh my god, they're on Facebook, teachers own that.


Leslie Early

And I also heard from a friend recently that a lot of teachers are on Instagram, these days.


Emily Justin-Szopinski

They are and Tiktok.


Leslie Early

Really? Yeah, I've seen that too.


Unknown Speaker

So I had to take Tiktok off my phone, because it became addictive, I would say, like, I'd be like, Oh, I'm just gonna look a couple of videos. And then like, three hours later, like everyone else wants a bad night, in the dark by myself. Yeah, but definitely, definitely, they're super on Instagram, super on Tiktok, definitely up on Facebook.


Leslie Early

Um, I like what you said that you were considering, not just where your audience is, but you sort of phrased it differently, if like, you're paying attention to how they're already communicating and trying to match that, which I think sort of lends itself to what we I think we'll be talking about here. Um, so with that nice segue, let's talk about it. What are some of the best practices of digital marketing? And how do those overlap with, you know, sort of all know to be instructional design best practices?


Emily Justin-Szopinski

So I think step one is, so when you're creating a digital marketing strategy, like I said, the first thing you have to do is like really go into Who are the people that I'm talking with? And not just like your typical like, I don't know. And young people, men and women from 25 to 35, that live in this, like area code, or whatever, like you need to, like really go into what are their likes? What are their dislikes? What kind of information do they share? What kind of information do they, you know, demonstrate that they like, which is the good thing about social media is that all of that is like really measurable and trackable, and analyzable, if that's a word. And so I think like that is something that overlaps a lot with instructional design that like when you're going into it, you can't create anything, you can't create your first learning objective without really understanding how your users are going to be using the content that you're creating. But then also like, what is their contact. So if I'm going to go in, and I'm going to make a course, for mechanics that are between 40 and 60 years old, I have to think about, okay, probably, they might not even have email, I mean, at least in the case down here. And so I know that if this is going to be elearning, for example, I need to use a platform that's really simple, where they're not going to get lost in navigation. And, you know, I'm, I'm probably working with a user that mostly uses the internet on his phone. So I also need to make sure that the platform is like really asked for a mobile environment, all of those kind of details. It's the same thing when I go into digital marketing, like, I need to know, do you want to see pictures of my kids to statistics and the latest reports? When do you want to see that? Do you want to see the same thing on Friday that I showed you on Monday? You know, all of those kinds of details are is something that I really need to dive into before I go into a marketing strategy. And before I go into course, creation in order to what's the word, in order to really make sure that the entire construction of it is based around that user, or that audience or that target?


Leslie Early

Yeah, and I I haven't released the episode yet. But I did just talk to Kate Yuda, lova from seven taps, because her platform is all about micro learning. And yeah, have you have you checked out seven tabs yet? No. Calm? Yeah. And, um, and part of that conversation, is that the, like thinking about what you're saying is that, you know, we have so many more options now than even like 10 years ago when it was mostly storyline or PowerPoints


Emily Justin-Szopinski

or five years ago.


Leslie Early

Yeah. And now we're experiencing Sort of like this renaissance of having so many different types of tools available? Yeah. And that can be overwhelming. But it's sort of now that I think about it, it's parallel to all the different social media channels that are available. And not even just social media. But you know, internet versus Netflix versus, versus broadcast, like all of the different channels of how we're getting information, the same things happening in elearning. Like you just have many different options. Exactly. And there's so much overlap, it's not necessarily a bad thing, because a micro learning solution will be perfect. I think maybe for these mechanics who are on their phone first. And they just get like a link to a course they don't need a password. They don't need anything, they just show up and do it. Right. Exactly. Or like an SMS court, a court like a phone, messaging text messaging course, or something like that might be perfect for that type of person. Exactly. That a typical elearning would not be so I really went on a tangent there. But I think it matches exactly what you're what you're talking about. Is that, because we have so many options available now that work at the beginning of knowing who your user is, is really going to help you figure out what is the right tool to use to address this problem.


Emily Justin-Szopinski

Exactly. Exactly. I think it's the typical I forget the the seven habits of highly successful people. I believe one of the habits was like start at the end. It comes up in all of these like production slash self help books. But it's so true, like start at the end started, start out what success looks like and work your way back. Yeah,


Leslie Early

I love that.


Emily Justin-Szopinski

Yeah. So I think that there are like three that are pretty important one that actually occurred to me, while we were just having this little side conversation is like the same tools, like for example, our our team is small. But we really need to be agile in our in our course creation, because we have a subscription not on so we have to have like a pretty good Bank of content regularly that's like regularly updated for that model to be attractive to our clients. And so one of the things that we've done is we started using Canva. And beyond is the other one that we use regularly. Not for everything, but for a lot of stuff. But because that eliminates our need to have to depend on the graphic designers have to, I don't know go in and like change some text or something like that. So there are super talented graphic designers go in and they make the design and then now we have to go in and change copy or, you know, eliminate a slide or something like that, it's really easy for us to go in and do that. And so it really reduces our development time. But those are the exact same tools that your people are using to make their content for Instagram, like their content for Facebook, you know, make their digital, like company explainer videos, it's the exact same thing. And then like another point is, so like, there's some sort of, there's like a statistic out there, I'm not sure I read it in the book, the focus project by Erik qualman. So good, so good. Read it - that talks about he's, he's the guy that wrote digital or non social nomis. He was like one of the first people that started to talk about social media as like, hey, this isn't like just for the kids like, this is like the next step in advertising. And then two years later, everyone was like, you know, doling out like $1,000 to go to like conferences, and like, really quick, learn how to use social media for their advertising. And so anyway, it's that over the last 10 years, the average attention span has been reduced, like by two or three seconds. And I think it's now it's like seven seconds. And that's something that digital marketers always have really present, you know, like, you are never gonna see on Instagram, like a seven minute long advertisement for something because no one's gonna pay attention to it, they'll pay attention for three seconds, and then like, they'll move on to the next shiny thing. But that's the same thing that they're doing in your eLearning course, like when they're in your platform, they're in a digital environment, you know, I'm like, their brain isn't necessarily like differentiating between, like, this is something that I need to pay more attention to, for a longer period of time. Like they're just looking at a screen and thinking about like that interesting Tic Tac video that they want to watch. Right? And so, like when you make your content, you have to bring it up to the same visual level and the same attention level as you would for any sort of digital All marketing. I mean, you can't limit all videos in elearning to, you know, five seconds or something like that. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, definitely I see like the industry average going down in terms of videos like, even five years ago, when you're going to like courses, especially from universities, it would be like, and now here's a professor speaking at a camera for 45 minutes sitting at his desk with no animation whatsoever, and it was painful. It's painful, you know. And so when you think about, Okay, I need I need for this to look visually attractive, just like something that is going to look on Instagram, I need there to be animations and things that are resetting that brain so that they keep paying attention to me. And I need to keep it short. You know, if it's a video, you need to keep it to two or three minutes. If you have 10 minutes of content, do 10 minutes of content, but do 10 minutes of content and four or five videos that you're breaking up? You know, and like definitely, too. So like in digital marketing, you have to take advantage of the brain resets. And so you know, it's like when you're showing something unique, and you change a color, your brand's like, hey, pay attention to that there's a change there look at it, you know, like you need to be doing that also in your content constantly. Like just imagine every seven seconds, they're trying to drift away. And you've got to bring them back. So like I I've, I've definitely done my own graphic design. And I think that it's, it's fine. But when, if you have the opportunity to use graphic designers use graphic designers, because like, holy crap, can they do it way better than someone that is does not have that skill set - even with all the tools in the world.


Leslie Early

And that is why like tools, like Canva, I think are really amazing. and Vyond. I mean, they have some really great templates in there. And even if you are not the best designer, you can kind of fake it. But just like yeah, this don't change the template too much. And you should be okay. But yes, I think you make a lot of really good points. And I did want to go back back up to your use of Canva. and beyond. And having your graphic designer that's really clever, to have them essentially be those tools are great, because everything's in the cloud, right. So like, if you have a team account or whatnot, or if you just share a log in or however you do it, that's a great way to stay consistent is to have someone else do the design work, and then have everyone else to be pulled from that being able to pull from that.


Emily Justin-Szopinski

And it is like really impressive to me, I think like I'm just not a very aesthetic person. Like if you could think of this as a podcast, but apparently, like, I just don't have that, you know, like, I know, people that they just like magically, like, decorate their living room. And it's like really cute, and it looks like a IKEA ad or whatever. And I just like I don't have that in my DNA. And I'm always like, really impressed by I don't know, like, I can make videos and beyond and they're they're functional, they're gonna, you know, get the job done. But then the graphic designer will come in, and she'll add just like two little things. And then like totally changes the way that it looks. And it totally changes the experience, you know, and I'm like, how do you do that?


Leslie Early

They stay practice and study, I think. Yeah, it is. It's a very, very in demand skill set to have. So I think we've already talked a little bit about the importance of holding your learner's attention like or, first of all, grabbing your learner's attention. Keeping your learners attention, walk throughout the you know, because they are competing with, you know, social media, Netflix, whatever else they can see on the screen nearby.


Emily Justin-Szopinski

Anything shiny.


Leslie Early

So what would you say then to better support your learner's like, how can we better support our learners from like, customer service type of, you know, what if? What if they're having difficulty, like, what if this mechanic is overwhelmed by the technology, you know, that they're trying to access the course through how do you what are some tips you have for those types of situations? Yeah.


Emily Justin-Szopinski

Well, I think that they're also like there's a lot of overlap between Um, like customer experience models and client experience models and like administrative models in elearning. So like, I've actually done a lot of research on that user retention. And the biggest thing is having a person behind the course. So like, I know that it's, it's really tempting to automate communication because it's easier, you know, my hand because it's cheaper. Um, but it's also a parent, you know, I mean, like, I know, everyone has had, like, the experience as a customer, for example of trying to contact a company, because you need an answer on something. And like, you cannot get to a person. And it's frustrating, it's frustrating. And so in our, like, most successful user retention models, there's a person, and that person calls you, and within the first week of your course, and they call you at least one other time during the course. And just the impression, and a one or two minute conversation of, Hey, I'm a real person. And I'm here, whenever you need me, and I'm also following you in this course. I mean, not in a creepy way. But like, if you if you don't go in there and do that, like someone notices, you know, and not like an automated mail, but it's like that it's almost like your mom, or like someone that knows your mom is like, yeah, I see you haven't been in the course for two weeks, like, what have you been up to? And they're like, oh my god.


Leslie Early

Yeah,


Emily Justin-Szopinski

But then I think also, like, on a corporate level, that really helps too, because so for example, if you've got, I don't know, you're selling a course on customer experience, or whatever, or digital marketing, whatever it might be. And it you sell that course, to accompany that company once like the best possible ROI, you know, like, they want to know, okay, I paid 500 bucks a person, or however much it is, for this, and I want to make sure that as a result of this, like we're getting out of it, what we need to get out of it, when you can like proactively go to that client and say, you know, look, 30% of the people that are enrolled in this course, have fallen behind. But this is why it's because like they, I don't know, they they're all just starting with a new something, something or they're in the middle of a campaign, and they just can't, or it's the end of the month, and they have to like close their deals or whatever. So what I'm going to suggest is like for that 30%, let's pause and restart in two weeks.


Leslie Early

Yeah,


Emily Justin-Szopinski

Clients are really impressed by that. Because like, one, you're concerned about their money and their investment. And two, it shows that, like, you're really putting in the effort to make sure that the program is successful. And students really notice it.


Leslie Early

Yeah, you know, I almost feel like what you're talking about now, as far as like user retention models, could almost be like its own up now. I'm like, super curious. I'm like, Oh, that's could be a whole other episodes. But we just barely scratched the surface. But it makes a lot of sense that, yeah, it does sound like you would come across as very accountable to your client. Because not only do you show that you care about their ROI, but you're also showing that you're willing to do the little bit of legwork to engage with the the learners, the users, and get that data get that like qualitative data of like, hey, why aren't you doing this? and having them give you an actual answer that makes sense in the real world, rather than just like, this quantitative data that you have to interpret and like we don't really like, okay, it's just a bunch of numbers. And like, what does that really mean? Yeah. So Wow, that's, that's Yeah. So


Emily Justin-Szopinski

I think like, people also get scared about that kind of model, you know, because they're like, Oh, we only we have to have this huge staff. And it's actually not true. You know, I mean, like, you do, like, you make the calls at the beginning, you make a call, like during the course. But like, 1% of these people are actually like going to WhatsApp, you. And in general, like, you can resolve like 90% or 95% of their issues, like within five minutes, you know, yeah. So it has like a really big impact. But like the effort, it's not that much, it's not that much, you just need to have a human. And then the other thing is also, so like, I mean, you can't sit down and write like a personal email to every single participant in a program obviously, and like you have to have email blasts and you know, you're going to want to use some sort of mass email, service or whatever. Um, but another thing to do there is like semi automated, right? And so like if you if you're administering a program, and in every single mail, you put some sort of message that shows that you've been, you know, just like going into the platform, looking at how people are doing, if you bring up like a common mistake that people were making, or if you congratulate people, just something that shows that, you know, there's, there's someone behind that, again, that there's someone behind that that's paying attention to what's going on, all those little details really go a long way and retaining users for the entirety of a program.


Leslie Early

And that makes a lot of sense, because social accountability is a big deal. Peer pressure is a big deal, right? And so it sounds like with the semi automating it sounds like what you're saying is to personalize it, even if you're personalizing it for the entire class or for the entire cohort, like you don't have to personalize it individually. But at least say hey, in this specific group, we have noticed a, b or c and then it makes them realize, Oh, this is not a robot. chatbox that's like talking to me right now.


Emily Justin-Szopinski

Yeah, exactly.


Leslie Early

Really cool. Um, yeah, lots to think about. So, like I said, these it almost turned into two separate topics here that are both very rich, I can tell and very interesting. But if people wanted to continue the conversation on either the digital marketing aspect or the or the user retention aspect, where what's the best way to get in touch with you?


Emily Justin-Szopinski

I'm on LinkedIn regularly. Emily, Justin-Szopinski. Justin, like Justin Bieber or Justin Timberlake, depending on your generation. I'm EmilyJustin-Szopinski on LinkedIn. And then I also have a personal website. That's emszopinski.com. And then the website for our company is coursos.resaberes.com. Those are my digital spaces.


Leslie Early

Sounds good. Well, thank you again, Emily, so much for coming and sharing a little bit of your insight about this. I really enjoyed talking to you.


Emily Justin-Szopinski

Yeah. Thanks for having me. I love your podcast and I nerd out on it all the time to my DI friends.


Leslie Early

Thank you. Alright, I will talk to you soon.


Emily Justin-Szopinski

Okay, thanks.


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