How to Cater Your Content to Your Audience’s Learning Styles with Rich Media
Every school teacher knows that his or her students learn through a variety of ways. Some students are visual learners, some learn by touch, and others by hearing. Sttill, others learn through a combination of these. So, the teacher must ensure that he or she knows the teaching audience and designs teaching materials to engage all. The teacher does this by speaking the material, drawing diagrams, offering hands-on learning opportunities, and maybe playing a video.
Like a teacher, content marketers must often take the role of thought leaders who model best practices and teach their audiences their expertise. And they must engage their audiences to keep their long-term interest. After all, a thought leader’s primary role is to serve, not simply to pitch to convert. Each thought leader must ensure all content is carefully presented to allow for high absorption and retained interest among audience members. In this post, we will explore some of the potential learning styles of your audiences and introduce rich mediums you can use to capture the attention of your audience members, regardless of their presentation preferences.
Learning Styles Every Content Marketer Should Consider
Toprankblog.com reports that roughly 30 of consumers are visual, 25 percent auditory, and 15 percent are kinesthetic learners. And 30 percent of consumers learn through a mixture of these. However, the majority of consumers have one learning style preference—one way in which they consume information most effectively. Adhering to these preferences is at the heart of everything a content marketer does, from SEO, Web design, long-form content creation, social media marketing, and more. So, let’s explore some of these learning styles more, paying attention to their application to content marketing.
According to Indiana University-Perdue University Indianapolis, kinesthetic learners learn through touch. They like to physically manipulate things, poke things, write things down, and otherwise interact with visuals. These types of learners are often found multitasking when consuming information. They may watch a video or read a text, for example, while working out. Or, they prefer to interact with the learning material through touchscreens. They may enjoy taking a quiz, for example, or playing a game using their touchscreens. Other learning tools may be concept maps, timelines, graphs, and charts. For these learners, Houghton College recommends keeping their attention by using body movement, such as moving around when speaking or manipulate tools while teaching. This teaching style, when successful, makes use of both visual and auditory techniques.
According to RMIT University, visual learners learn through sight. They often tune out quickly when listening to audio information and have trouble remembering information they’ve only been given verbally. They do, however, remember diagrams, written information, art, and colored or highlighted points well. In addition, they absorb charts and pictures easily and are captured by mind maps to visually organize information. And, interestingly, visual learners are especially sensitive to understanding body language and so are better with videos than podcasts.
Auditory learners are those who retain information best when they hear it. You will find that many auditory learners learn best by first listening and then summarizing it to cement the information to memory. They are often attracted to music and may concentrate better with some soft background music playing. Moreover, they like to participate in group discussions and record any material they are learning for later listening. Utah Valley University confirms, most significantly, that they love to tell their friends and family about what they have recently learned.
Rich Media Should Be Aligned to Your Audience Members’ Needs
Clearly, for successful learning or absorption of material, the presentation of the material matters. Each learning style requires its own unique presentation tools to aide in learning. Fortunately, content marketers have more tools at their disposal than any other time in history. However, when presenting a content marketing portfolio to their target audience members, they must remember the percentage learning styles present in most groups: 30 percent visual, 25 percent auditory, and 15 percent kinesthetic learners. As they adhere to these percentages, here are a few tools that marketers can use to align with their audience members’ learning styles.
Content Marketing Material to Align with Learning Styles
First, visual learners are going to be your primary group. As we discussed, when putting together material for your visual learners, steer clear of material that will not keep their full visual attention. For a visual learner, information presented through audio alone can easily lead to a distracted individual when more enticing visual images are presented to them through other advertisements or even a close-by television. Here are a few suggestions.
- Slideshare presentations
Our second major group consists of auditory learners. For these learners, verbal repetition is often key to optimal absorption of information. They must be able to either automatically take advantage of repetition within the material given or be able to conveniently replay the material. What’s more, these learners are notorious for needing something to complement a quiet learning atmosphere such as wordless music playing in the background. This added auditory stimulus actually helps them concentrate and absorb information better. Here are some good content marketing material fits for this group.
- Auditory e-books
This group will likely comprise roughly 15 percent of your audience. Its members are notorious for on-the-go learning or while engaging in an active activity such as exercising. They also love to touch the material they are learning. Even in a digital marketing world, this can be accomplished more successfully than ever with the advent of touch screens. Also, watching others physically manipulate the learning material can be just as successful in their absorption process. Here are some effective materials for these types of learners.
Content Mapping to Other Content
With so many tools available to content marketers, it can be overwhelming to ensure that all tools are tapped into in order to engage all of your audience members, regardless of their learning styles. But, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be nearly as hard as it sounds. Instead of producing unique content for each of your learning-style segments, consider repurposing your content pieces using an array of presentation mediums. For example, when you write a long-form post, include a podcast reading of the material. Next, pull out key statistics and facts and incorporate them into an infographic. Then, include a periodic quiz regarding the material you’ve published. Carlijn Postma of the Content Marketing Institute refers to this process as content mapping, not in the sense of brainstorming ideas but, instead, mapping content to other content that can be derived from the original.
A Case Study:
The Economist is a good example of content mapping approach. The Economist maps its content for all learning styles. Included in its marketing mix is its on-demand social listening platform, The Economist Radio, for its auditory learners, its YouTube video channel for its visual and kinesthetic learners, and its weekly EQ tests that quiz audience members on the top headlines offered by The Economist for its kinesthetic learner. Lastly, its Graphic Detail offers a new chart or map on a daily basis, often complete with interactive data features and other useful and relevant sources for its visual and kinesthetic learners.
In producing each of these forms of content, instead of producing unique content for each content form, The Economist repurposes its originating content to appeal to its different market segments. In its article, Greece’s Snap Election, The Economist repurposed its initial blog post in infographic form to include on its Twitter #ECONdailycharts page. In addition, it offered its blog post in audio form. In doing so, The Economist has created content for all of its auditory, kinesthetic, and visual learners and all those in between.
I’d love to know: what are your biggest obstacles for creating rich media to delight your audiences?