Internet has changed everything and it is changing eLearning fundamentally. It has become so easy to publish information instead of just consuming it. Posting information on the web doesn’t require any technical knowledge anymore. Now all of us can be creators. Sharing your knowledge is as easy as sharing your latest picture through the social media. This trend is revolutionizing the eLearning industry. I will try to illustrate how fundamental this change is by telling you what happened over the past 18 months at Easygenerator
What is happening?
The creation of eLearning was the domain of instructional designers. Specialized, complex and expensive software allowed them to create bespoke eLearning solutions. These eLearning solution would run in an enclosed LMS owned by HR or L&D, which was focused on Management instead of Learning. And that is changing, now anyone can create eLearning with simple web based tools like Easygenerator and share it via the web with anyone, anywhere.
What will happen?
I foresee that bespoke eLearning will be replaced for a large part by ‘user’ generated content. A HR department will create an onboarding course, trainers will create course to move their business to the web, interactive eLearning modules will replace old school text books and the authors will publish and sell them without the big publishing companies, teachers will create their own materials. We are talking about a revolution in our industry. As a vendor we need to be ahead of the curve. This means these changes affect eLearning software companies like Easygenerator before they will affect the eLearning users. Therefore I can best illustrate how fundamental this change is going to be by describing the changes that Easygenerator went through in the past 18 months.
18 months ago we launched the first version of our web based eLearning authoring solution. Nothing special you would say. Let me give you some background. Easygenerator is one of the oldest eLearning companies, it dates back to 1996. This new web based tool is our third generation of eLearning software. We started in 1996 with a CD-rom version, that was followed in 2006 by a windows based edition. Our software aimed at professional eLearning developers. We sold our solution through a global network of partners to instructional designers, competing with tools like Articulate and Lectora.
Our latest solution aims at people who do not have an eLearning background, but do have a need to share their knowledge. We are no longer competing with the Articulates of this world, we stopped the rat race for more fancy features. Easygenerator has three new goals now:
- Make it possible for anyone to share their knowledge on any device
- Make sure that they can do that without any training
- Support them in making more effective eLearning
What does it mean for us?
This caused my company Easygenerator to make a 180 degree turn in everything we do over the past 18 months. Our new goals and our new audience are very different from the old one. It changed our product development, marketing, sales and customer support. And being on the web means there are new possibilities in being connected with our users and by using big data.
Simplicity, usability, onboarding, and ease of use are the keywords that have replaced the keyword ‘more features’. Anyone should be able to sign up and create a course or a quiz within an hour, without any training. User testing and interface and usability design became leading. Our new software is now updated every week, we went from two releases per year to 52 releases per year. This allows us to put in small changes, get a response from our users and improve based on that. It is a world of difference with 18 months ago. It is connected, more agile, faster and much more efficient and much more fun.
We were selling the old Easygenerator trough a global network of partners. 99% of our sales was made through partners. In 2015 98% of our sales were direct sales, generated by our website and product, or via our own Easygenerator sales agents. A dramatic shift. Needless to say that nothing stayed the same in our internal processes and approaches. But it is really great, being in touch with our customers directly, getting their responses and feedback and responding to that. It actually connected sales directly to our product development. One third of our development work is now based on user requests. It even made us cross the boundaries of an ordinary authoring tool. Based on user requests we added course hosting and result tracking to our solution. Making Easygenerator a one stop shop for starting with eLearning. In 2016 we will even add the option to sell courses.
We supported our partners in marketing efforts, we did campaigns and had booths at major eLearning conferences all over the world. That has changes completely. We don’t do booths anymore and the goal of our marketing team is to drive traffic to our website and have people signup for a free 14 day trial. In 2015 we had an amazing conversion rate of 11% (new visitors that signed up for the trial). The next step is to make people convert into a paying customer. That onboarding and activation process is now a shared responsibility of the marketing team and the product development team. 18 months ago there was no real connection between marketing and product development, they were separate islands. Now they have a shared goal and interest.
The first line customer support was done by our partners. Our development team delivered second and third line support (fixing bugs and solving problems). We almost never had direct contact with the end user, only with our partners. Now we have an application (Intercom) integrated in our product that allows users to engage with us directly. We do the first line support by ourselves now and also second and third line support will interact direct with our customers through that application. The other great thing is that we update our product each Thursday. So when people report a problem or a bug or even a change request it can be in the product within days. For serious bugs that can even be hours. This brings a whole new dynamics to support and product development.
Being on the web means that you can collect data that allows you to better serve your customers. Here are some examples. Of course we have Google analytics showing us where our web site traffic comes from and how our website performs. We have similar software (Mixpanel) build in our application. It will tell us what our users are doing, where they struggle and how our improvements are paying off. Really cool. We even use this data to identify hot leads. Based on their trial behavior an application will filter out potential buyers that our sales department can pro-actively engage. We now also have a dashboard integrating information from Google analytics, Mixpanel, our product, Stripe (online payment provider) and more, giving us an accurate insight what is happening real time.
And does it work for us
Yes it does. After one year we now have paying customers in over 30 countries, free users in a 160 countries and in 2015 our revenue grew with an incredible 300%. We are expecting to reach the same growth percentages in 2016.
Easygenerator is a frontrunner in the changes that are happening in the eLearning industry. The reason I have described how fundamental these changes have been for us is to give you a heads up what’s coming your way. I will end with our 30 second new simple product video.