3 Things Your Content MUST HAVE To Engage Learners (According To New Data)

June 2, 2023
June 26, 2023

We analysed thousands of resources from across 100+ HowNow customers to identify the common trends across the top 100 ranking pieces of content. Check out what we learned.

You’ve just hit publish on that piece of learning content.

This one is gold!

It took you hours, required blood, sweat and tears – surely this is going to land with your learners?

🥺 Tumbleweeds.

Nobody finds it, nobody clicks on it and you’re left sad, stressed and in tears.

More importantly, how are you going to show L&D impact if nobody’s engaging with content?

🙌 But what if we told you we’d found the secret sauce for learning content that people connect with?

We crunched the numbers and this is what we learned.

Get ready for some seriously high-flying learning content that drives engagement and impact 👇

Who the heck are HowNow?

We’re the learning experience platform (LXP) making learning a part of everyday work, nice to meet you 👋

And we know a thing or two about engagement too! Our LXP gets 5x more engagement than a traditional LMS.

You can learn more about HowNow here.

Lesson 1: Short titles provide content clarity and improve visibility

Brevity isn’t just the soul of wit, it’s a blooming effective way to improve your learning content’s performance.

And this is reflected in the numbers! The average length of a high-performing content title is just five words, while no title in the top 100 contained more than 10 words.

If you deal in characters, you’re looking at an average of 36.

High performing resources use short and sweet titles

Here are a few examples from the top 100:

📈 Growth and Performance cycle

🤝 Leadership Hacks: January (Setting Stretch Goals)

📝 Incident Management at (company name).

And the better question, why are they good examples?

Good titles tap into the Four U’s for writing headlines: Ultra-Specific, Useful, Unique and Urgent (or time-sensitive).

Each of them are very clear on which issue they solve, our middle example explains when this is relevant, and our final example – by including company name – explains how this is uniquely relevant.

The same principles apply to descriptions. A good title makes your content more discoverable, while a solid description encourages people to click into it.

92% of the top 100 resources contained a description, with an average of 11 words.

Make sure you're adding clear and concise content descriptions

Lesson 2: You really need to be using images (headers, thumbnails and in-content visuals work)

Think about these two scenarios – the last time you read a blog post and your most recent YouTube search.

✍️We bet that blog had a relevant header image and either visuals or videos within the post.

▶️ And when your question surfaced the YouTube search results, part of your decision to click was based on the thumbnail.

High–performing learning content plays by the same rules!

80% of the best-performing resources use a header image, while 100% use thumbnails to improve appeal and click through rate from search results.

Header and thumbnail images drive learner engagement with content

According to YouTube, 90% of top-performing videos use a custom thumbnail, which is specific and relevant about the content in the video.

Blog and social media images, meanwhile, are proven to be more effective when they show people.

What about within the content itself? Just as you’d see in online content, high-performing learning content contains videos and images.

41% included an image within the resource, while 16% incorporated video content.

According to Search Engine Journal, web content containing visuals like images or videos perform better — on average, receiving up to 94 percent more views.

Lesson 3: Social learning is alive and well, encourage it

Whether you like it or not, we’re social creatures!

Shoulder taps, Slacks, ‘just sticking in 30 minutes to chat’ – people love learning from their colleagues.

If your learning content doesn’t tap into that, you’re missing an open goal.

83% of the best-performing content switched on discussions and boasted an average of 20 likes per post.

The best learning content encourages social learning

Ultimately, we’re aiming to build two things: A collective brain and knowledge-sharing culture.

👍 Likes are signals that content is useful meaning the creators get positive feedback to create more and learners get an indication that the content is useful.

💬 Discussions allow us to build compound knowledge – giving people a platform to share additional insights and contextual wisdom.

Three key takeaways for more L&D engagement

  • Make sure you’re using clear and succinct titles in your content, it’ll improve engagement.
  • Header and thumbnails make your content more enticing in search results and engaging when people click through.
  • The best content taps into social learning! 83% of the top 100 highest-performing resources enabled discussions and on average, boasted 20 likes.

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Analysis of the top 100 pieces of content from HowNow customers (by most opens over 6 months from 1 August 2022 to 31 January 2023).