Ever give a presentation—one you stayed up half the night to get right, one with persuasive data, compelling visuals, the works? Ever had diametrically opposite reactions to that kind of presentation?
You know the drill: one person comes up to you, “Wow, great presentation! Never thought I’d get the algorithm thing, but those charts made it easy;” another comes up to you, “Sorry, didn’t get it. I mean, what’s with all the charts?“
People process information in different ways
What you were witnessing were two different learning styles in play. Some people process information best when it’s presented to them visually, like with charts and graphs. Others need to hear information to understand it, while still others need to touch it, to try it out themselves. Most people rely on multiple learning styles, in some circumstances leveraging them simultaneously, in others using one or another depending on the subject matter.
What do learning styles have to do with marketing
That’s a rhetorical question, of course. After all, marketing is all about communicating a message clearly and persuasively, framing that message in other words so that your target audience is most likely to “get it.” Here’s how HubSpot lays out the importance of learning styles
“Custom positioning isn’t always enough to close deals, but you can’t go wrong playing to your prospect’s strengths and needs. The best way to sell to your prospect will change based on their business pain and personality, and it should reflect their learning style, too. Everybody processes information differently. A presentation that captivates one person’s attention might be confusing or utterly boring for another, even if the information is equally pertinent to both prospects.”
What are the major learning styles
Educators disagree about the number of learning styles: some say there are 7, some 4, and some 3 (understandable, as it’s hard to get academics to agree about much of anything). Whatever the number and however they segment their data, all include in their learning taxonomies the following 3 learning styles:
- Visual learners: These are people whose motto might well be “seeing is believing.” They process information best when it focuses on visual assets, such as graphs, charts, and infographics. They are also good at processing copy if they can see it (as opposed to having it read to them). They’re good at processing detailed visual presentations.
- Auditory learners: The auditory learner, as the name suggests, likes to hear information. They grasp concepts better through the back and forth of conversation and brainstorming sessions—and they’ll often parrot what someone else says, to reinforce concepts in their own thinking.
- Kinesthetic learners: Have you ever tried to explain how to work a remote to someone who grabs it out of your hand and says, “give me that thing—I can figure it out for myself?” That person is a kinesthetic learner- someone who is most likely to understand a concept (or product or service) if they get to try it out for themselves.
What’s the best way to leverage learning styles in your marketing
The key takeaway is that very few people rely exclusively on a single learning style to process information in every context. For example, some might be visual learners to process highly technical information in an educational setting, but kinesthetic learners when they want to assess the value of a new product or service.
That means digital marketers need to present key information in multiple formats within the same blog, web page, social media post, or email. For example, if you’re creating content with lots of metrics, you might include both an infographic and a textual description that mirrors what’s in the infographic. You could also summarize key data points in a brief video, this to accommodate auditory learners. In addition, create calls-to-action and customized landing pages that accommodate all learning styles. For kinesthetic learners, you could offer a free trial of the product or service you’re selling so they can give it a test run.
Understanding and effectively incorporating the insights gleaned from learning styles into your digital marketing campaigns will work best when it’s part of a larger, unified marketing strategy. You can’t, for example, target your messaging to accommodate various learning styles if you don’t first understand your target audience and which styles they tend to use. To make the most of the learning styles your prospective customers prefer to collect the data which tracks which content they like and what marketing channels they prefer.