The Essential Guide to Personalisation in Education & Online Learning

Today’s educational and online learning industry is going through a transformation like no other.

And growth statistics show no sign of it slowing down.

The global online learning market is predicted to be worth $50 billion by 2026. And with 90% of corporations now using online learning, with an annual growth rate of 15%. The corporate market will be one of the biggest players in the industry.

Large EdTech companies are already valued at well over $1 billion. Showing that while rapid growth is predicted, education and online learning is already a highly established industry.

Many of these businesses are turning to advances in technology to offer a more sophisticated product and service to their audience.

But competition is fierce. And businesses who aren’t keeping up are falling behind. Fast.

This guide takes you through the challenges and objectives that the education and online learning industry should be focusing on today. And introduces the strategies and tactics that can help businesses smash them.

For the education and online learning industry, better starts here.


Rapid growth in any industry raises many challenges. But before businesses can tackle these, it’s important that they fully understand what they are facing.

Maintaining engagement levels

Recipients are often in the mood to receive a discount or promotion from their latest brand. Unfortunately, they’re not always in the mood to learn.

Keeping students engaged with their courses is a challenge. Life gets in the way, interest levels change, and communications get missed.

Not only does this cause issues with completion of courses. It also raises the challenge of offering a seamless customer journey.

After all, bad communication can lead to confusion, drop-outs, and a lack of opportunity to move the student through the customer lifecycle.

Dealing with different variables

The education and online learning industry has to deal with a lot of variables. Different subjects. Levels of courses. Types of students.

All of these variables need to be taken into account for every single course. Meaning each course requires its own communications strategy.

Failure to do so means that businesses in this industry risk losing engagement, students, and their reputation.

Keeping up with technology

With so many courses with different communication strategies. Marketing for any business in the education and online learning industry can become complicated, time consuming, and costly.

Schools, for example, are coming under considerable pressure to invest in technology to support communication strategies and online learning. But a rush to achieve this can result in wasteful purchases. Which consumes even more time, resources, and money. And produce little results.

Beating the competition

Which brings us neatly onto our final point.

Fast adoption of technology and an increase in online learners means the industry is becoming increasingly competitive.

For smaller businesses and schools who are not so familiar with technology, or don’t have the time and budget to implement it, this is quickly becoming a problem.

With the industry showing no signs of slowing down, businesses are feeling the pressure to act now. Or be left behind.


To overcome these challenges, businesses in education and online learning need to take a fresh look at their objectives. Updating them for the new and ever-changing face of the industry.

Here are some of our suggestions.

Consolidate data

Engagement levels and requirements change from student to student. And course to course.

To engage effectively, businesses need to set the foundations of a solid data strategy to increase segmentation, personalisation, and targeting.

Consolidating various data systems, from CRM to ESP, spreadsheets to hard copies, is essential to this process.

And according to 37% of marketers, successful personalisation needs to draw from a single data source. One that is developed with data across the entire business.

Increase engagement levels

With such varying requirements, it’s essential that every communication is relevant, tailored, and personalised to keep the student engaged.

As we mentioned, each course requires its own communications strategy. Which can be informed by the data you are now consolidating.

This data can be used to send the right message. At the right time. Via the right channel. To the right student.

Optimised send times, simple personalisation, dynamic content, and multichannel approaches will all be essential in offering a seamless learning experience.

Embrace technology

In a period of rapid technological change in education and online learning, it’s essential that businesses in this industry embrace the latest digital trends. The alternative is being left behind in the wake of digital-savvy competitors and ever-increasing EdTech startups.

But embracing technology is not just about beating the competition. It’s also about offering a learning experience that students respect. And deserve.

By ignoring the latest tech trends and advancements, students are less likely to enjoy a tailored and relevant experience. Making learning difficult. And resulting in higher dropout rates.

For larger businesses, embracing technology and therefore change can be a large-scale project. It is essential that they get to grips with change management and implementation of new technology. Fast.

Save time. Reduce costs.

Saving time and money may seem like an obvious objective for any business.

However, many businesses are facing a difficult economy. And implementing technology and changes to establishments such as schools and universities can be a long and difficult process.

So any opportunity to save time and money should be taken advantage of.

Therefore, those in the education and online learning industry need to make step-change reductions to their expense ratios; implementing cost saving processes where possible.

Email and web personalisation

We are in an age where the education and online learning industry is being overwhelmed. Where competition and student demands are heavily influencing how their businesses are meeting their needs.

But these challenges also create the opportunity for businesses in the industry to enhance their relevance and value by engaging more frequently, with more personalised messages.

And it’s not as difficult as it might sound.

Data insight

By collecting data businesses can create a holistic view of their students which can be utilised across multiple departments and channels.

Combine data sources

Separate business systems are a thing of the past. By combining all student data into one accessible place, businesses can begin their journey to delivering the most personalised communications and targeted campaigns.

Data analytics

Once all data is collated, businesses can really start to build a view of who their students actually are. They will be able to identify their ideal customer and those who are most likely to engage and convert. As well as creating specific segments to automate highly targeted and personalised campaigns based on behaviour, preferences, and previous activity.

RFM modelling and reporting

With all of their data in one place, businesses can also conduct RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) modelling and analysis. This helps them to identify the students who are most likely to drop out. With this segment they can use different tactics to drive engagement and deliver the right information, to the right student, at the right time.

Email automation

With high competition and challenging engagement levels, keeping audiences engaged can be tricky.

Luckily, email automation can make this process a breeze.

Course and content recommendations

Those in the education and online learning industry can make the most of behavioural data by serving website visitors personalised course or study recommendations based on previous browsing, purchasing, and study behaviour.

Systems that offer recommendation engine analyses can review purchase history, real-time behaviour, and purchase intent to ensure the right information is shown to each student.

Form abandonment

Over 80% of people abandon forms, meaning businesses are losing valuable potential students at the very first stage.

Form abandonment can be tackled with email abandonment series’, personalised with content according to students’ specific study profiles. Businesses can also personalise abandonment emails with both behavioural and demographic data, for that extra nudge to engage and convert.

 Segmented nurturing campaigns

Personalised segmented nurture campaigns can help businesses build a relationship with potential students by keeping them warm until they’re ready to convert.

Those in the industry can identify what’s important to different segments, then showcase relevant benefits, recommendations, and promotions to stop the customer drifting to an alternative learning provider.

Website personalisation

Every website visitor is different. Yet most businesses offer the same, one-size-fits-all website experience. Businesses in the education and online learning industry can offer each unique student the unique experience that they not only deserve, but they now expect.

Machine learning

Systems which use machine-learning can analyse and predict what makes students buy and engage. This allows businesses to automatically optimise their website experience, in real-time, to drive each visitor to the course or information they are most likely to convert on.

Product recommendations

Recommendation engines will analyse purchase and study history, real-time behaviour, and purchase intent to showcase the right courses and information are shown to each customer, at the right time.

Businesses can even segment their recommendations based on student learning life cycle stage, for added relevancy.

Dynamic content

Businesses can greet each student with personalised website content based on the data they hold on them. This can include demographics, location, study history, and lifecycle stage.

The possibilities for tailored content are endless! 

Personalisation examples

Thinkful – Welcome email

Thinkful start their relationships off positively with a warm welcome email to new students.

We love this email due to it’s eye-catching design and welcoming copy, focusing on “community”.

The email ends with a subtle call to action that is in keeping with the tone of the rest of the email. It offers an encouraging nudge to help the student make their next step in their journey

Image Source – Really Good Emails

Skillshare – Personalised recommendations

Skillshare use the data they have on their recipients and popular courses to offer relevant, personalised course recommendations.

We love this email as it leads with useful information – course recommendations. But it also takes the opportunity to upsell their premium service in a non-intrusive way.

Image Source – Really Good Emails

Skillshare – Data collection and personalised recommendations

But Skillshare don’t let a lack of data stop them from offering personalised recommendations.

Instead, they send out a campaign to collect data on their students to help inform future campaigns. And also offer relevant class recommendations at the same time.

We love this email because it is a clever way to capture data whilst also offering the student something in return. The quiz format is fun and engaging. And the entire message is tailored to make the student feel cared about.

Image Source – Really good emails

LinkedIn – Personalised nurturing automation

LinkedIn uses automations to congratulate students on their achievements and keep them engaged throughout their learning journey.

We love this email because it celebrates the students’ achievement, which is the perfect way to keep them engaged in the learning process.

It also offers the student useful updates on their progress. To increase the sense of achievement.

Image Source – Really Good Emails


Do you work within the education and online learning industry?

If you’re a business in this industry and are dealing with overwhelm, looking to increase engagement with your students, or simply want to keep up with the competition. We can help.

Get in touch for a no obligation chat with one of our friendly experts. They are always on hand to offer strategic advice and guidance.

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