Is Virtual SEO Learning the Future?
As I sit down to write this, all my engagements for the next two months have been cancelled or “postponed.” India trip, cancelled. Industry conferences, cancelled. Our in-person SEO training course, cancelled.
Those that host events are doing what it takes to not contribute to the spread of the novel coronavirus. And it’s impacting the businesses that depend on these gatherings.
But opportunities are emerging from this. And even though we may get to a place soon where we can convene again, in person, it’s likely that we’re facing a new normal in educational SEO gatherings.
That’s because many are discovering the benefits of e-learning and virtual events instead.
A Growing Trend Just Got More Relevant
Virtual learning was already a growing industry, valued at $190 billion in 2018.
But the pandemic has thrown e-learning into the spotlight. The original forecast that valued it at $300 billion by 2025 is likely now underestimated.
Remote conferencing service Zoom has seen its stock spike during the pandemic. Its CEO predicted the pandemic will lead to a permanent shift in how people work and communicate. (I’ll touch more on this in an upcoming post on work-from-home SEO teams.)
Is now the time for businesses to explore virtual learning as part of their core offerings from here on out? Yes.
It’s unclear whether things will go back to the way they were. Those multi-day SEO events with their packed rooms, networking dinners and after-hours events are a distant reality now.
As the CEO of a global events company told the “Washington Business Journal,” the pandemic could have lasting impacts:
“People will always need to commune, but it’s going to take a long while to get back to where we were,” Linder said. “What’s unclear is if there will be any lasting impacts on the way people congregate. On the positive side, the business is full of creative minds and we are quick to pivot to other lines of business, like content creation or virtual fundraisers. We’re all working on developing better models of those as we speak.”
Effect on Search Marketing Events
In our industry, smaller conferences may be facing a more uncertain future. Bigger conferences like SMX will likely go on in a similar way if the quarantine lifts soon.
In fact, at the time of writing, a few conferences are still slated to continue in the near future. They have adjusted things though.
We see that Marketing Land has instituted “a strict no handshake policy” and a ban on attendees from certain countries at SMX Advanced in June. The SEJ Summit, on the other hand, is already planned to be a virtual, all-day event.
Here at Bruce Clay Inc., our in-person SEO training is on hold. We’ll continue to host our classroom SEO training when the time is right. But we’re exploring virtual alternatives in the meantime that will become a core part of our offerings later.
Question for readers: What do you think of adapting our full-day conference SEO workshop into an online format? Or what about putting our intensive 4.5-day SEO training class online? Please email me directly (bruce (at) bruceclay.com) or comment below.
We Must Adapt, Gather, Teach, Learn
Businesses can’t afford to put capability building on hold. Whether the effort is reskilling at the business-unit level or a company-wide aspirational transformation, companies can’t simply push the pause button on critical workplace learning, even as they move rapidly to put employee safety first.
–McKinsey & Company, March 2020
Responding nimbly to a situation such as COVID-19 is just one reason to explore virtual learning. The other reason? Statistics have shown e-learning to be beneficial in many areas:
- E-learning takes up to 60 percent less employee time versus traditional classroom training, according to a study by Brandon Hall Group, as cited in the book International Conference on Management of Globalised Business Emerging Perspectives.
- IBM saved approximately $200 million after switching to e-learning.
- E-learning consumes 90 percent less energy (as in electrical energy, etc.) versus in-person training.
Benefits of Virtual Events
Some of the advantages of switching to an e-learning format include:
- Less cost to both the event hosts and the attendees.
- Sessions available to more attendees and a broader range of presenters.
- Content you can use in different ways within your marketing and organization.
- New and different data to track the performance of the event.
Challenges of Virtual Events
All benefits aside, there will be challenges to adopting virtual events. Challenges can include:
- Lack of in-person interaction and the connections that happen as a result.
- A learning format that’s not for everyone (some people prefer in-person interaction).
- A different way to capture and nurture leads versus the traditional event.
If you’re thinking about virtual SEO learning, here are some articles to consider:
- How to launch a virtual conference – HubSpot
- How to run a successful virtual conference – HubSpot
- How to shift from physical to virtual events and maximize event outcomes – Social Media Today
- How to set up a virtual conference – on Medium
- Virtual events: The ultimate guide – Cvent
A New Normal
Understand that there is more than one scenario that could play out following this pandemic, and it’s important to be prepared for each.
As McKinsey points out in its article on adapting workplace learning right now, we may be facing a new normal. But that’s not a bad thing:
As organizations increasingly promote their existing portfolios of digital-learning options, a handful indicate that they are also considering migrating some existing in-person training programs to an all-digital format. Such efforts go beyond merely applying existing technology solutions to offer virtual classrooms. Rather, they represent a more fundamental rethinking of the learning experience to enable collaborative, interactive social-learning experiences for groups of learners. Digital-learning providers recognize that COVID-19 is a catalyst for this transition and are looking to help their corporate customers accelerate their transformation. Some are even offering reduced or complimentary services to help encourage new customers to accelerate such a transition.
The SEO industry is nothing if not creative and adaptive. Those that adapt now will remain relevant and survive.
If you found this post helpful, please share it and subscribe to our blog.