Automate these tasks to Scale up your Learning Management System (LMS) easier and more cost-effectively.
Why You should consider automating your LMS?
The key to your eLearning platform scalability is Automation. For many organisations it’s the time-consuming tasks and processes that are their biggest barrier to growth. Read on to learn how to pave your way to success for cost-effective scaling through automating these 8 time-consuming tasks within your LMS, so you can serve GAZILLIONS of learners (okay maybe just millions or learners).
When talking about building a scalable Learning Management System, we often answer questions around whether a certain LMS or CMS can physically scale to withstand millions of users. But assuming that your LMS can grow to a million users, there’s another factor that can make or break the scalability of your LMS – and that is business processes.
For a truly scalable LMS, you shouldn’t need to increase a team member’s workload or hire more people when you take on a new influx of learners. If you do, then scaling up your service in its current form is going to cost a lot more than it needs to, or will take longer as your team scrambles to keep up with demand.
Worse still, when a surge of new users sign up from a particularly effective marketing campaign, everything and everyone begins to crumble under the pressure, meaning unhappy customers and unhappy team members. It just ain’t sustainable.
But that’s where LMS automation comes in.
Automation within a Learning Management System (or other learning apps – I’m not discriminating) takes all of the repetitive tasks off of your plate. Not only does this reduce your administrative costs right now for immediate LMS ROI, but it keeps them down as you scale your LMS to support more learners.
Plume has helped to build almost 200+ scalable LMS and eLearning platforms, and we’ve helped our LMS clients to automate almost anything from enrollment of learners to up-sells of their courses and products.
Here are 8 time-consuming and repetitive business processes and how to fix them.
Let’s dive in…
1. Automate enrollment of individuals or groups of elearners
Manually enrolling people is one of the biggest time-wasters we’ve seen. These might be individual learners who signed up via your marketing website, or they might be groups of learners within an organisation you’ve just signed on (congrats, by the way).
When we’re building our client’s custom Learning Management Systems, we’re almost always building self-enrollment functionality as standard.
Let’s see how it works.
When a person signs up for a course, they get immediate access automatically – even if they registered via a separate marketing website or landing page tool.
Some organisations have integrated a marketing website and e-commerce functionality into their Learning Management System for a single-application product, and for these organisations, enrolment is generally automated already.
But other organisations have an LMS product, and a separate marketing website where they sell their courses. Most organisations that have separate LMS/membership sites don’t have this automated enrolment in place because of that disconnect. But all is not lost; you can achieve automated enrolments via a few different approaches.
First is a direct integration. If both your marketing website and LMS is open-sourced or has a robust API, your developers should be able to create the custom integration required to move data between the two and automate the enrolment of learners.
Secondly is via a CRM. If you can integrate both your marketing website and your LMS with a CRM, your marketing website can tag a user with their course purchase, and the LMS can look out for that tag and allocate course access accordingly.
Finally, if the above sounds like a lot of work, you can opt to use DIY integration tools such as Zapier, assuming both your marketing website and LMS support the use of it.
When you’ve just sold a number of seats to an organisation, it can be time-consuming to add each user yourself, or even to get the user information from your client into a format that allows for bulk enrollment. Stop juggling CSV files, that’s so 2017!
A better way to achieve batch user enrollment is to allow your client to purchase a number of seats from your marketing site or directly via the LMS, and allow them to self-manage the allocation of those seats using seat-management technology.
We’ve built tools that allow your clients to add users individually, bulk upload via CSV, or even create unique enrolment links that can be emailed to their team to further offload the burden of enrolment onto the learner. This is the ultimate win because it is easy for you and easy for your client. Perhaps this is not technically automation since it offloads the burden to somebody else, but it does make some of your scaling problems go away.
2. Automate LMS report generation for your organisational clients
Automated LMS reports are incredibly important for demonstrating the value that you provide to your organisational clients. If you can show a client just how well their learners are performing, those annual renewal discussions become much easier. But generating these reports can be very time-consuming if you’re creating them manually, especially when your reporting tools don’t display data in the way it makes sense and needs manual edits. This manual work can be a huge barrier to scalability.
To combat this, consider building a custom dashboard interface that your clients can access. If they want to quickly see which of their learners are falling behind, or to see who’s got an assessment due, they no longer have to wait for you to finish up entering data into Excel, ‘cus they can check it themselves.
Below is an example of how our Plume eLearning Analytics could work. This is just one way to view the data – we can create custom views built especially for your clients.
Reporting tools for client-facing analytics
Some LMS’ – with a bit of custom work – allow you to open up reports to your clients, such as LearnDash’s ProPanel (although ProPanel reports are fairly basic). If your LMS doesn’t allow this, or if the data isn’t presented in a way that makes sense for you and your clients, it’s often possible to use a separate reporting service such as Plume eLearning and LMS Analytics for greater control over which users can access data for certain learners – and how that data is presented.
3. LMS onboarding and email notifications
If you’re still sending onboarding emails for your LMS or elearning website, reminders or other notifications manually, then it’s likely that you can automate these for true scalability.
Some Learning Management Systems will have some form of basic email automations built in, and these might take care of generic onboarding emails and nudge reminders when a user becomes inactive. For example, LearnDash Notifications allows you to set up relatively simple email notifications for onboarding and reminders, and Open edX can facilitate similar emails.
📖 Must Read article: Make sure you check our guide for Six of the best email automation sequences for e-learning with examples
But where automated emails become really powerful is when sequences of emails can fire based on certain triggers. Like course-specific onboarding trickled over a few emails to ensure your messages are hyper-relevant according to the user’s place in the journey
From my knowledge, no LMS has in-built tools that facilitate these more complex types of email notifications. So if you need more intricate logic to create the best-possible engagement with your courses, you have two options.
- Assuming that your LMS is open-sourced, a good developer or agency will be able to code in the logic that takes care of this for you.
- Integrating your LMS with a CRM (such as ActiveCampaign) will provide you with self-manageable email automation tools.
📖 Related articles:
- Wanna see how else a CRM can help to save time? Here are 7 ways to power up your LMS with CRM integration.
- We also have a guide on automation sequences that can save you time and money!
4. Up-selling of courses and subscriptions for your LMS website
The average acquisition cost for a new learner or organisation can sometimes be pretty high so it’s important to increase the average value of your customers, allowing you to generate more revenue without increasing your marketing costs.
Many elearning and LMS providers aren’t automating their up-selling opportunities, so increasing the account value can be manual, time-consuming and ineffective. But upselling can be automated to help you to scale more easily.
Selling more courses
When integrated with your LMS, a CRM like ActiveCampaign can send out automatic email recommendations based on the previous activity of a user. For example, if a user gets 80% of the way through a beginner’s course, then it might be a good opportunity to email them about the intermediate course – the next logical step in their learning journey.
Selling more subscriptions
If your service is subscription-based, then it’s important to automate the sale of subscription upgrades. With a truly automated subscription management system, you’ll be able to afford to give your users free trials to attract them into your service, which is known to increase conversion rates by 66%.
Once they’re in, tempt them towards your tiered paid subscriptions, starting on your lower tiers and slowly pushing them up the value ladder towards your more lucrative tiers and products.
5. The creation of branded elearning sub-sites
If you’re selling seats or courses to other organisations, there’s a chance that those organisations have asked for branded versions of your LMS. Not only does this allow you to switch up colours and logos, but it opens the door for you to develop custom functionality for them too to increase the value of the account. As if that wasn’t enough, branded sub-sites with custom features make it much easier to win those types of deals, because you can tailor the system to their exact demands and integrate with all of their in-house tools.
The old way of achieving sub-sites meant simply duplicating the LMS’ code and setting it up on a server. Not only does this process take a long time, it often can’t be achieved without developer support – so it can take days or even weeks to spin up an LMS for your client. But it doesn’t need to be like this.
We recently helped our client to reduce the setup time down from 2 weeks to 2 minutes using sub-site technology.
Simply type the client name, add a logo, define a primary and secondary colour, and let the system spin up a new LMS on a custom domain of your choice. Choose what courses to import and then you’re ready to let your client in. That’s it.
It’s even possible to allow your client to set it up themselves when they complete the purchase of a sub-site, saving you further hassle.
No developers, no wait times. (We might just put ourselves out of a job)
Branded sub-sites isn’t a feature we’ve seen in many Learning Management Systems out of the box, which is why it’s important to build upon a flexible open-source framework to achieve this. If you custom build your LMS with sub-site tech, or build it upon an open sourced CMS like Drupal or WordPress, then this is achievable if planned from the start of the product’s lifecycle.
Like what you read? We can help you automate processes withing your LMS! Book your consultation now👇
6. Automate your support with a self-help knowledge base
“I don’t know my password” are the words echoing through the nightmares of many LMS customer service reps. 100 tickets a week relating to questions you’ve answered time and time again. It’s not them, it’s you. Your LMS is buggy or unintuitive.
The problem is, if you try to scale a buggy or difficult-to-use Learning Management System, you should also prepare to scale your support team at a significant cost.
Your number one priority for reducing support tickets is to improve the user experience of your technology to reduce the need for tickets in the first place. But the second thing you must do is to automate support using a self-help knowledge base.
The truth is that customers really don’t want to contact support. I mean, when was the last time you’ve been excited about calling the customer service department of your mobile network? In fact, 67% of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative and a staggering 91% of customers would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs.
Providing self-help articles in a searchable database not only helps the customer to get answers more quickly, but it cuts down on the number of support requests that your customer service representatives need to close. If you don’t have customer service reps, that job falls on you – and I’m sure you don’t need the hassle.
In terms of how you achieve this, there are popular SaaS solutions like Zendesk to help you get up and running quickly.
For a truly integrated solution though, you can build your own knowledge base into your LMS, which includes real-time search, article rating system and can even hide your contact details away from those who haven’t yet searched for a solution themselves. Nifty.
Do you have issues with password sharing within your LMS? Have a look at the guide below!
📖 Related Article: How do I prevent password sharing on my e-learning system?
7. Automate adding and removing your LMS users to other supporting apps and sites
Some of our clients build communities in separate apps such as Facebook, Discord or forums as a way to bring learners together over a shared interest. Others may have supporting video apps, separate learning environments, or various chat applications.
Not only does this pick’n’mix of apps create a very incohesive experience, but setting all of those users up in these other environments can be an extremely time-consuming process. Time you could be spending in sales, rejecting LinkedIn requests or trying to climb out of a TikTok hole.
By using the APIs of the various tools you use, it’s often possible to automate the LMS setup and enrolment of users into these various applications, and then send relevant information to the user with details about how to log in.
Top tip: In some cases, SSO technology will allow user sessions to sync across. So when a user logs into your LMS, they also are automatically logged in to the supporting tools, like your community or your main app. This helps to reduce how disruptive switching apps will be. But a better way of achieving true cohesion – and a super learning experience – is by replicating all of those tools within your LMS.
8. Automate the booking of 1-on-1 coaching time
Another amazing LMS automation is to provide one-on-one coaching. This can be a great way to provide personalised support to your higher-paying elearning customers, differentiate your service in a crowded market and command higher fees. It can also provide work for your coaches and trainers, which can be especially important to settle their nerves as you start the transition from physical training to elearning.
Some of our clients have included “coaching credits” with their subscriptions, allowing users a certain amount of coaching within their subscription fee. Other times, coaching has been available for all users via one-off coaching fees processed via the LMS’ e-commerce tools.
While it’s possible to automate this booking process via basic tools like Calendly, those tools don’t fully integrate into your Learning Management System and it means that they wouldn’t tie-in to a credit or payment system. Bookings could be made by anyone whether they had the right or not, and someone from your company would have to manually check whether a user that books has paid or has credits available. That’s faff, and faff is not particularly scalable.
For a truly scalable 1-on-1 coaching booking system, it’s important to build a Calendly-style tool into your technology in a way that can more deeply integrate with your subscription, credit or payment system. Not only will it check their permissions and purchases and reject those who don’t have the option available to them, it’ll create calendar entries, send invites, create a conference link and send reminders as the event approaches.
Aside from the scalability improvements that this automation provides, the LMS can log this interaction into the user’s learning records so that you can closely monitor the effectiveness of the coaching and how it improves engagement and other learning outcomes.
Automating your LMS is the key to your scaling success
So, to recap you can automate the following aspects of your LMS:
- The enrollment of your users, whether they are individuals or within an organisation
- LMS report generation for your organisational clients via a flexible elearning analytics tool
- Onboarding and email notifications for your learning management system – and support more complex email sequences and logic
- The up-selling of elearning courses and subscriptions to improve customer lifetime value
- The creation of branded LMS sub-sites for your organisational clients to save weeks of work
- Your customer support by using knowledge base or help desk tools
- The adding and removal of users into your supporting apps such as communities, chat apps or forums
- The booking of one-on-one coaching sessions without the hassle of reconciliation
This list isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of the process, but these are just some of the time-consuming tasks we routinely help our clients to automate. Be sure to sit down with your team and map out all of the time-consuming processes to come up with your own automation wish list.
Have you automated any of your own LMS management processes? Brag about them in the comments!
Scale up your Learning Management System with Plume
Plume helps eLearning organisations to scale to millions of users. If you’re ready to take the next step, contact us for more information.