The Difference Between Marketing eLearning, EdTech and LMS

Published on: | Updated on: | Caroline Lane

The last thing B2B marketers need is more jargon. 

But when it comes to complex emerging industries, subtle distinctions really matter.

Because while eLearning, EdTech and Learning Management Systems (LMS) all sound very similar, they actually appeal to very different buyers - each with its own unique problems, wants and needs.

As marketers, it’s our job to understand those distinctions and use them to reach the right audience with the right product positioned in the right way.

This blog explains exactly how to do that - starting with an explanation of how these three markets differ.

What is eLearning?

Electronic Learning (eLearning) is a learning experience based on digital content, delivered through an app or a website. With its total market value projected to reach $1 trillion by 20321, eLearning is perhaps the most popular of our three categories - and the most widely applicable.

Who is the audience for eLearning?

eLearning platforms can market themselves towards anybody who wants to learn, meaning both B2B and B2C marketers have plenty to sink their teeth into. Building a business case for eLearning, however, requires a deep understanding of how the product will impact an organization across multiple factors - typically focusing on the ease, access and affordability of quality educational material.

What is LMS?

A Learning Management System (LMS) is a piece of software used to deliver educational resources to others. A typical LMS will provide many of the same functions as an eLearning platform, but with extra features such as progress tracking, learning assessments and performance reporting.

Who is the audience for an LMS?

LMSs are fundamentally tools for organizations, meaning the buyer team will typically consist of (or be acting on behalf of) administrators and educators. The appeal of most LMSs is the control it enables and the efficiency gains it unlocks. 

What is EdTech?

Educational Technology (EdTech) refers to hardware and software designed to help teachers deliver in-class learning. This ranges from simple education tablets to futuristic Augmented Reality headsets.

Who is the audience for an EdTech?

Like LMSs, EdTech is typically sold to organizations - and the buyer teams are likely to be similar. However, while an LMS offers insight, EdTech is usually purchased to enhance or expand how lessons are taught.

Three Key Ways These Distinctions Affect Your Marketing 

1. Pain Points

Great marketers understand the challenges our audience faces - and position our product as the solution. But each of our categories solves different problems: 

eLearning pain points

eLearning brands typically solve problems of accessibility: users desire faster, more responsive and cheaper ways to engage with educational resources.

LMS pain points

LMS buyers lack the time or facilities to measure and track learners’ progress, which often means they struggle to properly understand and improve their performance as educators.

EdTech pain points

EdTech buyers are primarily concerned with engagement and capacity. They need to help more students get a better education - and they understand that technology is increasingly central to that equation. 

2. Secondary Buyer Influencers

No B2B buyer is an island, and marketers must be aware of the complex dynamics that influence buyers’ decisions. Their primary pain points and goals are deeply influenced by the behavior and needs of others:

eLearning buyer influences

Most customers simply don’t have time to test and compare every eLearning platform in a given field. Instead, they are often driven by their perception of the popularity of a given platform and the size of the community it has built.

The language learning app Duolingo increased its user-based by 47.3% in 20222, not just through aggressive advertising but based on network effects - as established users recruited and encouraged new users.

LMS buyer influences

While LMS buyers typically want to improve students’ experience and performance, they also have a secondary audience: the people who fund their purchases. Many LMS buyers are heavily influenced by a desire to prove the efficacy of their teaching to senior management and have hard metrics to back-up their claims.

EdTech buyer influences

EdTech buyers are often influenced by both parents and administrators, each expecting to be reassured that students have access to the most up-to-date and effective technology. That means messaging shouldn’t just reflect the buyer’s personal aspirations, but also their desire to keep other stakeholders happy.

3. Lead Generation and Nurture

Building an effective marketing funnel requires that you understand not just how your audience thinks - but how likely they are to make a purchase. Each of these categories requires different levels of capital investment and trust, meaning your strategy needs to take into account the length and nature of the buyer journey:

eLearning buyer journeys

eLearning products typically require the lowest upfront investment, and are applicable to the widest number of users. Lead generation campaigns can focus on volume, while nurture can be more sales-focus - presenting the audience with demos and discounts.

LMS buyer journeys

Because they are geared towards organizations, LMS buyer groups are likely to be bigger and take longer to make a purchase. The best approach is usually to place a larger emphasis on CRM optimization and tailor messaging to specific buyer personas, sometimes even opting for an Account Based Marketing approach.

EdTech buyer journeys

Like LMSs, EdTech products tend to be a big investment - and most schools will have limited budgets. Buyer education is therefore key, meaning high-value resources like webinars and whitepapers are likely to have the most impact.

Transform Your Marketing with an Agency That Gets It

Whether your product falls under eLearning, LMS or EdTech, ProperExpression has a dedicated team with in-house expertise across all three domains - ready to help you reach the ideal audience with the perfect message at the exact right moment.