The choice between e-learning formats is simple, right? Use microlearning for content that can be explained quickly and courses for more complex information.

Well, that’s the typical formula. But some situations don’t fit neatly into either of those two boxes. For instance, what if you have enough content for a course, but your learners don’t have time to complete it all in one sitting? Or maybe they have plenty of time, but the information is too overwhelming to take in all at once. Or perhaps the content feels bloated as microlearning but sparse as a course.

In times like these, consider a third option: a microlearning drip campaign.

What’s a Drip Campaign?

If you’ve ever received a series of marketing emails—for instance, after signing up for a free trial, buying a product online, or creating a new account—then you’ve experienced a drip campaign firsthand! This marketing technique uses a series of automated emails spread over time to encourage people to engage with a product or service. Sometimes the goal is to get you to become a customer, such as moving from a trial to a paid account or purchasing an item you left in your online shopping cart. But they’re also used to teach people how to get the most value from a recent purchase—a useful way to keep customers happy and encourage repeat business.

What makes drip campaigns so effective is every message is short and targeted, so even time-crunched people are inclined to read them. But those small messages can build on each other over time to inspire readers to take action or change their behavior. That’s great for slowly convincing someone to buy something or encouraging them to renew a subscription. And that same strategy can be effective for delivering training content to your learners.

How Can I Use a Drip Campaign for Learning?

Shifting the drip campaign concept to a learning context is relatively easy. Each message in a marketing drip campaign functions essentially the same way microlearning does—they keep things short and useful by focusing on a single objective in each message. So making a microlearning drip campaign is as simple as creating a set number of microlearning experiences on a theme, setting them up in a logical order, and getting them out to your learners in short bursts over time.

How Do I Decide What Content My Campaign Should Cover?

The start of this process works like most e-learning projects. You sift through the information you need to cover, the goals for the project, and what you know about your audience to tease out the core points or learning objectives for your project. Each one you identify has the potential to become a separate microlearning message in your campaign.

A drip campaign, though, has another factor to consider—audience engagement over time. As you’ve probably noticed from your own habits, you’ll only open so many emails in a series before losing interest. That’s why most marketing drip campaigns often keep the number of messages they send in the single digits. 

If the concepts are relatively straightforward or your audience is swamped with other tasks, consider paring down your campaign to just a handful of microlearning experiences. But if your topic is complex, something your audience is deeply interested in, or requires regular revisiting to make it stick, your learners may have the appetite for a longer campaign.

Does the Messaging Order Matter?

Yes! Being strategic about the order of your content can help you trim down your microlearning messages and make them easier to grasp.

For instance:

  • Sharing process steps in chronological order typically makes them easier to understand.
  • Starting with the simplest aspects of complex concepts can make your campaign topic feel more approachable.
  • Having each microlearning piece build on the themes of previous ones can streamline your messaging and make complicated topics easier to parse.
  • Starting your campaign with a strong hook for why it should matter to your learners—like how this content will make their work easier or sharing a story about what can go wrong when people don’t know this information—can motivate them to keep opening your subsequent messages.

What Medium Is Best for Microlearning?

Lots of mediums work well for the streamlined and focused approach that microlearning takes. So you have a wide range of choices to pick from, including short e-learning experiences (which you can build as usual or using the microlearning feature in Rise 360), videos, interactive scenarios, infographics, quick learning games, email newsletters, texts, and podcasts. And you can always combine multiple mediums too!

That said, not every medium works equally well in every circumstance. So as you’re narrowing down your options, consider which ones best meet the needs of your content, audience, and distribution method.

How Can I Share These Microlearning Messages if I Don’t Need to Track Completion?

You’ve created your microlearning experiences. Now it’s time to drip them out to your learners—either by embedding them in messages or hosting them elsewhere and sharing links. Thankfully, you don’t need to manually email each learner every message in your campaign. Instead, take advantage of tools like these to speed up delivery:

  • Automated Email Services (e.g., Mailchimp or MailerLite): With these marketing tools, you can set up your messages and timing just once and have the campaign fire off as many times as needed. And they often include ways to customize your campaign for your learners, such as sending slightly different information based on each recipient’s role or emailing similar content again if a learner didn’t open the previous email. 
  • Messaging Apps (e.g., Slack or WhatsApp): If every member of your audience uses the same messaging app, consider using it to push content out to a lot of people fast. And depending on the messaging app you choose, automations and Zapier integrations may be able to handle some of the scheduling and sending processes for you.
  • Mail Merge: If you have zero budget or can’t use outside tools, this common email feature is here to help. Once you set up each drip campaign message and a mailing list, Mail Merge can do all the tedious work of addressing and sending each email.
  • Mass Texting Tools: These services allow you to quickly send out your microlearning messages to a large number of people via text.
  • Social Media: If your campaign is public facing, a cost-effective distribution option is to push each message out through a social media platform.

What Are My Options if I Need to Track Completion?

If you need to track learner completion, that tends to narrow down your distribution options.

You can keep things simple and host your microlearning messages in your Learning Management System (LMS). You’ll just need a way to keep learners in the loop when new drips are released—for instance, by automatically enrolling them in each microlearning, using LMS notifications about new content, or messaging learners direct links to new content.

That said, xAPI may open your possibilities back up. This e-learning software specification sends, stores, and retrieves learner activity and performance data—even if the activity occurs outside an LMS. Pairing xAPI with a Learning Record Store (LRS) gives you a flexible way to track the completion of your microlearning messages. But if you’re not well-versed in xAPI, you’ll need to deepen your skills or enlist the help of an expert to make this distribution option work.


Drip campaigns are one of the many techniques learning and development teams can adopt and adapt from marketing. This approach blends short microlearning messages with a spaced approach to distribution, giving you a solution that fits into the schedules of even the busiest of learners. And because marketing teams have used this flexible format for years to shift behavior, your stakeholders can feel confident that this approach can lead to real results for learners and your organization.

Want to do a deeper dive into how microlearning works before you assemble your campaign? Then check out the following articles:

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