Optimising the email ecosystem at FutureLearn

FutureLearn is an online education platform founded in 2012 by The Open University. The platform offers short courses, programs, and university degrees on a wide range of topics.

The challenge

User research identified that some of the emails sent were overwhelming, time-consuming, and sometimes irrelevant for some learners. Emails are sent before, during, and after the course, and are designed to provide information about the courses they are enrolled in and remind them about the milestones. We were asked to suggest improvements to the email ecosystem across all the stages of the learning experience.

Service design – Pedro Falcao & Devni Liyanage; UX Research – Elizabeth Valentine-House

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01. Mapping the email ecosystem

We started by structuring, organising, and labeling all the emails sent by FutureLearn. We listed the emails sent before, during, and after the course, plus the emails related to other categories such as managing accounts, social learning, and others.

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02. Analysing its content

We were then able to analyse each email given its content, trigger, CTA, and the team originally responsible to create it.

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03. Customer experience mapping

The next step was to run a customer experience mapping workshop to identify the pain points and opportunities for improvement using the insights from user research.

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04. Report with insights

The final step was to aggregate all the insights, group them and create a report with actionable results to efficiently improve the email ecosystem. Some of the opportunities identified include:

  • send emails and recommendations that are tailored to the learner's profile;
  • personalise emails by including the learner's name;
  • improve subject lines;
  • reduce copy to communicate a more concise message and reduce the cognitive load;
  • increase the email engagement by creating content that is visually more exciting;
  • when requesting more data, be clear about the benefits for the learner;
  • emphasise how courses work so they seem more achievable;
  • include messages from the educator and the partner logo;
  • reiterate the learning outcomes to get people motivated;
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