Blog Post

5 Takeaways from CEdMA's Customer Education Conference

Shannon Howard
April 30, 2024
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Last week, I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the Customer Education Management Association's empowerED24 conference in Intellum’s hometown of Atlanta, GA.

The time flew by quickly—driving in from NC and meeting so many new people (and trying to attend as many sessions as possible!).

Overall, it was a really incredible event. Hats off to the CEdMA team for creating so many opportunities to network, connect, and learn from each (and making sure there was yummy food provided throughout!).

For those who weren’t able to attend live, here were my top 5 takeaways from the sessions I attended:

1. Direct the Customer Journey

What does your end-to-end customer journey look like? How does education fit into that journey?

Many companies don’t have this journey documented—making it difficult to tie education and other activities to the customer’s lifecycle stage. 

Donna Weber, author of “Onboarding Matters”, talked to us about taking charge of these conversations. Instead of waiting for someone else to initiate and “own” the process. You’re not trying to take control of it all. You’re just taking initiative to be curious and start to see what’s happening across the business. 

(Check out the customer journey mapping section of last year’s CustomerXCon notes for some insight on how to get started.)

2. Experiment Before You Commit

Kris-Ann Nansen, Senior Principal Product Manager at Oracle, hosted a Q&A on her learning community (which is separate from their Cloud Connect customer community).

How did Kris-Ann and her team get the go-ahead to create a new community, specifically for education? They started it as an experiment. 

As learners progressed through Oracle University content, they could submit questions. But those questions were isolated to the course—and they found learners were asking similar types of questions over and over.

Kris-Ann discovered that the community team had an extra node available, and asked if she could use it to test out the learning community. The results have snowballed rapidly—and Kris-Ann now has dedicated moderators to a community on track to surpass 1 million members.

3. We’re All Marketers

Woah woah woah. What are we talking about here? But Andrew DeBell, Senior Strategist, Digital Content & Marketing Programs at Atlassian challenged us to think differently. (As a note, Andrew sits on the Community & Learning team.)

Andrew found that, when he looked at marketing and customer success goals, a lot of them overlapped with the education team’s goals. 

Andrew posited that “the reality is, most of us do marketing. We just do ‘marketing’ that helps people grow their careers.” 🤯

When you think about it that way, it becomes a lot easier to market and promote your customer education content

4. Put Your Plan on a Single Page

Lila Meyer, Director of Global Education Services at Gainsight, led the second day’s keynote on aligning education goals to business objectives.

We’ve all heard it before—but it can be so hard to execute well.

Lila broke it down into a single slide:

At the top, you have your company’s main objectives for the year.

On the left, you include learning from the prior year and business priorities for the current year.

You’ll see the bulk of the slide is initiatives—the work the Education Services team is doing, with related success metrics. This way they can easily track against their goals, and ensure they’re on the right track. 

This one-slide plan keeps your team focused and allows executives to quickly and easily understand the work that’s ahead (and related measures of success).

5. Get Scrappy

I know we’re sick of hearing it, but “do more with less” isn’t going away anytime soon.

Marc Undeberg, Sr. Program Manager, Education & Enablement at, hosted a great session on his academy’s explosive growth.

Fall of 2023, I remember Marc telling me they were at 10K learners. Then it was 15K. By February 2024, they were at 20K learners. And the numbers keep climbing.

While Marc’s team has expanded to include full-time employees and contractors, they’ve also gotten scrappy with their methods.

They call the top 5% of learners to do research, learning more about their motivations, what’s working, and what’s missing.

They conduct regular A/B tests to understand which marketing campaigns and channels are working and which are not worth investing in.

They’re getting creative in how customer education can support other teams—generating a sense of goodwill that increases collaboration across the company. is doing a lot, but my big takeaway was to test, experiment, and find a way to make the most of your current resources before asking for more.

Get All the Notes

You can read my full notes from the sessions I attended here. (My ask: If you find these helpful, shoot me a message on LinkedIn!)

About the Author

Shannon Howard Speaker Headshot
Shannon Howard
Director of Content & Customer Marketing
Shannon Howard is an experienced Customer Marketer who’s had the unique experience of building an LMS, implementing and managing learning management platforms, creating curriculum and education strategy, and marketing customer education. She loves to share Customer Education best practices from this blended perspective.