Recognising that a thriving learning culture involves more than simply deploying great content across a modern platform, MicroLearn’s Creative Director, Ali Soper, recently explored how the application of simple marketing principles can boost learner engagement and drive Return on Investment (ROI).
In fact, internal marketing campaigns can both promote and endorse learning through an organisation as they champion the benefits of life-long learning while encouraging learners to lead their own development, boosting resource usage when actively planned, implemented and reviewed.
Before you can start planning marketing initiatives you first need to identify your organisation’s greatest learner engagement challenges.
Listening to both prospects and customers, it appears that the three main problems impacting ROI are; learners don’t have enough time for training, a one size fits all policy doesn’t work for learning and eLearning can be dull and feel irrelevant to a learner’s role.
In some cases, the problem is simply that the learners just aren’t finding the content in the first place, with the lack of usage and organisational uptake presenting a real engagement barrier which negatively impacts ROI. After all, ROI isn’t just a numbers game, it’s about identifying real-world performance improvements to justify the organisations implementation of eLearning libraries, Learning Management Systems, Learning Experience platforms and other training solutions.
So, what can Learning & Development professional do to combat learning challenges?
Let’s start by looking at the content and how it’s implemented. If your greatest challenge is that you’re learners don’t have time, consider utilising bite-sized content which is quick to digest and easy to use on the go. Or, if you’re looking for content which can be tailored to individual needs, rather than a one size fits all policy, explore content which comes in a range of different formats.
To tackle the risk of disengagement through boredom look for solutions which are compact, bright and memorable, such as those which include gamified elements, or which provide additional resources in support of a microlearning blend.
It’s clear from industry reports that the benefits of engaged learners are abundant, both for the learners themselves and the organisation as a whole.
Engaged learners tend to be engaged employees, committing to their role as they feel valued by an organisation which provides genuine career development opportunities, meaning they don’t have to leave in order to learn, grow and progress. The organisation therefore benefits from lower staff turnover and higher performance levels which boosts overall profitability.
Engaged learners are the foundation of an organisation’s learning culture as they champion learning initiatives and encourage others to pursue life-long learning, having become active stakeholders in their own development.
However, motivating individuals to invest in their own development can be tricky as it often involves changing ingrained organisational habits. This is where marketing techniques prove useful as you ensure the messaging around how learning is viewed resets the company’s mindset by promoting a learning culture that drives ROI and boosts employee engagement by addressing both learner needs and organisational skill gaps.
Pop on your marketing hats to look at ways to target your staff, creating and sustaining campaigns which actively endorse workplace learning to drive the learning culture within your organisation.
You don’t need to have professional marketing experience or borrow from external marketing budgets to be successful, you just need to think about your staff as a target audience and consider how to make them enthusiastic about learning and remember to make your campaigns S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound) by focusing on the results you wish to produce.
Here the Sales Funnel, an often-used marketing model, can be useful as it features a series of key stages; Discovery, Consideration, Conversion and Retention, which are designed to convert a stranger into a returning customer.
Although to promote learning, these stages will change, with Discovery becoming Awareness, Consideration – Engagement, Conversion – Action and Retention – Advocacy.
During the Awareness stage, take time to explore what employees already know about learning initiatives, asking if they know where to find it and considering what you can do to promote available resources. Use BAIDA (Brand, Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action) to create an identity for your eLearning programme, deciding what you want employees to associate with the initiative, such as an image, message, name or logo, in order to promote recognition and relatability.
Then move onto the Engagement stage, where you generate buzz around the initiative so people will engage with it, followed by the Action stage, where you consider how to get learners to interact with the content. Finally, the Advocacy stage, is the point at which you create champions of learning, encouraging top-level staff to openly share how they use the resources and discuss the benefits of the learning programme.
You don’t have to break the bank to successfully market your learning programme. In fact, you can simply use existing resources in innovative ways.
Why not select a Module of the Month to promote courses and drive conversation around key topics, send out course videos as one-minute moments of learning for employees and set up forums to encourage social learning which endorses follow-up activities?
Alternatively, place infographics related to your learning library around the office, to bring learning offline and capitalise on key moments, such as when people are preparing for a meeting, waiting for the kettle to boil or are visiting the bathroom.
Marketing initiatives and interventions should be regular and sustained flurries of activities featuring clear communications promoting the value and accessibility of training, boosting your learning culture and driving ROI as the programme is actively used by engaged learners.
Throughout the process, it’s important to talk to learners and discover what they think the benefits, successes and limitations of the scheme are. These invaluable insights reveal how effective campaigns have been, enabling you to do more of what worked and modify what didn’t and share good news stories demonstrating and endorsing the benefits of your initiatives.
In summary… simply launching great new content on a modern platform isn’t enough to drive ROI. You need to identify your organisation’s unique learning challenges before promoting your learning initiatives to boost your organisation’s learning culture, spanning from induction programmes through career-long development.