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Internal marketing for eLearning

How to advertise your eLearning content to your employees


When it comes to informing people about a new product or persuading them to buy or take out a subscription, companies know exactly what to do. It needs good marketing, a campaign. To put it simply: Good advertising. It’s exactly the same when we try to make something appealing to employees in the workplace. And ipso facto: The more challenging the topic you want to get employees excited about, the better the ‘campaign’ needs to be.

So if you have invested a lot of time in developing your eLearning courses, but the take-up and completion rates still leave something to be desired, in the vast majority of cases it is not the quality of your work that is lacking, but simply the internal communication. In this article, you’ll therefore find specific tips on how you can inform and inspire your employees about your eLearning content, as well as what you need to bear in mind—especially with regard to digital training.


Measure #1: Target group analysis

Every outward-facing marketing strategy begins with a target group analysis, if not with the creation of buyer personas. Because how can you sell something if you don’t even know who the ‘buyers’ are, where they get their information, what their needs are…? You know the drill. The same applies to internal marketing. Because even if you see the people you want to reach on a daily basis, you still need to provide more information about eLearning to ensure that your message really gets through.


Target group analysis vs. learner personas

The advantage of a target group analysis is that people with similar characteristics can easily be addressed together—but this is has its downsides. Messages may not address individual people and distinction is lost. Depending on the level of abstraction, this effect can be so strong that messages even reach people outside the target group. This is what is known as scatter loss.

If we think about eLearning, we know that we cannot afford scatter loss—after all, losing one person means that they won’t achieve learning outcomes and may not be able to complete any further training. A simple target group analysis of your learners is therefore not enough.


Creating learner personas

The solution to this is the learner persona, aka buyer persona in marketing-speak. Instead of creating a group that is as heterogeneous as possible, you develop several fictitious archetypes. These not only have the characteristics you identified in the target group analysis, but also a name, a face, a biography, a character. All of which are still based on real-life people. The aim is to develop such a high degree of identification and empathy that you as a ‘seller’ can switch up your perspective and see your eLearning portfolio from the point of view of the respective person:

Does Sarah even have time and space for further training in her day-to-day work? Where does Sarah find out the latest news about the company? Does she have career goals? Does Sarah have the digital skills she needs to use eLearning?

As it is, of course, impossible to consider all employees individually, you should ideally create several archetypes, each representing as small a group as possible with as many similarities as possible.


Important: Pay special attention to the differences between blue and white collar workers

In the case of internal marketing, manufacturing companies and craft businesses face the challenge of differentiating between two completely different target groups: Blue and white collar workers. Both target groups are usually so different that each requires its own marketing strategy and therefore its own learner personas. The problem is that the distinction between blue and white collar workers often also entails prejudices that need to be questioned openly and sensitively.

Nadine Pedro
[Translate to English:] Nadine Pedro, chemmedia AG

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Six ways to inform employees about eLearning content, reduce their inhibitions, and motivate them to learn

Probably the most common barrier to eLearning is the lack of training time. While traditional, analog training courses are naturally assigned specific timeframes due to their dependence on time and place (after all, employees cannot be in two places at once), eLearning is unfortunately often not taken seriously enough. Even when eLearning is introduced, employees are rarely adequately relieved of their day-to-day work to the extent that they can really learn in peace, or it is not sufficiently communicated that employees are allowed to schedule their own training time. So it is key that employees know they are allowed to take time for eLearning, and how much. Take a random sample: Ask any employee in your company if they know they are allowed to take time out for training, how much, and if they think it is enough.

The same applies to mobile learning. In theory, eLearning can be done anytime, anywhere, but only if learners have access to the necessary devices and are allowed to use them at any time. In conservative companies in particular, these necessary freedoms collide with smartphone bans in the workplace, or even just the knowledge that smartphones are not welcome at work. Here too, the successful implementation of eLearning requires clear communication and the necessary freedoms to be granted, otherwise the potential will remain untapped.

Note that mobile learning is a particular issue for blue collar workers. While white collar workers usually at least have access to a PC or laptop for learning purposes, blue collar workers tend to have no or only limited access to suitable devices. Blue collar workers should therefore be the first to be given access to mobile devices.

Perhaps the easiest way to inform employees about eLearning—at least if the employees (still) meet regularly in the company’s offices—is to use posters and traditional information events. Posters do not even take up your employees’ valuable time.

Of course, what works in the analog world also works in the digital one! The digital counterparts to posters and information events include newsletters, intranet content, and communication apps such as Staffbase—all excellent ways of providing information about new eLearning content. Note: If you employ blue collar workers or older people, always use both digital and analog communication channels to ensure that you reach all employees regardless of their digital skills and access to digital devices.

The more likeable, popular and respected a manager is, the more likely employees are to consciously or unconsciously observe and imitate their actions—after all, employees usually want to advance to that next career level themselves at some point. This role model concept can be used to convince employees of the benefits of eLearning.

You could ask people who are seen as role models to make a short video review of recently published eLearning courses in which they explain how they have benefited. Videos with tips on how people can integrate learning into their everyday work can also encourage positive imitation—even if the effects are not immediately apparent.

In addition to role models, however, peer ambassadors who know about new eLearning offerings and their benefits, and can report on them with a certain degree of enthusiasm to the workforce at suitable junctures, can also help. So keep your eyes open: Who is particularly committed to learning? Who has often asked for additional training on their own initiative? Invite these people to information events, involve them in beta tests, and provide them with the right arguments to back up their cases. Of course, you can also openly ask colleagues to report on the new eLearning content.

It’s no coincidence that people are always talking about making learning ‘child’s play’. Each of us still has an innate instinct to play—it’s why we tend to be taught knowledge, values and norms in a playful way during childhood and adolescence. This play instinct, however, is not limited to childhood. It lasts a lifetime—even if we often follow it with less intensity in adulthood. Nevertheless, there is still huge potential in gamification: Learners sometimes forget that they are learning at all and/or develop unexpected motivation through fictitious, positive competition systems.

This means that gamification not only makes sense within the eLearning application itself, but also beforehand when it comes to motivating employees about it in the first place—for example by advertising competitions, posting leaderboards, and offering incentives. Of course, employees must always give their consent to participate.


Measurement and optimization of marketing success

Why analyzing marketing measures is so important

Just like external marketing, internal marketing needs to be reviewed regularly. How else can you determine whether the measures you’ve introduced have been successful and which of them work best? Fail to do this, and you could end up activating resources in completely unsuitable places, while the real potential remains untapped. The result would not only be poor direct and indirect financial investments, but also a loss of confidence in digital training on the part of management and employees—a very bad scenario, especially when you remember how much time and energy has probably gone into implementing eLearning and convincing all of the decision-makers of the benefits!

To prevent this from happening, there are simple measures you can use to quickly check the effectiveness of marketing measures.


Three ways to evaluate your marketing measures

Measuring take-up and completion rates

The most obvious way to check whether your marketing measures have been successful is to analyze the take-up and completion rates for your courses.

To do this, you’ll need to record the status quo before the marketing measures are implemented and then analyze the changes at frequent intervals. Note: Pay attention not only to the completion rates, but above all to the take-up rates. These are even more indicative of the success of the marketing measures, as the actual completion of the courses may be influenced by any number of other factors within the eLearning content.

Interviews/personal feedback

You’ll get the best quality results through interviews and personal feedback. Approach individual employees and ask them, for example…

  • whether they know about the eLearning content.
  • how they found out about it.
  • whether they know how to register and use it.
  • whether they know what benefits they will gain from it.
  • what they think about the eLearning portfolio as a whole.

(Digital) questionnaires

To obtain even more feedback, you can also supplement the personal interviews with questionnaires.

Lower users’ inhibitions by asking mainly (but not exclusively) closed questions and not asking too many. But here too, make sure that you gather feedback from as many areas of your company as possible, and be aware that not all employee groups participate in digital surveys in the same way and to the same extent. In case of doubt, print out and distribute the questionnaires—even if this means additional work in the evaluation stage. Otherwise, there could again be an imbalance between blue and white collar workers.


The bottom line.

In most cases, marketing efforts are still directed outwards. The company’s own employees and the potential that internal marketing has to involve, motivate, and inspire the workforce—regardless of the topic—are forgotten. This makes the opportunities that internal marketing offers for challenging topics such as internal training all the greater. Together with your marketing team, you will have no problem developing marketing strategies for the various target groups within your company, and thus ensuring the necessary boost in demand for your eLearning content!

Magda Lehnert | Blogger
Magda Lehnert

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