One of the biggest L&D challenges isn’t setting up programs; it’s getting employees to engage with them. Learn how to boost learner engagement in our new article.


If there’s one thing that separates successful training programs from not-so-effective ones, it’s engagement.

Engaged learners are more likely to enjoy their training; thus, they stay committed to completing their courses. They also feel better equipped to follow their personal development path successfully and become more productive at work.

But the truth is, L&D professionals across diverse industries still find it difficult to engage employees in their training. In fact, LinkedIn reports that it’s one of the biggest challenges for them next to creating a culture of learning and making it a priority for teams.

Why are talent developers prioritizing this now? Because the lack of engagement affects not only the effectiveness of a training program but also the productivity and knowledge retention of learners.

So before simply making courses available on a learning portal, mobile app, or on a webpage, make sure to have a strategy in place to gain and sustain the engagement of your workforce, and get them motivated to learn. Better yet, borrow a few lessons from marketing!



What does “Think Like a Marketer” mean for L&D?

In today’s digitally enabled and distracted workplace, learning departments are struggling to cut through the noise of daily tasks that command the attention of busy business functions. 

Without communicating a great sense of urgency or purpose for training, your program is at the risk of being pushed back or set aside.

As a result, training engagement will fall short of the efforts you put into aligning with business objectives, getting the budget approved, facilitating the implementation of technology, and meticulously planning your ROI metrics.

So here are a few ways you can use marketing techniques to grab learners’ attention:


Marketing Tactics to Boost Learning Engagement

1. Understand the needs and skills of your audience

The first step to any marketing campaign is knowing who you’re actually selling to. In the case of Learning and Development, the same rings true.

One of the keys to implementing effective learner engagement strategies is to involve your learners as early as the data-gathering phase of the training cycle. Let’s face it, no one wants to take training they feel isn’t relevant to their work, so better do your research ahead of time. 

By creating a learner persona, which is a comprehensive representation of your audiences’ common characteristics, you’ll gain a better insight into their needs and determine the best way to motivate them. This learner persona could include the following:

  • Demographics (age, gender, education, location)
  • Knowledge and skills
  • Challenges
  • Motivations
  • Technology and media preferences

After obtaining this information and assessing your workforce’s responsibilities, skills, experiences, and preferences, it’ll now be easier to formulate a training communication strategy that’s more meaningful and personalized.



2. Stay top-of-mind with an email campaign spanning the learner journey


It isn’t enough to launch eLearning courses and leave it to employees to access the modules. To ensure that L&D resources are top-of-mind for employees, create a buzz around your initiatives

The most effective way to do this is by email campaigns spanning the learner journey. This way, learners are always informed and reminded about their training.

If marketers create communication plans with at least three to five messages about a product, so can L&D pros with their training programs. With your training initiative, consider: how will you promote the training? How will you convey the benefits?

By developing an email campaign that attracts, informs, and reminds learners of the program on a regular basis, you can increase your learner engagement significantly. Here are a few email marketing tips to get you started:


  • Make your subject line short and descriptive. With dozens or even hundreds of emails that we receive daily, your subject line has to stand out. Prioritize clarity and make it relevant to your recipient. 41 characters or 7 words is an optimal email subject line length.
  • Keep your email body focused and concise. As busy schedules take most of employees’ time, no one wants to be bombarded with tons of information in a single email. Thus, it’s important to keep your messages straight to the point. Additionally, be sure to cover these questions: What are the learning goals and objectives for your program? How is it relevant to their role? What is the work involved in this learning?
  • Don’t forget to include a call-to-action. A call-to-action is usually an eye-catching button that prompts immediate action from the reader. You will see this in most, if not all, marketing media. In your emails, a call to action button may say: “Book a Lesson”, “Register for this Workshop”, or “Start Learning Now” and link them to the specific page where they can then do whatever it is you want them to do.


3. Promote learning by involving and leveraging internal influencers


In marketing, influencers are popular in their niche markets and are often leveraged by brands to launch their products. 

In your organization, however, these are people who can influence employees to make eLearning a priority. This includes your senior executives and learners’ direct managers.

According to a 2019 LinkedIn Workplace Learning report, 56% of learners would spend more time learning if suggestions on courses to improve skills came from their managers. This reveals just how essential the support of your leadership team is to build a learning culture.

To leverage these in-company influencers, you can create posters, videos, or even email campaigns featuring your senior executives. You can also post a personalized message to employees on your company’s intranet, to further encourage them to take charge of their training.


Moreover, these top execs don’t solely hold the power of influencing employees to learn. You can also involve early or current learners of the program. Early successes can help you promote the program through testimonials, which are a type of review or evidence that what is being promoted is effective.

You know how customers usually tend to search for genuine reviews for a product or service because it gives them an idea of whether or not it’s worth purchasing? Well, the same goes for learning programs! In fact, 45% of respondents to a LinkedIn Learning survey said they would spend more time on workplace learning that is peer-recommended.

But for testimonials to be effective, they must resonate success that’s relevant to your audience. Instead of asking simply for a testimonial, have your early users answer specific questions such as:

  • How does this program help you in your role?
  • What are the top 3 benefits of this program?
  • In what ways have you applied your learning from this program?

When your audience sees that fellow learners are getting meaningful results with their training, the more inclined they’ll be to continue in their learning journey as well.



4. Sustain engagement with competitions and incentives


What starts as a game-winning strategy for employees can quickly turn into a learning habit. So why drive engagement by creating a little friendly competition around your training?

Types of training behaviors you can reward include:

  • Top users in terms of learning hours
  • Top learners with the best learning progress
  • Nominations from managers due to behavior change
  • Winners in competitions that apply the learning

Apart from recognition, physical prizes — such as higher-value learning opportunities, team lunches, overnight experience seminars, and gift cards — can also be great motivators.

By providing rewarding experiences, employees are engaged on all levels, hence begin to hold themselves accountable for meeting milestones and achieving performance goals. 


Develop a learning marketing strategy today!

L&D professionals aren’t just tasked to design a learning program. They’re also tasked with letting employees know about the course, keeping them engaged, and seeing them through successful completion.

So be sure to create a learning marketing strategy using these tried-and-true tactics to significantly improve employee attitudes toward training!

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