Director, Learning Experience
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How a data-driven approach can create ruthlessly efficient learning experiences

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What can L&D learn from marketing when it comes to creating learning content that sticks? It’s all down to a data-driven approach.

25th Feb 2021
Director, Learning Experience
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Learning and development isn’t necessarily known for its great usage of data and analytics. To be fair, recent years have seen many improvements, with some L&D teams even hiring data analysts to truly understand what impact their work has on the business, but there is still lots of work to be done.

By continuously measuring and reacting to data, L&D can be ruthlessly relevant in the learning it provides. 

To truly understand how to get the best from our learning programmes, we need to look to the marketers in our organisations.

Data for modern learning experiences

When we talk about data and measurement, L&D needs to do more than simply administering ‘smile sheets’ after sessions. Data needs to focus on user engagement, sentiment and, of course, business impact. With that in mind, all L&D decisions should be driven and supported by data to allow the creation of ruthlessly relevant L&D initiatives. Instead of waiting until a programme is completed or an initiative has finished, L&D needs to consistently measure impact and success of its programmes and, even more important, to pivot as needed to create truly outstanding learning experiences.

Unfortunately, many traditional L&D approaches don’t even allow the capture of insightful information. Often the extent of insights, or the information business stakeholder think they are interested in, is seat time and completion. Historically that was all that mattered – tick the box for your compliance training. With the advent of modern learning approaches, however, L&D also needs to look at new ways of measuring success.

Marketers show us the way forward

Let’s say data tells us which internal platforms learners spend most of their time on, yet adoption of said platform is really low, or I have information about what search terms learners use on the intranet at any given time and one search term shows up over and over. Why wouldn’t I use this information to create content that aligns with what learners clearly need?

Marketers have been doing exactly that for many years. Decisions are data-driven and based on consumer behaviours and they push out the right content at the right time to the right person at the right place. The question is, how can we create a similar experience in L&D?

learning strategy hub link

Create a push-pull strategy based on data

The easiest way to get started is to take a current programme with existing content, then break the content into smaller pieces, creating an email course that’s supported by a chatbot. This allows you to deliver smaller content pieces through email (push) and a chatbot (push and pull) that ties into your current collaboration tools, such as Slack or MS Teams.

Email marketing automation tools, either the one your organisation uses for your external clients, or a tool that you leverage for the sole purpose of L&D email courses (such as MailChimp or MailerLite) are the keys to success. These platforms allow you to create emails that can be personalised based on the recipient, as well as to automate the campaign flow surrounding these emails. For example, you might want to show different content to an employee in the marketing department compared to someone in sales. Each email has a link to a relevant content source, such as an article or a video. You simply set up a series of emails over three to four weeks which will be sent out at a predetermined time.

The chatbot will be overlaid and will push out additional content at different times or will allow learners to pull content as needed, meaning some AI chatbots allow learners to ask specific questions and receive answers in the moment of need. Usually, chatbots work similar to email automation platforms in that a set campaign flow can be created ahead of time.

Data to measure usage and engagement

Emails that are sent through one of the above mentioned platforms automatically give you a lot of insight into usage and engagement through email open-rates, who opened the email, when, and how often, as well as click-through-rates, who clicked on additional resources and when. If there is additional tracking on the pages where those resources sit, you will be able to capture data such as downloads, likes and shares.

Not only that, but if someone forwarded the email, you can identify another level of engagement that you weren’t able to see before. To take it even one step further, you could send the same email with a different subject line and content and do what’s called an A/B test – it shows which email performs better, and what content really hits the spot with your learners. Chatbots, Slack and MS Teams have additional usage and engagement data that you need to further investigate and look at on a regular basis.

L&D needs to pivot

By considering the above information and feedback, L&D will be able to tell what really resonates with learners, and easily pivot by changing content sources, length of content, topics and much more. By continuously measuring and reacting to data, L&D can be ruthlessly relevant in the learning it provides. The best part is, you don’t have to wait until the email course has finished – you can make on-the-go changes, creating elevated learning experience for everyone in the programme.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel and spend lots of time and resources when you create an email course. Take one of your most popular, roughly one to two hour L&D programmes, divide up the content, and set up your emails. The chatbot element can always be added in later. Don’t forget to continuously review usage data and engagement and commit to pivoting as needed.    

Interested in this topic? Read How to apply a marketing mind to your organisation’s upskilling programme.

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