More secrets from the marketing world

James Barrass Banks continues his look at drawing L&D inspiration from the marketing world. 

Reading time: 4 minutes.

In my last article I covered how L&D can cut through the noise of people’s inboxes with effective messages and value propositions. But cutting through the noise once won’t be enough for your audiences to remember it. This is especially important if you’re seeking to position yourself in a specific way.

It’s time to lift something else from the marketing playbook – campaigns.

Campaigns are essentially a large amount of focused activity to convey one particular message to an audience. These are typically tied to a specific action you want the audience to take. The message is repeated often and through multiple channels.

For example, if you want to drive people to your event (like ATD) you might use email marketing, write a blog, post on social media, display advertisements on websites and other tactics.

L&D can learn from this in two ways:

  1. To have concentrated activity using different channels to constantly engage the audience with a single message
  2. To have a singular action you want the audience to take with a clear definition of success (this significantly helps prove ROI)

To the first point, by having your message spread everywhere across multiple different channels it increases the chance that your audience will encounter it and remember it.

When it comes to constant engagement there is no defined number as to how many times a message needs to be repeated.

Using multiple channels has proven to be effective and what 70% of audiences want and leads to a 24% increase in conversion rates. (Note that these are stats from the marketing world but listening to audience needs and driving relevant conversions is universal!)

It is possible to do this for learners by creating multiple touch points outside of email. Consider posters, internal social media, holding a small event to start the campaign or a video. By having the message everywhere they will have to engage and remember it.

When it comes to constant engagement there is no defined number as to how many times a message needs to be repeated. That being said, there is evidence about the effectiveness of campaigns within the learning world.

Employee experience platform Pay Compliment carried out a campaign approach when seeking employee engagement on feedback requests. Their use of automated campaigns alongside deadlines increased the response rate from 20% to 80%. 

Working with a variety of different clients their results have shown that regular reminders and a final campaign email drive the most engagement.

The use of campaigns links heavily to a spaced learning approach, where effective learning is done at a regular intervals to prevent you from forgetting as this video points out. The approach seeks to remind and reiterate key messages as the knowledge fades.


Founder David Perks notes that to make the campaign approach stronger you need to have a strong conclusion. ‘There needs to be a final reminder that adds urgency and represents a lost opportunity. By mirroring what we typically see in the marketing world with messages around sales coming to an end it gives learning the extra push and it’s that last message that draws in 20%-30% of responses’.

From a practical standpoint the focus of the campaign can be anything. A regular approach David sees is organisations running a two-week campaign, with an internally defined deadline, for meeting a specific learning objective where they have six emails being sent:

  1. Send out invitations
  2. Nudge after one week
  3. 2nd Nudge three days before the deadline
  4. 3rd Nudge two days before the deadline
  5. 4th Nudge on the final one day before the deadline
  6. Final chance to complete with an hour before the deadline

Once this campaign is completed and participants have completed the main action further messages can be sent to solidify the learning or to gain feedback.

This ensures that the learning is being applied and links to how you can measure your impact.

To the second point, by having this focus it allows you to make a significant impact on improving one area. With it being broadly agreed that proving ROI is difficult in L&D, as evidenced here, having a focus will allow a clear link to be drawn to the pre-defined objective and metrics of the campaign.

Your campaign objective could be anything from encouraging the completion of compliance training to gaining signups to a mentoring programme. Making the objectives SMART and gaining buy in from key stakeholders will further help your campaign, ensuring that the results at the end are valued.

One final note is that campaigns give you further permission to be creative. So for each campaign be inventive so that you really engage with your audience. The only proviso here is that all messaging needs to be consistent and should link back to your value proposition.

In conclusion, taking a campaign approach can be tough as it requires a single focus at a time when there are hundreds of demands being made of us. But having this core focuses allows a tangible impact to be made around one objective whilst exciting your audience.


About the author

James Barrass-Banks is the marketing manager at MTa Learning. You can read more insights on his blog here.


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