Are success stories the secret to learner engagement and ROI?

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Written by Stephanie Morgan on 9 May 2018

There are a lot of conversations in L&D at the moment surrounding low learner engagement and the challenges of proving ROI. It can be difficult to cut through the noise and find a solution to both obstacles which is straight forward, cost effective and yields the results you are looking for.

One solution I find really impactful is success stories. A learning success story showcases the journey, and ultimately the benefits one of your learners has gained through participating in your learning programme.

And, an effective learning success story can provide you with better measures of success to share with your company leaders and can hook your learners into wanting that success for themselves. Let’s take a look at some of my tips and approaches for how you can use success stories for your organisation:

What does a success story have to do with ROI?

We know that businesses want clear, evidence-based data on how learning is having an impact and an efficient way for L&D professionals to do this is by gathering success stories. Reporting the positive outcomes that your learning is having reinforces the benefits of the programme while providing you with invaluable evaluation and success data.

Storytelling when reporting may even have a longer lasting impact as psychologists suggest that stories are 22 times more memorable than data and facts.

We know that businesses want clear, evidence-based data on how learning is having an impact and an efficient way for L&D professionals to do this is by gathering success stories.

“Without a story what’s left? Facts. Data. Descriptions. We need Information. But we crave stories. Stories have the ring of truth, they allow us to believe. We feel stories, because they give us other shoes to put ourselves into. Descriptions are distant. Stories take us there.” – Pete James, Head of Copy, Bray Leino

What does a success story have to do with learner engagement?  

You may be aware of the benefits L&D professionals could have if they adopt a marketing mindset, especially when tackling low learner engagement. Well, investing in success stories is a great place to start as they can play a pivotal role in a developing a lucrative learner engagement campaign.

How exactly? Success stories tick two very important marketing boxes – targeting your key audience and having relevant and compelling messaging. By demonstrating to your potential learners, the benefits of your programme through the journey and success of their peers you will ‘hook’ your audience into wanting those benefits and successes for themselves.

In fact, there are several ‘hooks’ at play when you promote a learning success story throughout your organisation:

Social recognition

Rewards and recognition from both peers and managers can have a significant impact on job satisfaction and employee engagement. The same can be said for our learners. If our actively engaged learners are receiving public recognition in the workplace through promoted success stories, it will encourage their peers to want to get involved and achieve the same level of recognition.

Peer pressure

If you value someone else’s opinion, it can and does influence your own, so when you see an influential peer share what benefits they have gained from a piece of learning, you’re more likely to want to get involved.


How to create a compelling success story

Understanding the benefits of a great success story is one thing, but actually developing the skills and tactics to share them effectively throughout your organisations is another. I have laid out some approaches and tips you could use when you launch your learning success story campaign:


Think carefully about the role models in your organisation – who has a strong influence and valued reputation? I would recommend getting them on board quickly, as they are your strongest allies when creating an effective success story.

Interview skills

Magnifying what the success looks like for your learner in a compelling way starts with great interviewing skills. You want to think of questions that tell a story and capitalise on the impact of the learning on a personal level, as this will resonate more with the rest of your audience.

Questions could include what their job was like before they started and how it compares now, or what difference the learning has made to them on a day-to-day basis. If you ask story telling questions you will get a much richer picture.


Video is your strongest resource when developing a success story. On average one-third of online activity is spent watching video and 51% of global marketers name video as the type of content with the best ROI. It’s also the easiest way of producing the content, you record the success story by simply interviewing the learner!

It still leaves plenty of room for creativity too, for example you could video the learner applying the learning in their job.


There isn’t much point in creating an amazing success story if no one sees it. Creating an L&D marketing campaign can help you get the most out of your success story. This could include social media posts, email campaigns, posters around the office, mentions in your company newsletter and anything else you can think of to push the content out to your learners.

I hope that some of these ideas have given you some inspiration for what success stories could do for your organisation.


About the author

Stephanie Morgan is director of learning solutions at Bray Leino Learning

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