Is your budget stopping you from improving learner engagement?

Written by Stephanie Morgan on 20 September 2018

It’s not new news that marketing campaigns can have a huge impact on learner engagement. Marketing is a hot topic in our industry and most learning professionals will have come across at least a few headlines on the subject.

In fact, Towards Maturity dedicate a significant chunk of their recent benchmark report The Transformation Curve to how effectively learning professionals are using marketing and communications to engage their people.

It’s clear that many of us in L&D are aware of the solution to learner engagement, so it’s surprising that Towards Maturity are still reporting that low learner engagement, or disconnected learner engagement is a problem.

I’m curious about what it is that’s holding so many learning professionals back from transforming their learner engagement, so I did some digging, and it seems that two big obstacles are getting in the way:

  • Budget – many learning departments simply don’t have the budget to introduce marketing initiatives to their learning strategy.
  • Skills – only 40% of learning professionals report that they (or their team) have the marketing and communications skills they need.

On the face of it, budget and a lack of skills are two big hurdles that learning professionals have to get over if they want to introduce marketing to their strategy. But, I know from first-hand experience that you don’t need a budget to create a fantastic learner engagement campaign. And when it comes to the second hurdle, learning professionals and marketers have a surprising number of skills in common.

So, in order to challenge these obstacles and inject some marketing inspiration into the learning community, I’ve put together a six-step marketing process which uses L&D skills and won’t make a dent in your budget:

What is your brand?

Creating a brand for your L&D department can transform how your learners view and engage with your learning solutions. To get started, you simply need to think about how your department fits in with your organisation. Think about what you want your reputation to be and what you need to do to achieve that reputation.

Know your audience

This step is a vital part of any marketing campaign and should come naturally to us learning professionals. After all, understanding the needs and skills of our people is what we do best. The only difference is that the focus is on understanding the motivations of your learners, so you can present your solutions in a way that hooks them in.

What is your message?

Now you have a brand and know the motivations of your audience, it’s time to create a message that will be the foundation of your learner engagement campaign. You simply need to answer ‘what’s in it for my learners?’ and you will easily grab their attention.

Marketing mix

This step is all about using marketing tools to amplify your message and engage your audience at the right time and in the right way. This might be a scary step for some, as ‘marketing tools’ can sound expensive and hard to use.

But, you can do this without breaking the bank by simply using what’s already available to you. Do you have a company newsletter? Or perhaps a blog or social media page? Try and think outside the box!

Plan the campaign

If you’re not used to marketing, one-hit wonders are a trap that’s easy to fall into. You need to be long-term in your approach and plan to promote a particular programme or subject over a set period of time.

Think of it like a learning programme. You don’t expect your learners to attend a course and think ‘job done’. You also introduce ways to aid the learning transfer to the workplace. It’s the same with a campaign - constantly reminding your learners of your key message will create a long-lasting impact.


Just like evaluation helps you understand how successful your learning solutions are, evaluation will also help you evolve and improve your learner engagement campaign. Testing and retesting which parts of your campaign are working will give you a better understanding of how to engage your learners.

There is a wealth of free tools you can use to help you, such as bitly for link tracking, free analytics on social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn, and even email platforms such as MailChimp.


Taking the time to apply even one small thing in each of these areas will help you improve your learner engagement – you already have the skills you need, and it won’t cost you a thing!

If you’re interested in creating your own personalised learner engagement campaign in just a few easy steps, you might want to take a look at our brand-new interactive tool ‘A Guide to Marketing like an L&D Champion’.


About the author

Stephanie Morgan is director of learning solutions at Bray Leino Learning



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