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Impactful Digital Learning System: 5 methods to borrow from marketing strategies

What is the link between marketing and online training?

One of the many definitions of marketing is the analysis of market needs and the set of means of action used to influence consumer behaviour. The goal is to create value perceived by customers to motivate them to purchase.

Similarly, in order to ensure the success of a training scheme, the aim is to create enough perceived value to gain the support of learners, to increase their skills and to achieve broader business objectives. In this context, learners become our customers and we must do everything we can to satisfy them.

All the more so since, according to a study conducted by Towards Maturity, 80% of respondents (5500 HR leaders) believe that the marketing of training is a key skill in the duties of the training manager, but only 40% believe that this skill is present in their team. There is therefore a considerable shortfall to be made up.

Let’s see together what steps borrowed from marketing techniques we can use in our online training programme.

Training Marketing Tip #1: Adopt a strategic approach and take stock of the market

As in “classic” marketing strategy, it is essential to start your training marketing with an audit of what exists:

  • What is my positioning?

The aim here is to analyse one’s market, i.e. the positioning of the training department in the current context of the company. And as confronted by new training challenges and political, economic, social, technological and legal developments (PESTEL analysis).


  • What are my strengths/weaknesses?

Here we analyse the options offered by the market to identify the right strategy to put in place. The inner strengths and weaknesses of the service will be analysed. And also, the external opportunities and threats it could encounter. For this, we can use the SWOT matrix.


  • What resources are available?

It will be relevant to have an overall view of the resources available for your Digital Learning project. And this on several levels:

o   Human

o   Financial

o   Technological

o   Hardware

o   Timeframe

  • Who are your stakeholders and what are their expectations and needs?

Every project has several stakeholders. To be sure that your Digital Learning project best meets their expectations and needs, identify your stakeholders (your employees, your management, your customers, etc.).

Training Marketing Tip #2: Know your audience and create relevant persona sheets

In training, three main business objectives can encourage the training manager to use marketing techniques:

–        promoting training actions,

–        valuing the training function and its work with those active in the business,

–        demonstrating how training can contribute to the achievement of the company’s objectives.

For this article, we will mainly concentrate on the first objective.

Thus, to promote our training actions in the most relevant way, it is essential to know our target group: our learners.

–        What are the motivational levers for learners?

–        What are their needs?

–        What are their motivations / constraints?

–        What are their behaviours?

For this, training managers will be able to borrow from marketing the technique of personas. According to the “” website, a persona is defined as follows:

“A persona is an imaginary character representing a target group or segment in the context of the development of a new product or service or a marketing activity taken as a whole. The persona is usually endowed with a first name and social and psychological characteristics. Multiple personas can be used for the same development project.”

To summarise, we can use a persona sheet containing the following demographic and behavioural elements:

–        Identity

–        Description

–        Motivation

–        Objective

–        Constraints

–        Habits

The idea is to get into the heads of your learners and understand the questions they have and what drives them or hinders them from making use of your training content. It is also a valuable method to co-build effective solutions, adapted to the pace and constraints of your learners.

To have a persona sheet that corresponds to reality, the best way is to go and interview your most committed learners (ambassadors) with key questions. These questions will be defined beforehand in order to understand why they like to train on your programme and what are the triggers.

It will also be interesting to meet learners who are less committed or have not yet benefited from your training to understand their needs, expectations and obstacles related to training.

Finally, you will be able to compile all the information obtained to create your persona file and adapt your training offer to your in-house customers (employees) or outside customers (customers, partners, distribution networks, etc.)

Training Marketing Tip #3: Know your communication objectives

In marketing, there are several types of objectives:

Cognitive objective>> We seek to inform

This objective is based on the reputation of the brand, the product, the company and the message in general. It will be a question of making people know that one exists by informing them about the product’s advantages, attributes, qualities and values. The object here is to get the attention of the target.

Emotional objective>> We seek to move

This objective is based on affect. We seek to make people like the message. To arouse the interest and desire of the consumer through emotion.

Conative objective>> We seek to obtain action

This objective is based on action. We seek to “make” our target act in the desired direction.

There is a certain logical progression in these objectives: for example, the 3rd cannot be achieved before 1st. Each goal will correspond to a stage of the conversion funnel used in marketing.

Training Marketing Tip #4: Using the Conversion Funnel

In order to attract target customers and convert them into prospects, marketing uses the concept of “Funnel Marketing”, consisting of 4 phases.

These phases are as follows:

  • Awareness = Publicise your program
  • Discovery = Capturing their interest
  • Evaluation = Stimulate their reflection /Maintain their attention
  • Purchase = Complete training

Each of these phases corresponds to actions to advance the prospect little by little into the funnel and maximise the chances of converting him into a customer.

Generally speaking, for someone to be interested in something, we must capture their attention and make them aware of our offer. In training, it will be a question of making your training or program known to your target audience. As in marketing, this can involve mailings, posters, videos or ads on your preferred communication media.

You then move on to the discovery of your program or training. We will use here the marketing principle of “landing page”. That is, a descriptive landing page giving more information about the training. This page should make the prospect want to download the content or register for the proposed event. In the case of training, this means making the learner want to follow the training. For this we can use text and visuals; why not use the principle of a “teaser” video?

The third stage is that of evaluation. Our visitor has been converted into a prospect and we must now prove to him that we are the right solution for his problem. In training, it will be a question of keeping the learner’s interest in training awake. This can be done through visually appealing training activities, social learning, or gamification.

Finally, the purchase stage corresponds to the completion by the learner of the training or training activity. For this, we can send him reminders by e-mail or SMS or set up gamification principles.

A further advantage of borrowing this marketing technique for your training programme is that one can track the number of learners at each stage, see where some may be stuck and adjust your strategy to help them move to the next level.

Training Marketing Tip #5: Define and monitor key performance indicators

As in marketing, it will be important to be able to measure the success of your training device and to be able to implement corrective actions.

To do this, establish KPIs (Performance Indicators) to be monitored regularly according to the objectives set.

These KPIs can be as follows:

  • Open rate of your communications
  • Click-through rate on your communications
  • Number of learners who started training
  • Number of learners who have completed training
  • Learner satisfaction rate

The golden rules of training marketing to remember:

  • Make an analysis of what exists
  • Know your target(s) well and define personae
  • Have clear business and communication objectives
  • Maintain communication which is adapted to the expectations of the targets
  • Know your digital ecosystem to choose the best communication channels
  • Monitor key performance indicators and put corrective actions in place