8 Proven Strategies for Great Digital learning Implementations

Many of our learning implementations have been runaway successes. Others that should have been great have limped along by comparison. So what made the difference in the good ones? The answer isn’t simple, and it’s not one thing, but a collection of factors. This list is by no means exhaustive; it’s simply what we’ve observed over the years in implementations across industries and geographies.

1. Plan your communications upfront

In any online learning implementation, continual communication with your target audience will go a long way. It helps to make up for the relative lack of personal contact when compared with instructor-led training. If possible, prepare your communications plan upfront to avoid trailing off once the initiative is underway. Here is a continuum of options from simple to complex:

• Send out notifications and reminders to engage
• Share teasers that relate to the content
• Share additional links, micro case studies or stories that relate to the content
• Share participant engagement metrics, insights and personal stories in reports

What mix of communications will you use to drive engagement?

2. Launch appropriately

You don’t need a big, bells-and-whistles event, but it’s a good idea to build anticipation through your communications before your digital coaching initiative is launched. And then some form of official notice of a starting point is really important to carve out space for the program in the minds of your learners. Here is a continuum of options from low to high touch:

• Share a launch video via email or internal social network
• Set up a launch webinar
• Bring local groups together for an informal gathering
• If the program warrants it, design a more elaborate launch event

How will you launch your automated coaching program?

3. Executive support

If you haven’t yet articulated the direct link between your learning program and your company strategy, you need to go back to the drawing board. And if you have, you shouldn’t have a problem getting some level of executive sponsorship. When you have an exec articulating the “Why?” of your program, you should see a noticeable effect on engagement. If they can play a bigger role, that’s even better.

Here is a continuum of participation options from low to high touch:

• Recording a simple launch video, which you can share via email or social network, or embed in your learning journey
• Appearance at an event
• Continual participation in online and offline activities

Who will sponsor your digital coaching program?

4. Attach the program to an existing initiative

No matter how good your learning platform and content, it’s easy for your learners to break an appointment with their computers. But the more you’re able to borrow from the calendar gravitas of any existing framework, the easier it will be for your participants to carve out headspace and time to engage with your learning materials. Continual engagement will drive the activation of behavior change in your organization.

What existing initiative can you piggyback on?

5. Blend with live interactions

The best of all of our implementations are blends. But blends don’t have to be heavily integrated, or involve costly live events. What’s more important is a tapestry of different kinds of interactions, spaced over time. Learning gains improve considerably with spaced practice. Here is a continuum of options from simple to complex:

• Environmental props or job aids that serve as triggers for supporting engagement with new ideas
• Webinars
• Discussion groups
• Workshops
• Coaching

In what ways can you blend your automated coaching program with offline activities?

6. Create a clear link between your program and your business strategy

The strategic “Why?” behind your program should drive all your communications with your learners. By now you’re probably familiar with Simon Sinek’s notion of “start with why”, but if you’re not, I’d highly recommend watching this video:


What is the strategic link between your digital coaching program and your company strategy?

7. Create a clear link between your program and your learners’ business challenges

Sometimes company strategy seems far removed from the daily grind. And while your learners might acknowledge the strategy, what really concerns them are the challenges they face on an ordinary working day. Use your communications plan to frame the use of your learning program as a tool for helping learners solve imminent business challenges and activate behavior change. If you can create a clear link, you should see great engagement.

In what ways will your digital coaching program help your learners to deal with daily challenges?

8. Build on herd mentality

People will go where their colleagues are. But they’ll only know that their colleagues are engaging if they take the first step. Use your communications plan to share team efforts, successes and any learning insights you’ve been able to harvest from participants. Ultimately your best promoters are the learners themselves.

In what ways can you appeal to herd mentality?

Getting all of this right all of the time can be a challenge. Thankfully it’s an additive framework, so the more you’re able to do, the better the outcome.

As I said at the outset, the list is not exhaustive, so please do comment and share your thoughts on how to drive great implementations. We’d love to hear from you!