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Building an email campaign as a training solution … in your LMS

Reading time: 4 minutes

Thanks to Bersin by Deloitte’s research we know that employees these days have but 1% of a typical workweek to focus on training and development. That’s 24 minutes per week if you’re working a 40 hour contract. I’m on 32 hour contract so that’s 5 minutes less.

How can we deliver training to employees that meets that reality? There are some important things we can do as Mark D’aquin states in his article ‘5 ways to meet the need of the modern learner’.

He states that we should…

  • prioritize the learner
  • complete a proper analysis and design process
  • simplify the experience – limit the content and make it bite-sized
  • design for usability (mobile accessible and available)
  • choose the right tool(s) for development

Delivering an email campaign

With that in mind, I recently delivered my first training solution in an email campaign format. It’s a format I’ve encountered over a decade ago when I signed up to an instructional design course by Connie Malamed but have not seen it as a regular delivery model, especially not within organizations. 

The format has a lot of benefits. It’s delivered over time, it requires short engaging pieces of content, it can be used to focus on relevant topics in each email, it gets delivered to your inbox, whether that’s on your phone, tablet or laptop and because there’s mainly text in email it has to be really simple.

I did my research and looked at what was happening in the field when it comes to using email as a training delivery method. I signed up for various courses I found to get a feel for how others are treating the format. In the end I liked the 10-day courses from Highbrow bes.

The format was really good as was the length. I wasn’t so sure about the daily delivery but figured that I could be flexible with that. A weekly email felt like a more appropriate to leave space for reflection and possible on-the-job practice activities.

A prototype says more than a 1000 meetings

I quickly prototyped an email in Outlook making sure it had a good structure so people would understand why this could work as a training solution.

I basically setup a structure like this:

  • What is [topic] in my context?
  • Why is [topic] in my context important?
  • How do I apply [topic] in my context?
    • reflective question(s)
    • on-the-job practice activity
  • Learn more (external content)

I opted to add the use of explainer video in the what/why section linking out to video content that could be short and engaging. The How section had to be a clear call to action and really had to stand out. The learn more section was to link to additional existing content that would deepen the experience but wasn’t required to understand the what, why and how of the topic.

Explaining the concept of a 8/10 week training program where a single email a week is delivered to your inbox and showing the prototype got me a lot of feedback. People were very interested and positive to try it out.

Doing more with less

When figuring out how to deliver this I started looking at common email marketing tools. I found MailChimp to be a leader in its industry and started investigating if this would work in our organization while considering alternatives for if it wouldn’t.

After extensive testing, and well on our way putting the developed content in MailChimp, we found that we were not able to make it work all across the globe and had to switch to plan B.I knew our LMS was able to send HTML emails as reminders but how would I be able to trigger them? I was not building a standard elearning package right? In the end that was actually how I managed to make it work.

The way I set-up the training was by creating a one-page SCORM package in Articulate Storyline. The one page module basically thanked participants for signing up to the course and explained that they’ll be receiving a weekly email for 8 weeks and that they should head over to their inbox as the first email might drop in any time now.

After we had set that up in the LMS we added a 10 reminder emails, each separated by 7 days. Each email was a nicely designed HTML email, using an engaging header image, an image that linked to our internal video platform for the topic specific explainer animation video and a brightly colored ‘call-to-action’ section that contained the reflection and practice activities.

The last email asks the participant to go back to the SCORM package and click the ‘complete’ button so the LMS registers the training as completed. At first I had a big obvious complete button but we noticed that participants don’t read instructions very well and immediately clicked the complete button which actually stopped the reminders from being send. After all, the training is marked compete…

Luckily this was easily solved by updating the layout of the SCORM package and removing focus from that complete button. After that it was smooth sailing. People in the organisation were finding our training in the LMS and leaving very positive feedback!

I’m super happy with how the training and its delivery turned out and love the simplicity of it. This is definitely something I’ll use again.

Questions, thoughts? Leave me a comment below.

Jeff.

Published by

Jeff Kortenbosch

Jeff is a performance-focused learning professional that believes in making learning relevant again!

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