10 Tips To Increase Audience Engagement
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10 Tips To Increase Audience Engagement

Audience engagement is critical to the success of any learning environment. It is especially true in corporate eLearning where there are plenty of obstacles that can limit success. Yet, beyond a doubt, there are steps companies can take to ensure outstanding results and engagement.

Take a look at the 10+ core components that make audience engagement successful in a corporate eLearning environment.

1. Define Your Goals And Objectives

In any type of project, plan, or endeavor a company takes on, there should always be well-defined goals and objectives. The same applies to the corporate eLearning environment. To facilitate engagement, it is critical to define your goals and the objectives you will set to reach those goals.

Goals and objectives should be clearly defined—something fully understood, written down, and communicated to those involved.

When thinking about your goals, it is essential to consider the stretch goal. That is something I refer to as the Big Hairy Audacious Goal or BHAG, a concept developed by Jim Collins in his book, Built to Last. It is the harder-to-reach, more complex outcome that you want to ultimately achieve. It is a more inspirational goal beyond the initial goal.

What is your BHAG?

2. Measure Engagement And Progress

To drive engagement, you must understand what parts of your eLearning efforts work and which ones need tweaking. What behaviors are you hoping to see come out of your program? The objectives set to reach your goals, the changes in behavior you want to achieve; all of these must be measurable.

Put metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in place to measure your progress. Take advantage of real data to confirm you’re on the right track to reach your goals or to make any adjustments needed to drive engagement and ensure success.

3. Look At Participants’ Company Objectives

While you need to understand your own company goals, it is also essential to understand what’s important to the management behind your audience and to consider who is the audience's chain of command. Who is responsible for this audience? What do they want and expect? Fully understand and address the management’s pain points and goals.

To do this, you need to clearly define the management’s KPIs. What are they using to measure success? What are their desires, needs, and wants within this eLearning course? When you can address their management’s needs, desires, and wants, you can get greater buy-in to what you are trying to do.

4. Understand Your Audience

The next step is to fully understand your audience. This is done by not only listening but also by defining where the audience comes from. Are they coming from the same organization or multiple organizations? What do they share in common and what’s unique about them?

Once you know who your audience is, you can then take steps to fully understand and know them. Conduct surveys to gather insight or look at online forums and message boards where your audience spends time. Review and consider the conversations they are having there.

Your goal is to get to know what your audience is passionate about and what their pain points are.

5. Consider Participation Incentives

In some situations, you may consider participation incentives. If your participants’ companies allow it, incentives can significantly help drive the engagement of the audience. For example, incentives are helpful in situations when those in your eLearning course are not being paid by their company to participate but are doing so on their own time.

Sometimes, however, not all audience organizations allow incentives. So, you need to be sure to learn if they are allowed before moving forward in creating a plan that includes incentives. This becomes especially true when you have an audience that is made up of numerous organizations. What types of incentives are allowed across all of these organizations?

If incentives are allowed, then define them clearly. They can include a wide range of components, both virtual and material. Examples include:

  • Gift cards
  • Credits or points
  • Program currency
  • Gamification elements
  • Status levels

Sometimes, awarding a status level can be enough to encourage people to participate in the eLearning program. If you do establish status levels, be sure to recognize participants for their engagement. This will help encourage them to attain new status levels.

Gamification is an excellent option and, when possible, this should be your go-to solution. It is the element most likely to get participant buy-in. It also makes it easier to keep people interested.

6. Communicate With Participants

One of the keys to successful engagement in a corporate eLearning environment is using a platform that is designed to promote better communication. While that may sound simple enough, not all platforms are set up to facilitate this.

Ensure your system of choice also allows audience segmentation. With segmentation, you can communicate with your different groups more effectively and efficiently and create the best Calls-To-Action.

Segmentation is key to positive and successful communications across your audiences.

7. Create A Messaging Hierarchy

How you talk to people has a direct impact on audience engagement. It is helpful to create a communications hierarchy that defines how you will talk to people. Then, establish a messaging construct.

This hierarchy can be referred to as the “me, my, my” construct. You’ve taken the steps to understand your audience. From their perspective, you’re messaging should address:

  • What’s in it for me? Why should I participate? People want to know why they should participate. How is it going to benefit them specifically?
  • What’s in it for my management? What is in it for my management’s management?
  • What’s in it for my organization, community, or team?

This type of messaging delivery, along with strong Calls-To-Action, are excellent methods of driving audience engagement.

8. Remove Drudgery

There should be no element of drudgery in any type of eLearning environment. You want to interject the element of fun. Bob Pike, a master in adult learning and the designer of participant-centered training, says it best. In his book, Pike’s Five Laws of Adult Learning, Law #3 states, “Learning is directly proportional to the amount of fun you have.” The learning should be fun, interactive, interesting, and attention-grabbing.

Another way to eliminate drudgery and drive engagement is to be respectful of the participant’s time. People want to know that you understand their time is valuable. They want to be sure that whatever training you are providing is not going to be overly time-consuming—or boring.

9. Use Meaningful And Fun Promotional Components

Incorporating meaningful and fun promotional components is another method that helps drive engagement and increase audience participation. There are plenty of options here. One example that’s shown to be successful is the use of electronic scratch cards (or printed scratch cards) that include a strong Call-To-Action once scratched.

The use of promotional pieces like this—whether they include flashcards, trading cards, or handouts—promotes interaction with your eLearning program and delivers key messaging that hits home with participants.

10. Build A Team Through Referrals

It is always important to have a team atmosphere. One way to do this is to have a participant referral program. For example, can someone refer a person on their team, and if they do, can both parties then be rewarded for taking some specific action? Consider ways you can recognize both the person referring and the referee once the person who was referred signs up.

Bonus: More Things You Can Do To Support Audience Engagement

Here are a few additional simple recommendations that can make a big difference in your audience engagement.

Short-Term/Long-Term

When creating a strategy for engagement, be sure to identify tactics that work for both short-term bursts of engagement and for the long-term. An example here includes sales cycles in retail where you pull out all the stops during peak seasons to drive high levels of engagement in order to get salespeople excited, knowledgeable, and ready to sell.

More Than One

Don’t feel limited to a single strategy but instead have a treasure trove of engagement opportunities and methods.

Don’t Wear Out Successful Tactics

When it comes to engaging your participants, you also don’t want to wear out good engagement methods and promotional components. There may be times where the learners simply get tired of it. Use each promotion for a limited time and then make a switch to something new.

In my experience, taking these steps has helped to drive engagement in corporate eLearning programs, while allowing participants and their management to see value in what we provide.

What strategies have you used in your eLearning efforts to drive audience engagement? I’d love to hear about them.

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