Five ways you can increase digital adoption and use of your learning platform

May 13, 2021
June 26, 2023
Learning And Development

Build it and they will come… is sadly not always true when it comes to digital adoption. If nobody knows your platform or tech exists, they won’t come. If the experience is boring and unhelpful (or that’s what they’re hearing from colleagues) they won’t come back.

Getting people to use your platform isn’t a short-term thing, it’s the planning before launch, how you run that first day and the ways you build momentum in the weeks and months that follow.

That’s exactly what these five tips and tricks will help you do! And while at first, they might seem like pointers for people launching a new platform, there’s plenty there for fresh starts and reboots of your learning initiatives.

Jump to:
Start with something fun and form positive habits
Incentivise platform use and reward your people
Plan your communications and get ready to build momentum
Find your advocates and champions of the learning platform
Show them what support’s in place

Start with something fun and form positive habits

First impressions mattering is the oldest cliche in the book, but we really do have to dust it off here. Because what happens the first time someone enters a platform has a huge bearing on whether they’ll bother coming back!

Imagine it’s launch day, someone logs in and they’re greeted by a four-hour video demo of how it works or a 17-part compliance course to complete as the first task. Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? In fact, most people will probably think that if this is what that platform’s for, you can count me out!

Now imagine that you enter for the first time and you get a notification that it’s treasure hunt time. There’s a few clues or items for you to find on the platform and there’s a reward for any amateur sleuths in your team. People are not only familiarising themselves with the layout, they’re having a fun experience as they do it.

When you consider some of the stigma or reservations around learning at work, it’s a great way to get people on board and coming back to the platform. Just make sure it’s a good fit with your brand and people, so you might choose to run a film club or a HIIT class through the platform instead. You’ll get a far better response because it’s easier for people to form a habit when they’re doing something more enjoyable, manageable and far from overwhelming.

Incentivise platform use and reward your people

A little incentivising can go a long way! Think about all the times you were bribed by a toy or some chocolate when you were a kid, that literal sweetening of the deal helped you build the desired behaviours. In the world of work, plastic figures and sweet treats are swapped out for gamification – typically in the form of rewards, points or certificates.

But the biggest pitfall that most fall into is offering something that misses the mark with either their brand or their people. If you’re structuring some kind of game, is it something that your people will be on board with? Is the incentive you’re offering something they care about? Will it end up feeling like forced fun and have a negative outcome overall?

We recently wrote in our Work In Progress Newsletter (which you should absolutely be signed up for, by the way) about two gamification scenarios – one that worked and another that didn’t. The success story was Wikipedia rewarding some volunteer writers with stars next to their names and listings as award winners. Those with incentives were 20% more likely to volunteer the next month than those offered no reward and 13% more likely to be Wikipedia-active a year later.

Our slightly less inspiring story comes from a sales team and reps who had the pretty monotonous task of phoning companies to ask for coupon codes for their products. Gamification came in the form of a basketball-themed game, where they’d get points based on the warmth of lead and whoever ended up topping the leaderboard received Champagne as a prize.

Some bought into it, but many didn’t and forced fun met a fairly uninspiring game and prize. Compare that to our Wikipedia writers and it’s clear that motivation and context matter when it comes to gamification. They wrote entries through their passion for those topics and love of contributing, whereas those salespeople already had a rough deal and demotivating task. So no matter how they wrapped it all up, it was destined for gamification failure.

Plan your communications and get ready to build momentum

A new learning platform and that famous falling tree in the woods have a lot in common, if nobody’s around to hear it – well, nothing and nobody’s making a sound. And it’s a shame because you really need to create some noise about what you’ve got to offer. That starts with understanding your audience and shaping an internal marketing strategy. But in many ways, it’s your digital adoption strategy too!

Talk with people and understand their pain points, reservations and experiences of what’s been on offer before (from the learning standpoint). Those pain points and purposes can guide your message to resonate with the audience and answer the famous ‘what’s in it for me?’ question. If everyone thinks the experience for onboarding new employees is rubbish, you can pitch the platform as a way of solving that problem.

And avoid the mistake of thinking that launch day is the finishing point for your planning. Really and truly, it’s the start. You need to set out what happens in the weeks and months following day one, to determine how you’ll build on the momentum of those early positive experiences.

Find your advocates and champions of the learning platform

Planning all the marketing activity yourself is great, getting someone else to promote it for you is even better. Think of it as the difference between a brand telling you how good their product is and a friend who’s using it and beaming with delight at just how much they’re enjoying it. That personal and impartial touch goes a long way.

So, think about creating test groups to use the platform and look at who’s coming out the other side saying WOW, I love it! Those people are prime advocates, placed to build excitement and get others on board for trying it out. By the same token, those who don’t come out bursting with enthusiasm can teach you plenty about potential resistance and pain points others might face.

Again, think about what works best for your people. A formal test might not be that appealing, but a workshop or interactive demo might be better, where you can get people to see the platform for themselves, ask questions in real time and brainstorm about any tweaks they’d like to see for better user experience.

While you’re at it, sit down and consider who you need to get on board for it to be a success! A lot of the time, getting people to use a platform can be much easier when leaders set an example and are visibly leading the charge. So, massage their egos, speak with them to understand what they need to get excited and involved, and ensure they’re ready to lead the way on launch day.

Show them what support’s in place

Normally you’d see an article like this telling you all about how important it is to collect feedback. But most importantly people need to understand where and how they can give feedback. And a big part of that is making it clear that there are people there to listen and support. When it’s clear that someone will be around to resolve issues they’re having with the platform, it reassures them that they won’t be navigating the platform alone. And that’s one less thing to worry about for your learners.