The Learning & Development Podcast: Applying Digital Marketing To L&D at SwissRe with Satoshi Probala

January 5, 2021

Written by Kiren Kahlon

The power of digital marketing

Topics

The Learning & Development podcast is hosted by our Chief Learning Officer David James. Featuring L&D leaders from across the globe, each conversation focuses on hot topics in the profession. This transcript is from the conversation between David and Satoshi Probala on applying digital marketing to L&D.

Listen to episode 60 of the Learning & Development podcast here.

David James: Welcome to the Learning & Development Podcast. I’m David James from Looop, and in each episode I chat with guests about what lights them up in the world of people development. In this episode, I’m joined by Satoshi Probala, who is Learning Experience Lead at Swiss Re, to discuss the L&D teams incorporation of digital marketing principles and tools to create a compelling digital learning offering. Before we get into it, if you’re enjoying this podcast, please do give us a five star rating on your podcast app of choice to help others to find us, and thank you if you’ve done so already. Now, let’s get into it.

David: Satoshi, welcome to the Learning & Development Podcast.

Satoshi Probala: Thanks a lot, David. Pleasure to be here.

We Wanted to be More Digital, More Personalised, More On-Demand

David: Now, you’ve introduced the digital marketing approach to your Learning & Development team with an emphasis on data and campaigns. Could you explain what problem or perhaps problems, plural, you are trying to solve with this?

Satoshi: Yes, I’m happy to do so. As you might know, it doesn’t happen overnight, there was a bit of a longer process. Let me go back a little bit in time. We revised our strategy in 2018, with one of the key goals to be less prescriptive and classroom-heavy with our learning, and rather enable our employees to learn anytime, anywhere, in the moment of need. We were putting a lot of emphasis on the learning experience, we wanted to be more digital, more personalised, more on-demand. Basically, we renewed our entire learning ecosystem.

We brought in off-the-shelf content libraries and an LXP on top of everything. Then we also had a process which we call democratised learning. We also wanted to enable social capabilities such as likes, shares, and comments, but we also wanted to introduce functionalities so that employees can not only learn, but also so that they can create and curate their own content. You can imagine, with all the processes, with all the capabilities, with all the new content, instead of just having a few 100 e-learning programmes and classroom training on our LMS, we suddenly had a few 1000 items in our learning experience platform.

Going back to the question, what was the key challenge that we were trying to solve? Number one was, how can we ensure that people find the most relevant content in the moment of need? This is what brought us to think about what can we learn from the digital marketing area? Let’s look at Amazon. They have similar problems, how can they promote the best content to the people, and the content that might be relevant for each user on a personalised level?

Suddenly, we had to deal with skills taxonomy, we had to do some tagging, we had to do some search optimisation to increase the personalisation, to increase the search results, and the relevancy of the search results. We also had to find ways to promote the content, and the right content, to the right audience, through digital channels. Also, how do we know what works well and what does not? The whole journey, probably, and this brings me to the second thing we tried to solve, we didn’t know much about the learners before. I was super, super excited to eventually get the data so we could learn more about our employees.

It’s all about, does the new strategy even work? Do they come to the LXP? Do they even come back afterwards? Once they’re on the LXP, what do they actually do? What are the actions they perform? What are they interested in? What content do they like? What don’t they like? Then also, did they really find what they’re looking for? Then more fundamental questions came into our mind. Do we even offer the right training? Do we offer the right skills resources to develop? We also wanted to keep the conversation going with our employees, and then also think more about, how can we engage the learning community?

We needed to monitor comments so that we do not suddenly have a shitstorm, or people are struggling a lot with some things. We really wanted to support them to create and curate their own training. This is really where we realised more and more how much we can learn from digital and social media marketing, and about the practices they use.

David: It sounds as if you’ve had to, or you’ve challenged yourself to become more humble, which is I think that where Learning & Development comes from is that we were the content owners, the knowledge experts, so we knew a load of stuff. It sounds as if what you’ve done is taken a step back to understand the people that you’ll be seeking to influence, your customers as it were internally, and then being humble in admitting that you don’t know everything about them now, but if you’ve set up a system in which you could, first of all, understand what you knew about them inside your organisation already, then create a dialogue so that you can continue to learn about them, and what their challenges are, and what their preferences are, then you can provide a better type of solution for them. Is that the kind of thing?

Satoshi: Yes, exactly. We had those anecdotes before, where people in L&D said, “We believe, or the business is telling us.” Usually, these anecdotes are based on a few conversations, and the super interesting thing with data is now it’s not one doing one and not doing the other, it’s usually doing both. Suddenly, we had a lot of data about real behaviour, not just opinions, at scale. We had data from thousands of people, and tons of thousands of clicks, where we could learn a lot, and where we could deep dive. Also, we had a more direct exchange with the employees through the functionalities that we brought in, such as community management.

David: We’ll come back to data in a moment. I think that a point that you touched on there is something I wholeheartedly believe in. That too often, we recognise something as a learning need based on minimal observation. Somebody somewhere saw people do a thing, therefore, it’s applicable across an entire level or a cohort, sometimes it’s because of stakeholder weighting, somebody senior enough has told us that this is a problem, therefore, it must be a problem.

Sometimes it’s with our own preference to implement a best practice that we’ve perhaps brought in from another organisation, or that we’ve read or perhaps is particularly on Vogue at a particular time. None of those three are a real need. They are what I would say are an assumption. It seems to me as if you’re recognising those as what they are, assumptions, and then you will seek the data to back up or to challenge whether that is actually the case.

Satoshi: Yes, at least we try to. To be fair, we don’t have a crystal ball to predict the skills of the future, but we can at least look at, what are the people interested in now? Based on that, also, we can look at trends. Is it on the rise or is it on the fall, which also can help us a little bit with these predictions.

David: There will be plenty of skeptics about how we can perhaps look to digital marketing, and borrow some of their approaches, but your background is in social and behavioural psychology, which is going to prick up the ears of many in L&D and saying, “Okay, so, you’re not a digital marketing nerd, you are one of us.” What are you basing your approach on, with looking at digital marketing, and then it’s applications to L&D?

Satoshi: It’s interesting that you mentioned my background. Personally, what I see is what digital marketing is doing a lot, which is under the umbrella of A/B testing, that is sometimes just taking a new homepage and say, “We believe this generates more leads than the other homepage.” Then they give this to a sample of people, and they give the other to another sample of people. Basically, the things we should do and now can do with data in L&D, is not so different, I believe.

It really reminds me of doing experiments, trying, learning from things that work, or things that didn’t work so far, and just learning based on the goal and getting better with it, so it’s really also doing these experiments and coming up with hypotheses and using data to prove them.

We Need to Start by Getting the Learner’s Attention First

David: The thing is that as soon as you scratch below the surface, we’ve always been in this game, in that we’ve always vied for attention for the people that we’re seeking to influence, trying to pull them certainly into the– to be interested in what it is that we offer, and what we can do for them. Now we’ve got the tools to integrate with the tools that they use for work. Clearly, we can communicate our value to people. Going back to what we discussed earlier, if you can recognise the particular personas of the people you’re seeking to influence, you’re not going broad brush across your organisation.

You’re seeking to understand particular cohorts, levels, people of a particular maturity or within a particular function within your organisation, and provide them with the value, but still, it’s an attention economy in terms of, will they click? Will they open? If we’re going to get close to the moment of need, and influence the moment of apply, to use the language of Gottfredson and Mosher, we need to gain their trust and also pique their interest enough to actually click.

What you’re describing there is not necessarily the things that go around the outside of the learning, because if people don’t engage, then we have absolutely no chance of influencing their performance. Have I got that right? Is that the kind of thing?

Satoshi: It’s absolutely the kind of thing. Maybe still building the bridge to social and behavioural psychology overall, I think it’s definitely beneficial to understand human behaviour, how our brains work, and how we learn, why we behave as we behave. Then things that you just mentioned is the whole motivation. I think motivation is key to learning. We shouldn’t forget learning is an active process. There are things actively happening in our brain if we learn. We need to start by getting the learner’s attention first.

I think the marketing area, again, showed, it’s their key business, first of all, to get the attention, and then bring people through the whole funnel until they buy a product. Of course, our job only starts when they buy a product, and it’s about, how can the people use it in their daily job, whatever they learned before? I think in this particular area, to get the attention, to get the relevancy, to make people want to learn something, I think this is where the digital marketing practices are definitely super, super insightful for us.

David: Of course. The thing is, as soon as we admit that, we realise that running an experiment to see whether we get eyeballs on content via communication and marketing into the tools that they use for working allows us to move at pace. It allows us to see whether we’re getting clicks at all. Those lighter experiments can stop us spending inordinate amounts of money and time and credit on things that perhaps wouldn’t get the attention necessarily.

There’s all those things that digital marketers do because they have got that experimental mindset. Because they are looking to perhaps make small wins along the way, rather than big bets and what we’ve been guilty of in Learning & Development for too long, branding things as transformational, even if they are just one and done immersive programmes, or bits of content. You’ve touched on there about funnels, which leads me onto my next question quite nicely, because you use campaigns, which of course, I’m sure will involve some kind of funnel. Can you describe how you use those?

Satoshi: Yes. Let me put that maybe into two different aspects. One of the things is, how do we get the topics for our campaigns? It’s all about, what is the right content? The second one is, what channels do we use for our campaigns? It’s all about change from being less of a one fits all push, and instead using methods which marketing would probably call inbound marketing. It’s about drawing people to the content they find useful and interesting, and then following an omnichannel approach to try and continuously engage with people.

Listen to episode 60 of the Learning & Development podcast here.

How we do the marketing, and how we get the topics for our campaigns is, when we launched our new ecosystem, we didn’t want to bring in another HR platform and push content top-down. This is definitely not what we wanted to do. We put a lot of emphasis to position it as a platform from the business, for the business. It’s less about us setting the agenda, but it’s more about connecting with the business to promote the topics they find relevant, and they find interesting. To do so, we now look at the various different sources where we could crawl the topics, and crawl the content.

This is really on people’s minds. Of course, we have the overarching business strategy, and the goals, which are just there, and which build a fundament, but we also look a bit more at the overall company agenda, and other events, and collaborate on awareness campaigns that might be ongoing in the company. For example, recently, we had a cybersecurity awareness month or go digital days, which were not driven by us, but we connected them together, and we were promoting their activities.

Also, we could then, and they could then, also pull out good resources and good learning units that we already had available within our ecosystem. We also look at external research. What are the skills in demand? What are the trending skills? All that stuff. There is a lot of good research out there, which is usually freely available from consultant agencies. We also tried to consider this, and made a couple of campaigns about these skills in demand, or skill of the month, and those types of things. Then, of course, we also look at our own data.

It’s really about, what are the different target groups or segments we want to reach? What is really important to them? What are they interested in? It’s really more about promoting the content, and running campaigns on specific content or on specific events, rather than just promoting a platform, or here’s the place where you can learn. It’s really trying to solve an issue. Then there is the second aspect, which I mentioned, is through which channels? We built some new communication channels for us. We have a monthly newsletter, which is called Curious Minds. Again, it’s not about– It’s the L&D newsletter. We, on purpose, labelled it a bit differently.

We build up some communities. We have the learning champion community, which are just people passionate about learning. Then if we run campaigns, we try to involve them and give them materials that they could share with their people, with their networks. We also have a curators community. We have people, these are subject matter experts, and they own something like a channel, which is similar to YouTube. It’s kind of the influencers on YouTube. They own a certain topic area. We can also work a lot with them where they can give us their good content and we can run a campaign, or we can say, “We have a free space on the newsletter, do you want to promote anything?”

It’s, again, like this two-sided conversation. I also mentioned the whole omnichannel, and the whole inbound. We look at pretty basic stuff. Recently, someone reached out to us and said, “We need training on X, Y, Z, or we need to promote a topic a bit more.” The first thing we did is we went on the Internet and just searched for it. We found out there is nothing about it. So if you want to run an awareness campaign, that might be the first and easiest thing. Just make it available where the people are, and try to use established communication channels where your specific target group already is.

That could be the Intranet, it could be a team’s page they have somewhere, or it could be an existing newsletter, such as a regional or locational newsletter, where you could promote the topic that you would like to promote and is very, very tailored to that group. This is what we try to do more and more, and also, I hope we are, or I believe we are getting better with that slowly.

We Should be Focusing on User-Centricity Rather Than Topic-Centricity

David: You’re describing so many things there that align to digital marketing. First of all, being where people already are. Social media changed the game as far as marketing is concerned because you knew where people were. You’ve got what? Three billion people on Facebook? You’ve got all these modes, and then you’ve got all this rich information about those people. You know where people are working. You’ve got HR data that says exactly who they are and how long they’ve been in your organisation.

You really can tailor that, but what you’re describing there as well, and I think this aligns to inbound marketing. I’m not going to assume that the listener knows too much about it, but inbound marketing really is just capitalising on somebody’s interest or want to know more, or even consume and gain something that they are interested in. Inbound marketing, a lot of the time, is educational material that is meant to nudge people along a buying cycle or a funnel.

Smart marketing is about understanding that the experience that your consumer is going on, you’ll have a typical, or you’ll have an ideal consumer in which you’re looking to be on that journey with them, and perhaps enhance their own knowledge or know-how around a particular topic. It’s so much about education, but it has to start with them. Again, another thing that you’re describing here seems to be user-centricity rather than topic-centricity.

It’s not necessarily just pumping out content and courses around a particular topic, it’s about understanding your people a bit more, and then providing them with something that would be valuable, rather than just pumping out something that you’d like to get more engagement in. Is that right?

Satoshi: Absolutely. Yes. I love how you described that. It’s really what we’re trying to do.

David: Wonderful. I’m sure that this isn’t where it all began. I wonder if you could describe to me what L&D looked like at Swiss Re before you took this more digital and digital marketing approach.

Satoshi: Yes. If I had to summarise it in one word, I would probably say traditional. Before we started, we had a learning management system, and a small team was taking care of it. The whole digital learning area was basically myself and a trainee, and we did the entire digital learning for the company, so you can imagine that was super, super reactive and mainly focused on the mandatory training. Then the rest of the L&D team was a lot more focused on the classroom training, and the whole end-to-end experience.

This included the planning, cancellation, and administration. I think there was a lot of hand-holding of participants and facilitators, which just absorbed a lot of time, and pulled us away from really taking care of reaching our learners and our employees, and trying to improve their learning experience, and the learning outcomes.

David: What was that? That it was Learning & Development was predominantly done in classrooms, supplemented by elearning, is it that kind of thing?

Satoshi: It’s that kind of thing, mainly. There are some exceptions, or there were some exceptions, of course, but we had a pretty big footprint on classroom, and elearning was probably mostly about mandatory compliance training.

David: What was the tipping point? This is strange coming from me here, because my whole thing is that I had to do L&D manually at Disney, because everybody hated the LMS. They either actively resisted it, or they just ignored it, and so everything needed to be done manually, which was not just hugely inefficient, it meant that in an age where YouTube and Google had changed the game, and our access to information and know-how, we were literally bringing 12 people together in a room and thinking that this was really going to make a difference.

It was my belief then, that technology could do a lot more of the heavy lifting, but did you have a tipping point? Were you looking at, or were others in your team looking at your L&D function and thinking, “Is this the best way we could be doing things?”

Satoshi: There were several tipping points. One of them was definitely probably the L&D team was a bit too big and a bit too expensive. So there was definitely pressure on cost, but there was also pressure to innovate. So, we can imagine today, the learner experience does not start with a physical booklet or a website, where you can say these are all our courses. I would say most people just start to search for it. They might just Google it, or they look on the intranet, but there’s so much information out there and people don’t navigate too much anymore. They really just start their experience with a search.

From there, the question is, how do you guide the people to the right resources? This, again, is something that the whole digital marketing area had exactly, or still has exactly the same issue, and this is what they are trying to address and have good solutions we can learn from.

David: What does your team look like now in terms of roles and responsibilities?

Satoshi: I was fortunate to build up a small team. I was given the trust, and this small team is quite interdisciplinary. They have backgrounds in tech, in project management, in UX, UI, multimedia, and in community management. It’s not traditional, like people who grew up in the L&D world. This team, we put a strong focus on learning experience, on a seamless learning journey, data has become a huge topic, but also we now work, or we now also have the capacity to work much closer with the bigger L&D team.

We have a small working group where regularly, we look at the data, we plan campaigns, or come up with something such as a marketing plan for our campaigns, and then also look at the community management, what is the ground voice? What is happening in the platform with the learners? Of course, we also invested a lot into upskilling and reskilling of the entire team. I’m pretty proud of what we could achieve in the meantime.

Today, it’s really less of a classroom, and probably we are still on the journey, and of course, there are people who adapt earlier, others still might need a bit more of a push, but overall, I would say through the investment in the big ecosystem and also bringing scalable solutions, enabling people that they can– Or have the whole self service and the whole democratisation of learning, we could remove ourselves a little bit as gatekeepers and as the bottleneck for learning.

This also means we are less stuck in the small requests that need a lot of time, but don’t have much impact. Instead, now, we do much more curation instead of creation, and can take much more care of the bigger, strategic, important projects. I think this is where our knowledge and experience as L&D consultants could have a much bigger impact.

David: You mentioned there about upskilling, Satoshi, what specifically did you and your team need to invest in, in terms of your development, that’s got you to your abilities today?

Satoshi: I think the good thing was, as I described at the very beginning, there was a need for it. We realised we need to do these things if we want to continue to engage, if we want to ensure our new ecosystem is successful. So, I think that relation into the learning in the flow of work, I think was super, super important. We could see the same with other people in the L&D, who weren’t that close to the whole transformation project, but it needed more confirmation, and more explanation of why are we doing this? Why is it important? Why is it also urgent to change now?

I can speak a bit about myself, I did a lot of research, just as we came along the topics. I’m also fortunate that in my private life, I have some friends who work in the digital marketing sector, so it’s also always interesting to have some exchanges with them. I also personally decided to take a 12-week formal training programme, just to get a sense of, what is the whole digital marketing approach about? Also to have a bit more of a structured approach through their practices. Also, I found that very, very helpful because usually, if you’re new to a topic, you don’t know what you don’t know, so you wouldn’t even know where to search for the right information. Just getting this entire overview was very, very helpful for me.

Listen to episode 60 of the Learning & Development podcast here.

We are Lacking Time to Learn, Lacking Guidance on What to Learn, and Struggling to Translate What we Learn Into Our Daily Jobs

David: What would you say to those in our profession who don’t yet recognise the value of digital marketing in Learning & Development?

Satoshi: I think it’s up to anyone to decide if it has value or if it doesn’t, but maybe I can try to highlight some reasons why I find it super valuable, which is a all around we in L&D, we read a lot and we hear a lot about digital disruption, tech transformation, the future is with data, and the future is that employees need to upskill and reskill to be able to succeed in their roles. It’s also that we can work side by side with technology and with data. I feel like we try to support the business so much that we sometimes tend to forget that the same is actually true for us in L&D.

I think that whole change is really happening right now. Like any other business, we become more digital, data is getting more important, and also, I think this requires new practices. If we look at the key challenges of learners today, and I think we in L&D, as professionals, have exactly the same challenges, we are lacking time to learn, we are lacking guidance on what to learn, and we are struggling to translate what we learn into our daily jobs.

As I mentioned before, people start online with their learning journey, where they probably start to search for the information, and this is where I see the big value in digital marketing kicking in.

David: Where I certainly see overlap, and I think it requires us to look at our language as well. Digital marketing is all about influencing behaviour, and organisations that employ the marketers are seeking to influence the behaviour of their ideal target market. Those people who they recognise would be most interested in their products or services. Now, in Learning & Development, we used to think we were in the business of changing behaviour, but what we’ve got to take a look at, and this is where I think it might be just semantics, if we can’t change behaviour, the only people who can change the behaviour are the owners of the behaviour, the people.

The only thing we can really do is, and here’s the light-bulb moment, is influence. If we are in the same game, and we are employed by organisations, in order to influence the people that the organisation recognise as the targets, marketing then might be outside of the organisation. In Learning & Development, they are inside the organisation. We’ve realise we have very, very similar purposes. If we have the same purposes, you have a look and say, “What tools or approaches do we use?” We talk about digital marketing, but it’s all based on data and insights on personas, targeting, and being where people actually are.

In Learning & Development, it’s always as if we confused our role with school. We’ve thought that we’ve down– We are education, but we’re not. It is one small piece of the pie. Broad-brush education, and as you’ve discussed already today, top-down launches of programmes and systems that don’t seek to understand the end user first, or the employee first, are largely likely to fail, because it’s just about the topic, the platform, the solution. What we’re talking about here is understanding the person, and seeking to influence from their perspective.

Of course, with any kind of change, we’ve got to bring our stakeholders with us. I wonder, were there any lessons, or was there perhaps any challenge in the way that you expected stakeholders and learners to engage with you and your team?

Satoshi: There are always challenges, of course. I think we’re still rather early in the journey. We were surprised with how well the take up of the platform was. As I mentioned before, we may be overrun a little bit with, “Let’s move.” What we wanted to achieve as well at the beginning is say, “Let people find something on almost any topic that could be relevant. We just have too much content out there.” Now, we try to go one or two steps back and say, “Let’s quickly see, what are the sources that people really look at? What is the content that people look at?” Now we try to reduce the amount, to really serve the best content.

I also think we could get a bit better with activating the busy people, the really knowledgeable people, also to recognise, and share their knowledge with others, which then could help the entire company. I think there are definitely things we still can learn a lot about and we can improve. As it is with change, I think it’s always a case where you have the people who jump on it and love it. Then there are those who are a bit more skeptical, who now miss the physical classroom training, to exchange with their peers, with their colleagues. You cannot do it right for everyone.

David: I think it’s also important to recognise as well that digital doesn’t replace the classroom, in my books. People attend so few classes, that digital only replaces fumbling around and making the same mistakes that thousands of people have already made and solving problems that have already been solved so many times. They’re helping to do that more efficiently within an organisation, and allowing people to learn from what success means from other people in the organisation, that you can’t do 12 people at a time in a classroom.

You can’t do over an hour on periodic webinars, because it’s not about content first, and it’s not about delivery. It’s actually about solving the actual problems that people are facing inside of our organisations. That, for me, is the power of digital. It should never be a case of digital versus classroom. A lot of organisations haven’t removed the classroom.

They’ve refocused it, so that they spend time together, connecting people who are in similar situations, where they could learn from people who have been successful in what they are trying to do, and providing opportunities for people to discuss, debate, challenge, to connect, and all that rich stuff in which bringing people together, and is sometimes killed with too much content delivery. I’m keen to know, Satoshi, this has clearly been a period of great growth and change for you. I wonder, what’s next for you as far as your development and your digital know-how and capability is concerned?

Satoshi: I think we are in super exciting times in L&D. It’s challenging for us. There is a lot of change, there are a lot of enhancements in technology, and a lot of things going on. I’m personally excited about the future. I think there’s so many valuable things that could come with tech, and so many valuable insights that we could get out of the data to really provide better solutions for our employees. We are currently still looking at a couple of interesting things, such as workflow automation, so that we can take more or drive more contextualised information.

One small example we are looking at at the moment is newly appointed line managers, where we can trigger to them a row of simple nudges or simple behaviours over a certain period, and then just one behaviour per week, one small thing that they can perform to build up good behaviour as a leader. This is now also where we can use the HR database. We can see when their value has changed, when they’ve been promoted. Based on that value, we can then trigger a workflow which just keeps informing them. Attached to that, what we’re also looking at is, how do we know if they find it helpful and impactful?

This is why we also try to embed now a little something which we adapted from digital marketing. It’s about, do people even open the emails? Also, do they click on something, or do they like what we send them? Then they can give us their simple vote through a click.

There’s Huge Value in L&D Getting Informed on Digital Marketing Practices

David: I love that, Satoshi. What you’re doing is you’re capitalising on genuine concern as it arises. With line managers, what we’ve done for so many years, if not decades, is neglect them. They can go on a programme after they’ve been in the role for weeks, months, and sometimes even years. They solved all the problems. They’ve got all the war wounds. The only thing we didn’t tell them as they joined, because we left it to the line manager is, what does the role actually involve? What does successful management actually look like? What might surprise them? What questions might they be asked?

What is expected of them, not just from the line manager, but we realised as a manager, there are multiple stakeholders. How do you get all of that stuff that is left up to the individual to figure out, and have sleepless nights as they make this career change? What you’re doing there is, and I love that, integrate them with the HR system to recognise when there is a change to their profile, and then begin a campaign so that they are guided and nudged, as you say, to do more of the right stuff, and give them what they need when they need it? That is digital marketing right there.

Understanding people, their pressing challenges, and providing value, not pushing content, in order to make a difference. I think that that is going to be hugely successful. Now, Satoshi, if the listener likes what they’ve heard from you, and would like to incorporate digital marketing approaches into their practice, how would you recommend they get started?

Satoshi: I can, again, speak a little bit about my experience. What helped is really– It makes sense to start with just getting informed, what is digital marketing all about? Just to get that sense of you don’t know what you don’t know because this helps to be able to dig deeper into some topics that might be interesting. In that sense, I would recommend starting a small course. If I’m not mistaken, LinkedIn Learning sometimes offers free courses for these trending skills.

I would recommend doing a fundamental course in digital marketing, just to get a sense of what it is all about. Then start to speak with people who deal with data in the organisation, and really ask the right questions. We have a HR analytics team internally, so I found it super, super insightful to talk to them. What data do they have? What’s available? There might also be a marketing team who is taking care of the intranet or of the website. I’m pretty sure on the website, they have implemented Google Analytics, and on the intranet maybe as well, or maybe they have a different tool that they are looking at.

Another source could be external partners and vendors. Maybe they already have a dashboard available, or can simply embed a tracking code into their solutions, and suddenly, the data is there. Really learn what’s already there, get inspired, and if people say there is nothing of what I just described, it’s just myself, maybe also consider partnering. Talk to the marketing team and say, “Can we not just do something together to track a little bit, to get a bit more data about how your platform is being used, but I can use the same system for my platform?” Or maybe  just bring in tech skills.

It could be rotation or it could even be an intern who has experience with building websites. I would involve a data privacy officer as early as possible. We talk a lot about data and tech, but I think it’s very, very important to mention, the data belongs to the employees. We only use the data in a locked away fashion, where we never report out on individuals. We only use aggregated reports, or use it as triggers to generate further actions, but it’s not like the horror stories we hear from social media. We really, as HR, really need to take data privacy seriously.

David: Yes, wonderful. I think that that is a really important point. I’d also like to add, it’s not a reason not to get involved. I think that there will be plenty of people who perhaps find this an uncomfortable listen because Learning & Development is changing right in front of their eyes, but there is a way of using data, as you’ve said, anonymously, without it being prohibitive, but we need to take responsibility with other people’s data. The rest of that is certainly solid advice. There is plenty of expertise inside and outside of our organisations. Satoshi, as we look to wrap up, if people wish to connect with you on social media, how can they do so?

Satoshi: Honestly, I’m not so active on social media. Probably the best way is to drop me a note on LinkedIn. That is where you can find me.

David: Wonderful. We’ll put a link in the show notes. Satoshi, all that’s left to say is thank you very much for being a guest on the Learning & Development Podcast.

Satoshi: It was a great pleasure. Thanks for having me.

David: As we discussed, too few L&D professionals see the overlap between L&D and digital marketing when it comes to efficiently and effectively influencing behaviour, but with the advancement of digital marketing over recent years, it’s time to understand their journey, their practices, and their tools in order to progress our own. If you’d like to get in touch with me, perhaps to suggest topics you would like to hear discussed, you can tweet me @davidinlearning, and connect on LinkedIn, for which you’ll find the links in the show notes. Goodbye for now.

Listen to episode 60 of the Learning & Development podcast here or book a free demo to find out more about integrating digital marketing into your L&D strategy.

About Satoshi Probala

Satoshi is Learning Experience Lead at SwissRe and is passionate about learning and emerging technologies. Especially how technology can help to build the most impactful learning solutions and provide everyone access to knowledge at anytime, from everywhere, in the moment of need.

Connect with Satoshi on LinkedIn

Connect with David on LinkedIn and Twitter

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