How Merkle Drove Higher Adoption with 5 Simple Engagement Tactics

November 11, 2019

About a year ago, Merkle’s Talent Development team faced a communication and technical challenge. Working at a performance marketing agency, Merkle’s employees are naturally high-performers who don’t give up their spare time, unless it’s for a great reason.

Fighting for that precious attention was Todd Walther and his Talent Development Team. They needed to convince their employees that using the latest platform they had purchased, LinkedIn Learning, would be time well spent.

What’s impressive is not only how the team took on this challenge, but how they used the rollout of LinkedIn Learning to improve their adoption even more. The results?

Merkle achieved:

  • A 90% activation rate of their purchased licenses

  • A 2 hour 34 min average viewer time over 90 days

  • Over 3,088 hours of courses viewed over 90 days

Lisa Reed, a Talent Development Partner on Todd’s team, explained, “We were really excited about deploying LinkedIn Learning! Just like with our clients, we want to consistently deliver the highest level of quality to our employees. Purchasing LinkedIn Learning was a step up in both user experience and breadth of educational opportunities.”

Here are 5 of the key tactics that the Merkle Talent Development team used to overachieve all the learner engagement goals set before them:

5 Learner Engagement Tactics that Drove Meaningful Adoption

1. Leverage Managers as Career (and Learning) Advocates

At Merkle, managers aren’t managers, they are “career advocates.” While this may sound like a buzz term, it actually has a profound impact on how Merkle thinks about its managers, and how the Talent Development team leverages them.

Each career advocate at Merkle has three jobs: to advocate, to manage, and to lead. First and foremost, a manager is an advocate for their direct reports’ careers and development. This means that they need to actively champion for their direct reports to get promoted. 

The Talent Development team saw this as an opportunity to plug their programs into managers’ performance reviews. Instead of managers simply giving their direct reports a status update on how they’re doing, managers were equipped to recommend courses that could help their direct reports get to that next level in their careers.

To make sure that learners would be able to action these recommendations, however, the Talent Development team had to make sure that learners had activated their accounts.

2. Create Activation Advertisements

The first tactic the team used to activate learners was relatively simple, but incredibly effective.  The Talent Development team started by creating a digital poster using the provided LinkedIn Learning template. In addition to sending the poster out via their email newsletter, they also added it to the front and center of their intranet homepage.

The digital poster worked a lot like a social media advertisement. Employees logged into their intranet everyday as usual and now, besides finding what they were looking for, they also discovered something new (LinkedIn Learning) without having to seek it out.

3. Provide Real-Time Support at Town Halls

Beyond helping with the awareness of LinkedIn Learning, the Talent Development team also wanted to provide support for the adoption. So, the Merkle team created an innovative town hall program that served multiple purposes. 

During the three weeks following the rollout, they hosted three town halls, which could also be attended virtually. Each town hall meeting explained different use cases of what the new LinkedIn Learning experience would look and feel like.

Beyond simply getting their questions answered though, employees were also encouraged to activate their licenses during the town hall. Plus, the Talent Development team also had IT support attend the town halls so that they could provide troubleshooting to learners in real time. 

Then, if learners had questions about the actual course content, they could use the Q&A feature to ask questions from the instructors themselves, and even from their peers on LinkedIn.

4. Watch Courses as a Team

According to a study by J.R. Shoen, simply having group discussions can boost a learner’s active attention up to 75%. Leveraging this research, the Merkle Talent Development team decided to take learning beyond the computer screen by creating a series of workshops. 

One of the hassles of doing instructor-led training (ILT) is having to constantly source instructors, which comes with logistics and vendor hassles. Luckily the Merkle team already had hundreds of instructors at their disposal from the 15,000+ courses in the LinkedIn Learning library.

Using the library, they created their own workshop series in which employees all gathered during lunch and Lisa would play clips of a LinkedIn Learning course. Lisa used the included course transcripts to go through the courses quickly and highlight places to pause for discussion. These workshops were hugely popular and it allowed learners to connect with new colleagues both in person and on LinkedIn.

5. Use Data to Get Business Leaders Engaged 

Getting time-starved department heads to make learning a priority can be a challenge. Instead of asking department heads to promote LinkedIn Learning, the Talent Development team decided to give instead of ask.

The team created a quarterly newsletter using Skills Insights, which featured LinkedIn Learning utilization data for each department. The Talent Development team used this data to provide insight into the growth areas of each team.

This allowed the creative team, for example, to see what skills or topics their team was focusing on. Then, the creative leads could use that information to proactively help their teams with any challenges they might have and to initiate skills development conversations. 

Using LinkedIn Learning data allowed the Merkle team to proactively fill skills gaps and the breadth of the 15,000+ course library meant that each department could find courses that were applicable to their teams.

Meaningful Results

Lisa and the Merkle L&D team clearly stand out for both their tactics and their results. LinkedIn Learning armed the team with a robust starting point: a vast content library, along with an engaging learner experience needed to pull their employees in. Merkle then took full advantage of the opportunities that LinkedIn Learning provided by creating a thoughtful and strategic rollout.

As a result, 90% of their learners activated their licenses and averaged an astonishing 2 hours and 34 minutes of view time per learner. But, beyond the sheer quantity of learning, learners also reported that they found true value in the skills they gained.

For example, Ari Faust, an analytics associate, used LinkedIn Learning to improve his skills across a wide range of marketing and analytics topics. He explains, “I have learned a ton, from the fundamentals of advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn to the utilization of Python and SQL for Data Science.”

Overall, Merkle stood out for both their tactics and their learner results. Not only did they overcome the challenge set before them, but they used the rollout to their advantage, driving activation and engagement rates to outstanding levels.