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Essential techniques to drive training uptake: Part 2

I recently posted a blog containing three tips on how to use Dr. Robert Cialdini’s Six key principles of influence to drive learner engagement with your elearning and on your LMS. I talked about reciprocity, social proof and commitment. In this post I’m going to talk about the other three principles in Cialdini’s book and how they could be used to drive more visits to your LMS.

We’re just like you!

People tend to like people who are similar to themselves. They identify with them. Astonishingly, we even tend to like people more if they have the same name as us! This tendency can be a real problem when trying to bolster fair hiring and promotion practices within organisations, and I’m sure you’ve caught yourself having an unconscious bias to people who agree with your opinions because “they get it!”. But, liking can be used to boost course participation quite effectively if you emphasise the similarity between learners and course creators. I’m sure you can think of an advert that’s used similar tactics by featuring people of different ethnicities and ages, or highlighted how a product was designed by someone with the same pain points as their prospective buyers. So, you could point out that the course was created in close cooperation with business consultants (or managers, or engineers – insert an appropriate profession) just like your learner demographic.

Power of endorsements

If you turn on your TV you will have seen plenty of endorsements. From commercials of a toothpaste that has been created by real, certified dentists to sports people consuming energy drinks. These dentists are there to project authority because we perceive opinions and requests of authority figures, or people who appear to be authority figures, as more legitimate than others (that’s why people in client-facing jobs often wear suits!). In the context of elearning, having a perceived authority figure, or well known or well liked figure within your organisation to endorse a course can make a difference to its success.

Wanting what you don’t have

-Finally, think about the last time you decided to eat healthily and almost instantly started noticing all the sinful goodies on display at your grocery shop. What’s at play there is scarcity, which makes us want the things that we know we can’t have. Limited edition watches or one-of-a-kind dinner experiences are all masterfully designed to tap into our distaste for not having what we want, when we want it. However, unlike many other products, elearning courses don’t lend themselves to having limited access. But there are ways of increasing the perception of scarcity, while not impeding the learning itself. Saying a leadership training module is exclusive and only available in its first roll out to the first x number of people at y level is a good way of seeing who is chomping at the bit. You can then have a second roll out and a free for all subsequently. Another way of going about it is to create an organic add-on to the course, such as a discussion that relates to its content and takes place only once. It could invite people to show how they have put the learning into practice and what results have been achieved. You can further strengthen the nudge by applying loss framing, which is yet another powerful and popular behavioural technique: consider telling your learners that they shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to contribute to the office-wide discussion (social proof!) and enhance their learning.

All of these techniques applied together really do work in the consumer world and I’ve put them into practice during my behavioural science studies at Harvard. Our professor asked us to apply all six of these behavioural nudges in a row to increase donations to a charity. It worked!

By the way, a recent engagement campaign that Saffron did for Coca Cola Hellenic achieved a 70% engagement rate and for Maternal Mental Health achieved £75 million in funding! So imagine what’s possible with your learners!

We’d love to hear if you have been using these or other techniques, so please comment below.