Published On: March 6, 2024By
Growing a Business With Learner Engagement - Podcast 74 - Talented Learning

EPISODE 74: Learner Engagement Techniques

Jeff Campbell - Founder, Motrain - Talented Learning Show Podcast 74 - Learner Engagement in Customer Education

Jeff Campbell, Founder, Motrain

SPOILER ALERT: This podcast isn’t about L&D-style learner engagement. You won’t hear about how to chase employees until they complete compliance training.

Nope. This is about how to grow a business with marketing-inspired learner engagement techniques. It’s about attracting and retaining loyal, educated customers who, in turn, refer others to your brand.

Powerful stuff. But how exactly does it work?

That’s what I’m discussing today with a big thinker who is in the trenches every day, helping companies use these techniques to improve top line and bottom line performance. So join me as I dig deeper with Motrain Founder, Jeff Campbell, on The Talented Learning Show


Learner Engagement That Grows Your Business – KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Many of us think of learner engagement in terms of employee-focused instructional design. But it’s also essential for companies that want to expand by attracting, educating and supporting customers throughout every stage of the lifecycle.
  • Working side-by-side with an LMS, learner engagement solutions help companies to boost revenue in several significant ways. Brands are using these systems to acquire more new customers, build more profitable relationships and drive more referrals from loyal customers.


Learner Engagement That Grows Your Business – Q&A HIGHLIGHTS

Welcome, Jeff. For those who haven’t heard of Motrain, could you could tell us about the company and why you founded it?

Sure, John. Motrain is a learning gamification and incentive solution that embeds inside an LMS, so people can earn coins for desired actions, like course completions. These coins are tied to gamification features like levels and leaderboards. But also, people can redeem them for any kind of incentive an organization offers.

Originally, we developed this solution with learner engagement mindset. But we’ve found it’s even more powerful as a marketing and customer experience enhancement tool.

Interesting. So, do you see a blind spot in employee LMSs where learner engagement and gamification can fit in and add business value with customer marketing, education and support?

Yeah. We focus mostly on the customer education space, where the challenge is different from L&D because training isn’t mandatory. You can’t require people to do it.

It’s hard for companies to build awareness and attract customers to a learning portal or other opportunities to learn about their products and services. Those customers may be employees who need to take their company’s own mandatory training.

So you’re competing for their time and attention. And it seems many customer education are focused on trying to justify the ROI of those initiatives. But we’re seeing the flip of that.


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How so?

If you embed engagement into the learning experience, you can acquire more customers and educate them. Then you’re not trying to prove ROI. The mindset actually changes, so instead you see it as a revenue generator.

I’m very passionate about trying to switch the narrative from justifying an investment in customer education to making it a no brainer. Because in this context, learner engagement drives company revenue. And that excites me, because we know educated customers buy more, they buy more often, and they remain longer as customers.

You can roll out new products and and expand to new geographies. And typically, the customer audience size is magnitudes larger than internal training audiences. So the revenue-generating opportunity for companies is massive.

Also, I’m always wondering why more LMS companies aren’t focused on this niche. Because, if you compare a customer education account size to the typical employee learning opportunity, the revenue-generation upside for LMS providers is much larger.


So the objective here is to make customers aware of learning opportunities and get them to engage. And there are certainly challenges with that. But I see the upside of learning engagement on a daily basis. And clearly, the ROI conversation is much easier when you know that acquiring customers and educating them ultimately adds revenue to the bottom line.

So this is about attracting new customers, and also getting existing customers to see why they should take the time to participate, right?

100%. Data from some LMS providers indicates that even when companies add certification to customer training, their completion rates are less than 50%. Now, that completion rate is for known customers who are registered in the portal.

But what about the enormous audience of customers who are not on the learning management system? We don’t know they exist, so they’re not looking at the content. And that could represent enormous untapped potential.

Let’s say a company could reach even a small portion of that unaddressed market to increase awareness of the opportunity to learn about products they sell or recommend. What’s the market size of customers who just happen to be unaware of a company’s offering? Nobody knows that number.

Right. And when you tie that to ROI, think about how many companies have 100,000 employees? And how many companies with 1000 employees have 100,000 customers? Even if you touch a teeny slice of those customers, there’s no comparison. The potential is awesome.

Yeah, it really is. It’s way more fun than L&D.


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So let’s talk about how you drive learner engagement with virtual currency. How does that work?

Well, gamification traditionally approaches engagement with points, badges, and leaderboards, or PBL. But I don’t like the idea of endlessly accumulating points, because that eventually gets stale. And there’s not much value in badges as a motivator. They may help show learner progress, but that’s about it.

Leaderboards also have limited value. I understand the intent behind them, but actually, only about 5-10% of users are intrigued by leaderboards. If you’re not on the board or you don’t personally know people who are, you don’t really care.

So that’s why we introduced virtual currency to drive learner engagement. This has a number of benefits:

  • Companies can brand it with a unique name and look.
  • Because it’s currency, a learner can choose to exchange it for something they value. So there’s flexibility in terms of how they can spend it.
  • Also, it drives the economy in terms of how people earn coins. This extends beyond learning to actions customers take that drive business revenue.


For example, you can reward people for bringing in new customers. We’ve designed systems like Refer-a-Friend and Welcome Coins, to attract customers into a learning portal.

With Welcome Coins, marketing teams can assign a specific reward value and create a pop-up call-to-action message such as, “Hey, sign up for our training program and we’ll give you 100 coins towards some swag.”

Refer-a-Friend is also a powerful tool for existing customers who are registered in the LMS and enrolled in training. They can earn coins for referring friends who also enroll. So this builds an affiliate program into your LMS, but you don’t pay people in real dollars. You pay in virtual currency. This is opening up huge business opportunities, especially for companies whose customers aren’t active on traditional marketing channels.


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Makes sense…

Companies also like this approach because they can be creative in how they let people spend their currency. They can offer raffle drawings, sweepstakes, auctions, fundraisers. There are multiple ways people can interact with incentives a company sets up.

The analogy I use for this logic is taps and drains. We work with a few plumbing companies, so it really resonates with them.

So we’re building an economy around user actions, which we think of as the tap, where people are putting coins into the system. And we provide all sorts of ways for people to spend those coins. That’s the drain. So when we take coins out of the system to fulfill a transaction, that drives the engagement loop.

So there’s a constant flow of value in and out of the system. Taps and drains.

Wow. Taps and drains. Who would have thought we’d be talking about plumbing as a way to improve upon points, badges and leaderboards?


Cool. So you use this to attract customers, onboard them and support them over time. But how do you use these learner engagement techniques to create advocates who bring in others?…


…For complete answers to this question and more about the power of learner engagement in customer education, listen to the full 30-minute podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Google Podcasts, on Spotify, or right here on our site.


Learn More:

Get to Know Motrain
Want to find out more about the platform we’re discussing in this episode? For customer stories and details about this solution, visit the Motrain website.


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About the Author: John Leh

John Leh is Founder, CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning and the Talented Learning Center. John is a fiercely independent consultant, blogger, podcaster, speaker and educator who helps organizations select and implement learning technology strategies, primarily for extended enterprise applications. His advice is based upon more than 25+years of learning-tech industry experience, serving as a trusted LMS selection and sales adviser to hundreds of learning organizations with a total technology spend of more than $100+ million and growing. John would love to connect with you on Twitter or on LinkedIn.
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