One of the things my team here at Emerald Works is responsible for is getting people excited about using our performance support toolkit. We've learnt a great deal about user engagement over the years - what works, and what doesn't.
In this blog I'll share some insights about what we do, why we do it and how we know that our approach to user engagement works.
The importance of measurement
It's been 15 years since we launched our first toolkit for the Scottish Ambulance Service. Since then we've spent time measuring, testing, refining and developing every aspect of what we do. Continuous improvement of our user engagement methodology is achieved through a combination of user testing, research and analytics.
Although no two clients are the same, what we've learned about their needs has helped us come up with an engagement framework which can be tailored to individual organisational needs. The engagement process begins the moment we start working with a client and continues for the duration of the client's license.
I am not afraid to admit that we have made engagement bloopers along the way! My team are highly amused, (often at my expense) if they stumble across an old launch poster or leaflet that I produced many moons ago. Thankfully, we have moved on significantly from these because of our commitment to measuring the effectiveness and impact of everything we do.
Some organisations say they are agile, but our ability to gather insight about our approach and adapt means we truly embody agility.
When we launch a new toolkit with a client, we do two things. Firstly, our aim is to get users to the toolkit. Once they are there, our second aim is to ensure the toolkit is useful, relevant and easy to use so they will come back for more.
1. Getting users to the site
Get the word out - by email
All you need to do is tell people about your great new toolkit resource.
You don't need a big expensive launch day, fancy posters or even flyers, as research shows that email communication is the most effective means of raising awareness.
Our site automates a bespoke weekly email showcasing different areas of content and we work with every client to ensure tailor these to reflect the challenges and issues they want to highlight to employees.
Pick the right name
It's important to give your new resource a good name. We know that in many organisations, when people think of "learning" they think of it as something they need to make time for or only do when it's scheduled for them. So, picking name that suggests on-the-job support rather than learning tends to work better.
Make it easy to find
Making your toolkit easy to find is critically important. It resource needs to be easy to access, so any barrier (such as a password) will result in a loss of users. I am not dismissing promotional posters, pamphlets and pens - we've used them all in the past. However, when we measure what works best to get users to a new site, the most effective approach is often the simplest.
It's essential to make your resource clearly visible online, as the chances of someone copying a URL from a poster or even clicking a QR code are remote. The toolkit needs to be highly visible on your intranet or LMS, with as few clicks as possible to reach the resources.
2. Getting users to keep coming back
Make sure they find something relevant
The toolkit has over 2,000 individual resources, created by our brilliant team of editors and instructional designers. Our content charter ensures that every piece of content is developed, updated and refined so you won't find better elsewhere.
The resources are organised under 55 leadership and management topics, so there's something for everyone. We also constantly monitor and develop the range of topics we offer. They can be customised to match your organisation's competency framework or leadership behaviours.
Make it feel like 'their' resource
This sounds like common sense, but it's something we know to be true from our ongoing testing and research. The site has to feel like it's part of the user organisation, not something that separate. We work with each client to ensure that the way a site looks and feels to users is familiar, so rarely will there be any mention of Emerald Works.
Create access across multiple devices
A good way to make it easy for people to return to the site is to make it easily accessible from multiple devices. Our responsive platform makes it easy to use our toolkit from a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet. We've also ensured that the content performs as well on mobile as it does on a desktop.
Another good tip is to create an icon that allows users to access the resources directly from their mobile or tablet home screen.
How do we know our approach works?
A client retention rate of over 90% is a pretty good indicator of our success. Our first client, the Scottish Ambulance Service are still with us 15 years on through a wider agreement with the NHS. Our approach to user engagement combines our knowledge about how best to position and launch the toolkit, together with detailed insights from analytics and evaluations.
It's important to remember that the launch of a new toolkit is just the beginning of the engagement journey. The data we gather for each client tells us exactly what is working and what isn't. The toolkit a client launches will adapt and improve throughout the license period because we continually advise on getting best possible use from it