How learning about beer glasses helped Sky with their learning challenges

Using marketing skills and Agile methodology to make your learning resources contagious – Part 1

‘We need to double our LinkedIn Learning users. How do we do that?’

It’s a marketing challenge.  Increase your reach, get new users.  Understand your users, work up your proposition, develop a campaign, run it.  A piece of work done by many marketing professionals, usually over a period of months.

Except this wasn’t being done by marketing professionals.  It was being done by a team of learning professionals.

Even more interesting, the  learning and development team at Sky use Agile Scrum methodology, which means a project team works on a problem for 1-2 weeks solidly.  The project team makes their own decisions and decide their own outputs.

So instead of months, we had 9 days.   How far could we progress in 9 days on getting twice as many new LinkedIn Learning users?

Sky has over 23 500 employees in the UK and Ireland and partners with LinkedIn Learning , an online resource bank stuffed with videos and other resources.  Based on early trials, they had a target number for how many employees would opt-in to a license. Six months in, they were halfway to that number and wanted to accelerate the remaining half.

Sky uses LinkedIn Learning because they are

 … a technology company, and the world of technology is growing at a rapid rate, and so to keep our teams up to speed and potentially ahead of the curve, they need access to really up to date, on demand and verified content.

Thom Ferrie, Sky L&D team

So their employees can find the material they need when they need it.  They drive their own learning at their own pace.

Starting to sprint

Where did we start?  The 1-2 week blocks of work  in Agile methodology are called ‘Sprints’.  At the beginning of the block, a sprint goal is identified and the team then decides how to tackle this.

The goal was agreed:

Double the number of employees currently making use of LinkedIn Learning for professional development

There was a second goal too:  increase the marketing competency of the L&D team members on the sprint, giving them more confidence to use marketing skills as part of their toolbox.

What did we do?

Days 1-2

A crash course in influencer marketing

To kick the project off and give the team confidence, we did a one hour crash course in marketing, giving them an understanding of influencer marketing and social psychology.  These principles would be the basis for the plans to increase LinkedIn Learning platform usage and create organisation-wide behaviour change.

They grasped the principles quickly – in particular realising that the entire company was too big to both understand and change in any meaningful way.

We needed to find out how small sub-groups in Sky identified themselves, and how they could be influenced – so segment the tribes within the organisation, and see how they interacted with each other.


Analysing the usage data from LinkedIn learning by business units (Directorates in Sky language), we could see which units were using the platform most – a good place to start.

After discussion, two business units were selected based on these criteria:

  • Size: big enough that doubling the usage would provide sufficient scale change inside the units.  One business unit has 1,900 people, for example.
  • Scalability: there were other similar business units where we could apply the learnings with a good likelihood of success.
  • Existing users: there were sufficient numbers using the platform already so we could find them, talk to them and use these findings to help attract others.

Day 3-4

Operation find and understand ‘super users’

Back to the data.  Around 20 ‘super users’ were identified: employees who were engaging the platform very regularly.  Thom and the team interviewed them to understand their motivations and behaviours, and how LinkedIn Learning was embedded in their lives.   Why did they use it?  Many of them were on the platform for 4 hours+ a month.  Was it for technical skills?  Management insights?  Development reasons?  Linked In Learning has thousands of videos across hundreds of topics.

We needed to understand why these learning geeks were on the platform a lot –  to help make decisions on our  marketing, and to connect with them.   They had potential to be influencers and advocates for the programme. Finding out why people use the product is critical – on as a deep level as possible.

At first there was some nervousness about conducting the interviews – what we were going to ask?  What happens if they aren’t very talkative?  Some team members wanted a detailed question list.  As they gained confidence and noticed patterns, they were able establish rapport quickly with the interviewees.

‘Forget what you know, and have a curious conversation’ became the mantra.

Successful introductory emails requesting interviews were shared on the online platforms: Trello for project work, Slack for general topics and fast updates.

‘Am I a super user?’ said one interviewee.  ‘I like the sound of that’. Flattery will get you everywhere.  Other tips for getting interviewees to open up included not asking ‘Why?’ too much early in the conversation, and letting the interviewee take the conversation where they liked.

As each subsequent interview was reported, some patterns became reinforced, and a few new onesemerged.  Sky has a dynamic, driven culture that is not for the faint-hearted.  We started to see how Linked In Learning could help people thrive in that environment.

End part 1 – part 2 to follow

In part 2 we develop a target user profile, hone our proposition and put together a marketing plan.