Launching a brand new LMS is no small task, but it’s incredibly rewarding. You’ll be able to craft and tweak your training programme until it’s just right, and absolutely perfect for your learners.
But after all of that, there’s a real possibility that your new platform could fall at the first hurdle, failing to drum up interest upon launch and leaving all of that learning goodness undiscovered.
When your mind is so focused on the training itself, it can be difficult to think of ways to spice up the launch of the new LMS. But spending some time on this can have a huge impact on initial engagement, and make it much easier to maintain engagement long-term.
That’s why we want to help! We’ve rolled out LMSs with companies of all different shapes and sizes, and have been named as 2016’s Learning Provider of the Year. We’ve been there, done that, and we’ve even got an internal LMS of our own.
So we’ve taken some of the very best LMS launch tips that we’ve learned along the way, which we know will help you have a massively successful LMS implementation!
Some essential first steps to take when you decide that you need a new LMS
1. Run a training needs analysis
Before you make any headway on your training programme, you need to find out what your learners need to know. A good training needs analysis will uncover any skills or knowledge gaps, and will help shape the focus of your programme.
2. Engage with stakeholders
These are the people who will approve your funding, so you need to convince them that the new LMS is worth investing in! Engage with them at this early stage (and throughout the project), ensuring that they understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how it will benefit the organisation.
3. Engage with learners
As well as finding out what the stakeholders want from the programme, you should speak with the people who will actually be using it. Find out what they think of existing training initiatives and see what they want in terms of both content and delivery.
4. Set learning goals
What do you want to achieve through this training programme? Setting clear learning goals at this stage will give you a means of measuring success throughout the project, and ensuring that it is constantly moving in the right direction.
5. Map out the learning journey
How do you envisage learners using your new LMS? Planning out a proper learning journey will help you structure your training programme to deliver clear development opportunities.
6. Create plenty of content
There’s no point in spending time and money on a fancy launch campaign if all of your learners will be flocking to an empty system. Getting lots of content ready for launch will give them plenty to sink their teeth into.
7. Master the LMS
It sounds simple, but if you’re going to the be looking after the LMS for your organisation, then you need to know every nook and cranny better than anyone else. As soon as you get access to the new system, start playing around with it!
Tips for getting everything ready for the perfect LMS launch
8. Cascade the platform training
Teaching every single person how to use the new platform can take a long time. Instead, spend one day training the heads of each department or region. They can then pass this knowledge on to the individual branch managers, who will in turn pass it on to their employees.
9. Delegate responsibility
Being responsible for hundreds or thousands of learners can be a mammoth challenge… Why not dish out some of that responsibility? For instance, hand login details to managers and make them responsible for engaging learners with the platform.
10. Teaser campaign
Start leaving hints about the new platform around offices, worksites, intranets and internal communications, without giving too much away. This will pique the interest of anyone who stumbles across them, and after a couple of weeks everyone will be champing at the bit to find out what all the fuss is about.
11. Involve learners in naming
Get your learners engaged with the system before it even launches, such as by setting up a poll on your intranet asking for suggestions for the name or theme of the new platform. This will give them some sense of ownership, and encourage them to visit it once it’s up and running.
12. Brand your platform
You don’t want your learners walking into the online equivalent of a building site. Take full advantage of any customisation options to make the platform feel more relevant before everyone arrives, and they’ll be much more likely to stick around.
13. Gather high-level endorsement
When learners see senior staff endorsing the programme, they’ll pay more attention to it. Try to get the heads of departments or even the CEO to talk about the platform, or to record videos explaining why it’s so important and how it will benefit the learners themselves.
14. Run a pilot region
All the planning in the world can’t prevent some issues arising during an LMS launch. But launching to a selected pilot region first will give you an invaluable chance for user testing. Use the opportunity to pinpoint any potential problems and solve them before everyone else runs into them!
How to kick off your LMS with a bang
15. Send platform instructions
You can’t have a successful LMS launch if your learners don’t know how to use the new platform. Make sure that they have documents with clear, concise instructions on how to access and use all of the features.
16. Provide welcome content
As well as giving learners instructional documents, point them towards introductory content as soon as they land on the LMS. A welcome video or interactive tour will be the perfect way to get people on board!
17. Hold a launch event
If you want your new LMS to be a big deal within the organisation, then you need to kick up a fuss about it! Fire up the barbecue, get some drinks on ice, and put on a big shindig. If your LMS is going to have a theme running through it, then make sure that your event aligns with it.
18. Explain the programme to learners
As you launch, it’s crucial that your learners understand why they’re being asked to spend time on this new platform. Don’t just show them how it will benefit the organisation as a whole, but also how it will benefit them as individuals.
19. Award welcome badges
If your new LMS happens to be gamified, then you should be able to create shiny badges for your learners to earn. Set them to trigger when learners login for the first time, or when they fill out their profiles. This will give them a small reward and encourage them to keep exploring.
20. Run a treasure hunt
Your new LMS probably has a bunch of fantastic features, but how can you get your learners to use them all? Set up a path for them to follow from one area to another. A clue in the site banner leads to the experts area, where another clue leads to a piece of content, and so on… Those who make it to the end earn an exclusive prize, but the real reward is in knowing their new platform inside out!
21. Award prizes
As well as offering virtual badges, some more tangible rewards won’t go amiss! Offer rewards throughout the first weeks of the launch to the learners who complete the most content, perform best in assessments, or demonstrate the highest levels of engagement.
Ways to maintain engagement on an on-going basis
22. Provide regular updates
If you’ve made it this far and had a successful launch, then you need to maintain your momentum! One way to do this is by adding lots of new content. This will keep things fresh and ensure that your learners are never short of content to complete.
23. Identify early adopters/super users
Even on an extremely active platform, you’ll find that some learners completely outshine the rest. You want to latch onto their enthusiasm for your system and transform them into ambassadors. Collect them together into a feedback group to find out what they love, publicly reward their hard work, and let them help shape the future of the programme!
24. Send email campaigns
Sending a regular mail-out can keep people coming back time and again. Use these emails to highlight new content and developments to the programme, new promotions, and give shout-outs to highly engaged learners.
25. Run competitions
Speaking of promotions, a good competition is a great way to engineer some extra engagement. If you run regular contests with decent prizes, you’ll find it easy to keep drawing your learners back.
26. Use LMS reporting
Any LMS worth its salt will have a robust reporting suite, allowing you to analyse everything that your learners are doing on the platform. Having an overview of which learners are engaged and which content is working can help you find ways to boost engagement.
27. Use surveys
LMS reports are great for quantitative data which a numbers-nut can get stuck into, but sometimes you want a little bit more context. Surveys can provide you with solid qualitative feedback, and from that you’ll have a bunch of ideas for improvements to your training offering.
28. Interact in the social feed
If you’ve launched a social learning platform, then you’re in luck, because you have another powerful tool for bringing learners back to the platform! Make sure to dip into the feed to stimulate discussions and you’ll soon see a learning community form.
Follow most, or even all of these tips and your LMS will be a sure-fire success! It will have a killer launch and be in the perfect position to maintain that engagement for years to come.
If you’re looking for more ways to plan out the perfect training programme, then why not download our free Engagement Engine Workbook? This interactive workbook will help you craft a programme which engages learners through gamification, social and personalised learning: