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Training & Learning

How Drift Merges Marketing and L&D to Create 'Curious Learning Machines' 

Revenue acceleration platform Drift is scaling—fast.  

For a global company experiencing hyper-growth, the challenges for the L&D team abound. How do you ensure messaging is consistent across all touchpoints? How do you make sure everyone (employees and customers alike) can easily find the content they’re looking for? And crucially, how do you uphold the leadership principle of “being a curious learning machine?”

We were lucky enough to have Colleen (Manager of Education and Community at Drift) and Allie (Learning and Development Manager at Drift) walk us through how they tackled these challenges and more. 

You can get all the details in our latest L&D Plus podcast episode, or check out the highlights, below.

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The key role of the Content, Community, and L&D Team

“At Drift, we have eight leadership principles, and one of them is ‘be a curious learning machine.’ ”

As Colleen explained, this is just one of the ways that learning is deeply ingrained in Drift’s company culture. The Learning and Development team naturally plays a pivotal role in this. But how could they make sure that L&D continued to make a strong impact during Drift’s rapid expansion?

The leadership team decided to try something almost unheard of: collapse the frontier between marketing and Learning and Development. In other words, bring the L&D team into the marketing department.

That means that Allie and Colleen both sit on the same team—the Content, Community, and Learning and Development Team, to be exact. Their mission is to inspire, educate, and entertain Drifters, customers, and prospects with the content they create.

At Drift, we have eight leadership principles, and one of them is ‘be a curious learning machine.’

For the duo, the benefits of this reorganization are substantial. In this new setup, they can:

  • Keep content consistent: It’s easier for them to keep messaging and tone of voice uniform across all content, internal and external facing.
  • Centralize content: Blog articles, webinars, certification courses, how-tos...it all lives in the same place.
  • Stay up-to-date: With the L&D function at the heart of marketing operations, it’s easier for the Allie and Colleen to stay on top of product updates or positioning changes, especially considering Drift’s fast-paced growth.

And there are benefits to the content consumers, too. With L&D sitting on the marketing team, all learning courses are naturally crafted with Drift’s signature brand voice—which means content is fun more engaging. 

Another perk? Any Drifter who completes a course is also getting an extra tutorial on precisely that desired brand voice. This just gives them a leg up in mastering that messaging, so that when they interact with clients or prospects, all Drifters are speaking the same language.

Measuring L&D metrics with a marketing yardstick

But perhaps the biggest advantage is an enhanced view of L&D’s metrics. After all, Drift is an extremely metrics-driven company, and every team is expected to be clued into the ‘business side of things.’ To give just one example, part of the unfailing rhythm of the company is ‘Monday Metrics,’ a company-wide 15-minute meeting where sales, marketing, and customer teams share their numbers from the previous week. 

Bringing the L&D and marketing teams together allows Drift to draw a parallel between the buyer journey and the learner journey, and refine their metrics accordingly. As Allie explained, “The marketing team has really helped create more systematization for our measuring of learning and development and how we drive outcomes, because that's what marketing and our revenue model is doing for our customers: driving outcome, driving results.” 

And the benefits run the other way, too, as the L&D practitioners enable their marketing colleagues to see their content creation in a more pedagogical light. The merging of these two teams and the cross-pollination it enabled was mutually beneficial, even if it might have taken some getting used to in the beginning.

The marketing team has really helped create more systematization for our measuring of learning and development and how we drive outcomes, because that's what marketing and our revenue model is doing for our customers: driving outcome, driving results.

Inside Drift Insider—a precursor to the marketing + L&D combo

Drift did have a precursor to this melding, however, with the launch two years ago of their online community and resource center, Drift Insider. Overflowing with courses for sales and marketing experts, Drift Insider is a wellspring of knowledge for Drifters, Drift partners, prospects, and customers, and anyone interested in conversational marketing and sales and those disciplines at large.  

The unique thing about Drift Insider is that it brings together internal and external-facing content all under one, accessible roof.  It’s an appealing prospect, and as we outlined above, one the company quickly applied to their organizational chart.

Drift made it all happen with collaboration

For Allie and Colleen, a successful L&D program really comes down to this type of “bringing together,” or collaboration. From an operational perspective, a close working relationship was essential to getting things done, as Allie explains that the duo, “work really closely together to overcome some of those barriers in terms of determining what we consider to be people-centric, what is marketing-centric, and how do we combine those worlds.”

Whether it was their ability to benefit from each other’s point of view in terms of performance metrics, content creation, or keeping up to date with product and marketing changes in a fast-paced environment, collaboration was a key success factor for this new organization Drift is pioneering. 

As Allie put it, “the key takeaway is to have your L&D team feel very connected to the business, the outcomes, have that consistent voice, and make sure that there's a lot of collaboration between your marketing efforts, your brand, and the learning and development team, to really get the most out of it.”

We couldn’t agree more.

For more inspiring and actionable L&D stories like this one, be sure to check out our other episodes of L&D Plus.

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