“Crowdsourcing Croudies”: How a Global, Full-Service Digital Agency Reinvented its L&D Strategy Thanks to Internal Experts




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SME-created courses

Croud headquarters in London UK

Since 2011, UK-based Croud has grown from a search performance agency to a global, full-service digital agency that helps leading global brands drive sustainable growth in the new world of marketing. 

With offices in New York, London, and Dubai, The Croud Group includes specialist partners VERB Brands (now Croud Luxe) and Born Social, and works closely with their global Croudie Network of more than 2.4k freelancers to deliver strategic and creative digital marketing solutions to their international client base.

The Team

Joanna Martin | The Croud Group
Joanna Martin
Head of L&D
Rhys Coleman | The Croud Group
Rhys Coleman
Senior L&D Manager
Sophie Perks | The Croud Group
Sophie Perks
Head of People Operations
Emily Simou | Born Social at The Croud Group
Emily Simou
Senior Resource Manager
Mitch Smith | The Croud Group
Mitch Smith
SEO Account Manager

The Challenges

To create a learning culture above industry standard, Croud’s L&D team knew they needed to develop and maintain a more robust blended learning approach to onboard new hires, upskill staff, offer clients training, and manage contractor assessments.

Today, all of their 500+ internal employees have access to bespoke learning plans and hundreds of training sessions through Croud Campus by 360Learning.

But prior to signing on with 360Learning, Croud faced three major challenges in their company-wide learning and development initiatives:

1. Lackluster onboarding that didn’t move the needle for learners and left L&D in the dark 

Over the last few years, the Croud Group has grown massively in terms of headcount and scope, and also acquired two other agencies: luxury-focused VERB Brands (now Croud Luxe), and global social media specialists Born Social.

We have a wealth of digital marketing expertise within the business, but at this point we didn't have an efficient way of sharing it,” says Rhys Coleman, Senior L&D Manager at The Croud Group

While learning has always been part of the culture at Croud, he explained that “the digital side of things wasn't keeping up with the in-person side of things.”

Managing training documents through Google Drive created ongoing access problems and creating engaging training (and tracking it) at scale was another struggle. The team relied on Google Slides to present content, which wasn’t interactive and lacked diversity in format features.

“It had gotten to a point where we were using multiple tools to try and provide the same service, and it became very difficult and frustrating for staff to find the right material for them when they needed it.” - Rhys Coleman, Senior L&D Manager

Because Croud had no way of tracking the adoption or progress of their learning materials across the organization, they were left in the dark– unable to see what kind of impact their efforts had on the business, and whether learners were engaging with the content on a larger scale.

2. Valuable time and money lost to Croudie quality control 

Prior to 360Learning, the onboarding of new contractors to the Croudie Network was a time-consuming manual process. Without a standardized assessment system, they struggled to source the best freelance talent to work with. 

The Croud team relied on word-of-mouth, CV screening, and interviews to vet freelance applicants, which made it challenging to gauge their skills on-the-job and guarantee the quality of the work delivered, especially on an international level. 

The lack of quality control meant that Croud found themselves spending too much time and money reworking or validating client deliverables, and fixing these problems internally. 

Ultimately, this had an impact on not only Croud’s teams, but also their client expectations, which made the need for a global solution all the more pressing.

3. Inability to upskill clients digitally with a comprehensive blended learning strategy 

Before working with 360Learning, Rhys considered the idea of upskilling their clients digitally “somewhat of a pipe dream”. The problem was, again, a lack of the right digital tools and processes.

To save the agency time and money, the L&D team wanted to upskill clients with bespoke digital learning paths in addition to existing in-person training, to enable and empower clients to take on more marketing tasks themselves. 

Croud’s L&D team knew they needed a powerful digital solution to achieve this blended approach, but also a seamless way to create content and roll it out to make this a truly successful offering for their customers. 

All these challenges needed a single solution: a centralized learning platform that could harness internal subject-matter experts’ know-how. 

Because they had so many training documents and processes living in various locations, there was no overall visibility of what they had on offer. 

Overall, The Croud Group needed a scalable solution which kept pace with the increasing size of the business without compromising quality.  To achieve this, they decided to overhaul their digital learning offering.

All these challenges needed a single solution: a centralized learning platform that could harness internal subject-matter experts’ know-how. 

The Solution

In their search for a new learning management system, Croud’s L&D team wanted to make sure they weren’t restricted in the tools they could use, so integration with other tools was a big priority for them.

The digital tools they were previously using lacked essential functionalities that many learners and admins needed. Overall, the L&D team understood that they wanted to not only keep up with work, but also build a best-in-class L&D strategy

Since Croud employs a wide variety of specialists who are experts in their own fields, the L&D team knew it was essential to collaborate closely with these internal subject-matter experts to reflect best practices in all the training they put out. It was here that 360Learning’s focus on collaborative learning and powerful co-authoring features stood out. 

“We’re big on using education to drive change, and this platform has really allowed us to level up how we do this.” - Emily Simou, Senior Resource Manager at Born Social

Here’s how Croud uses 360Learning to transform their experts into champions for employee, partner, and customer growth.

1. Stronger onboarding and upskilling with centralized L&D 

“We created Croud Campus using 360Learning and having that as a central hub for all of our digital learning made the experience so much easier for our staff.” - Rhys Coleman, Senior L&D Manager

With Croud Campus by 360Learning, Croud finally has a one-stop shop for all their learning needs that's accessible to everybody in the company. This means the L&D team can fully support the rapid expansion of the Croud Group by providing standardized onboarding experiences for all their new hires.

“The thing that really stood out to us about 360Learning was the way in which it is both customizable and also has the ability to integrate with so many different tools as well.” - Joanna Martin, Head of L&D

Head of People Operations Sophie Perks explains that the learning platform “really does feel like it's a part of The Croud Group, and we can use it across all of our different agencies as well and make it bespoke for them.”

Emily Simou, Senior Resource Manager at Born Social by The Croud Group, further explains, “As a creative agency, we are more likely to have neurodivergent employees. So it's really important that we’re able to share content in a number of different formats to cater to how people might need to consume information.”

360Learning’s user-friendly platform has enabled Croud and its partner agencies to create more engaging and digestible training content, and to experiment with more interactive learning formats for its diverse learner groups. 

Today, The Croud Group offers its employees an even wider variety of courses, including internal training content created by SMEs (subject-matter experts) and off-the-shelf content. 

“Starting a new job takes up a lot of headspace, so having the courses available on-demand has been helpful, when I can find a window that works for me to actually focus and absorb the information.” - Mitch Smith, SEO Account Manager at The Croud Group

When the agency was using multiple tools to onboard and provide training, it was difficult to ensure all courses stayed up-to-date. With 360Learning, learners can instantly flag missing or outdated information with a comment in the course, and L&D can make updates on the fly in the authoring tool–all within the same platform. 

By streamlining and centralizing onboarding and upskilling processes with 360Learning, Croud has achieved higher productivity and greater development opportunities for its individual team members.

2. Scaling Croudie Network growth with contractor assessments 

Previously, Croud struggled with ensuring the quality of contractor work, as they didn’t have the tools to assess individual applicants’ experience and skills at scale. 

360Learning’s platform has enabled Croud applicants to demonstrate their skills and aptitude during the onboarding process, rather than just listing them out as was done in the past. 

By requiring contractors to complete assessments in the onboarding process, the agency now tests their abilities before they’re assigned any client projects. This step enables Croud to standardize quality control in the Croudie Network, meaning they can give contractors more in-depth feedback, and provide their clients greater peace of mind.

With the variety of assessment options available in the authoring tool, knowledge and skill checks can now be completed asynchronously, which is vital when working across time zones with global clients and a network of international marketing experts.

3. A dedicated training platform for client education

“Our clients work with us because they trust in our expertise in digital marketing, so in certain cases it makes sense for us to help their own staff upskill in these areas too.” - Rhys Coleman, Senior L&D Manager

Having the right packaging for a client training platform is vital for a creative agency like The Croud Group. Rhys explains, “We wanted learners to be able to get up and running quickly and have our support whenever they need it, so having a platform which can be branded for those clients, be easy for them to use, and have a variety of ways to display information, were all important.”

360Learning’s platform has enabled The Croud Group to provide client training of an even higher standard by following up on in-person sessions with top-quality digital training. They’ve also begun rolling out digital-only training programs, opening up their client education offering to all regions where Croud conducts business. 

The Results 

“I feel like by engaging with 360Learning, we've been given the power to do things that we always knew we were capable of.” - Rhys Coleman, Senior L&D Manager

Since implementing 360Learning, The Croud Group is now able to consistently track progress and results across all their learning programs, from one place. They measure the performance of their training content with engagement data like reactions and comments, and in-depth reports on learner scores and platform usage. 

These are some of the results they’ve seen since implementing 360Learning:

Average 99% positive reaction score on all learning content

50,338+ reactions from more than 2000 learners 

230 learning paths and counting

1,588 internally-created courses used in the last year

142 days of training in the last 12 months

Rhys explains that, “People are able to get support with their learning needs in a way we couldn’t achieve before.”

Having access to this full range of learning data and metrics enables their L&D team to prove greater business impact of their learning initiatives.

And these benefits aren’t limited to just the L&D team. Sophie Perks, Head of People Operations, says, “Having access to an easy-to-use training platform like this really does help you stand out from other digital marketing organizations when hiring, because you can offer people so much more than just their day job.”

The Future 

“I can't imagine life without 360Learning now.” -Joanna Martin, Head of L&D

Croud believes that without learning and development, there is no growth in the business. 

Going forward, the L&D team plans to further decentralize content creation and management, making collaborative learning and knowledge sharing more engaging and accessible than ever across the organization.

The team also wants to utilize more AI-powered features within the 360Learning platform to supercharge their efficiency and upskilling efforts, and free up even more time for high-level planning and strategy as they grow.

“The tool itself is amazing, but it's nothing without the team as well, and we are really pleased to be able to work with the 360Learning team. L&D throws up constant challenges, but it's nice to know that we're able to face them together.” - Rhys Coleman, Senior L&D Manager