Accredible - Certificates and Badges

Are PDF Credentials Secure?

PDF, meaning portable document format, is a filetype primarily intended for sharing. Designed to preserve document formatting, PDFs are commonly used for distributing official forms and certificates. While convenient, the biggest downside of using PDFs is the lack of trusted security. 

How does PDF security work?

The most common method of securing PDFs is to use a password which protects the document using the AES algorithm with Cipher Block Chaining encryption. This is the most basic type of encryption, translating the plain text content into unreadable ‘ciphertext’ requiring a special key – the password – to translate back. This level of encryption is intended for limiting access or restricting features such as modification and printing. However certified or signed PDF documents, commonly used for delivering membership documents and certifications, cannot be encrypted in this way. 

How is PDF security flawed?

PDF encryption is insecure – an online search for ‘PDF security’ returns at least 3 results on ‘bypassing PDF security’. Whether dropped into a browser based security remover or opening and renaming a PDF via Mac’s preview application, passwords don’t prevent unauthorised access.

Beyond breaking passwords, even ‘secured’ PDFs can be easily edited by anyone with experience in photoshop or other image editing software. That means PDFs are vulnerable to any graphic design enthusiast, or even a school-aged child with an understanding of basic design editing. This creates additional work for teams that need to monitor for falsified or reproduced documents circling the web. 

How can PDF credentials be secured?

PDF security does not meet the expectations that official documents require. To create digital certificates that are protected against unauthorized editing, organizations need to find an alternative solution. A dedicated digital credentialing platform like Accredible can take the stress out of creating secured digital certificates and badges.

A quality digital credentialing platform allows organizations to generate secure, verifiable credentials that can be distributed in PDF format. Enabling candidates to receive a downloadable copy of their PDF that can be printed and hung on the wall. PDF copies are verified using QR codes which provide a scannable link to the live credential including expiry date and issuer details. 

Validity is important for credential verification. Take for example annual inspection or recertification certificates that are typically delivered as a printable PDF. These types of certificates are commonly spoofed by simply scanning the original and editing in a more recent date. Not only do verifiable credentials ensure certificates are valid but they make it much harder to create and distribute fake certificates. 

Consider the next time you need to ride an elevator or book a qualified technician – is it easy for you to check if safety and inspection documentation is available and valid? A presentable certificate with scannable QR code provides peace of mind within seconds. 

PDF Credentials vs Accredible Digital Credentials

PDF Digital
Encryption Relies on weak password protection that can be easily bypassed Uses bank-level security and blockchain recording on the platform to protect credentials
Verification Difficult to verify and easy to spoof dates of issue and expiry Can be easily verified in one click or by scanning the QR code
Presentation Restricted presentation space for information and supporting details A dedicated credential page provides room for issuer details, evidence, and transcripts

Key Takeaways

In summary, PDF credentials may be easy to produce but suffer poor security against preventing unauthorised modification and false reproductions. Additionally, PDF credentials aren’t easily shareable. This restricts several key (and low-cost) marketing channels;

  • Recipients sharing achievements to social media platforms
  • Organic growth of brand presence online


Digital credentials are easy to produce, fully verifiable, and provide an improved experience for recipients. Rather than being lost in a drawer or somewhere on a forgotten hard drive, digital credentials are hosted online and fully accessible across all devices. With a few taps, digital credentials can be shared to social media platforms or uploaded to devices for on-the-job skill verification. 

Accredible’s platform simplifies the process of issuing digital credentials for organizations while providing high levels of security against unauthorized modifications and spoofing. 

Already issuing credentials via Accredible? Read our help article for how to create and send digital certificates in PDF.

Further Reading

Learn more about replacing PDF certificates with digital credentials using Accredible in our comprehensive ‘Features and Services Guide’. This guide details exactly what the Accredible Credential Management System can do to help organizations undergoing digital transformation.

Get the Guide

What Are Stacked Credentials?

Stacked credentials are individual achievements that are combined over time to improve a learner’s employability or skill set. Stackable credentials aren’t a type of credential themselves but are simply a framework for accumulating knowledge. Using the framework, candidates build personal portfolios of knowledge and collect micro-credentials towards larger certifications.

How do stacked credentials work?

Consider the traditional degree; Over a period of two to four years a series of modules, lectures, exams, and coursework combine into a recognizable achievement. 

Stacked credentials are similar in that they can be stacked towards a greater achievement, but differ in that each completed credential is a recognizable reward. 

The Microsoft Excel course offered through McGraw-Hill is a good example of stacked credentials. Learners can progress through four levels of knowledge to gain the highest award – the black belt in Microsoft Excel. For each completed level of the course, the learner receives a digital badge to represent their new achievement. Adding the digital badges to a digital wallet card or badge backpack provides on-the-go proof of knowledge to prospective employers. 

In simpler terms, think of a stackable credential like a singular Lego brick. A box set of Lego bricks build a specific model, but builders aren’t restricted to simply one design. Lego bricks can be combined in a variety of ways to create a world of different models. 

Stackable credentials are the same. Learners can choose a ‘box-set’ of smaller courses to build towards an intended skill or design a personal portfolio of individual courses, relevant to their needs.

How are credentials stacked?

There are three ways in which credentials can be stacked:

  • Vertically
  • Horizontally
  • Hybrid


Vertical stacking is the most common in which a single topic is explored in advancing detail. For example, Microsoft Excel level 1, level 2, and level 3.

Horizontal stacking is the acquirement of knowledge across several topics. For example, marketing, data handling, Microsoft products.

Hybrid stacking is a combination of both vertical and horizontal stacking, where learners explore multiple topics in increasing levels of difficulty. For example, marketing level 1 and level 2 and Microsoft Excel level 1 and level 2.

With various ways of stacking available, learners have the freedom and accessibility to build their portfolio around their interests and personal ability.

What are the benefits of stacked credentials?

Recognizing efforts of pre-graduates

Students looking for work in their chosen field prior to graduation have little to show for their efforts. Stackable credentials solve this by providing an accredited reward for each completed module. Learners can now provide proof of their acquired knowledge rather than simply offering an expected graduation date.

Faster rewards motivate learners

All learners respond well to faster and incremental rewards when learning. Awarded digital credentials replace the traditional written grade providing learners with:

  • Easy to share achievements
  • Evidence of learning and skills
  • Recognisable awards for building resumes

Increased accessibility in learning

A side effect of the 2020 pandemic was a huge loss of jobs and closure of certain industries. Those out-of-work seek retraining and skills programs to improve their employability, but cannot wait to complete a classic two or four year degree – or sometimes, even the 16 weeks to finish a full term (semester). Stackable micro-credentials enable learners to gain relevant, up-to-date knowledge fast and at a more affordable cost. 

Key Takeaways

For learners old and young, stackable credentials offer:

  • A framework for accumulating knowledge over time
  • Cost-effective methods for acquiring new skills
  • Assistance for professionals looking to fill skill gaps
  • Motivation for continuous learning through faster reward
  • Accessibility for gaining knowledge around busy lifestyles
  • Incremental awards that greatly reduce course drop-offs
  • Shareable accomplishments that encourage course completion


Awards for stackable credentials are usually presented as digital certificates and digital badges. Using the Accredible platform, organizations can create and issue digital credentials to represent all levels of accomplishment.

Further Information

Learn more about issuing digital credentials using the Accredible platform by watching our webinar Introduction to Digital Credentials, covering:

  • What Digital Credentials Are
  • The Recipient Experience
  • How to Design, Issue, and Manage Credentials
  • Credential Branding and White Labeling
  • Standard Credential Analytics
  • The Benefits of Implementing Digital Credentials


Watch the Webinar

What Are Micro-Credentials?

Micro-credentials are bitesize chunks of knowledge studied within a short time frame. This blog will help readers to understand how micro-credentials support professionals.

What is a micro-credential?

Commonly known as micro-credentials, although also known as nano-degrees, micro-credentials enable accessible learning around the availability of the learner. The qualifications are intended to be:

  • Fast
  • Accessible
  • Reputable
  • Specialized
  • Global
  • Competitively Priced


Whether researching a topic during a coffee-break or watching a lecture over dinner, micro-credentials exist to help learners fill the gaps in their skill set. 

How do micro-credentials work?

The demand for up-to-date knowledge within the workforce is growing. In contrast, professionals are struggling with a lack of time. 

Enter micro-credentials. 

Micro-credentials enable learners to make efficient use of their time to expand their skill set and increase their employability. 

Micro-credentials support professionals by making digital credentials accessible as manageable modules of knowledge. The smaller courses are often undertaken online, rather than in-person and usually last weeks, rather than the years required for a full degree. 

Take Sam for example, he’s been in his role for a while but would like to advance professionally. He has experience with Microsoft Excel but has little to show for his knowledge. By taking a micro-credential focused on Excel, he can:

  • Easily train around his work-life balance
  • Show proof of his knowledge
  • Achieve a verifiable skill within a few weeks


Not only has Sam shown initiative to his employer, he’s gained some additional knowledge along the way. In addition to winning the promotion, Sam feels empowered to further his learning with additional micro-credentials. 

What are stackable micro-credentials?

Stackable micro-credentials are bitesize courses that can be combined to cover a topic in advancing detail. Just like a box of Lego bricks can be used to create many different models; stackable micro-credentials can be combined in a variety of ways to create a personal portfolio of knowledge. 

Read more about stackable credentials in our blog post: What Are Stacked Credentials?

Key Takeaways

In summary, micro-credentials are smaller courses of a larger achievement, skill, or topic, and improve employability by:

  • Enabling learners to gain knowledge fast
  • Helping professionals fill the gaps in their skillset
  • Offering a cost-effective method of learning
  • Making learning accessible to busy lifestyles
  • Stacking towards a complete qualification
  • Combining to expand knowledge across a variety of topics


Start the micro-credential journey today and build a portable knowledge portfolio with digital badges and digital certificates delivered by Accredible. 

Further Reading

Micro-credential achievements are commonly awarded as digital badges. To learn more about digital badges, download our Guide to Digital Badges by following the link below.

Get the Guide

Build vs Buy: Making the Decision About Digital Credentials

As more companies undergo digital transformation, a common question is asked: “Should we buy or build software to deliver credentials?” There is no definite answer to this question – the answer lies in the needs of the business. Some companies prefer to develop internal software from the ground up, while others prefer the reliability, robust feature set, and quick launch time associated with a pre-built solution.

The Build vs Buy Analysis

For many companies, there is no need to reinvent the wheel, particularly when it comes to issuing digital credentials. 

Below are a list of benefits for choosing Accredible’s digital credentialing platform over a custom built solution:

Costs and Budget

Is it cheaper to build or to buy? Companies know the initial cost of building from scratch is expensive, but many businesses neglect to consider ongoing costs when deciding whether to build or buy. In-house software needs to be maintained, including:

  • Updates to defend against security flaws
  • Fixes for new bugs and errors
  • Adjustments for accessibility requirements

The cost of development becomes much higher when working to a deadline or out of hours. 

With Accredible, the platform is fully built and thoroughly tested to be enterprise ready including regular reviews to ensure it is both secure and accessible. 

Our pricing uses a per-unique-recipient model, meaning no matter how many credentials each unique recipient earns within a billing cycle, the cost will always be a single credit. Issued credentials are stored in secure data servers, eliminating the storage costs that an in-house solution would need to manage. 

Integrating Existing Workflows

Custom-built software needs to work with current workflows but also consider future growth. If the company rapidly scales – will the current workflows and custom integrations be able to accommodate the change?

Integration is native to Accredible, the platform integrates to leading LMS’ and publishing software and is supported by Zapier integration and a robust API. This means businesses can double their recipients overnight without any downtime; or change internal systems without requiring extra development.

Implementation and Management Time

To opt for a custom-built solution, companies need to either:

  • Take existing employees off current projects to build the software
  • Hire a full-time developer or more developers 
  • Outsource the work to a freelance developer, development team, or an agency

Hiring or outsourcing requires extra investment. If a developer is already on-staff, their hours are then dedicated to building the software. This time or cost is more useful for improving support, managing online presence, or benefiting other departments. 

More time is required for implementation and training staff to use a custom solution, which often lacks thorough documentation. Investing in a digital credentialing platform such as Accredible helps team productivity, allowing staff to focus on projects with greater visibility to management. Our knowledgeable and expert team makes implementation and planning simple. Alongside staff training and a comprehensive knowledge base, companies can start using the Accredible platform with confidence in no time.


Building software requires continuous monitoring to prevent exploitation of security flaws, especially when handling personal data. This means having a developer or team available 24-7 to respond to a world of constantly evolving exterior threats, and to resolve those threats as they occur.   

Robust security policies are core to a pre-built solution. By default, the Accredible platform includes:

  • Compliance to EU GDPR
  • Data privacy agreement including EU Model Clauses
  • Data stored in secure tier 3 SOC 2-certified data center
  • Frequent penetration testing and vulnerability scanning
  • Annual internal and external auditing of data privacy controls, software, infrastructure, and systems
  • Role-based access control. Data is only available to employees where their job responsibilities require it

The Accredible platform and its credentials are hosted on the world’s leading infrastructure to ensure the best level of security. 


Accessibility is of great importance and a priority when building any bespoke program. By failing to focus on accessibility, unnecessary walls prevent recipients from getting to what is theirs – in this case, their digital credential. Accessibility for digital credentialing includes:

  • Access to digital credentials for all, regardless of ability
  • Compatibility with assistive technologies
  • Not locking credentials behind account creation
  • Creating short shareable URLs
  • Making it easy for third-parties to verify

At Accredible, accessibility is king. This means:

  • No account creation necessary for viewing digital credentials
  • Share to social media with one click from the credential page
  • Short and easy to share URLs
  • Simple verification of digital credentials for third-parties

To ensure an accessible experience, the platform is:

  • WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.1 compliant – level AA
  • Compliant to Section 508
  • Tested by an IAAP-Accredited tester
  • Tested across multiple devices and platforms
  • Compatible across all assistive technologies
  • Regularly analysed at a code level to identify issues as they arise

Our developers work hard to ensure that the Accredible platform remains accessible to everyone.

Brand Control

One of the biggest complaints that companies have in the build vs buy debate is a lack of control or customization over the purchased platform. The software often:

  • Is branded under another company 
  • Doesn’t show the brand personality 
  • Lacks features that allow for customization

Accredible’s digital credentialing platform addresses these issues with the implementation of branding control and
white label digital credentials. The customization available for issuing digital credentials include:

  • Full control over the branding from design through to delivery
  • A branded credential page with optional CSS customization (the code that styles a page)
  • Complete control over email branding

Note: Accredible is the only digital credentialing platform to offer this level of customization in the competitive marketplace. Other software may not meet the branding and customization requirements for a given organization. 

Making the choice between build vs buy

Before making the decision to build or to buy, consider the following questions:

  • What pain points does the digital credentialing platform need to solve?
  • Does the budget include the initial outlay and ongoing costs?
  • Is there a deadline or strict timeline that needs to be met?

By understanding the issues that need to be tackled, it’s easier to find an ‘out of the box’ solution with the right features, or establish if one needs to be created. 

Accredible’s feature-rich digital credentialing platform helps businesses get to market faster without compromising on quality. Get in touch with our knowledgeable sales team to find out more about how the platform supports current workflows. 

Key Takeaways

In summary, the benefits of choosing a pre-built digital credentialing solution include:

  • Increased control over costs and budget
  • A ready to scale solution that integrates into existing workflows
  • Reduced opportunity cost by using available hours to support company development
  • Comprehensive training from an expert team and access to clear and detailed guides
  • Bank-level encryption for protecting sensitive data
  • Accessibility for all abilities and compatibility across assistive technologies
  • The ability to easily share, verify, and manage digital credentials
  • Full branding control over digital credentials, credential pages, and emails

Further Reading

Download our comprehensive ‘Features and Services Guide’. This guide covers how the Accredible Credential Management System serves businesses looking for a digital credentialing solution. 

Get the Guide

Why White Label Digital Credentialing?

White labeling is the term given to products and services produced by one company and branded under another business for the businesses’ end users. 

White labeling allows businesses to expand their offering with a faster time to market than building from scratch. It also supports brand awareness by maintaining consistent branding. White label digital credentials delivered by Accredible provide recipients with a quality end-product that is authentic to the issuing brand.

The aim of white labeling is to:

  • Get new services or products to customers faster than a bespoke solution
  • Reduce set-up, production, and ongoing maintenance costs
  • Maintain control over the relationship between a brand and their customers


This enables small businesses and start-ups to focus on development while offering a quality service or product.

What are white label digital credentials?

White label digital credentials are digital certificates and badges issued by a dedicated credentialing platform under the branding of another company. The benefit is full customization from design through to delivery. White label credentials through Accredible are supported by:

  • Full control over the credential page including custom CSS. This allows companies to design credential pages in line with their own website
  • Dedicated credential subdomain that sits on the company’s own domain. For example 
  • Full control over email branding including header, footer, and internal links


Standard digital credential example – click to see live demo
White label digital credential example – click to see live demo

Accredible is the only digital credentialing platform within the competitive space that offers this level of customization for white label credentials. 

Why use white label digital credentials?

The most important part of white labeling across any product or service is consistent branding. Through consistent branding companies grow awareness, establish authority, and build trust. 

Further benefits of white label digital credentials include:

  • Greater control over budgets. Building anything from scratch can be expensive, especially if not planned in full. Choosing a white label solution rather than building one eliminates unexpected costs and reduces the cost of staying secure and competitive.
  • Use the strength of your brand. When recipients receive white label digital credentials they associate them with the quality of the brand. This encourages loyalty and establishes trust.
  • Taking advantage of a quality product. There is a learning curve to producing a stable, dependable product. White label digital credentials allow businesses to use an established and trusted software.
  • Get started faster. When introducing a new product or service, most businesses want to hit the ground running. White labeling skips the testing and fine tuning needed for a quality service, enabling businesses to offer new services faster.
  • Reduced responsibility. Choosing a dependable white label service with excellent support reduces the stress felt in-house when things don’t go to plan. Get fixes implemented fast and have more time to focus on customers. 
  • Improve team productivity. A simple app takes at least 500-700 hours to develop from scratch, not counting ongoing maintenance. The opportunity cost of building bespoke is the loss of this time that can be used more effectively for integrations and support solutions.

Choosing white label digital credentials

To find the right white label digital credentialing service, check what level of control you need.

Does the business need to:

  • Add their logo to the credential page
  • Use their logo within the email header
  • Take full control over email branding
  • Style the credential page in line with the businesses’ own website
  • Host credentials on the businesses’ own domain
  • Provide a sense of security to recipients through consistent branding


Accredible not only provides white label services to meet these needs, but we are the only digital credentialing platform to offer full control over branding from design to delivery. We deliver white label digital credentials with an excellent recipient experience.

Further Reading

Consistent branding helps with growing awareness, but businesses still need to be in the right places to be seen. In the age of social media and sharing, digital certificates and badges let recipients show off their branded achievements with ease. 

Download the report on ‘How Digital Badges Drive Brand Awareness and Referrals’ to learn more. 

Get the Guide

What Are Digital Credentials?

Digital badges and digital certificates all fall under the umbrella of digital credentials. The solution for paper based certificates, badges, and awards in the online world. Digital credentials are simple to award, manage, and verify. 

What are digital badges and digital certificates?

Simply put, these are the awards gained through achievement or learning. The most common examples include:

  • Degrees issued by education providers
  • Recognition for understanding a complex topic
  • Awards for gaining a personal or professional skill

Electronic credentials such as digital certificates and digital badges are also used for:

  • Proof of association membership
  • Rewards for achievement, behaviour, and effort

What are the differences between digital badges and digital certificates?

Digital Badges

  • Commonly used for low-stakes credentials, i.e. modules of a qualification or attending a conference
  • Uses shapes, colors, and symbols to represent levels of achievement
  • Designed to be easy to embed across different types of platforms


Digital badges can represent any type of credential. We often see organizations use digital badges to represent individual modules but some use them across all credentials, including high-stakes ones. Some companies use only digital badges, some only issue digital certificates, and some choose to use both. Accredible gives organizations the flexibility to decide how to use credentials. Including full control over the look and feel, depending on the strategy and what credentials need to communicate.

Digital Certificates

  • The digital representation of a paper certificate awarded for achievement or education
  • Awarded for high-stakes credentials, i.e. completing an online degree or membership of a professional association
  • Accompanied by work samples or references


Another commonly seen phrase is Open Badges. Open Badges are the technical standard developed by the Mozilla Foundation in 2011. The standard is used to maintain the quality of digital badges by ensuring consistent and relevant information is displayed.

What are the benefits of digital credentials?

Making the switch to digital credentials saves businesses time and money. By freeing up resources, staff can develop skills outside their area that:

  • Support other departments
  • Help to grow the company
  • Improve customer support

Take this example
case study from the Digital Marketing Institute. They approached Accredible with a problem, – ‘how can we reduce the time spent issuing credentials?’. At the time, the monthly workload of issuing certificates took at least 8 hours to complete. The Accredible Credential Management System cut this time by 93.75%, reducing the monthly workload to half hour and improving team productivity.

Further benefits of digital credentials include:


Verifying qualifications is a difficult and time-consuming process. Paper certificates are easy to misplace or become damaged over time. Often, employers need to rely on the candidate to provide proof of their achievement. Digital certificates and badges simplify the process by:

  • Offering one-click verification
  • Saving time for HR departments
  • Being near-impossible to fake

In a
study by Zippia, 1,000 US professionals were surveyed about the truthfulness of their resume. Of which, 30% said they had ‘bent the truth’ or lied on their resume about their skills or experience. 


Issuing digital certificates and badges through an automated system is simple and efficient. Save hours of admin time by integrating digital credentialing software into existing workflows, or batch upload via spreadsheet. Supported by a robust API and Zapier, integrations can be made across many of the leading LMS’. Get the job done easily with Accredible, offering basic integrations as standard across all our plans.

Incorrect spellings and design mistakes create extra cost when issuing physical credentials. One certificate is a simple fix but amending hundreds, if not thousands, is expensive. By automating the process, businesses can benefit from:

Automated typo correction

Recipients notice a spelling mistake of one or two characters in their name and submit a correction request. Rather than requiring a team member to manually review requests, these small typos are automatically corrected by the platform.

Retroactive design amendments

Amend an existing design and update all digital certificates in a single click. In an example from McGraw-Hill, they created a set of excellent digital badges influenced by the belts used in karate. After publishing the first batch, they added L1, L2, L3 and L4 to represent levels and circled the relevant value on each badge. Using Accredible’s platform, they were able to make the change and roll it out to all their previously issued digital badges with ease. Read more about McGraw-Hill’s implementation of digital badges in their Q&A.

The benefits of digital credentials for recipients


Digital badges compliant with the Open Badge standard can be added to existing badge backpacks. Backpacks serve as a central place to manage, display, and organize digital badges. For convenient verification on the go, recipients upload their digital badges to digital wallets (Apple Wallet and Google Pay). These features are native to Accredible’s digital badges making it easy to provide credentials on demand or proof of association membership.

For example, Samantha is attending an interview for a new job. The interviewer reviewing her resume requests details about modules for a listed qualification. Sam refers to her digital wallet containing her digital badges. In this simple exchange, Sam has:

  • Provided proof of her qualification
  • Informed the interviewer about the depth of her knowledge
  • Opened up a conversation topic around the other digital badges Sam holds


Learners work hard to achieve their qualifications. Once they’ve reached a goal, they excitedly share their news with friends and family. Digital certificates are easy to share to social media platforms, embed in an email or on a webpage. 

This offers several advantages over the use of traditional paper certificates:

  • Track real-time engagement and views of digital badges and digital certificates
  • Grow awareness for the program or course, and the business, with branded digital credentials
  • Improve recipient employability by adding digital credentials to LinkedIn profiles or online resumes

Meet Mark and Matthew, they’ve both completed a course in Microsoft Excel and want to share their achievement. Mark tells three of his friends while Matthew shares his digital credential on social media platforms to over 300 engaged followers. Not only has Matthew had a broader reach but several recruiters saw his announcement and have dropped him a message. Some of Matthew’s followers are also interested in gaining their own credential and inquire with the company that issued his.

Make the change with Accredible

Digital credentials support businesses and associations looking to undergo digital transformation.

If the goal of the business is to:

  • Save time for administration when issuing and verifying digital certificates and badges
  • Cut the costs of materials, packaging, and postage
  • Grow the awareness of digital credentials, courses, and the company online
  • Provide a convenient, portable method of verification for recipients
  • Protect the integrity of qualifications by preventing fraudulent claims

Accredible achieves all this and more. Start the digital transformation today and give teams the tools to do more with their time.

Further Reading

Eager to learn more about how digital credentials will benefit your business? We’ve got a guide for that. 

Click the link to download our comprehensive ‘Features and Services Guide’. This guide details exactly what the Accredible Credential Management System can do. Helping businesses of all sizes to make an informed decision when choosing digital credentials.

Get the Guide

Growing and Maintaining Association Membership with Digital Credentials

As more organizations undergo digital transformation, those who don’t adapt risk falling behind and failing to engage with their members. There are a number of solutions that associations can utilize to make growing and maintaining their numbers easier. In this post, we explore using digital credentials to support association membership.  

There are two types of digital credentials, the digital badge and the digital certificate. While physical certificates and badges are commonly used for display, they can be difficult to verify and easy to misplace. Digital membership badges are a portable, verifiable, and fully customizable solution that can be delivered to members at a fraction of the cost. 

As a digital credentialing platform that works with over 1,000 clients issuing over 1 million credentials each month, we know what it takes for associations and organizations to succeed. We’ve collected our findings to offer insight into how digital credentials support the digital transformation of associations.

The Cost Saving Benefits of Digital Credentials

Membership cards are the traditional representation of membership and convey the sense of being part of something special. However, each individual membership card also carries a set of costs:

    • Manufacturing and Materials
    • Packaging, Postage, and Delivery
    • Environmental Impact 


The environmental cost is often hidden but unavoidable, and plastic cards are one of the biggest contributors to annually generated plastic waste. In 2019, the National Trust recorded 12.5 tonnes of plastic waste that was being generated each year from the 5 million membership cards they issue. This prompted a change in the way they deliver membership credentials and encouraged the organization to move to a sustainable solution. 

Progressing from physical cards to a digital badge for association membership greatly reduces issuing costs, without compromising the benefits that a physical card traditionally offers. The Digital Marketing Institute experienced this first-hand. Before switching to digital credentials, each paper credential carried an average cost of $9.12. After making the switch, this cost dropped to $1 per credential, saving over $50,000 across 6000 issued credentials. 

Utilizing Word of Mouth Marketing

The greatest marketing resources an association has are their existing members, and the interest they generate through word of mouth. Digital credentials support this by improving the user experience and encouraging members to speak favourably about the association and their interactions. With a solution like Accredible, it is easy for members to share their new certificates and badges straight to their preferred social media platforms. Accredible also provides webpage and email signature embed functionality. 

The credential page provides another avenue of marketing and referral generation. Credential pages provide space for a link to the association’s website, details about the association, and analytics support to track referral clicks. If the association offers members a referral link or code, it can also be included on the credential page.

Simplifying the Renewal Process

Managing expired membership is its own process, made complicated by differing membership lengths and exit dates. Manually contacting members due for renewal is inefficient and easy to miss, which makes it a common point of failure. Automating the process saves time and money, and is guaranteed to improve engagement and generate interest. Additionally, automation simplifies member database management, freeing extra time to focus on contacting members that didn’t renew. This enables associations to find out the reason behind member drop-off, and where possible, tailor an offer to entice their return. 

Rewarding Engaged Members

The popularity of an association is directly tied to the value they offer, and greatly impacts the churn rate of members. Regular engagement is a key part of encouraging long-term membership. That engagement usually takes place through regular newsletters, social media platforms, and by issuing rewards for getting involved.

Those rewards are an opportunity to leverage digital credentials. For example, if the association holds events throughout the year for members to attend, recognise their attendance with a digital badge. If members get involved with these events as speakers or sponsors, acknowledge their engagement with another digital badge exclusive to speakers and sponsors. 

In addition to member engagement, badges are also a method to generate awareness. With one-click sharing, members can proudly display their badges on a social profile for the public to see. Then, those social shares and visits to the badge drive traffic back to your site, and your event calendars. 

Reducing the Cost of Member Recognition 

Every time associations offer members recognition for their engagement, their membership duration, or their interactions, there is a cost involved. For instance, a thank you card sent through the post carries a cost for purchase and delivery but also requires time for design and copy. 

Using Accredible’s digital credential platform drastically reduces the cost of recognition, and goes further by only charging you for unique recipients. This means you can issue John Doe a badge for attending events in February, March, and June – and only have the initial badge count against your plan total. Should the same John Doe volunteer to speak at one of these events, you can issue a dedicated speaker badge – and again, only the initial badge for his attendance will be taken from the plan allowance.

Furthermore, the Accredible Credential Management System simplifies the process of managing members. Save time for administrators, email specific member groups (e.g. longest serving members), and track referrals from credential pages, all through Accredible. 

Key Takeaways

Association membership is more than a sign up and forget process. These days, associations need to be present on the platforms their members use and provide value in the relationships they build. Members are more likely to engage with and talk about an association that recognises their interactions. As individuals see the personal value in their membership, their connection to the association grows, and they are more willing to offer their own time to support it. 

Digital credentials support the efforts of associations by:

  • Providing a cost-effective platform for issuing membership badges and certificates
  • Streamlining the process of member renewals with automated emails
  • Enabling members to share their association rewards to social media platforms
  • Saving administrative resources with an efficient, secure platform for managing member data
  • Automating the process of rewarding members for sign-ups, event attendance, and meeting referral targets
  • Scaling seamlessly to meet the needs of growing associations 
  • Offering an easy to understand analytics dashboard for tracking referrals, clicks, and engagement
  • Supporting the efforts of associations looking to become environmentally friendly
  • Protecting the integrity of membership by ensuring digital credentials are easy to verify or revoke

Accredible is an industry-leading digital credentialing platform that simplifies and automates the process of issuing membership credentials. We work with thousands of businesses, industries, and associations to issue, track, manage, and verify memberships and high-stakes credentials. 

Further Reading

Learn more about how our team uses their experience implementing digital credentials to make your digital transformation successful.

Get the Guide