Accredible - Certificates and Badges

Tips for increasing word of mouth program referrals

This is part two of a five part series on the Recipient Experience. You can access the other articles below.

Part 1: The Recipient Experience
Part 2: Generating word of mouth referrals through social sharing
Part 3: Maximizing member engagement with timely delivery
Part 4: Ensuring value through trusted verification 
Part 5: Boosting adoption by increasing accessibility

Download the entire ebook for free here.


Enable Social Sharing

There is a lot of competition in the online learning, certification, executive education, and training spaces. Whether you’re providing a free online course to learn a skill like social media marketing or whether you’re issuing a prestigious professional certification, praise from happy students is the gold standard for referrals. Given the overlap between many personal and professionals makes this praise an excellent source for new certificate-seekers. Word of mouth and individual referrals have a much lower cost of acquisition when compared to paid advertising or paid lead generation. In short, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to download and share their certificate, as this can be an effective and inexpensive lead generation tool for your organization.

There are a number of ways individuals share their achievements. Most common are:

1. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the largest professional social network, and for many, their one place to showcase professional achievements. Most certifications and course completions will get posted to LinkedIn if you provide the right share link. It’s important to note that new changes to LinkedIn have made it more difficult to share with one click. This means you need to make the process as seamless as possible, and provide detailed instructions on how to add achievements to a profile.

2. Twitter

We’ve noticed Twitter, although for many considered a more personal social network, is one of the most popular places for people to share their achievement. The key is to make sure you make it easy to do with two clicks, and it shouldn’t take them more than a few seconds. The first click should bring up the Twitter posting form, and the second click should be to Tweet the message. Yes, some people will want to tweak what’s written, but it is up to you to make sure the default message is clear, concise, and ready to go to eliminate as much friction as possible.

3. Embed Options: Website and Email Signatures

Many professionals have personal websites where they showcase their resumes, CVs, or other skillsets and domain knowledge. Being able to easily embed the digital certificate on their website, or link to it in their email signature, is hugely important. Professional email signatures get lots of visibility by colleagues and clients, and this is free visibility for your organization to exactly the people who you should want seeing your certification. In contrast to places like Twitter or Facebook where old posts are buried quickly, a personal website has a much longer lifespan, continuing to show your certification. Again, it’s important to make sure that your embedded code or link follows good best practices:

  1. Make sure the URL is permanent. The last thing you want to do is provide a URL that ends up being broken or taken down.
  2. Ensure the certificate is mobile friendly. Now more than half of internet traffic occurs from mobile devices, so you want to make sure your design looks good even when it’s on a phone or tablet.
  3. Know that your online certificates are compatible with all major browsers. Since a lot of people are doing their work-related browsing from work devices, it’s not uncommon for them to be using older or more dated versions of web browsers. Just because your certificate looks good on the latest version of Chrome doesn’t mean it will look good on a two year old version of Internet Explorer.

4. Facebook

It’s not as common for people to post work-related items to Facebook as it is LinkedIn, or even Twitter, but considering over 2 billion people are now on Facebook, it’s good to provide the functionality. Much like Twitter, you want to make sure that the default share message is ready to go with the proper organization names, URLs, and other information.

 

5. Other Social Networks

The truth is various professional industries end up having their own unique sets of social networks. When you’re providing sharing options, only supporting LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter won’t suffice. Make sure to use a sharing widget that can offer a wider variety of sharing options depending on who the end user is. For example, a graphic designer may want to post his certificate to a different location that a teacher.

6. Print

Print is dead! Long live print! Sure, for many organizations the need for printed certificates is no longer a given. However, some organizations still want (or need, for compliance reasons) to provide physical copies, and that’s important to remember. When you’re choosing a digital issuing service, make sure you choose one that has the options for creating high-resolution designs that can be printed professionally or from home.

Wherever you encourage sharing, make sure to always give detailed, step-by-step instructions. Take time and put effort into crafting well thought out default messages to make sharing as frictionless as possible. Don’t forget to show your support for your recipients by liking, commenting, or sharing their posts. It’s a great way to show you care and it goes a long way in building rapport.


This is part two of a five part series on the Recipient Experience. Continue on to part three here. You can access the other articles below. 

Part 1: The Recipient Experience
Part 2: Generating word of mouth referrals through social sharing
Part 3: Maximizing member engagement with timely delivery
Part 4: Ensuring value through trusted verification 
Part 5: Boosting adoption by increasing accessibility

Download the entire ebook for free here.

The Recipient Experience: An in-depth guide for differentiating your program and delighting your members.

This is part one of a five part series on the Recipient Experience. You can access the other articles below.

Part 1: The Recipient Experience
Part 2: Generating word of mouth referrals through social sharing
Part 3: Maximizing member engagement with timely delivery
Part 4: Ensuring value through trusted verification
Part 5: Boosting adoption by increasing accessibility

Download the entire ebook for free here.


Introduction

You’ve probably read best practices guides on how to launch, streamline, or revitalize your certification, elearning, or online training program. For the most part, these guides cover the same important topics… Who are you marketing your program to and what do they stand to gain from it? How will you structure your content and what will you cover? How will you create, distribute, grade, and update the content for your program?

These are all great questions, and their importance can’t be overstated. However there’s one topic almost every best practices guide leaves out – it’s what we call the Recipient Experience. That is the way someone who has signed up for your program feels as they the complete the last step and receive their certificate or badge. Whether or not they feel a sense of accomplishment and pride has a lot to do with the effort you put into conveying the importance and prestige of your program.

The Recipient Experience

Individuals invest non-trivial amounts of time (ranging from hours to years) preparing for some programs. Often times they also spend significant amounts of money (sometimes into the thousands) working towards finishing a program. It all culminates in one single moment when he or she finds out if all the hard work paid off. Take a moment and ask yourself what that experience looks and feels like for those enrolled in your program. Would you be excited to find out you passed? Would you be likely to share your achievement with others? Would you feel like it was worth it?

We’ve worked with hundreds of organizations with online training or certification programs, and if you’re like most of them, this wasn’t even considered after delivering the course content. That’s a shame, because it’s one of the most crucial moments of the entire process, and it’s one of the easiest ways to differentiate your program and maximize your return on investment.

The idea of investing time into the recipient experience is neither novel nor new. When students graduate from college or university, they and their families take part in an entire ceremony dedicated to completing their degree. Students dress in formal gowns, line up, and then get their name called and experience a moment in the limelight as they walk cross the stage to receive a diploma. Granted, your program might not cost thousands of dollars or take years to achieve, but that doesn’t mean the moment isn’t just as crucial. It’s the culmination of an effort, an experience, and it deserves the same amount of attention you put into crafting the program itself.

You should have one simple goal in this scenario: to delight your recipient and provide them with a way to share their success. What are your students receiving right now? An automated email that tells them their course “has been completed”? Perhaps they get sent a piece of paper in the mail 4-6 weeks long after they have completed the program, and they’ve forgotten they were supposed to receive a certificate, and their name has a typo. Imagine spending weeknights after working a full day – for months – on your course work, only to receive a canned response or an unattractive paper certificate. You are not going to forward this email to anyone. You aren’t going to hang your certificate on a wall. You are going to be less likely to become a promoter for the organization you did your training with. You are less likely to share your accomplishment with similar individuals in person or over social media.

It’s not a delightful experience and it doesn’t provide any ROI for your program.

This guide is going to focus on what we call the Recipient Experience. The culmination of your program where an individual gets to enjoy the moment when his or her hard work pays off and they receive their certificate or badge. From our experience working with a wide variety of organizations over the years, this is far and away the most overlooked part of their process. You know more about the training and demands of your industry than anyone else, but we can share what we focus on – the Recipient Experience.

This guide will provide you with best practices in establishing a strong Recipient Experience along with practical things you and your organization can do to successfully implement it.

If you are limited by budget, human resources, or just plain, old time, don’t worry – most organizations are in the same boat. The good news is that implementing a great Recipient Experience is not as difficult nor time consuming as you think it is, and there are lots of things you can do to incrementally improve your processes without spending a lot of time or money.

There are four core tenets of the Recipient Experience: Shareability, Timely Delivery, Verifiability, and Ease of Access.


This is part one of a five part series on the Recipient Experience. Continue on to part two here. You can access the other articles below. 

Part 1: The Recipient Experience
Part 2: Generating word of mouth referrals through social sharing
Part 3: Maximizing member engagement with timely delivery
Part 4: Ensuring value through trusted verification
Part 5: Boosting adoption by increasing accessibility

Download the entire ebook for free here.