Accredible - Certificates and Badges

Methods for Generating More Referrals

Word-of-mouth marketing is perhaps the best type of marketing. However, you may be confused on how to get your members to tell others about your organization. In this post, we’ll break down exactly what you need to know and do to gain word-of-mouth marketing. Let’s get started.

Define Your Ideal Member

Who is your ideal member? What are their goals? How can you help with these goals?

You’ll need to answer these questions before you can effectively solicit referrals. Don’t make the common mistake of thinking that your ideal member is anyone who signs up. Your organization is set up to help people accomplish a specific goal. Out of a global population of 7 billion, only a select few will have that goal. It’s a waste of time and energy to advertise to those who will not be helped by your organization.

Instead of expecting your members to refer your organization to their friends and colleagues, create a clear definition of who will benefit the most from your organization. Start now by defining your ideal member in terms of career stage, and their immediate and long-term goals.

Ask for Referrals

A lot of organizations fail to simply ask for referrals.

To you, it seems obvious that you welcome referrals. However, to your body of members, referring others to your organization isn’t at the top of their to-do list. The thought of referring your organization to others may never even cross their minds unless you ask your members directly to do it.

While you can start asking for referrals right away, it’s a good practice to create a landing page on your website specifically for wooing prospective members.

On this landing page, be sure to introduce yourself and your unique value proposition and share your mission statement. Also include a list of your main services (including any courses that you may run), your contact details, and information on how to join your organization.

You can give the link to this page to your members to share with others. However, as mentioned above, don’t just ask your members to recommend you to their friends. That’s too general. Instead, position your ask like this: “Do you know someone who needs to get certified in XYZ? Tell them about us. Here’s a link that you can share with them.”

Now, let’s talk timing. When should you ask?

The best time to ask for a referral is after the member has engaged in a positive interaction with your organization. For example, once your member completes a course and receives a credential, tap into their excitement and ask for a referral. Another good time to ask is immediately after your new member has signed up for membership. Make “asking for referrals” part of your onboarding process.

This leads us to the next question: Where should you ask?

Here are a few ideas of where to ask for referrals:

Ask on your website. Display a banner in the members-only section of your website that asks for referrals (with a link to your prospective member landing page).

Ask in the inbox. In your series of onboarding emails, ask new members to share the word with others who will benefit from your organization. Also, reach out via email to all members periodically (i.e. once or twice a year) to ask for referrals. Last, but not least, ask for referrals in your email signature. Incorporate this plea into the standard email signature for everyone in your organization. This way, you can reach more people.

Ask on your social media page. Ask your followers to refer others. Share the link to your prospective member landing page here, too. You can also run an ad campaign on social media to reach members who may not follow your social profile but have recently visited your organization’s website. In your ad campaign, ask for them to share your post with others.

Get Testimonials

No matter how many times you ask, some of your members simply won’t refer others to your organization. Perhaps they don’t know anyone personally who can use your services, or they simply just forget to spread the word.

However, there is a clever way to still generate referrals through these members. It’s called “testimonials.” Members who don’t refer directly can refer indirectly by reviewing your service(s) and providing a testimonial or detailed endorsement.

In much the same way that you ask for referrals, you can also ask for testimonials. Although you could request both at the same time, it’s better that you ask for testimonials after asking for referrals (or visa versa). Don’t bombard your members with too many questions at once.

The best testimonials are detailed. Instead of “I like being a member of this organization” (which isn’t very persuasive, encourage your members to describe the benefit(s) accrued by being a part of your organization. When requesting for testimonials, ask questions that dig deeper and cannot be satisfied with a one word “yes or no” answer. For example, ask the following questions:

  • Why did you choose our organization?
  • Can you share a key benefit that you’ve gained from being a part of our organization?
  • What specific feature or service do you enjoy the most and why?
  • If someone asked you about joining our organization, what would you tell them?

To get maximum value out of your testimonials, make sure that you present them in the places where prospective members are most likely to see them. For most organizations, that means on your website, via your email newsletters, and through social media.

However, testimonials shouldn’t just live on your website, email, or social media pages. They can also exist on third-party sites, such as Yelp. Encourage detailed reviews and testimonials on other sites, too. In fact, provide step-by-step instructions for how to leave a review on these third-party review sites. Remember that most of your members won’t immediately think to leave a review, so it’s best to ask.

[content_upgrade cu_id=”253″]Here’s an email template you can use to ask for testimonials.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

Build an Affiliate Program

While your members may refer freely, it never hurts to incentivize referrals. Consider creating an affiliate program where you reward referral sources with a small token of your appreciation.

An affiliate program is especially useful when promoting a specific service, such as a certification course.

Motivate members who’ve taken your course (and even those who haven’t) to share the course with others. You can do this by providing a monetary incentive for each successful referral. For example, if promoting your certification course, offer a commission to those who refer valid leads. Pay once the lead successfully completes the course.

Think of this affiliate program as part of your overall marketing campaign.

When mapping out your affiliate program, consider the following:

  • How will you advertise your program?
  • Who can be affiliates?
  • How much will you pay in commission for each valid lead?
  • Will you cap the earning potential for your affiliates? If yes, how much?

Use Shareable Certificates

You can also increase word-of-mouth referrals through the digital certificates and badges that you issue to your members. Accredible allows you to extend your referral marketing reach while also validating your members.

[bctt tweet=”Increase word of mouth referrals through the very digital certificates you issue to your members.” username=”accredible”]

Social sharing is built into our digital certificates. This means that every time you issue one of our certificates to your members, you’ll get an extra boost of brand awareness. Certificate recipients will share their certificates on LinkedIn and other social media sites. Those who want to learn more about the certification and your organization can connect with you from the digital certificate itself. To learn more about how Accredible certificates enable social share, click here.

Final Thoughts

It does take time to generate quality referrals. However, the good news is that quality referrals usually reproduce after their own kind. Use these tips to get more referrals guaranteed. Also, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to sign up for Accredible here.

[content_upgrade cu_id=”253″]Don’t forget to download this email template you can use to ask for testimonials.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

How to Leverage Your Certification Program to Increase Word-of-Mouth Referrals

Have you created a certification program but now find yourself struggling to raise awareness of it?

Even if you have an excellent certification program, it won’t market itself. It requires an intentional and carefully planned marketing strategy. But what if you don’t know where to start?

Start with relationship-building. Word-of-mouth marketing is the best type of exposure you can hope for, and it all begins with relationships.

Next, focus on education. Equip your current students with the content and resources needed to share your information with others.

Let’s discuss how to create an intentional word-of-mouth marketing strategy for your certification program.

Make the Certification a Big Deal

The first step in relationship-building is to be a cheerleader.

When your students complete their certification program, celebrate with them. Applaud them for their efforts. Encourage your students to spread the good news with their social circles.

One of the benefits of Accredible is that social sharing is built-in. Graduates can share the good news on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and over 100 other social media sites. They can also proudly embed their certificate on their website and add it to their email signature.

This serves two purposes.

In addition to students sharing the good news, they’re also sharing your brand. You get exposure every time someone sees your student’s accomplishment.

Another way to celebrate your students (and gain social proof, which is another form of word of mouth) is to post about it yourself. Advertise how many people have taken your course on your website in a pop-up or banner. Include it in your social media or search engine ads. Interview a student and share it on your blog and social media posts.

Celebration can also be as simple as taking a photo of your newly certified students and posting it to your social channels. (Be sure to tag them in the photos for added exposure).

Everyone wins when you celebrate your students.

Stay in Contact With Your Students

You may only offer a one-time certification, but that doesn’t mean you have to end your relationship with your students. If you cultivate an ongoing relationship with your former students, you can build a successful referral network.

How can you continue to serve your former students? Continue to provide them with useful information that they’ll find valuable even after graduation. You can position yourself as an educational resource.

Blogging, email, and social media are all excellent ways to stay in contact with former students.

On your blog, you can create content about your industry, including expert insight. It can serve as a news resource as well as an educational guide.

With email, you can remind students to return to your blog whenever you upload a new post. You can also create content for subscribers-only, adding to the exclusivity of your blog.

On social media, you can stay top-of-mind while posting realtime updates about industry-related news. You can also interact with your students and answer questions.

Remember that your students signed up for your course because you’re an authority, so prove your authority.

Focus on Case Studies

[content_upgrade cu_id=”103″]Need help creating a case study? Here’s a list of resources.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

Case studies are word-of-mouth marketing in package form.

Case studies, also known as expanded testimonials, will help you sell your certification program better than any glossy advertisement. Why? Case studies showcase real people who have actually succeeded with your certification program.

To create a successful case study, choose the students who represent your target audience. Seeing similar pain points and personas can be inspiring and influential for prospective customers.

If you have five different target personas, create five different case studies. Then, share them everywhere: on your website, on social media, to your email list, and on your social media and search engines ads.

In your case study, address the who, what, why, and how you helped.

When you share case studies in your marketing, be sure to link to an optimized landing page — one for each persona. Sending prospective customers to an optimized landing page is a gentle way to address common pain points and present your certification program as the unique answer to these problems.

Create Videos

When prospective students are first introduced to your program, you only have a few seconds to make a winning impression. Even if you create a compelling website, many prospective students will first find you through social media campaigns or direct referrals. Wouldn’t you like to control that impression?

One of the best ways to do that is to create a video that explains how you can help the prospective student succeed.

Videos are increasingly important for word-of-mouth marketing. Instead of relying on your students to come up with their own words when they tell others about your program, ask them to share your video.

A video is self-contained and instantly engaging. And because most of us are visual learners, videos are a great way to introduce yourself to others quickly. Within the first 10 seconds of a video, you can pull your audience in and provide all the necessary information to them in a visually appealing format.

And videos are very shareable. For example, Facebook makes it easy for your followers to share videos with their social circles. Post a video and then ask for shares. It’s really that easy.

Not sure what type of videos to add to your certification program? Take a cue from NQA Certification. NQA Certification created a video case study and uploaded it to YouTube.

This video can be embedded on blog posts, social media posts, landing pages, and promotional content. It can also be shared via email. In fact, YouTube itself is a great marketing channel. It’s the second largest search engine on the Internet (behind Google).

Turn your case study into a video. If you can’t do in-person interviews, Skype is also an option. Keep your videos short (10 minutes or less). You want videos that are bite-sized and that get to the point quickly.

Give Away Promotional Items

Have you considered creating promotional gifts for your graduates? Branded T-shirts, hats, pens, tote bags, and coffee mugs are more than just simple marketing gimmicks. Promotional gifts can also be used as an integral part of your referral marketing strategy.

Here are three things that promotional items do well:

  1.  Promotional products serve as a symbol of your appreciation and will generate positive sentiment for your business.
  2.  Promotional products provide continuous exposure for your business whenever in use.
  3.  In presenting such gifts, you get the opportunity to ask for a favor in return.

Number 3 is perhaps the most important for actively generating word-of-mouth referrals. When sending promotional gifts, also include a handwritten note.

On your note, thank them for taking part in your certification program and encourage them to spread the word. Don’t use vague language. Be specific. Depending on your industry, you may ask them to share their experience on a crowd-sourced review site like Yelp or spread the message on social media using a brand-owned hashtag.

Promotional gifts help to keep your business at the top of mind and can effortlessly generate leads long after your student has completed the course.

Final Thoughts

Always remember that when compared to slick promotional ads, simple one-sentence recommendations always win out. Don’t be afraid to simply ask for referrals.

[bctt tweet=”When compared to slick promotional ads, simple one sentence recommendations always win out.” username=”accredible”]

[content_upgrade cu_id=”103″]Don’t forget to download this list of resources for creating a winning case study[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]