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4 Easy Strategies to Market Your Membership Program to Prospective Members

Marketing your membership program can be daunting. What do you do first? Should you focus on blogging and SEO or put all of your effort into social media? Should you ask your current members to spread the word? Perhaps the right answer is “All of the Above.”

In this post, we’ll dive into four of the easiest strategies for reaching prospective members. Let’s get started.

[content_upgrade cu_id=”328″]Check out this overview to creating a funnel for your membership.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

1. Focus on Content Marketing

Content marketing is all the rage these days, and there’s a good reason why: It works. Prospective members who are looking for your services will often find you through Internet search. However, in order for them to find you, you need to have content out there that meets their search query.

Let’s say that a prospective member has the question: “How do I meet other (insert industry) professionals in (name of city)?” Ideally, you will likewise have an article or blog post entitled “Meet Other (industry) Professionals in (city).” The prospective member decides to ask Google this question. Google will then return your relevant result, and now you have the opportunity to convert the prospect into a member.

Search engine optimization (SEO) requires more than simply creating relevant content. However, relevant content is at the heart of SEO and content marketing. In order to capitalize on search engine traffic, you must create content that not only answers the question of the search engine user, but also inspires trust.

Make a list of all of the most important topics that you need to discuss for prospective members. What does a prospective member need to know before deciding to join your organization? Take a look at your most frequently asked questions. You can often turn each question into a full article.

Then, after you’ve amassed a collection of around 10 articles on your website, be sure to connect the articles together through a series of internal links within each article.

Remember this: The goal isn’t to get a prospective member to join your organization after reading one article. The likelihood of someone joining immediately upon awareness of your organization is slim, although it would be nice if it did happen that way. Most prospects will not convert after experiencing just one interaction with your organization. Research shows that it requires nine interactions on average before a prospect “buys.”

One way to encourage more interactions with your organization is to link to other relevant articles. Another way is to encourage email signups (with the help of a lead magnet). Through email, you can continue to market to your prospects without them being directly on your website or social media platform.

2. Focus on Social Media Marketing

Social media is a great option for attracting new members to your organizations. Unlike content marketing and SEO, you don’t have to wait for prospective member to initiate a search. You can reach out to them by targeting the right audience.

There are two ways to use social media to market your organization. You can either pay for promotion or you can allow connections to happen organically.

Free

To be honest, organic reach is definitely more challenging these days because social platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become pay-for-play platforms. However, it is still possible to reach prospective members through free strategies. For example, consider hosting a Twitter chat or posting a livestream video from industry conferences or events.

To reach prospective members organically, you’ll need to think in keyword terms. Because you can’t promote your posts for free on social platforms, you’ll need to rely on optimizing your content for search. It’s very similar to what you’ll do for SEO. Once again, think like a prospective member, and create keyword-rich content that answers their pressing needs.

Paid

The best way to reach your prospective members is through paying for promotion on your social media platform. And perhaps the best social media platform for doing so is Facebook.

Why Facebook?

  • It’s wildly popular which means that your target prospective members are likely to use it
  • It has a ton of information about its users
  • It’s so affordable
  • You can easily start and stop campaigns
  • You can learn more about your target audience

While PPC and content marketing campaigns focus on keywords and search engine users, social media marketing focuses on audiences, interests, and behavior. Using the exact search term isn’t necessary. With Facebook marketing, you simply need to identify the right audience and deliver a relevant message.

There are several ways to create audiences on Facebook. You can create a custom audience based on criteria that you plug in. You can create an audience based on people who are connected to you (i.e., people who’ve joined your email list but haven’t become members yet). Finally, you can create an audience based on people who resemble, or look like, the people who are already connected to you. This audience is comprised of people who are probably not aware of your organization yet.

Also, you can use Facebook to remarket to people who’ve visited your site within a specific set of days. Target prospective members who are obviously interested but not ready to commit just yet.

3. Activate Advocacy

Referral marketing plays a huge role in reaching prospective members. Not only can referral marketing extend your reach, it can be much more effective than other strategies on this list.

If it isn’t already, make referral marketing an integral part of your outreach. Here are two easy strategies:

Incentivize referrals – You can simply ask members to refer your organization to their colleagues and friends. But to be more effective, attach a reward (i.e., earn $50 for each new member who signs up through your special account). In fact, consider setting up an affiliate network that’s mutually beneficial to you and the affiliate marketer. A small reward can motivate your current members to spread the message.

Use digital certificates – If you don’t want to use monetary incentives to inspire referrals, you can use digital certificates. Instead of paper certificates that are meant to hang on walls (or get lost in file cabinets), a digital certificate is meant to share socially. The beauty of digital certificates is that it can generate referrals back to your site. Those who are interested in learning more about your organization can simply click on an embedded link right on the digital certificate. Your proud member or graduate can become a powerful marketer for your organization simply by sharing their digital certificates on social media. Learn more here.

[bctt tweet=”The beauty of digital certificate is that it can generate referrals back to your site. Here’s how:” username=”accredible”]

4. Switch up Your Membership Offers

Sometimes, a prospective member fails to join because of an undesirable membership structure. Do you have variety in your membership? Consider these options:

Offer a free trial – Free appeals to everyone. Some members need to simply try your program risk-free before making up their minds.

Offer short-term memberships – In addition to free trials, consider limited runs. While this option may not be right for every organization, don’t feel like you’re bound to the standard one year contract, either. You can offer six month agreements, or even month to month.

Offer increment billing – Instead of billing all at once, offer to bill on installments. For example, while the member may still be locked into a year agreement, they’ll only need to pay every month.

Offer a guarantee – Guarantees go a long way into inspiring confidence. Stand behind the touted benefits of your membership program by a money-back guarantee.

Offer multiple tiers of membership – Not every prospective member will need the full array of benefits. Consider portioning out your membership so that it appeals to a wider group of people.

Additional Resources

Before you go, check out these related posts:

Technology Trends for Associations in 2018

It’s two months into a new year and a brave new world. What are the most important trends for associations in 2018 that you need to be aware of?

In this post, we’ll discuss the key trends to embrace for this year. From technology to strategy, we’ll also focus on what trends to leverage to reduce churn and insure loyalty with your members. Let’s get started.

[content_upgrade cu_id=”313″]Here’s a list of the best practices to follow when implementing these trends in your association.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

A la Carte Pricing

Charging members a flat fee to access all of the same benefits? That’s out of date.

The trend for 2018 is to allow your members to choose their own experience with your association. Some members will want a full-on engagement with your association, but for other member types, especially smaller businesses or individuals, it will make more sense to pick and choose which services best suit their needs. Not only will this offer a better financial benefit to your members, it will reinforce the idea that association serves the member and not the other way around.

Personalization

The need for personalization is nothing new. Associations have incorporated personalization strategies in their marketing for the last few years now. However, the trend for 2018 isn’t just personalization– it’s personalization on steroids.

As the marketplace becomes even more saturated with similar organizations that serve the same group, the best way to insure member loyalty is to deepen your understanding of your members and provide personalized service whenever possible. Here are on-trend personalization strategies to incorporate in 2018:

  • Offer service recommendations based on which benefits they use and how often
  • Giving members a warm welcome when they sign in to the members’ area of your site
  • Personalized content on individual member pages to encourage longer site visits
  • Include curated content on your newsletters that will add value to your members

Of course, personalization doesn’t need to be completely automated. If you have a team devoted to member success (and you should), put them in charge of personally reaching out to your members. Each member, especially those who are in danger of churning (i.e., in the weeks before their renewal date), should receive a personalized email or phone call to discuss their experience with your organization. This would also be a good time to match your members with benefits that better suit their individual needs. Tying back into a previous point, consider charging members for only the benefits they use.

Video Marketing

YouTube has been around for over a decade now, but surprisingly, only 9% of small businesses in the U.S. actually use YouTube. The overwhelming majority (including small to medium associations) are not on YouTube. However, with over a billion users, YouTube attracts almost a third of all Internet users. Chances are high that your members are on YouTube, and if they’re there, you should be, too.

For those who prefer Facebook to YouTube, consider this: video on social media generates 1200% more shares than both text and images. People enjoy video because it’s snackable, easy to consume, and visually engaging.

Live Video

[bctt tweet=”Members these days demand authentic interactions with their associations.” username=”accredible”] While slick, pre-recorded videos will help you attract and connect with prospective members, also consider going live. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Google give businesses the opportunity to live stream for free. You can offer this on-trend option to your members (both current and prospective) as a new method of engagement. Here are few of the benefits of live streaming:

It’s inexpensive. The appeal of live video is that it feels unrehearsed. For this reason, there’s no need for an elaborate set or script. All you need is a simple set up: One person, one camera (even a smartphone), and a loose outline of what you’ll discuss. Because most of the popular live streaming services are free, you won’t need to worry about paying a premium for this trend.

It feels genuine. In the unpolished setting of a live video, your interactions with the audience will feel more natural. For your audience, the lack of a script will make your presentation appear more honest and trustworthy.

It allows for interaction. In a pre-recorded video, the speaker cannot engage with the audience. However, through the power of live video, the speaker can directly interact with the viewing audience through asking and answering questions, reading viewer comments, and encouraging viewers toward a specific call to action.

Live videos become pre-recorded videos. You can continue to benefit from live videos by inserting them into your digital library for your members’ future use.

Push Notifications

Push notifications are a great tool to use for increasing member engagement levels.

You’re probably most familiar with push notifications on mobile apps, but associations are also using web push notifications. With web push notifications, members can subscribe to receive updates from your site on their desktop. Even when a user isn’t on your website, they can still receive a message to return. This allows you to immediately engage your members, pulling them back when you have an important announcement, blog post, or service that you want to promote.

Provide Digital Credentials

Paper credentials are a thing of the past. There’s a huge shift toward digitized credentials, but why? Here are several reasons why digital credentials are superior to their paper predecessor:

Digital credentials are cheap to produce. Because digital credentials don’t require paper, ink, or postage, you’ll save costs when you opt for this digital solution.
Digital credentials are easy to produce. At the click of a button, you can create and issue digital credentials to your members.
Digital credentials are sharable. Your members can share their credentials with others over email and key social platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
Digital credentials are more secure. Digital credentials can be revoked at a moment’s notice.
Digital credentials are eco-friendly. No trees were killed in the process of digitizing credentials.

To learn more about digital credentials, check out this page.

A Strategy for Each of the 4 Different Generations

One of the biggest trends you can embrace for 2018 is to focus on multi-generation marketing and outreach. So much thought is put into wooing the Millennial generation. However, your target demographic may not be limited to only those who were born between 1980 to 1997. What about Generation X (1965-1980) or the incoming Generation Z (1998-present)? Let’s also not forget about the Baby boomers (1945-1964), the youngest of whom are in their 50s, and are still very much a part of the workforce.

While it may be true that the two younger generations (Millennials and Z) are more marketable, it’s still important to nurture a relationship with every age group in your organization.

Here are a few on-trend strategies that you may incorporate in multi-generational marketing:

Segment your list by generation

People grouped together by age are likely to be within the same stage of life (i.e., graduating from school, buying a home, starting a family, retiring).

Understand the unique preferences of each generation

Baby boomers respond better to traditional sales techniques and are more likely to respond to phone conversations and face-to-face meetings. Think about it: Have you ever known a Baby boomer not to answer the phone, even when they know it’s a telemarketer? Although this generation responds well to marketing, they may not enjoy or understand social media marketing.

How to reach them: Create live, in-person events that provide plenty of opportunities to network and mingle.

Generation Xers enjoy discounts, especially because they’re likely parents and homeowners. They may be saving for retirement or sending children off to college, and they appreciate associations that offer occasional financial benefits. Long live coupons and promo codes! Like the Baby boomers before them, Gen Xers are more rules-oriented and appreciate when organizations go by an accepted set of engagement rules. Gen Xers also love doses of humor in marketing messaging.

How to reach them: Focus on building a relationship through human interactions, via live events and email marketing.

Millennials appreciate the social aspect of the Internet. They expect businesses to build authentic relationships with them through social media. Millennials enjoy loyalty programs, especially those that come with frequent coupons. Millennials trust and rely on reviews– even those from complete strangers– to navigate their online consumer experience. They live on their smartphones. For an association, it’s important to create content that looks great on smaller screens. Millennials also love supporting a cause, even if that means a higher price.

How to reach them: Offer sharable digital experiences, such as digital credentials.

Gen Zers are the masters of social media. They’re lured to video mediums, such as Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. Like the Millennials, they are mobile-first, and expect all content to be optimized for a mobile viewing experience. Gen Zers have short attention spans and place a premium on getting information quickly and easily. They enjoy learning, but specifically through teaching themselves.

How to reach them: Focus on providing innovative and intuitive tech experiences.

Final Thoughts

We’re two months into 2018. Start incorporating these trends now rather than later. Doing so will ensure that you remain competitive with similar associations, and may also improve your member satisfaction and reduce churn.

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How to Set Up a PPC Ad Campaign for Your Certification Course

One of the best ways to get the word out about your certification course is to create a PPC ad campaign. Within hours, you can have an up-and-running ad campaign to promote your certification course. PPC is faster, and often times more reliable, than SEO.

The only problem is that PPC can be confusing for beginners. With so many options, you may not be sure which path to take to get the outcome that you desire. The good news is that we’re devoting this post to help you understand how to set up a PPC ad campaign, even if you’re completely new to the idea of Internet marketing. Let’s get started.

[content_upgrade cu_id=”303″]Here’s a free checklist for setting up your PPC ad campaign.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

What is PPC marketing?

PPC is short for pay per click marketing. This type of marketing requires a direct response. As inferred in the name, you (the advertiser) will pay whenever someone clicks on your ad.

Pay per click is one of the most popular forms of Internet marketing available. When most people think of PPC, search engine advertising comes to mind. And when you think search engines, you probably think “Google.”

Although Google Adwords is the biggest and most popular PPC ad network, it is not the only option for search engine advertising. Bing is also an important search engine ad platform.

PPC even expands into social media advertising through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and on page displays with options like AdRoll, and BuySellAds, just to name a few. However, for this article, we’ll focus solely on search engine PPC.

PPC Vs. SEO

There’s no doubt that you’ve heard about the benefits of search engine optimization (SEO). You know that tweaking certain elements of your site can improve your search engine rank and your chances of getting found by prospective members. What you may not know is how SEO compares to PPC.

PPC is different from SEO, but they’re not competitors. The two often work together to improve your site’s visibility on search engines.

While SEO is a long-term strategy, often taking months to be effective, PPC can produce results overnight. PPC is a lot faster than SEO. While you should also focus on reaching organic traffic through SEO strategies, you can set up a PPC campaign to build awareness for your certification course. PPC gives you the possibility of making it to the first page of the search engine results without months of tweaking your entire site.

How Does PPC Marketing Work?

Although there are differences depending on the company, most PPC ad networks operate on a bidding system. You’ll bid to receive a special placement for your ad in a sponsored area at the top or the side of a search engine results page.

First, you select a specific group of keywords that are related to your certification course. These keywords should be the same terms that a search engine user would type into the search bar.

Next, you choose a maximum budget that you’re willing to pay for each click.

Keep in mind that, although PPC marketing operates on a bidding system, price is not the only factor in determining whether or not to show your ad. In addition to the bid amount, the ad network also considers ad relevance and ad quality. Even if you’re the highest bidder, your ad may not show because it’s poorly rated in terms of search term match or even landing page quality. This is known as Ad Rank.

The click through history of your ads can also impact your Ad Rank. If your ad has already proven popular with search engine users, it has a greater chance of being promoted in future searches.

How to Create a PPC Campaign From Scratch

So now that you have a simple picture of how PPC marketing works, let’s dive into how to create your own ad campaign from scratch.

Choosing the Right Audience

The first step is to determine the right audience for your ad campaign. Because you’ve come to this post to learn how to set up an ad campaign to promote your certification course, your audience is clear: You want to reach prospective students who will find value in taking your course.

Of course, that’s the baseline, but you should go more specific. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • How old is my target audience?
  • What is their gender?
  • Where are they located?
  • What time of day would they most likely engage on the Internet?
  • What device do they use to search the Internet?
  • What keywords would they likely use to search for information related to my certification course?

Answering these questions can give you a more specific picture of your target audience. You can then reach an audience who’s more receptive to learning about your certification course.

Deciding on a Budget

Settling on the right budget can be tough, but the good news about PPC is that it works with every budget, whether you can spend $5 a day or $1,500 a day.

However, to get the most out of it, you’ll need to think of your PPC ad campaign as an investment. Think about the potential lifetime value of each certification student. How many will you earn when a student enrolls in and successfully completes your course?

Now, let’s look at conversion rates. Your conversion rate is the total number of conversions you’ve received divided by the total number of clicks. For example, if you received 10 conversions for every 100 clicks, you have a conversion rate of 10%.

[bctt tweet=”The average conversion rate is 2%, but you don’t have to accept this as the standard. Here’s why:” username=”accredible”]

The average conversion rate hovers around 2%, but you don’t have to accept this as the standard. Your actual conversion rate may be much higher, and it depends on several factors, such as:

  • The demand for a certification course
  • The search patterns of your target audience
  • Your ability to capture their attention with your ad
  • The persuasiveness of your call to action

To find the right ad budget, you’ll have to perform tests. Doing so will allow you to determine your actual conversion rate. Then, you can create a more realistic ad budget.

Writing Persuasive Copy

You only have a few words but you’ve got to make them count. You don’t have to be a gifted copywriter to come up with an effective ad. Here are a few things you should know:

Use strong words. You only have seconds to capture their attention. Use words that elicit emotion. Choose words like you, join, instantly, now, free, and discover.

Use keywords in your ads. We’ll explore keywords in the next section, but it’s crucial that you include the search engine user’s keywords in your ads. This connects their search with your solution.

Add a strong call to action. Get users to make the next step, which is to click through to your landing page and hopefully sign up for your certification course. Explain what’s in it for the user once they click.

Choosing the Right Keywords

Keywords are the heart and soul of your ad campaign. The bulk of your time will be spent in keyword research. If you don’t get it right, you’ll either suffer from low clicks or high clicks but low conversions.

The best keyword strategy is to choose a long tail keyword that closely (or exactly) matches a user’s query. Go for long tail keywords, which are more specific queries, because it indicates that the user is a better fit for viewing your ad. For example, instead of targeting a short keyword like “interior design,” target a long tail keyword like “interior designer certification course” because the user who searches for this phrase is a better target for your ad.

Be sure to choose the “exact match” option versus the “broad match” option. Broad match gives the ad network too much flexibility in when they may show your ad. Stretch your ad dollars further by creating a list of keywords and choosing to only display your ads when that exact phrase is used.

Also remember to constantly refine your keyword list. It’s not static. Depending on the size of your campaign, you may need to refine your keyword list daily. However, for most businesses, a once a week re-evaluation is sufficient.

You’ll learn as you go that certain keywords are more effective the others. Don’t be afraid to drop low-performing keywords or introduce new ones to your ad campaign. Also, look at the most expensive keywords in your campaign and determine whether these phrases bring in quality clicks.

Finally, make a list of negative keywords so that your ad does not show up in searches with these terms. Creating a negative keyword list reduces ad and audience mismatch and it also reduce the amount of money you’ll spend on your ads.

Creating an Optimized Landing Page

Don’t forget to create a landing page for your ad. A lot of businesses make the mistake of linking their ads to their home page. This is a fatal error because an interested prospect can often get lost when trying to find the information that you presented in the ad. When directed to a generic home page, your prospect may get frustrated and hit the back button. The result? You’ll pay for a click that never converted.

For this reason, you should send prospective customers to a landing page that matches your ad. The landing page should be free of distractions, and lead the prospect to sign up for your certification course, or at least opt in to your email list.

Final Thoughts

PPC ad campaigns can be complicated, but these tips should help. Use the above tips to create an ad campaign for your certification course that increases enrollment numbers.

[content_upgrade cu_id=”303″]Don’t forget to download your checklist for setting up a PPC ad campaign here.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

Tips for Pricing Your Certification Program

Not sure what to charge for your certification program?

Determining the right price for your certification program is a difficult endeavor. On the one hand, you don’t want to price too low because prospective students will associate a low price with low value. On the other hand, you don’t want to price too high that your program is no longer affordable by the majority. How do you find the right price for your certification program?

In this guide, we’ll discuss how to arrive at a price that reflects the value of your program without alienating your prospective students. Let’s get started.

[content_upgrade cu_id=”261″]Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself to determine the right price for your certification program.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

5 Basic Questions to Determine Pricing

When pricing your certification program, consider the following:

1. Time Investment – How long will it take for a student to complete your program?
A 3-hour program should cost less than a 3-month program.

2. Income Goal – How much will the student stand to gain in terms of income from this program?
How will your certification program impact the student’s earning potential?

3. Your Brand’s Reputation – Does your organization have a solid reputation in the industry or are you a newcomer?
The answer to this question will determine how much you can charge initially for your certification program. Customers are willing to pay more for organizations that carry a positive reputation in the industry.

4. Type of Customer – Are you appealing to an individual customer who’s bettering themselves or are you dealing with a business that invests in its team?
Businesses often have more buying power than individual customers.

5. Proven Benefits – Do you have social proof to back up your claims?
Testimonials and reviews can drive up the perceived value and price of your certification program.

Evaluate Your Own Costs

The next step in determining the price for your certification program is to calculate how much you’ve invested in your certification program.

From hiring teachers to developing associated software to creating a landing page, how much money have you spent in bringing your program to fruition? Tally up the amount, then determine how much you need to make in order to recoup your investment.

Let’s say that you’ve spent $10,000 in total to develop your certification program. At the very least, you want to break even. However, you’d like to turn a profit. With this in mind, how many students do you think will realistically take your program over the next year? 500, 100, 50? Not sure? Check out this next point…

Ask Your Audience

Often it’s best to poll the very people you’re targeting for your certification program. Exactly how much are they willing to pay for your certification program? Survey your audience and ask about a specific amount.

Choose the amount that’s selected by at least a third of your survey participants.

However, keep this mind: Most of the people who answer your survey won’t actually buy your certification program.

Research shows that only about 2% of your email subscribers will actually purchase your certification program. If you have 2,000 people on your email list, around 40 will purchase your certification program. To recoup the $10,000 that you invested in your certification program, you’ll need to charge each customer $250.

Utilize Pricing Psychology

No guide on pricing would be complete without a look at pricing psychology. Let’s take a look at three of the most popular pricing hacks:

People Like the Number 9

There’s a reason why prices end with .99. Although there may be only one penny difference between $0.99 and $1.00, a number ending in 9 always has an edge. When pricing your certification program, consider ending in 9.

People Like Context

Reframe your price. Instead of focusing on the total price, break it into smaller bites. While $250 may sound like a lot to your prospective student, you can market your 3-month course as less than $3 per day. By comparing it to the price of a cup of coffee, you’ll make the premium price easier to digest.

People Like Free

Although the point is to charge for your certification program, you can give away something for free to get your prospective customer on the hook. Whether that’s an introductory training module or a downloadable workbook, a free gift can persuade people to actually buy your certification program.

Offer Multiple Price Points

You’ll attract more customers with multiple pricing tiers. Not everyone wants the full, premium program.

One of the benefits of offering a two- or three-tiered price for your certification program is that the customer will compare your services to each other and not to your competition. It’s an important distinction that cannot be over-emphasized.

This method, known as price anchoring, allows you to position one product against a higher-priced product. For example, place your $250 certification program next to your $500 certification program plus premium add-ons, and all of a sudden, $250 seems a lot more reasonable.

Decide on a Price and A/B Test It

The only way to ultimately decide how much to charge your customer is to choose a price and then study the data. Often, it’s effective to choose two separate prices and conduct an A/B test to determine which price resonates more with your intended audience.

[bctt tweet=”This is the only way to decide how much to charge for your certification course:” username=”accredible”]

Market the same program but choose different prices, and see which one moves the needle. If you’re able to get buy-in at the higher price, continue to test higher until you determine the maximum that your customers are willing to pay.

Offer Unlimited Access to Your Certification Program Via Membership

Instead of charging separately for your certification program, you can adopt a membership pricing model. In this model, your members will receive unlimited access to your entire certification program in exchange for a flat monthly or annual fee.

The benefit of this model is that your members will only pay once and not twice (once for membership to your organization and again for entrance in your certification program). Paying only once for a program-inclusive membership will lower the barrier for entry into your certification program. More members are likely to enroll in your certification program, which ultimately leads to referring marketing, as we’ve outlined here.

Another benefit you gain is the ability to increase the price for membership accordingly. Because all of your members will have access to your certification program, you can raise the rates of your membership fee accordingly. Doing so will increase your recurring monthly or annual revenue.

Offer a Payment Plan

Plan to charge a premium price for your certification program, but worried that your customers won’t be able to afford it? Consider instituting a payment plan.

A payment plan is also useful if your certification program requires a large investment of time. Why not allow your students to pay as they go? Doing so instantly makes your certification program more accessible to a wider audience without settling for less.

Although payment plans are an excellent option, be careful. To ensure that you’re not defrauded, students on payment plans shouldn’t be given unfettered access to your entire program. Only unlock portions of your program after each payment.

Final Thoughts

While pricing your certification program does require some trial and error, these tips should minimize the most common and egregious errors.

If you haven’t already, sign up for your free trial of Accredible and start creating digital certificates for your certification program in minutes.

[content_upgrade cu_id=”261″]Don’t forget to download this list of questions to find the perfect price for your certification program.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

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]

Best Practices for Your Certification Program Landing Page

Your landing page plays a huge role in marketing your certification program to prospective registrants. It quickly answers the big questions such as what, when, why, and how much. For this reason, and many others, it’s crucial that you create a compelling landing page to market your certification program.

Do you have a strong landing page for your certification program? If you’re not sure, you’ve come to the right post. We’ll discuss the key elements to include on your landing page and why.

[content_upgrade cu_id=”245″]Here’s a list of what to include on your landing page.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

What is a Landing Page?

Let’s start by defining the term “landing page”.

Put simply, a landing page is wherever a site visitor “lands” on your website. That could be your home page, your Contact Us page, or a blog post.

However, in online marketing, a landing page is a specific page on your site that’s dedicated to a single idea, such as a product or an event. For the purposes of this post, the sole purpose of your landing page is to promote your certification program.

Understand the Goal of Your Landing Page

Once you understand what a landing page is and what it does, the next question is “why?” Why do you need a landing page? Can’t you simply advertise your certification program on a banner on your website, or maybe devote a blog post to it, or create a series of social media posts for it?

While you can (and should) do all of the above, it’s important that you have a dedicated spot to discuss your certification program in detail. Your landing page should include everything that a prospective registrant needs to know before deciding “yes” to your certification program.

However, your landing page isn’t just about education, it’s also about conversion. It is specifically designed for converting on-the-fence prospects into excited registrants. Banners, blog posts, or social media posts inform but landing pages convert.

Consider this: If you run a PPC ad on Google or Facebook, you’ll need to designate a page for the incoming traffic. The last thing you should do from a marketing funnel perspective is to send incoming traffic to your homepage. Your homepage is information overload and can be confusing for the prospective registrant who only wants to learn more about your certification program.

On the other hand, your landing page will give them the exact answers they’re looking for, without the distractions that are built-in on other site pages.

The Top 6 Elements to Include on Your Landing Page

Keeping in mind that the sole purpose of your landing page is to market your certification program, let’s discuss which elements to include for maximum conversion.

1. Hero Image

Every landing page needs a so-called hero image. This is a large image, often placed near the top of your landing page, that immediately engages the audience.

What type of image should you use for your hero image? To market your certification program, consider using the image of a person who fits the following criteria:

  • The person looks sincerely happy. He or she is smiling or laughing in the image. The image feels light and evokes a sense of well-being and satisfaction.
  • The person represents your target audience. When choosing a model for your hero image, consider age, gender, attire, and so forth.

Your hero image should be high quality and high resolution. If possible, choose an image of your actual program participants. However, if that’s not possible, take your time to find a stock image that accurately reflects your target audience.

2. Compelling Title

After your hero image, the second most attention-grabbing element on your landing page is your title.

You need a title that instantly communicates the greatest benefit that the prospective registrant will gain from taking your certification course. Consider starting off your title with one of the following bold templates:

  • Learn how to…
  • Get started with…
  • Jumpstart your career by…
  • Become a certified _____, and (benefit)

Remember that you have a finite amount of time to convince a landing page visitor to keep reading. You must grab them with your opening line, which happens to be your title because it’s usually the first and the largest text on the page. Here are a few of the best practices to follow with your title:

  • Keep it easy to read. Eliminate big, clumsy words that will slow the reader.
  • Include the biggest benefit. Why should the reader keep reading? What’s your promise/ offer?
  • Start with a verb. The point of your landing page is to get visitors to “act.” Get them in motion with your title.

3. Informative Subtitle

After creating a quick and succinct title, you can spend a little more time with your subtitle. In this brief section under your title, add details to entice the visitor into signing up for your certification program. Your subtitle should expand on the bold promise that you’ve just proclaimed in your title. A few examples of what to include in your subtitle:

  • How long it will take to complete your course
  • How many people have completed your course
  • What former students have to say about your course
  • What employers say about students who’ve taken your course

The subtitle is very short. It’s often just one sentence long, with a maximum of three sentences. However, the subtitle can be persuasive for readers who aren’t easily convinced by your title’s promise. Keep in mind that every element on your landing page is organized like a relay race. The job of each element is to get the reader to the next element, and eventually to your call to action.

[bctt tweet=”Keep in mind that every element on your landing page is organized like a relay race. Here’s how:” username=”accredible”]

4. Clear Copy

In addition to your title and subtitle, you need more written content on your landing page to “sell” your certification program.

Instead of focusing on what you’ll cover in your program, focus on what the prospective registrant will gain. It’s a subtle but important shift that makes your landing page copy more compelling to your prospects.

5. Call to Action

This is the piece de resistance of your landing page. Every element is leading to this one moment where you ask the visitor to sign up for your certification program.

Because the success of your landing page hangs on your call to action, it’s important that you follow these practices:

  • Make it stand out. Whether you use a button or in-line text link, your call to action should stand out from the other text or elements on your page. Make your call to action obvious to the visitor.
  • Keep it short and concise. The visitor should immediately understand what you want them to do next.
  • Don’t use the word “submit.” The word “submit” is not very descriptive. Explain to the visitor what will happen once they click on your call to action, i.e. “join now” or “register for classes” or “get on the registration waitlist for our next class.”
  • Take the path of least resistance. Don’t ask for too much too soon. Make it easy for your prospective registrant to sign up for your certification program. Ask only for what you need (name, email address, payment information). Later, you can ask for more, such as the registrant’s goal in taking your certification program.

6. Social Proof

Whenever possible, add an element of social proof on your landing page. Social proof comes in many forms. Here are a few ideas to include on your landing page:

  • Include testimonials of former students who’ve achieved certification through your program. Select students who most closely represent your target demographic. Ideally, your testimonials will also include an image of the person, along with their name and a link to their website.
  • Share how many people like or follow you on social media. This number can inspire trust with your prospective registrant, even if this is their first time hearing about your association. If you use WordPress, you can use a widget like Monarch or Easy Social Share Buttons.
  • Add security logos to your page. In the absence of the above forms of social proof, feature other respected brands (with whom you do business) to emphasize your credibility. Perhaps your site is secured by McAfee or you belong to the Better Business Bureau– include those logos on your landing page to gain the visitor’s trust.

Related Resources

Before you go, check out these additional posts:

[content_upgrade cu_id=”245″]Don’t forget to download this landing page checklist.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

Evaluating if Paper Certificates are the Right Option for Your Association

Should you continue to use paper certificates to honor achievements, or should you embrace the technology and go for digitized certificates? If you aren’t sure which option to choose, or if you need help convincing other stakeholders in the viability of digital certifications, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of digital certificates, starting with the drawbacks.

[content_upgrade cu_id=”227″]Take this quiz to determine if it’s time to upgrade to digital certificates.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

The Argument Against Digital Certificates

Although it’s obvious that we support digital certificates here at Accredible, we do recognize the most valid argument for paper certificates and against digital certificates. It’s this:

Paper certificates are easy to hang on walls. Frame it up. Hang it up. Beam with delight whenever someone comes in your office and recognizes your accomplishments.

This tangible form of recognition has its merits. Not only does it serve as a visual reminder for one’s skillset, it’s also a handsome decoration for any office.

The problem is that only the people who come to your office will be able to see such distinctions. More and more professionals meet and network with others online and not in an office. For the modern professional, a paper certificate is a nostalgic throwback but isn’t very useful for making connections. In addition to having that certificate, the professional will then need to take the extra step to list his or her professional certifications online.

The Benefits of Digital Certificates

Although digital certificates don’t carry the same sentimental attachment as paper certificates, they are much more effective. Let’s discuss several key benefits you’ll gain by implementing a digital certification strategy for your association.

Digital Certificates are Socially Shareable

As soon as an individual becomes certified through your association, they can start spreading the news to their social circles, current employers, and potential employers, too. Instead of simply “talking” about their certification in abstract terms, they can share proof of their certification in the form of the digital certificate. The proud and newly certified can post a verifiable digital certificate to their various social media pages, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

It’s human nature to want to share one’s achievements with others. Our digital certificates have built-in social share options that gently encourage your students to celebrate their accomplishments on social media.

Digital Certificates Link Back to Your Association

An incredible benefit of digital certificates is that your association gets promoted, too. Whenever your students share their credentials with others, they’re also marketing for your association (for free). Imagine all of the word-of-mouth marketing you’ll get by issuing digital certificates to your graduating students.

[bctt tweet=”Your organization gets a boost whenever someone shares their credentials with others.” username=”accredible”]

Digital certificates expand your reach exponentially. Your marketing dollars can only take you so far. However, you’ll go a lot further when your students are sharing your branded digital certificates to their social circle. Let’s say 100 students complete your course, earn certification, and share the news on social media. Even if each of their social circles only contain 100 people, you could potentially reach 10,000 people that may not have heard of you otherwise.

Digital Certificates are More Secure

To protect your association’s reputation, you must control your entire certification process.

The certification process starts by creating a rigorous course and then effectively managing that course. When the student graduates, you’ll remain in complete control over their certification. While it’s true that the student earns the certification, it’s your association that issues and stands behind the certification. This means that you should control who receives it and also how they may use it.

It falls on your shoulders to ensure that no one can duplicate or mimic your certification for their own unscrupulous purposes. Anyone with beginner PhotoShop skills can re-create a paper certificate. Paper certification fraud is incredibly easy these days.

However, the secure, digital credentials that we provide cannot be faked. They’re immediately verifiable through a third party (that’s us). You need this extra level of security because you can’t afford for certification fraud to undermine trust in your association.

Digital Certificates are Easy to Create

You don’t have to spend hours poring over various certificate templates online. Accredible makes it fast and easy to design and customize a professional template. We’ll help you whether you’d like to choose from a standard design or create a new branded design virtually from scratch.

By the way, our templates include typo detection and auto-correction to help you avoid glaring misspellings. You can also turn off this feature at any time.

Digital Certificates are Easy to Renew or Revoke

Some certificates are one and done. Other certifications require renewal.

If your certification is only good for a designated amount of time, you need the ability to revoke existing certificates or cause to expire at a specific time. Paper certificates can’t be taken back, but digital certificates can be.

With digital certifications, you control and revoke access with the click of a button. Former students who are still profiting off of your association’s good name with old or invalid certifications? There’s no need to worry about it– simply revoke their access to the certification.

Digital certificates are always up to date and immediately verifiable.

Digital Certificates are Cheaper to Produce

Another drawback to paper certificates is cost. You can’t use copy paper to print a professional certification– not without tarnishing your own brand. To issue paper certifications, it’s necessary to splurge on premium card stock paper. Of course, you’ll also spend money on ink and labor. Additionally, if you can’t give certificates to students in person, you’ll need to pay for postage.

Added up, you’ll spend considerably more for the impractical distribution of paper certificates than you would for their digital counterpart.

We estimate that you’ll save up to 85% less with digital certificates than you would with paper. Plus, you’re saving trees, so there’s an additional reason to consider digital.

Digital Certificates are Delivered Instantly

Paper certificates are not immediately available for delivery. Not only do you need to design your certificates, you’ll also need to print and mail them. In some cases, the process may take weeks.

With Accredible, you can have your digital certificates ready in a matter of minutes. Once it arrives to the intended student, your digital certificate is immediately shareable on social media. Digital certificates don’t get “lost in transit,” adding even more time to delivery. Students get access to a secure link that hosts their certificate. From this page, they have several options for sharing, including posting to LinkedIn, adding to their email signature, and downloading as a PDF.

Digital Certificates Can Become Paper Certificates

Even though you’re issuing digital certificates, your students still have the option to download and print the certificate, too. This feature appeals to students who want to proudly display their certification on their office wall.

Digital certificates offers the best of both worlds.

Final Thoughts

As you’ve learned, digital certificates provide a way to reward your members while growing brand recognition at the same time. The added ability to market yourself through digital certification is one of the biggest reasons why you should embrace this new technology. Because paper certificates are steadily declining in value, it’s time to shift toward a more secure, controllable, and cost-effective strategy. Get started with digital certificates now.

[content_upgrade cu_id=”227″]Don’t forget to take this quick quiz to determine if you should upgrade to digital certificates.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

The Top 6 Reasons to Launch a Certification Program at Your Association

Are you on the fence about whether or not to create a certification program for your organization? There is a good reason to pause. Developing, launching, and then maintaining a certification program is a huge responsibility. Required is an investment of time, money, and other resources. If you’re still in the consideration stage, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you think of all that’s involved.

The purpose behind this post is to shift your focus. Instead of thinking about the amount of work that’s involved in planning a certification program, let’s discuss the major benefits you’ll get from developing such a program. If you’re on board, but other stakeholders aren’t, you can use the following compelling reasons to get their buy ins.

Without further ado, let’s discuss the benefits of developing and launching a certification program.

[content_upgrade cu_id=”218″]Need ideas on how to market your certification course? Download this free list of ideas.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

1. Build Brand Awareness

Your certification program gives you the opportunity to reach more people than you would otherwise.

Think about it: Without a certification program, what will set your association apart from the others out there? It’s tempting to say that your customer service or your commitment to your members is what sets you apart. However, a prospective member won’t likely know about these benefits until they’ve joined your association. Instead, you’re likely to lure new members based on what you can do for them.

What better way to prove your value to that prospective member than promoting your certification program? You’ll reach people who may not know about your association at all, but are drawn to the promise that your certification program offers, i.e. “Learn X and Improve Your Career.” To the career-driven individual who’s aiming for that promotion, your certification program can provide them with the necessary skills to advance to more money, more knowledge, and more status.

Your certification program can also market itself. Here’s how:

Let’s say you run a pay per click ad campaign for your certification program. John sees your ad, signs up for and takes your course, and earns a certification. He now has a digital certificate (just like the secure ones we provide here at Accredible).

John shares his digital certificate on his LinkedIn profile to show proof of his new skills to prospective employers. Gladys, a prospective employer, sees John’s certificate on his LinkedIn profile and wants to learn more about your association. She reads about you and then decides that all of her employees should take your certification program.

In additional to his professional profile, John also proudly shares the digital certificate to his social circle on his personal social media updates. John’s friend Sally is really interested in learning the same skills. When she sees that John’s learned these skills from your association’s certification program, Sally signs up. It’s the circle of life.

To achieve greater awareness for your brand, nothing works quite as well as a marketable certification program.

2. Market Your Other Services

Once you have a certification program in place, you can use it as platform to promote your other services.

Let’s use another example. In this example, Mary takes your certification program but isn’t actually a member of your association. Throughout your program, you can extend invitations to Mary, asking her to join your association at a reduced fee. You can promote relevant services, such as your mentorship services, at the right time within your program. Even if Mary doesn’t join while taking your program, she’s still on your mailing list and you have other chances to compel her to join. You can send testimonials case studies of other members that are similar to Mary to help her see the extended value of your organization.

Eventually, Mary may join because you’ve built a relationship of value and trust with her. It starts with your certification program.

Some of your prospective members need to scratch an itch first before they can think about potentially joining your organization. Your certification program will address an immediate need while also providing additional opportunities to build a relationship with that prospective member.

[bctt tweet=”Your certification program can help you build relationships with prospective members. Here’s how:” username=”accredible”]

3. Engage Your Community

Have membership numbers started to dwindle? Churning members indicate that your association isn’t providing enough value.

A definite way to demonstrate value is to create your certification program. Not only will you provide those in your industry with the opportunity to improve their skills and knowledge, you’ll reinvigorate your community of members.

If the motivation behind your certification program is to engage your current members, be sure to do this:

Before even developing your certification program, ask your current members what type of program they would be interested in. You can do this through quick surveys on your website or emailing the surveys to your members’ list. Let their answers guide you to creating and developing an in-demand program that will receive the highest amount of buy-in from your current members.

4. Fill a Need in Your Industry

If you spot an unaddressed need in your industry, why not be the answer? No one knows your industry better than you. You’re qualified because you have a passion for your industry and no one else has come up with a solution.

Many certification programs are driven by this simple scenario: Someone asks a question and no one has answered it yet. Or, in a variation to this scenario: Someone asks a question, some other association has answered it poorly.

That variation happens quite frequently. Perhaps you’re not the only association within your industry to offer a certification program. Even if there are other, similar programs out there, you can still create your own (better) program, and be assured that none of them will have your same perspective.

5. Create Another Stream of Income

One of biggest benefits you’ll gain from launching a certification program is financial. You can use your program to open up another stream of revenue.

However, revenue should never be the driving force. Why? Simply creating a program just to make money will ensure that you’ll cut corners to make the largest margin of profit. However, if you’re making a program to help your members and/ or elevate the industry, you’ll draw the right people to your program (i.e. the ones who won’t demand refunds or write negative reviews because they feel shortchanged).

You may opt to offer a free certification program for your association. That doesn’t mean you can’t monetize it. Perhaps you’ll use the free certification program as a way to advertise other premium courses, or to promote your membership services as discussed above.

6. Collect Testimonials and Case Stories

Testimonials can fuel the ongoing efforts to market your association, and your certification program can be the perfect environment to cultivate such testimonials.

Your certification program demonstrates your association’s value quite beautifully. People who take your course and benefit from it can now serve as ambassadors, not just for the program, but for your association at large. That’s because your association conceived, created, and administered the certification program, so the success of the program reflects your association.

After you’ve issued certifications, make it a point to ask for testimonials. Ask immediately upon course completion while your program is still top of mind. For example, send a congratulatory email and then ask for a review or testimonial of your course.

Related Resources

Before you go, be sure to check out these additional posts:

[content_upgrade cu_id=”218″]Don’t forget to download this list of 6 ideas for marketing your certification program.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

 

How associations can bridge the generation gap

Baby boomers make up the largest portion of many associations’ members. As they retire, associations aim to appeal to the millennials who are poised to take their place. The 2017 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, a survey of associations by Marketing General Incorporated, found that 39 percent of the associations’ members were baby boomers, 29 percent were Generation X, and 17 percent were millennials (11 percent were Traditionalists born before 1946, and 4 percent were Generation Z).

Associations are finding ways to cater to younger members’ wants and needs. Generalizations about people who were born in the same couple of decades are just that—generalizations. But some qualities that are common in certain generations have proved helpful to organizations working to serve and support them.

For example, millennials are the first “digital natives”—they are used to using technology everywhere, for everything. Overall, they expect to be able to accomplish tasks online easily, and they expect quick responses and a high degree of interaction.

Format

For any association program, it’s probably impractical to design a separate version for each generation. But even if that were doable, one size does not fit all within a generation. So the better course may be to take into account the different generations’ tendencies and learning styles when designing, revising, or marketing an education or certification program—but not to build it just for millennials. You don’t want to frustrate everyone else.

Millennials often are visual learners, and “gamification” appeals to them. Incorporating elements of games into learning programs might make them more enjoyable to millennial members. Millennials tend to prefer content in short bursts. Building a progress bar into an online learning program might appeal to them as well as baby boomers, who often are more goal-oriented than their younger peers.

[bctt tweet=”Incorporating elements of games into learning programs might make them more enjoyable to millennial members. ” username=”accredible”]

All association members are likely to be familiar enough with technology to be able to use it for an online learning or certification program. But millennials have been using technology their entire lives, and boomers had to learn how. By choosing online features that are user-friendly and easy to navigate, associations can respond to members’ various levels of facility with technology.

 

Value

Association members value continuing education and certification because they validate and build their knowledge and skills, differentiate them from their peers, and give them professional recognition. These programs also might deepen their engagement with the association—a plus for both sides. In the 2017 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, continuing education was the second most important reason members joined.

[bctt tweet=”Association members value continuing education and certification because they validate and build their knowledge and skills, differentiate them from their peers, and give them professional recognition.” username=”accredible”]

In a study of higher learning institution staff who took online learning courses for their jobs, respondents of all generations said they were satisfied with their e-learning programs overall. But baby boomers showed the highest degree of dissatisfaction. This could be due to the format of the program, its content, or other reasons—but it points to the need to consider baby boomers’ experience.

People have different motivations and appreciate different forms of recognition. As a generalization, millennials want constant feedback, and boomers do not. Generation Xers are more self-directed and self-motivated than their peers. Baby boomers might expect more formal rewards and recognition, while Gen Xers and millennials might want it to be less formal but more easily shared with others. As heavy users of social media, millennials use social channels extensively to share their achievements, so they may be likely to appreciate a digital certificate that they can easily share and incorporate into their online portfolio or profile.

Of course, education and certification programs are built for numerous different purposes. Some are required of association members; others are optional. Associations trying to make their programs valuable—and communicate that value to members—would do well to consider different generations’ learning styles, motivations, and expectations.