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Adding a Live Class to Your Certification Program

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Is it a good idea to add a live class to your certification program? What are the benefits? What should you consider before going live in front of your students?

If you’re contemplating whether or not to add a live component to your program, keep reading. In this guide, we’ll discuss why a live class is likely a great addition to your program. We’ll also share a list of the best practices to follow when offering live classes to your students.

Let’s get started.

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What are the Benefits of Adding Live Classes to Your Program?

What will you and your students gain by adding a live class to your certification program? In other words, how can you sell the idea of live classes to your students? Here’s a list of the most compelling reasons to go live

Live Virtual Classes Can Be Taken in Pajamas

There’s no need for your students to dress up to attend a class. Students can wear whatever they like, without breaking the dress code.

Live Virtual Classes Are Location Independent

Thanks to the Internet, live classes can also be accessed through multiple platforms, such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Your student doesn’t need to be tied to a specific location, as long as they have access to a reliable Internet service. Another bonus? Learning from the comfort of one’s own “space” can make the class more enjoyable and less intimidating.

Live Virtual Classes Can Save Your Students Money

When you offer virtual classes, the student will save the money that would otherwise be spent on transit or travel. Plus, there’s no need for a babysitter.

Interact With Instructors in Real Time

Most certification programs are asynchronous, meaning that they’re self-paced. However, including a live class to your program can add more value to your students. Your students will be able to interact with their instructors during the class. They can receive immediate answers to their questions.

Live Classes Help Students Fully Understand the Material

Because of its built-in interactive component, a live class means that the instructor can provide instant feedback to the students. Instructors can also survey the class to determine if the material is resonating, and make real-time adjustments to help students better understand the lesson.

Provides Face-to-Face Communication

You can opt for video classes where the instructor and the students can see each other live. This type of synchronous communication can make the class feel more interactive. Face-to-face communication allows your instructors to transfer their enthusiasm to the students.

Provides a Social Environment

Speaking of interaction, a live classroom setting allows students to relate to each other. Students can build professional relationships that will likely benefit them in the future. Students can learn from each other, too. A live classroom can cultivate discussions and allow students to explore different aspects of the material. The social aspect of a live classroom also increases personal accountability.

Offers Flexibility

In a virtual environment, getting to class is easier than getting across town. For busy professionals who need to balance continuing education with home life, it can be a challenge to find the time to attend classes. Then, there’s the added time of traveling to and from class. This time investment often discourages students from enrolling in a certification course. However, with a virtual class, you can appeal to professionals who are short on time. A live class can offer flexibility to those with demanding schedules.

Demonstrates a Procedure

Most people are visual learners. With a live class, you can show your students how to perform a specific task in real time.

You Can Source Instructors From Anywhere

With an in-person class, you’re limited in your choice of instructors. With a live virtual class, you can work with an instructor from anywhere in the world. Just like the student, the instructor can sign into the classroom from anywhere in the country or world. You can recruit the best instructors for the job, period.

More Likely to Complete the Course

Self-paced programs are only as effective as the student: it’s easy to lose motivation because there’s no one there to hold them accountable or miss them when they’re gone. In a live virtual class, students can develop meaningful relationships with the instructor and other students. These bonds can encourage the student to continue through the duration of the program.

Reach More People in a Virtual Environment

An in-person classroom is limited in capacity. Depending on the size of your classroom, you may only be able to host a few dozen students maximum. However, in a virtual environment, you can scale your classroom and reach more students.

[bctt tweet=”In a virtual environment, you can scale your classroom and reach more students. Here’s why:” username=”accredible”]

Students Can Re-Watch

For students who can’t make it to the live class, you can also record the class for them to access at their convenience. The ability to re-watch a live class can benefit students who want to go back and understand a topic more fully.

You can Charge More for This Premium Offering

Although live virtual classes do save money for the student, you can also charge a premium for this offering. Because of the benefits listed above, a live class is well worth an extra charge. Increase the profitability of your certification program by upselling students on a live virtual class component.

Best Practices for Offering Live Classes

Now that we’ve outlined the top benefits of offering live classes, let’s discuss the best practices to follow.

Offer Multiple Class Times

It’s important to offer multiple class times so that you can fit with different schedules. While you don’t want to go overboard by trying to accommodate every student, you can take a survey and choose the three most popular times to conduct your classes.

Enable Chat

Chat is a crucial element for communicating in a live virtual class environment. Make sure that your class software includes a chat component.

Open the Class to Questions

Encourage students to interact with the instructor and with each other. Answering live questions can also help students who are struggling with the same problem.

Assign an Assistant to Watch the Comments

The instructor may not be able to teach the class while also reading the comments. Assign someone to read and reply to questions and private messages.

Record Classes for Other Students to Take at Their Leisure

As mentioned above, it’s a good practice to record all of your live classes for your student’s future reference.

Test Your Audio and Video

Before the inaugural class, be sure to test your equipment for sound and visual clarity.

Use Email Wisely

Communicate with your students via email. Even though they should be aware of when class starts, send out a reminder email the day before and also a few minutes before the class starts. Include in your email all of the details for logging into the classroom.

Final Thoughts

While the benefits of adding a live class to your certification program is undeniable, also keep in mind that online classes require discipline. Your students will only be as successful as their ability to show up on time and ready to engage. Use these tips to create a live class that your students will enjoy.

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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.

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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]

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.

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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]

 

6 Tips to Manage Your Certification Program

Managing your certification program can feel like a full-time job. From coordinating with instructors to processing admissions and managing membership credentials to tackling technical issues, you have a seemingly endless list of responsibilities on your desk. How do you efficiently oversee an entire program with so many moving parts?

If you’re struggling in this area and looking for help, this post will provide the proverbial lifeline. We’ve collected the most important tips to keep in mind when running a professional certification program, especially once that’s recognized industry-wide. Use these tips to either get a handle on your program or fine-tune what’s already working well. These tips will also ensure that you’re providing excellent care to your members. Let’s get started.

[bctt tweet=”Here are the most important tips to keep in mind when running a professional certification program.” username=”accredible”]

[content_upgrade cu_id=”175″]Download this helpful checklist to go along with this post.[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

1. Select a Program Manager

The first step in managing your certification program is to select a dedicated manager for the job.

You have two options: Hire from within, or look outside of your current team to find someone with experience in certification program management. Hiring from within has the benefit of working with a person whom you already know. This person also knows your program and won’t need to be introduced to the basics.

On the other other hand, hiring someone who has experience with managing a certification program also has its own perks. He or she will have experiential knowledge of what works, what doesn’t work, and what pitfalls to avoid when supervising a certification program. They are very likely to have fresh (and proven) ideas that can improve your certification program.

Whatever option you choose, remember that it’s important to have a dedicated manager for your program. This person shouldn’t be distracted by other, non-program related tasks. This is especially true if you offer an industry-rated accreditation. Developing a solid team to execute your certification program is the best way to guarantee a positive reputation for your program.

Give your manager the autonomy to curate a team to operate your certification program. At the very least, you’ll need a student success manager and a tech support contact. Depending on the size of your membership, you may find it necessary to add a webmaster to maintain your site, an educational coordinator, and an accountant.

2. Focus on Completely Onboarding New Students

Once students enroll in your certification program, what happens next?

While it’s important to create a rigorous and comprehensive curriculum for your program, it is even more imperative to implement a thorough onboarding process. It’s not enough to offer an amazing educational opportunity if your students aren’t able to access it. The same can be said about your resource library or support forums, etc.

The mark of a successfully managed program is when students feel prepared and ready to engage with the certification course. Effective and comprehensive onboarding is a reflection of your management.

Comprehensive onboarding not only improves your student’s experience with your certification program, it also reduces redundancy and frees up your team to focus on other tasks. This is because your entire onboarding process can be completely automated.

What do we mean by comprehensive onboarding? While there’s no “one size fits all” answer here, here are the most common onboarding procedures to implement within your program:

Send a welcome email – In this email, include a “Welcome Aboard” packet that provides the details of the course, start date, end date, a list of resources, and your contact details.

Ask for additional details in a separate email – When signing up for the course, you may not ask your new students for all of their details right away. Too much too soon can be very overwhelming. Once they’ve enrolled, now you can send an email that asks for their details. You’ll also want to ask this most important question: What is your goal for taking this course? Any answers that you get from this section will be useful for data analysis, segmentation, future marketing, course tweaking, and overall program management.

Send a getting started email – This email should be sent when your course begins. In this email, offer a step by step guide to starting the certification program. For example, if hosting your course online, provide a link to the course’s home page, along with any password details or other pertinent information the new student needs to know to have a seamless experience with your program.

3. Keep Students Engaged in Your Program

While onboarding is important for new students, a huge part of managing your program is to keep all of your students engaged with your course. While some students may start off strong, it’s very common to lose momentum after signing up for a program.

As program manager, you’re responsible for keeping students involved. As we mentioned above, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to appoint a student success manager (SSM) for the job. An SSM will support students who are enrolled in your certification program and create a plan for student retention. This person will play an integral role in your management team because his or her efforts will directly impact your program’s longevity.

If you’re unable to retain students long enough for them to actually graduate from your program, your program won’t last. For this reason, retention management must be a top consideration for your certification program.

4. Offer the Right Certificates

Are you still issuing paper certificates?

Paper certificates are an inefficient use of your time and resources, and can make it harder to manage your certification program. How?

Paper certificates cost more to produce than digital certificates or badges. Ink, paper, and labor costs add up and, depending on the quality, the costs can significantly take away from your profit.

Time is also a factor. When compared to the instant delivery of digital certificates, it requires significantly more time to issue paper certificates. It may take weeks to deliver digital certificates to your members via mail. Then what happens if there is a spelling error or a name is wrong?

As a manager, you’re tasked with lowering administration costs and reducing student wait time all while increasing value to both students and your organization. Fortunately, you can accomplish this Herculean feat through digitizing your certificates. Learn more about issuing digital certificates can improve your organization here.

5. Focus on Billing

Billing is a huge part of program management. Your billing should be as frictionless as possible, and not elicit a negative response from your enrolled students.

To make billing easier for students, many associations offer payment plans for their courses. This is especially true for courses that may require a substantial financial investment. When compared to a relatively large lump sum payment, dividing the cost can make the course more accessible to students.

The fine print, however, is that payment plans often put a heavy burden on the management team. It can make billing a nightmare.

To avoid the common pitfalls of payment plan billing, implement the following:

  • An automated system for accepting payment and reminding students when next payment is due
  • Instant notification when a payment fails or a credit card is nearing expiration
  • A secure and automatic way to accept payments, i.e. a portal via your association’s website
  • The ability to accept multiple types of payments, i.e. credit card, PayPal, etc.
  • A payment system with built-in ability to detect errors and notify your students immediately for swift correct
  • The ability to maintain continuous member enrollment after completing a course

6. Measure Results and Apply Feedback

To effectively manage your certification program, you’ll need to keep an eye on what’s working (so that you may do more of it) and what’s not working (so that you can remedy the problem).

Actively solicit feedback from current and former students. For example, through feedback you may find that a course module isn’t providing enough value to your students. You can use this feedback to adjust your program to match the stated needs and goals of your students.

Related Resources

Check out these related posts:

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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”]

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