Accredible - Certificates and Badges

Methods for Generating More Referrals

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

Define Your Ideal Member

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

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

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

Ask for Referrals

A lot of organizations fail to simply ask for referrals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get Testimonials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Build an Affiliate Program

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

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

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

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

When mapping out your affiliate program, consider the following:

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

Use Shareable Certificates

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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]