Issuing certifications for your product can be a powerful marketing tool. Certification breeds loyalty, creates community, and gives users a reason to hitch their career to your wagon. They will fight for you during the renewal process and bring you along to other jobs as they progress through their career. They’ll also invest in best practices, publish workarounds, and become an evangelist within their profession and industry.
However, simply taking a course and never thinking about the certification again can seem hollow. Allowing people to show competency in a skill can help them gain access to opportunities, move up the corporate ladder, and successfully petition for raises. But you have to show them how an investment in your product will return value.
But how, exactly, do you do that? Credly hosted a webinar with Juniper, Tableau, and Smartsheet to show how organizations can use digital credentials to market product certifications and improve user experience. Here are five questions and their consolidated answers from the panelists:
1. Do you need to have multiple certifications to start issuing digital credentials?
No, not at all. In fact, we wouldn’t recommend it. The key to getting a successful digital credentialing program off the ground is simplicity. Really get to know your key user and determine what credential that would be most beneficial to them. For some, it may be a general certification. For others, a more specialized certification may be a good start. From there, it’s easier to determine the impact of digital credentials on the program and see what’s working and what needs to be tweaked. Starting small allows you to go all in on a single certification, get it right, show value to your users, and build a business case.
2. When is the right time to expand down the multi-certification path?
Once you’ve learned to walk, you can then take off and run with a larger program. You may want to add digital credentials aligned to certifications for various personas or job titles. Perhaps you play in different verticals and can expand that way. Certifications that demonstrate advanced levels of competency are also a good way to grow your digital credentialing program. Give users a reason to invest in your product, and they will express their loyalty throughout their career.
3. How do you encourage earners to share their digital credentials and promote your program?
The ability to share needs to be embedded directly into the marketing and communications about your learning program. Remind your learner community to use the built-in share-to features when they accept their digital badge to spread the word to their networks on LinkedIn and other relevant social platforms.Then continue to follow up with a marketing campaign that provides examples and incentives to promote their earned credential. Provide templates for email signatures and Slack profiles. Then try to create buzz on your social assets by publishing a list of users who earned a certification each week or create a Wall of Fame on your website or blog. Hashtags are an easy way to call out certifications across platforms as well.
4. How do you incentivize people to start earning credentials?
The best thing you can do is to break down barriers. This means no prerequisites. No gate-keeping. Make at least some of your certifications available publicly. Then publish easy-to-digest “get started” guides. Users have already invested a lot of time, energy, and brainpower into learning your products, so try not to tax much more of their time during the certification process. Another way to break down barriers is to provide different ways of earning certifications. Some people can just take a test or put together a demo. Others may need to digest source materials and guidebooks. Instructor-led courses may work best for some users. Giving people multiple learning and certification paths makes it more likely they take the plunge.
5. How do you measure the ROI of your digital credential program?
It’s important to measure ROI in different ways. First, there’s revenue. Are you charging for certifications and are you bringing in more than it costs to run your program? Second, you need to measure the impact on user experience. Can you see engagement with your brand go up after a certification? How about growth within an account? Are earners spreading the word to other departments or business units? Renewals are also a good measurement, as are references and other loyalty metrics. One organization even uses mentions of their certification in job postings. It’s really up to you to decide what is important to your business, your users, and your industry.
The Importance of Showing Value
Digital credentials are a great way to market your credentials, but it’s critical that you are able to show earners that it is worth their time and energy. Download our white paper Transform Earners Into Advocates: How Product Certification Providers Can Build an Engaged Community of Badge Earners to learn more.