Digital credentials are helping education providers recruit new students and cement industry relationships with employers, thanks to the power of their marketing advantage.
Digital credentials or ‘badging’ in tertiary education is on the rise in Australia. With a range of advantages, from helping employers verify student achievements online to being purpose built for growth in shorter form micro-credentials, they are an innovation whose time has come.
They are also delivering education providers powerful marketing advantages.
With education competition as fierce as it’s ever been, players across the higher and vocational markets are trying new ways to attract students. In digital credentials, they are finding a way to stand out from the crowd that integrates with the expectations of a new student generation.
Four ways digital credentials support education marketing
1. They are built for a new type of student
Students now want different things from educators – a trend that has accelerated through Covid-19. These include the flexibility to integrate learning into busy work and life schedules through shorter courses or micro-credentials, the ability to extract value from skills and achievements along the learning journey through more employment opportunities, and the ability to share qualifications and achievements with peers and industry as they go along, including through digital mediums.
Digital credentials integrate these student expectations. Built to complement the growing micro- universe of micro-credentials, they allow students to receive digital certifications at the time they are achieved and share them on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Linking them to fast-paced skills acquisition, certification and employment, it enables students to capitalise on their strengths as digital natives and put their best foot forward in the online and real worlds.
2. They speak the language of employers
Digital credentials provide a new way for providers to align their learning with the skills needs of employers in their training and education niches. From technical and vocational skills through to employability or soft skills, providers can clearly demonstrate in digital form the delivery of a skill, achievement or competency in ways that employers can immediately understand visually and verify with a click online, ultimately giving them confidence they are recruiting the right candidate.
This will immediately boost a provider’s reputation among employers. By garnering a reputation among employers as the place to go if they want to source graduates who have the practical skills and workplace capabilities to get the job done, providers are able to build strong inroads and influence within their industry community. This can also help providers capitalise on more lifelong learning opportunities in their niche, as employers send employees back for more training.
3. They are seen and shared on social media
A key advantage of digital credentials is that you will have your current and past students doing the hard work of marketing for you on an ongoing basis. By issuing digital badges that students can immediately begin posting to their social platforms and networks now (and that will be continually viewable as part of their skills acquisition record), education providers get the power and extended reach of peer-to-peer marketing at a fraction of the cost of digital or social media marketing.
One way education providers can achieve an immediate ‘bump’ effect in this network marketing effort is by issuing digital credentials to past cohorts in bulk. By offering this advantage to students (for example, students who have completed courses last calendar year), they can get the advantage of immediate past students posting their achievements online and sharing them with their networks, which can help launch a digital credentials initiative and boost recruitment at the same time.
4. They mark you out as modern education brand
Building and maintaining an education brand is an important, ongoing project. With both students and employers valuing those brands that are known and respected in their niche as leaders in both learning and employment outcomes, the investment providers make in bringing that brand story to life through marketing can make or break efforts to differentiate the school or education product and achieve sustainable market buy-in over the longer-term.
Digital credentials give marketing teams an edge by helping them link their brand to desirable traits like appetite for innovation and commitment to student employability. By becoming synonymous with a modern approach to education and certification across student and employer markets, education providers are able to set themselves apart as leading brands within their niche, especially when compared with competing providers who have not moved to embrace innovation.