Certification Survey Extra: The certification information funnel

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Certification Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Certification Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Certification Survey data.

There are many different ways that certification program funnel information to prospective candidates.In the baseball movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s Ray Kinsella character is the recipient of an urgent spectral prompting from … somewhere. A disembodied voice tells him, among other things, “If you build it, he will come.” Kinsella eventually determines that he needs to build a baseball diamond in his cornfield, whereupon a couple of different people meeting the definition of “he” are in fact summoned out of the mists of time.

What the movie really means, however, is that they — not just “he” — will come. James Earl Jones’ Terence Mann eventually explains that the purpose of Kinsella’s modest baseball mecca is to receive tormented pilgrims, seekers who will offer $20 each to recapture the magic of a forgotten era. The final image of the movie is a stream of headlights pouring toward the farm. He built it. They came.

In the real world, of course, it takes much more than just creating [your bright idea here] to attract the attention of the fickle masses. Building whatever it is and then just hoping to magically draw in your desired audience is a good way to spend a lot of money without recouping very much of your initial investment. If you want “them” to come, then you need to help them find out who you are.

And what you do, and where they can get it, and so forth. Alas, there’s no more a magic formula that works for advertising than there is a cosmic vibe that will summon your customers out of the blue. Most people, including certification providers, try a little of this and a little of that to determine what works best to funnel certification seekers into their program.

Which is something that we ask about in almost all of our surveys: Where do (or did) certified individuals turn for information about certification programs? What’s the funnel that captures the most interest from people who actually take certification exams? Here’s what we gleaned from our recent Computer Technician Certification Survey.

Q: Generally speaking, how have you most often learned about computer technician certification opportunities in the past?

Internet search — 48.3 percent
Industry publication or website — 31.1 percent
Referred by friend or acquaintance — 22.8 percent
Vendor promotional materials — 17.2 percent
Referred by employer — 16.7 percent
High school or college course — 14.4 percent
Industry convention or conference — 13.3 percent
Career counseling — 8.3 percent
Other — 6 percent

The question permits multiple responses, so people can choose more than just one way that they get their information. Even at that, however, it would appear that people looking for information about computer technician certifications turn most readily to Google (or maybe Bing, or perhaps Yahoo! — the usual suspects). Certification providers, therefore, need strong SEO.

The next most popular source of information is industry publications or websites, followed by word-of-mouth referrals from friends and acquaintances. So if you can get people, whether industry observers or past customers, to talk about your certification program, then you’re also likely to reap some worthwhile results.

It get a bit more scattershot after that, with the next few options delivering roughly comparable returns. Search engines, it would seem, are the closest thing to a clear-cut silver bullet when it comes to spreading the word about IT certification — no real surprise there — with a couple of other strong options that stand apart from the rest.

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CertMag Staff

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Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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