Ask!! Surveys Speak Volumes About Your Certification Audience

You can discover more in a day about your target audience than advertising legend Claude Hopkins could have learned in six months. During the 1920s when Hopkins was the highest-paid copywriter in the country, the only way to discover who was buying his clients’ products—like Schlitz beer and Pepsodent toothpaste—was an expensive, multi-step process of tracking coupons and split testing ads.

In this amazing digital age, you can create an online survey for free in less than an hour, email it to your certificants or prospects and get responses within in a few days, if not within 24 hours. If you don’t have a list, you could advertise to prospects on social-media platforms using your best guess for their demographic targeting. 

Here are four completely free or mostly free online survey tools to get you started:

  • Google Forms
  • Survey Monkey
  • Typeform
  • Zoho Survey
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Depending on the tool you choose, your respondents could take the survey right inside their email window or via a link to a dedicated web page hosted by the online tool. Kryterion clients can download a list of their certification certficants right inside Webassessor (Reports>Test Takers).

Survey Questions

The more you know about your candidates and prospects, the better you can target your certification marketing. 

How did you find out about our certification?

The answer to this question will tell you who has influence in your industry or profession. Congratulations, if that’s you. If it’s not you, get to know the person, group or web site that is referring candidates to your certification. These channels offer a rare synergy that can and should be nurtured. The truth is, some people simply have more influence than others. Associating your name with visible market leaders allows you to borrow their authority and thereby raise yours.

What’s your job title?

Knowing the job titles in your industry improves your messaging. Create targeted content for blog posts and social media that includes the job title in the headline. Google will index that content and make it available to prospects searching for information about the title. Should you ever consider paid advertising, you’ll be able to laser target your ads based on job title(s). Both Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, allow advertisers to target ads by job title.

How long have you been in the industry/profession?

Your conversation with a newcomer will be different from the one you have with an experienced certificant. Longevity in the industry will also tell you about the format(s) that you should be using for your content. Millennials will generally have a preference for rich media like video and audio-based content that can be consumed on a mobile device. Older certificants may be more text-based and inclined to print out your content.

Biographical info?

Knowing the age, gender and locations of your certificants will inform your content and create interesting marketing opportunities. If, for example, your high-profile certificants (i.e., the ones who blog, speak and publish) are clustered in New York City, you could create a special half-day event just for them. These people are referral sources for your certification. The can become powerful ambassadors for your brand.

Subscriptions to professional journals?

Knowing this will make your paid advertising infinitely more effective when you’re ready to explore that promotion channel. But there’s an even more compelling reason to know about such publications. Journalists and editors who cover your industry are rock-star influencers, and they’re always looking for content. If you want to get the attention of industry reporters or bloggers—perhaps to make them aware of your new certification—notify them with an @mention in a tweet.

Let’s say you compose a tweet as follows: “What do employers say about your certification…really? @johnsmith” Mythical reporter, John Smith, would be notified by Twitter that he’s been mentioned in your tweet. He can then click to read your amazing blog post at He gets an article idea and a knowledgeable industry source (you) who can send him more content ideas in the future. Sweet!

Favorite web sites, social media & conferences?

Knowing where your candidates and prospects hang out online will enable you to use your time and advertising dollars more effectively. Conferences and tradeshows are especially good venues for face-to-face marketing because trust is often easier to establish.


Be sure to survey both prospects and actual certificants to get a fuller picture of your target audience. In addition to the questions above, ask respondents about their reasons for wanting to get certified. What outcome(s) were they seeking? What were the obstacles that kept them from getting certified sooner? As mentioned in an earlier post, answers to these deeper questions will reveal core desires, the really important and powerful motivators that push people to take important career actions like getting certified.

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