In our recent webinar, Skilljar’s Sr. Solutions Engineer, Tyler Larson, hosted a conversation with Jen Atzenhoffer, Sr. Manager, Training and Enablement for AppFolio, along with Marianne Goossens, Associate Director, Online and Digital Education, and Adam McLean, Instructional Designer, for The Jackson Laboratory, on how they use Skilljar integrations to uplevel the training programs at their organizations.
There was so much great information in this webinar, we had to break the recap down into three posts, starting with Tyler’s remarks on the greatest challenges for Customer Education in 2024 – and how Skilljar integrations can help you solve them. (Read Part 2 of our recap on how AppFolio uses integrations to scale their training program.)
The greatest challenges for Customer Education in 2024
To kick things off, Tyler offered a number of challenges that can be addressed by Customer Education as we all try to identify priorities for the coming year:
- Limited resources/budget
- How to measure success
- Market consolidation
- Boost brand recognition and program exposure
- Increase product adoption
- Reduce churn
Adam said their greatest challenge at JAX was to boost brand recognition and program exposure, since, as a nonprofit research institute with a large global audience, they need to expand and create visibility for their program globally.
For Jen, limited resources and budget, and increasing product adoption stood out, because as a SaaS platform, AppFolio is always trying to ensure their product is “sticky.”
What is an integration?
Simply put, an integration is a mechanism for two systems or technologies to talk to each other.— Tyler Larson
Tyler explained two main types of integrations:
1) A data integration where data is passed back and forth between systems generally using APIs. This integration might power and experience platform A when something changes in platform B, or meld together data in both systems to discover cross-platform insights. As an example, he discussed Skiljar’s Zoom integration sending out a calendar invite from our platform to attendees’ calendar tool so they could join our webinar.
2) A user experience integration is where one platform modifies the user experience of another to make the functionality of platform A available on platform B, or to create new features in platform B that don’t currently exist. An example of this is a single sign-on tool like Okta that can integrate with Skilljar to allow users to log into your training platform, support center, and community without signing up for each individually. SSO creates a “customer hub,” where distinct platforms appear as a unified experience to the user. One user account providing access to all reduces the barrier to entry, which, in a market where users will abandon if they don’t have a simple experience, becomes even more important.
Why should you invest in integrations?
User experience is king. Having the ability to integrate with a variety of tools and technologies allows us to reduce the friction in our user experience with single sign-on, enable our users to self-serve, find the right content, and provides us with a simplified reporting experience to prove success.— Skilljar Customer, Product Training & Enablement Manager
If you want to keep your customers on your platform and reduce the time it takes for them to derive value from your product, integrations can serve to create delightful user experiences and remove friction in customer journeys. You want to meet your users where they are but at the same time, resources are becoming more scarce.
Integrations can automate tedious and repetitive tasks that used to require a heavy time sink. This frees up valuable time for your colleagues to focus on what they specialize in and can also help to optimize their output. Combining data from multiple systems allows you to correlate user behavior to measurable outcomes and helps quantify the return on the investments you make, which becomes more essential in a market with scarce resources. What’s more, these insights compound in value as you collect more data over time.
Analyzing data is like mining for gold. At Skilljar, we have a lot of Customer Education data to mine.— Tyler Larson
4 ways to use integrations to uplevel your Customer Education program
The panel turned to a discussion of how to get value from integrations for monetization, CRM, badges & credentials, and lead generation.
1. Integrations for monetization
Monetizing your Customer Education program can turn your training initiatives into revenue generators that fuel your growth. As with integrations in general, there are many different ways to monetize training; it’s not a one-size-fits-all all approach. Some ways the panel discussed to monetize training include:
Overall, monetization adds weight and inherent value to your training program the more that learning is consumed. Subscriptions can pay dividends down the line as these users renew and upgrade their certificates. Here are some strategies for using subscriptions:
- Provide training credits and promo codes to your sales teams as leverage in closing new business or expanding existing business.
- Use a “try before you buy” promotion to create organic upsells. Charge for premium training, but offer some courses for free that users can try out before they purchase.
Skilljar can hook into a variety of payment processors to support simple or complex monetization flows. Here are some strategies for using payment processors:
- Just add your API key to Skilljar (Paypal, Stripe) and start pricing your training.
- APIs can also be used for more custom setups like invoicing or POS.
- Many Skilljar customers are hooking their CRM up to Skilljar to generate access to training as they’re closing new business. This is done using APIs so training credit balances are already available or the paid content is immediately unlocked once the customer accesses the learning platform.
2. Integrations for badges and certification
Many Skilljar customers see great value in pursuing a credentialing program for their customers. Tyler offered some general advice to attendees on getting started:
Decide if you plan to provide certificates vs. certifications – there is a difference!— Tyler Larson
A certificate is generally considered a “certificate of completion” that incentivizes and rewards the user as they move through training. With this approach, there likely isn’t a step, such as an exam or demonstration of skills that’s reviewed by an admin, that verifies their knowledge. These can be attached to the completion of any course as Skilljar offers these natively within our certificate engine.
Certification is an official credential that holds weight and validates that the user has demonstrated their knowledge on the topic, usually through an exam or task that requires administrative review. Certifications can be useful for validating knowledge of a certain product as well as industry-related expertise. Having a certification may unlock additional resources for the user that earns it, such as access to new training materials or other career benefits. Skilljar customers usually rely on integrations with other credentialing tools for proctoring requirements, stricter validation, or credential sharing. For example, Skilljar integrates with Credly and Accredible via API to generate badges that are shareable to social outlets and other platforms.
Sharing credentials helps companies generate organic program exposure as the certificate provides a link back to the course that generated it. Potential users might see a certificate on LinkedIn, click back, and discover your training program.
Learn more about the distinction between certificates and certifications here.
3. Integrations for CRM
Your customer relationship management (CRM) system is where your customer data lives, so it’s important to link your training data from your LMS to your CRM to correlate any training taken to the customer account. What metrics does training influence? Do customers onboard faster if they take training? Do they submit fewer support tickets as they train on specific topics? You want to build reports in Salesforce that show training taken and the impact that has on associated account metrics.
Typically in Skilljar, your CSMs, sales reps, and support teams can easily see training taken by a company (account) or individual (contact). When Skilljar’s Salesforce integration (a managed package in the Salesforce AppExchange) is installed, they can also access additional information in near real-time such as students’ course progress and completions, any group memberships they may belong to, and purchase data.
There are really no limits to how much data the Skilljar/Salesforce integration can generate. Our package is easy to install, but the key part is how we link your Skilljar data to your existing Salesforce data.— Tyler Larson
When a student signs up on your platform, Skilljar will automatically create a student custom object in Salesforce to represent that. When that’s created, the system looks for an existing contact that has the same email address. If it finds one, it links to that user. If there are multiple, it will link to the most recently updated version of that contact, which enables connections from student to contact, and contact to account, as they occur in real time.
This linking logic can be customized, for example, if there is no contact found, you can create a lead. Each company can streamline the way the linking logic works. Skilljar customers can reach out to their support teams and CSMs for help with this integration.
Aside from Salesforce, Skilljar can integrate with other CRMs via our API or using our Data Connector.
4. Integrations for Demand Generation
How do you generate leads via training or help streamline your training initiatives with your marketing team’s initiatives?
When you have ungated training targeted to prospects (non-customers) it can be housed on a separate domain or accessible without registering. You can use tools to identify those users and then track their behavior once they’ve taken the training. For example, we have an industry certification in Skilljar Academy that’s open to prospects. Then, when users become customers, you can correlate engagement with your training academy with the percentage of conversions to customers.
I believe using Customer Education for lead generation will be part of the future of our industry. We have some customers that have run very successful pilots targeted to prospects that generated over $1M in pipeline in a single quarter.— Tyler Larson
Integrations for demand generation involve pushing data directly to marketing automation tools like Marketo to capture students’ data as they sign up, including sign-up fields and potential custom data, like their company. You can push their enrollment and completion events through from Skilljar and then mine that data over time to see if they become a customer or send emails (drip campaigns, nurture funnels, etc.) to encourage conversion.
Tyler concluded the webinar with a set of questions to keep in mind when approaching any new integration initiative.
What does a trained user mean to you? It’s different across the funnels or customer journey stages. These questions can help you get started, then keep optimizing as you go along.
At the end of the day, tie your trained customers to overall business goals and success metrics. We know that a trained customer is your best customer, but how do you prove it? Integrations will certainly play a part in this area.— Tyler Larson
See more resources from Skilljar on how integrations can optimize and uplevel your Customer Education program:
How AppFolio Uses Integrations to Scale Customer Training
Skilljar’s Salesforce Integration 101 (eBook)
Customer Education Integrations for Help Center, Certifications, and Community (Coffee Chat recap)
Skilljar Integrations for CRM, Marketing Automation, Content Management, eCommerce, Customer Experience, SSO, Badges & Certification, Business Intelligence