Q & A with AILA: A Look Into Their Education Evolution

Q & A with AILA: A Look Into Their Education Evolution

We sat down with JJ Area, the Education Programs Manager at AILA, to understand their educational programs and how they have developed over the years.

Who is AILA?

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is comprised of more than 15,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law. Our mission is two-fold: to increase the level of knowledge and professionalism of our members and to encourage advocacy before Congress, the Judiciary, the Federal Agencies, and the media, for immigration-related interests. The association was established to promote fair and just immigration policy, advance the quality of immigration law, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Where does education fit into the overall structure at AILA?

All of AILA’s members have to be licensed to practice law in one of the US jurisdictions, and most of the jurisdictions require continuing legal education (CLE) courses. This means we have a built-in audience. Additionally, a large portion of our members are solo practitioners, so they aren’t members of large firms that have a large financial backing. Therefore, anytime we can offer quality education and save them a bit of money, they appreciate it.

One of our strategic goals is to increase the knowledge and professionalism of members so our education program is one of the main ways we accomplish that. We want people to have the most current information available. We offer a podcast feed as a way to disseminate information that we want to get out quickly and at no cost. These tend to be niche topics that we don’t feel our members would necessarily see a big return on investment for, therefore, our podcasts are a way to provide the information without a price point.

Can you describe the evolution of your learning programs?

I’ve been with AILA since 2010, and there have definitely been some ebbs and flows. When we began our distance learning offerings, there was a big rush initially since our members hadn’t seen this from us and found it as an easy, affordable way to earn CLE credit. As time went on, other organizations also began offering CLE courses and the market was saturated; our numbers dipped a bit, so we had to adapt. We have done that in a number of ways.

We started offering live webcasts of some in-person conferences to provide something a little more polished and technologically savvy. Also, rather than listening on the phone you can see somebody there in front of you on your computer and ask questions live, so you have that interaction. This is a new way for people to participate, earn CLEs, and save on travel cost. Plus, we have the recording of the webcast, which we sell and offer to participants to view anything they may have missed.

We heard from our members that they wanted more on-demand content considering their busy and unpredictable schedules. The webcasts and seminar recordings can be done at their own pace and have proven very successful.

How has CommPartners aided in the evolution and growth of your learning programs?

We have worked with CommPartners since 2007. We began with audio seminars, then webinars, and now livestream events. When Elevate was released, we found it a very attractive option, but weren’t sure how to implement it in our organization. At the end of the month we are excited to launch new offerings through Elevate.

Additionally, we’ve found everyone at CommPartners to be responsive, professional and dedicated to ensuring we provide exceptional educational programs to our members. It’s great to see that no matter where someone is in the organization, straight up to Rich, everyone is very professional and great to work with.

What’s next for your education programs?

We saw other associations hosting courses entirely online and we viewed that as the future of learning so we wanted to offer that to our members. At the end of July we will be hosting an online course using Elevate. Ultimately, we want to put together AILA University which will offer micro-learning opportunities for the busy, unpredictable schedules of our members. We want these to be specific, 5 minute videos that can address the questions of our members. These are topics that don’t need to be addressed in a 60 minute webinar, but can be a quick answer so our members can get back to their clients. We are starting this year and hope to keep building upon it and adding a robust curriculum that we can update as needed.

We also eventually want to get into digital badging with these offerings. We see it as an engaging way for our members to advertise their learning track. We see this as an essential element in the future of continuing education, especially with the new generation of lawyers graduating. Our team is always looking into the future and assessing what we need to do to accommodate our members.

To learn more about AILA, please visit: https://www.aila.org/

CommPartners and BadgeCert Announce Strategic Partnership

CommPartners and BadgeCert Announce Strategic Partnership

Columbia, MD – July 17, 2018. CommPartners, a leading provider of Learning Management Software, webcast, and livestream solutions, and BadgeCert, a leader in digital badging/credentialing announce they have formed a partnership to fully integrate BadgeCert’s digital credentialing services with CommPartners’ Elevate Learning Management System. Through this integration, digital badges or credentials can be automatically awarded based on participation or achievement in education programs offered through Elevate LMS.

Digital Badges have become increasingly important as a verifiable way to measure competency and share levels of expertise. Through the integration with Elevate, host organizations will be able to offer digital badges with detailed metadata for stackable or micro credential programs. Badges can be custom designed through standard templates or organizations can upload their own designs. Each learner will have a universal portfolio to manage and share earned badges.

“Validation through digital badges has become critically important as a way to verify achievement,” states Richard Finstein, CEO of CommPartners. “We have known the folks at BadgeCert for many years. When we searched for a partner, we wanted a company that is as committed to customer service as we are.”

“We are thrilled to partner with CommPartners as they have consistently exceeded their clients’ expectations with respect to high quality customer service and technology innovation,” says Ginger Malin, Ph.D., Founder and EVP of Business Development at BadgeCert. “This partnership will provide organizations with a seamless administrative experience, while also delivering significant value to learners as they can now digitally share their verified credentials across the web.”

About BadgeCert

BadgeCert enables your organization to recognize stakeholders’ accomplishments with 100% verifiable digital badges. The company was founded by expert educators, technologists and entrepreneurs on the premise that recognizing effort, participation, contributions and accomplishments is important to motivate people to develop, progress and achieve. To learn more visit www.badgecert.com.

 About CommPartners

CommPartners is a leading provider of online education and event solutions. At the core of the company’s solutions is our Elevate Learning Management System. To extend the value of Elevate LMS, we provide a wide range of online education services including curriculum design, instructional design, fully managed webinars, webcasts, livestream programs and virtual conferences.  To learn more about CommPartners and Elevate LMS visit www.commpartners.com or contact Meghan Gowen at mgowen@commpartners.com.

6 Tips and Tricks for Creating a Webinar That Sells

6 Tips and Tricks for Creating a Webinar That Sells

Guest blog by our partners at  WebMechanix

Creating a webinar that sells is one of the best ways to generate revenue online. There’s no better way to get in front of your target audience and wow them.

So, are you sure you’re fully optimizing your webinars for conversion? The truth is everything from promotional emails, to how you hook attendance, to how you present your offer ultimately affects your sales.

After extensively researching webcast and webinar best practices, and drawing from our own experience, we have found some powerful ways to optimize webinar sales.

Today, we’re sharing the top six webinar tips and tricks that have the highest impact on the bottom line.

The class is in session…

1. Prepare and Practice

WebMechanix marketing manager, Clare French, has conducted countless webinars over the years. She highly recommends making sure you plan and practice beforehand.

You’ll want to outline the marketing automation plan for your webinar follow-up process early. Nail down the dates you’ll have your slides and other content emailed to your attendees, and have your sales and support teams follow up personally with prospects and customers afterward.

Many platforms have a practice mode for presenters to sync up just before the event starts. Taking a few minutes to make sure everyone is on the same page about the technical set-up and behind-the-scenes communication is invaluable to the attendee experience. There’s nothing worse than a presenter fumbling through the presentation because they don’t know the basics of the tool.

Schedule at least one practice run 3-5 business days before the event. Doing it earlier allows more time to make changes and regroup once more if needed.

Always give “housekeeping” tips at the start of a webinar to let attendees know how to communicate with the presenters. These tips should set the precedence for when questions are answered (in the moment versus at the end), and gives you the opportunity to set expectations about following up with attendees.

2. Use Organic (and Paid) Social Promotion Beforehand

Your webinar is a one-time, live online event. It’s powerful because you get to interact live with your audience. Squeeze all the juice out of it by filling as many seats as you can.

When it comes to webinar promotion best practices, be sure to get all the presenters and partners to promote the webinar on their social and professional profiles beforehand. Also, if you have the budget, use paid ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Instagram.

3. The Magic is in the Q&A

Out of our six webinar marketing tips, this simple tweak may yield the most to your bottom line.

Make sure you answer attendee questions and interact with them during your webinar. That’s the beauty of a live event. Otherwise, you may as well do a pre-recorded presentation.

Tim Paige of LeadPages, world record holder for most webinars conducted, tripled revenue and increased attendee stick rate, the percentage of the event an attendee stays, to an impressive 98%. He did so with one tweak: answering questions during the presentation rather than at the end.

When answering questions, keep it natural. Make sure you don’t destroy the flow. Answer a handful of questions at regular intervals during your webinar. Mention the inquirer’s name and the question out loud before you answer to re-engage attendees.

4. Measure Yourself Against Benchmarks

Webinar engagement metrics (based on CommPartners clients) typically look like:

  • 50% attendance rate for free events; 65-75% for paid or credit events
  • 75-80% participate in polls
  • 5-10% participate in the chat
  • 50-60% download presentation slides

By using benchmarks, you can effectively gauge the success of your webinar optimizations. If your live events aren’t performing as well as you’d hope, benchmarks can help you can identify potential issues and adjust. Stats can give great insight into how you can improve your webinar engagement and stick rate. For example, considering using emoticons and interactive behavior to help with stick rate.

5. Provide a Real Phone Number

At the end of your webinar, offer a number for people to call with questions. You often can’t answer everything on the presentation and prospects may only think of a good question after it’s over.

Russell Brunson, the founder of an eight-figure SaaS company, was already implementing a ton of webinar tips and tricks. Then, he tried something new that increased webinar sales by 25%. At the end of his webinars, he offered a Google Voice phone number to call and leave questions — and he called everyone back with an answer.

If you have call center capacity, consider experimenting with a live phone number to answer questions immediately. There’s a reason why infomercials do this: it works. Creating a webinar that sells depends as much on the quality of the follow-up process as the event itself.

6. Double Down on What’s Working

After you have a few webinars under your belt, you’ll notice specific parts of the process that catapult results and others that peter out. To sculpt the perfect webinar, double down on what’s working.

If storytelling balloons attendance, duration, and sales conversion, do it more often. If sending three emails instead of four before the event leads to more attendees, send three. If a tweak to your Facebook ad doubles conversion rate, scale up your ad budget.

This tip may sound more like common sense than an effective webinar tip, but common sense isn’t always so common. With all the moving parts to hosting a webinar, it’s easy to forget about doing more of what’s working when there’s so much to juggle.

Every part of the process has room for optimization.

Pro Tip: If you change your Facebook ad creative to focus on the solution you offer rather than your personal branding and face, it performs better with a cold audience. Your face doesn’t convert as well because they don’t know who you are yet.

Conclusion

By implementing these six webinar tips and tricks, you’ll see higher attendance, more engagement, and a more extended attendee stick rate. And all of these tactics together help you create a webinar that sells.

Since webinars can get confusing with all the moving pieces, focus on these fundamentals, and you’ll be on your way to a sales-optimized webinar process with a lot less headache.

What’s your favorite part of a webinar?

As a webinar production company, CommPartners has over 25 years of experience providing webinar and webcast hosting services to clients. If you’re looking for someone to host your webcast, or need general help with webinar management,  fill out our online contact form or give us a call at (800) 274-9390 to see how we can help.

UX Design and Your Learning Management System: Five Considerations for Providing an Exceptional User Experience

UX Design and Your Learning Management System: Five Considerations for Providing an Exceptional User Experience

When an organization begins the process of evaluating LMS options, they typically will start by developing a list of features that should be included. Confirming this list helps to identify ideal candidates. While the feature set is critical to narrow an organization’s search process, often an element that is overlooked, at least initially, is the User Experience or “UX”.

The UX as defined in Wikipedia refers to: “A person’s emotions and attitudes about using a particular product, system or service. It includes the practical, experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human–computer interaction and product ownership.”

So much of what we do today is defined by the user experience.  An impactful example is the mobile device we interact with hundreds of times a day.  UX design also applies to mundane products such as a coffee cup or the toothbrush we use.  But how about interacting with an LMS?  If we want to ensure that learners have an excellent experience when accessing education opportunities, it’s critical to make sure that every element of our learning management site is attractively designed, intuitive to navigate, is relevant and meaningful.

Here are five recommendations to ensure your Learning Management System fulfills your learners’ expectation of an exceptional user experience:

  1. Choose an LMS that provides complete control of every aspect of the design.
    You have invested in the development of your website to ensure it presents your organization in the best possible way.  You most likely do not want to implement an LMS that feels like a separate component.  Ideally your learning site will be nimble enough to incorporate your website styling, navigation, layout, imagery, fonts and taxonomy.  Having an LMS with visual congruence to your website will eliminate a disconnect of having two separately hosted online components.
  2. Ensure that your LMS works seamlessly with your ecosystem of applications including your AMS (database) and private online community.
    When a learner moves to and from your LMS, does the experience feel disjointed? It is important to provide visual congruence through your entire ecosystem of web platforms so the user experience will be not be compromised.  In addition, it is important to integrate with these systems to ensure login credentials are carried through all applications. This will create seamless navigation and enhance the overall experience.
  3. Establish a style guide to be applied throughout your site.
    It’s important to have a set style guide that addresses every design element of your LMS. This applies to both the platform and contents. Choose a platform that provides you design flexibility for all elements. Make sure that your staff or anyone that works with your LMS adheres to your guidelines. It shows when certain elements do not adhere to the standards you have set, therefore compromising the User Experience.
  4. Create a relevant and simple process for accessing content.
    Ideally the LMS experience can be personalized for each learner so when they login in, they are presented content that is relevant to their needs. This can be done in multiple ways. The first is using information you already know about a learner and presenting the right access, pricing and topics. A second way to is to allow the user to set their interests and prioritize the presentation of content based on those interests. Having customized experiences fosters loyalty and return visits to your site. To support simple access of content, avoid scrolling to find programs. Instead, provide the right amount of content per screen.
  5. Make registration and checkout clean and simple.
    Ideally, in a matter of a click or two the learner will be able to register and access their selected program. When they land on the shopping cart page, it should be clean and simple. Once the registration is completed, the learner is seamlessly directed to the content that they register for. When the User Experience is exceptional, the exposure and value of your learning programs is increased. The UX represents you in a highly public way and it’s important to ensure it positions your organization for success.

If you would like more information on UX Design for your LMS or the CommPartners Elevate LMS, give us a call at (800) 274-9390 or fill out our online contact form to get in touch with someone.

Insights From Our Initial Peak User Conference

Insights From Our Initial Peak User Conference

A year ago we made the decision to host our first User Conference.  Since this was our initial event, we had some trepidation about whether our community would embrace the opportunity to join us for several days of education, training and networking.  Our decision to move forward was quickly validated as we reached the maximum number of attendees we could accommodate in the venue.

When the first day of the conference arrived, we were excited to see in-person the people we interact with on a daily basis.  As I began the initial welcome, I mentioned to the group that this felt more like a social function as opposed to a business event.  There was a warm feeling that comes when relationships evolve over time and there is continuity of working with the same team to share opportunities and solve problems.  For our team, this conference was an important barometer of where we stand.  It’s one thing to have one on one interactions, however it’s an entirely different situation to see many of your clients in one setting. We feel extremely blessed to have had this opportunity.

There are three insights that we walked away with from the event:

Click to view photos from Peak 2018.

  • We have a vibrant community that has evolved organically with us over a long period of time. There are no shortcuts in getting to this point. CommPartners has an average employee tenure of 8 years with many staff being with us for 12 to 15 years.  At times, we don’t think about how important a factor this is in building close client relationships that lead to greater continuity and trust.  You could witness this in real time during the conference.
  • Peak served an important purpose of facilitating ideas and proving attendees practical applications they can implement today. One of the greatest benefits was the sharing of best practices and hearing how people in the same position overcome day to day challenges of managing professional development within their organizations. We realized we need to keep this conversation going and not wait until we meet again. Therefore, we launched a number of initiatives to give voice to our clients and allow for ongoing engagement. They include:
  • Elevate Advisory Board: This is a 13 member panel group made up of mostly clients to provide guidance and feedback on Elevate’s development, provide feedback on our services and share ideas with other Board members.
  • CommPartners Mastermind Groups: These groups bring clients together for 4 sessions to engage around topics of leadership, creative thinking and professional growth.
  • CP Connect Community: CP Connect is an online community. It will be launching shortly to continue the conversations and sharing of ideas that occurred at Peak.
  • CP Cares: We are expanding our altruistic initiatives to support those in need. We are hoping to involve our clients in these efforts.
  • We need to continuously come through for our community. You depend on us. This was evident through the passionate conversations that occurred at the conference.  We understand this responsibility.  In the coming year we have aggressive plans to bring innovation, additional resources and service enhancements to our clients. We’re excited about growing with you and helping you succeed.

If you have any additional feedback or thoughts about Peak or any other items, please contact me.

All the Best,

Rich Finstein