Digital Marketing for University Professional Development, Certificate, and Course Programs

Grow your programs and attract more career-focused learners with time-tested, future-focused marketing strategies.

Schools we’ve Helped

Digital Marketing Services for Professional Development, Certificate, and Course Programs

The career-focused educational marketplace is crowded — and that means your professional development, certificate, and/or course programs need to work harder to attract more ideal prospective students. We leverage proven strategies, data-driven intelligence, and a unique combination of expertise in both the higher education and eCommerce industries to help you stand out from the competition. 

Website Design & Development

Your website should be the foundation of your digital marketing strategy. We design and build websites  that attract, engage, and convert lifelong learners and can incorporate an eCommerce checkout functionality to make it easier for learners to bundle and purchase courses.

Ecommerce Integration

In order to sell online courses and certificates, higher ed institutions usually need an ecommerce technology integrated with their websites. Vital helps build those integrations.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services

Create highly optimized course pages that not only rank, but demonstrate the value of your program. Our SEO specialists help you stay on top of the ever-changing best practices of on-page, off-page, and technical search engine optimization to drive high-value traffic to your website and other online content.

Paid Digital Media (PPC) Services

Paid digital advertising can be expensive and tough to get right. We help schools and online course providers harness cross-platform data to achieve full-funnel attribution, so you can make data-driven decisions that maximize conversions.

Brand Strategy Services

Let our brand team craft strategic positioning and messaging that clearly conveys the unique value of your courses, captures learners’ attention, and helps you stand out from the competition in the crowded professional development marketplace.

Conversion Strategy

Let our team analyze your website and recommend tactics that will improve visitor-to-lead or visitor to cart and checkout conversion rates.

Email Marketing

Turn leads into enrollments and course purchases with email lead- and yield-nurture campaigns that offer value to learners at every point in their buyer’s journey, making the decision to choose your programs as easy as possible.

Social Media Marketing

Social media can be a gold mine for connecting with learners — or it can be a black hole for your marketing budget. We show schools and online course providers where, when, why, and how to use social media to appeal to learners from all walks of life and to boost enrollment without wasting time or money. 


higher education institution


programs in top 3 ranking on Google organic results


increase in PPC ‘apply now’ conversions


increase in leads for higher ed clients

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Webinar: Webinar: The 7 Ways Universities Can Increase Website Leads

Want to discover some of the most impactful digital marketing strategies that can help drive your university to success? Watch our webinar!

Our Work

Hear it from our clients

Vital provided my team with the guidance and expertise we needed in order to maximize synergies across our omnichannel network of digital transformative initiatives.

— Andy Kauffman

Digital Marketing Strategist, University of San Diego Online

Before Vital, we struggled to have the discipline to measure results and quantify our paid strategies. Now we know exactly what’s working. Better yet, Vital pushes us to continually improve, so we’re able stay competitive in a really tough enrollment market.

— Kim Downey

Digital Marketing Strategist, UMass

Recognition for Our Work 
in Higher Education

Professional Development, Certificate, and Course Program Challenges We Solve

Ensure that your programs thrive in the increasingly competitive professional education market, with a proven, holistic approach to attracting prospective students, job-seekers, working professionals, and lifelong learners. 

Compared to traditional higher ed courses, professional development and certification programs support a far more diverse array of learners, each with a unique set of goals and challenges. Through customer interviews and independent market research, we’ll help you nail down your audience, build buyer personas, and craft marketing strategies that speak to each segment with the right content, in the right place, at the right time. 

Finding the right marketing structure to support certificate programs can be difficult, especially for traditional higher ed institutions looking to support long-term growth by offering non-degree professional development offerings.. We can conduct a comprehensive audit of your current structure — CRO, SEO, PPC, and more — to identify weaknesses and recommend tools and solutions to set you up for future success.

For prospective students looking to advance their careers through professional development or certificates, outcomes  are everything. We work to ensure that your digital presence authentically communicates your institution or company’s value as an educational leader through brand-building and social proof that clearly demonstrates your program’s ROI.

When it comes to professional development, today’s learners have more choices than ever — and most start their search with institutions or providers they’ve already heard of. We leverage digital marketing strategies to ideally position your brand and increase awareness of your programs, so you can stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Interest is good, but registrations and course purchases are even better. Our professional development and certificate course lead-nurture and yield-nurture campaigns are strategically designed to connect with learners at every stage of investigation and consideration to maximize program growth.

Now more than ever, learners are going online to research programs, which means you need to deliver an exceptional online experience. We’ll optimize your online presence with enriched features and course pages that both excite and educate, helping learners see the incredible value your programs have to offer.

In today’s rapidly changing digital world, it’s all too easy for your organization’s formerly tried-and-true course enrollment marketing strategies and tactics to lose their effectiveness. Our professional development and certificate course program specialists do more than just stay on top of trends — they constantly innovate new approaches that your competition hasn’t thought of yet.

The strength of your graduate network is a powerful decision-making factor for many prospective learners. Our digital marketing strategies for professional development and certificate programs help you stay connected to this important audience for brand-building and enriching the value of your courses.

Essential Reading

Ebooks: Digital Enrollment Marketing for Higher Education

What’s in the eBook? This 30-page guide is your digital marketing playbook for attracting more qualified applicants, building your academic brand, and bridging the gap between acceptance and enrollment to fill more seats and grow your school’s programs.

We Know Marketing for Professional Development & Certificate Programs

Professional development and certificate programs cater to a diverse audience of ambitious professionals seeking to enhance their expertise and competitive edge in their respective fields. Unlike traditional students in residential higher ed programs, these learners demand solutions that fit seamlessly into their busy schedules and provide immediate, applicable results in their current roles, or a clear path to a new career. Course providers in this field must develop digital marketing strategies that highlight the practical benefits, flexible learning environments, and direct career impact of their courses.

As an agency that specializes in marketing professional development and certificate course programs, we can help you understand and address learners’ primary concerns and motivations, including:

Motivated job-seekers, aspiring professionals, career explorers, lifelong learners, and more — professional development programs and certificate courses cater to a diverse audience with a diverse set of needs.

Whether they’re looking to move up the ladder or to change roles or industries, learners in this audience tend to be highly career-oriented. They’re likely to prioritize programs that can demonstrate ROI in the form of success stories and testimonials from graduates who have seen tangible career benefits.

Many learners will find themselves balancing part- or full-time jobs while pursuing certification, meaning they’ll need the flexibility to balance learning with work and personal responsibilities through online learning and self-paced modules.

For many learners, the appeal of professional development is the flexibility to take either a complete program from start to finish, or individual courses on an ad hoc basis. This gives them the freedom to acquire new skills on their own terms, rather than according to someone else’s schedule.

While it’s less common for certificate programs to offer a robust support system than it is for traditional degree-granting programs, course providers have an opportunity to set themselves apart from competitors by offering direct access to instructors and technical support.

Learners are often particularly cost-sensitive, as many are financing their education independently while managing other financial responsibilities. Transparent information about costs, financing options, and potential ROI is crucial.

Why Choose Vital?

When the future of your professional development and certificate programs is at stake, you need time-tested strategies that drive results.

For over 20 years, we’ve been obsessed with finding new ways to enable our clients to achieve the goals that matter most to their success. When you partner with Vital, you get:

We evaluate your website, your brand, and your existing strategies — then fix what’s broken, build what’s missing, and set you up for long-term success.

You tell us your enrollment and program growth goals and we collaborate to build yearly, monthly, and weekly plans to get you there.

We work holistically across disciplines and platforms to build strategies that transcend tactical silos.

We harness data and AI-enabled testing to stack successes and multiply positive results.

We apply fanatical discipline to executing your strategic plan, with regular meetings, reporting, and touchpoints that leave nothing to chance.

We’ve developed long-term partnerships with some of the fastest-growing professional development and certificate providers. We like to think that’s due to three factors: our amazing people, our client-focused approach, and our proven results.

Our Process

We combine deep higher education expertise with a foundation in digital marketing for some of today’s most innovative brands to create an unconventional approach to increasing your professional development or certificate program’s enrollment rates.

Step one: Intake and assessment

Our education specialists take stock of your digital marketing performance with a baseline assessment of your current online presence and marketing activities.

Step two: Discovery and research

We conduct a thorough discovery into your brand, your digital marketing goals, your audience, and your major competitors.

Step three: Plan the work

Based on your goals and your budget, we create a plan for building your digital marketing foundation and a monthly calendar for tactical deployment, with key performance indicators (KPIs) to define and measure success.

Step four: Work the plan

Our team of strategists, designers, developers, and writers partners with your internal marketing team to create digital assets, build your content library, and execute your plan.

Step five: Measure, improve, repeat

We measure and report on your customized KPIs weekly and use the data to adjust tactics and improve performance. Our expertise allows us to balance the patience necessary for long-term improvements with the agility to respond immediately to fast-moving metrics.

Let’s Talk

Ready to reimagine your program’s digital marketing strategy and dramatically increase registrations? So are we! Let’s get the ball rolling. Our team will be in touch within 48 hours.