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Getting Pumped Up for the Web


Building a Digital Certification Strategy

Since 1954, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has been the recognized industry leader in research and certification for health and fitness professionals.

Known as the “gold standard” because of their level of expertise, high standards, and history of excellence, ACSM needed a digital certification strategy that extended the reach of their brand without compromising an inch on quality.

ACSM welcomed us into their certification team, with an open mind towards trying new strategies that were designed to increase exposure and engagement, with the ultimate goal of raising certification levels so that ACSM could support more research, education, and advance public health.




Finding the Audiences

Speaking to such a diverse set of health professionals, personal trainers, students, educators, and future certified professionals meant that, before building anything, we had to determine who we were going to reach.
Working with ACSM, we outlined four core audiences: general certification, club owners and personal trainers, higher education, and clinics or hospitals. By segmenting ACSM’s loyal following into distinct audiences, we would be able to better communicate the value and opportunities, and foster growth within the ACSM brand.

ACSM has an amazing community of members and committees who are all excited about their craft. We immediately saw a huge opportunity to tap into this community to create and promote truly inspired content.
Dan Fahrner, Client Service Director
Dan Fahrner, Client Service Director


Optimizing the Certification Process

We built a fresh, new micro-site for ACSM Certification that simplified the user’s path to learning about, choosing, and beginning the certification purchase process, regardless of specialty.

Because ACSM professionals also need further development in the form of re-certification, continuing education, and access to the latest research material, we also created clear paths to those common destinations.

To make it even easier, we created clear calls-to-action and infographics designed to swiftly communicate the sometimes-tricky specifics of certifications to web users.

Collaborating on Content Marketing

We also built a process for ACSM to tap into existing volunteers and certified professionals to contribute to content marketing efforts.

Once our audience research was complete, we fleshed out a content strategy, created new email marketing templates and launched a blog. We leveraged ACSM-generated and curated content towards each crowd, encouraging them to engage with ACSM online, as well as continue on the path towards professional development.

To help humanize the brand we also worked with board members and health & fitness professionals to create a series of videos that explain the true value of an ACSM Certification. Our creative approach was driven by personalized interviews that showcase members in their natural, professional work environment.

Our content marketing strategy also leveraged the incredibly broad expertise of ACSM members to create ongoing blog content on issues from professional opportunities, to new trends or research, to highlights of certified professionals. The ACSM extended network then is able to re-broadcast the produced material to their own communities, increasing the reach, engagement, and ACSM’s overall web presence.

To maximize the effect of the new Certification site, and all of the content

ACSM was generating, we also embarked on focused keyword advertising via Google, in order to drive more qualified users to the “gold standard.”




Time to Flex!

With all the heavy-lifting out of the way and an established content marketing strategy, ACSM Certification saw a 100% increase in organic traffic and conversions.

Digging into each channel, we saw huge levels of engagement via blog posts, email lists, and social media – signs that ACSM was staying top-of-mind with its core audiences.

But the real muscle was in the number of new certifications: up 100% YTD. That’s a lot of qualified professionals who are “helping people worldwide live longer, healthier lives.” And that’s something everyone can get behind.

We are at 109% of last year YTD! My thanks to all of you for the role you have played in making this happen.
Dick Cotton, Director of ACSM Certification

Next Steps

The next phase of the project will find a continuation and expansion of our content marketing collaboration, from creating more focused content to further optimizing the entire certification process (from studying to testing).

We’re committed to making ACSM the gold standard online, as well as off, and with a committed, empowering organization that values ideation, creation, and analysis, we’re confident that we’re already off and running!

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