Extending Your Online Member Reach: 5 Tips for Associations
Whether your association is seeking to grow your membership base or communicate with your current members in a more engaging manner, you’re sure to benefit from reworking your online strategy.
When it comes to your organization’s online presence, your members are looking for easy-to-use platforms that provide all of the information they need in an accessible location.
When all of your association’s software—including your website, your association management system (AMS), your event management solution, and your member database—work together, you’ll always have access to the most updated information available about your members. This can help you tailor your communications toward your members and better understand what they’re looking for from your association.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which your association can use your online tools to reach out to your members more effectively. We’ll show you how you can:
- Automatically update member information in your CRM.
- Spread the word about upcoming events.
- Provide your members with online opportunities to grow.
- Stay connected to your members through your AMS.
- Facilitate the creation of member-driven communities.
To best address your members’ interests and needs, your association needs to gather enough information on them first! This process is much more efficient when your AMS and website platform are integrated.
1. Automatically update member information in your CRM.
Your association benefits from all of the information you have on each of your members. This includes their names, contact information, careers and work affiliations, and membership information such as the length of time they have been part of your association.
As this information changes, your association software can help you ensure that the updates appear in your customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Using your association management system (AMS), you can create and add to comprehensive member profiles that help you:
- Stay in contact with your members. Collecting contact information for your members, including their preferred communication methods will help you structure your outreach efforts. These communications are especially useful for strengthening your connections with new members and ensuring a smooth onboarding process.
- Provide members with the information they need. Members benefit from belonging to your organization because they’re able to form professional connections with other members. Detailed member profiles and a member directory make your association’s website a valuable resource for all of your members.
- Showcase your members’ achievements. Your AMS can use badges and certificates to indicate your members’ successful participation in various professional development and training opportunities. These recognitions are also helpful guides for other members who may want to connect with their counterparts who are accomplished in certain areas or skills.
Member profiles in your AMS benefit both your association and your members. To ensure that your association has gathered as much available information as possible to better understand your members, you should integrate your AMS with your CRM.
If your association already uses Salesforce, a native app not only saves your team the time and effort of the integration process but also automatically transfers the member records you have stored in Salesforce to your AMS. If a native app sounds like the right solution for your association, you can check out re:Charity’s list of the top Salesforce apps to learn more about your options.
Your AMS isn’t the only software solution that your organization can integrate with your CRM. Salesforce users can also integrate their CRM and website so that you can gather information from members who interact with your association’s website, whether they’re paying their dues or registering for your next event.
2. Spread the word about upcoming events.
Conferences and other events are an excellent way for your members to interact in person, making valuable connections with each other and spreading ideas that lead to growth and innovation in their professional fields.
Your association can improve conference attendance and engage with more members by spreading the word about your upcoming events online.
To make more members aware of your next event and get them excited about attending, leverage the event management features that your association management database and website platform provides. These include:
- Event pages. Your association can create an event page through your website platform to share the agenda for the upcoming event as well as more information on the presentations or speakers. Don’t forget to link to your event page across all social media channels where your members are most likely to see it!
- Registration discounts. Many times, associations offer early bird or members-only registration discounts for their events. When members register through your website or AMS, the appropriate discounts automatically apply, saving them time. Make sure you communicate these discounts to your members to encourage them to register.
- Information transfer. Make event registration even more convenient for your members easier for your association to manage by designing your website on a platform that integrates with your AMS. This way, members can register through your website and their information will automatically transfer to your AMS
As your association gains new members and facilitates their professional development through opportunities such as events, many of your members will seek further means of engagement with your association. You can use online platforms to provide them with more opportunities for growth and development.
3. Provide your members with online opportunities to grow.
Your members join your association to connect with others in their profession and learn valuable new information and skills pertaining to their work. You can help them develop their skill set by offering them continuing education courses through an association learning management system (LMS).
Using an association LMS, you can offer your members courses that are customized to their professional interests and needs. Once they have completed their first course, your LMS will recommend them additional courses based on their past purchase history. You can learn more about the structure of an association LMS here.
On the right platform, eLearning can be just as engaging and effective as a traditional classroom. If you’d like to provide your members with this valuable educational opportunity, look for an association LMS with the following features:
- Interactive modules. Multimedia components such as videos, along with interactive areas, get members more involved in the learning process and promote greater engagement with the content.
- Gamification elements. Badges and scoreboards motivate your learners to progress through their courses. After they have successfully completed the courses, their achievements show up on their member profiles if your AMS and LMS are integrated.
- An adaptive learning experience. Your learners want to know where they’re excelling in their courses and where they can improve. Look for an LMS that provides corrections and additional information based on which material they need more help with.
An association LMS provides your members with valuable learning opportunities and provides your association with updates on your members’ progress. With integrated software solutions, you can gather this information and more valuable member data in your AMS.
4. Stay connected to your members through your AMS.
Your AMS is central to running your association and staying connected to all of your members.
Use your AMS to keep your members updated on recent news related to your association and guide them to the information they need to remain active members.
For larger or growing associations, an influx of new members can necessitate a shift in your communications strategies. You can use the automated communication features of your AMS to:
- Spread the word about upcoming events. Invite your members to your event and direct them toward registration on your website. Link to your event page so that members can learn more about the event such as the date, location and activities.
- Remind members to pay their dues. Sending reminders about upcoming and late dues payments can be time-consuming. However, your AMS can automate both the communications and collection processes, making this necessary component of association management much easier for you.
- Keep members in the loop. Have other updates you want to share with your members? Automated communications ensure that you can spread the word in just a few clicks. To share this information with a wider audience—including, for instance, potential members—you can also post it on your membership website.
When you use automated communications effectively, you can keep your members updated on your association’s most recent developments without draining your team members’ time. Fonteva’s guide to association management systems offers more valuable insight into the ways in which your AMS can help your association run more efficiently.
While many of the automated communications you send out will apply to all of your members, some news and events are specific to regional chapters or groups within your larger association. You can increase member involvement in your association by helping them create smaller communities specific to their regional chapters.
5. Facilitate the creation of member-driven communities.
Your association can strengthen members’ connections to one another and better serve their professional development needs through the creation of regional chapters. Use your AMS to give members belonging to regional chapters the opportunity to form their own groups.
Regional chapter groups within your larger AMS can use the platform to schedule their own events, share information that is relevant to them and have discussions. In addition to regional groups, your association can also facilitate member-driven communities and conversations through your AMS in the form of:
- Discussion forums. Interested members can share ideas on the topics that most concern or interest them using discussion boards and forums.
- Digital workspaces. Excellent for collaborative work on shared projects, digital workspaces can help bring your association’s members together.
- Committees. Like groups and sub-groups for regional chapters, committees bring together subsets of your association’s members, especially those who share a location or specific goals.
Your association will attract more members and generate more excitement among your current ones when you use your AMS to provide them with more online opportunities to interact with one another and share their ideas. Make the most of the features your AMS contains to reach out to your members and help them connect.
With the help of your association management system, your association can communicate efficiently and effectively with your members and provide them with plenty of opportunities for professional growth. Your software solutions can help you share information and bring members closer together.