By guest author: Fonteva, a software company specializing in association and membership management tools for Salesforce.
Whether you’re communicating with members, processing dues payments, or planning your next event, your association’s members and team benefit tremendously from efficient management. With the right technology on your side, your association can accomplish more for your members while making the best use of your time and energy.
Technology has changed most interactions and procedures that your members take part in on a regular basis, in their professional lives and within your association. One of the most valuable ways that associations can leverage technology is through your association management system (AMS).
Let’s take a look at some of the ways that your association can use your AMS and other helpful software solutions to:
- Keep member data stored and organized in your CRM.
- Facilitate member-driven management strategies.
- Leverage eCommerce and event management capabilities.
- Automate communications to foster efficient connection.
- Keep members updated using your website.
Integrating your software systems can solve some of the most significant association management roadblocks and ensure a smooth process going forward. If your association uses a CRM in addition to your AMS, integrated systems (or a native app) can help ensure that you can gather and access the member information you need.
1. Keep member data stored and organized in your CRM.
When your association needs to reference information about your members, from their preferred contact methods to their professional fields, it’s likely that you turn to your CRM to access that data. By integrating your AMS with your CRM, you can guarantee that your data is always seamlessly updated between systems. This means you will always have access to the most accurate information on your members.
If you’re one of the many associations using Salesforce as your CRM, you can choose an AMS built directly on Salesforce, bypassing the integration process and saving your team time. You can check out Fonteva’s association management software guide to learn more about how native Salesforce apps work and the benefits they can bring to your association management process.
Whether your association uses an integrated or a native AMS, connecting the two systems allows you to benefit from:
- Automatic data entry. When members complete continuing education courses, register for events, or make updates to their information through your AMS, these changes will appear automatically in your CRM. This ensures that your records are up-to-date.
- Comprehensive member profiles. Members can provide helpful information each time they login to your AMS to update their own profiles. These profiles can be further supplemented by automatically transferred information from your CRM. Choose an AMS that facilitates the creation of comprehensive member profiles and features ways to recognize outstanding work, like badges that represent completed courses.
- Segmented communications. Using the information from your AMS and CRM, you can segment your members according to various categories and send communications addressing the needs and interests of each group.
By using your AMS and CRM effectively, you can minimize the potential for human error and redundancy in your data entry process, saving time and helping you gather valuable information about your members.
2. Facilitate member-driven management strategies.
It’s likely that your association has many members spread out all over the country and perhaps even the world. You’ll be better prepared to tailor your association’s offerings to your members’ various preferences when you allow them to make some of the decisions. Choose an AMS that facilitates the creation of member-driven committees, communities, and regional chapters.
Chapter and community leaders can use your association management software to find and invite members to their groups who share their geographic region, professional interests, or other relevant attributes. Your association will want to look for an AMS that allows them to:
- Communicate with the members of their chapter or community. Member communities should be able to use the same email and online communication features of your AMS that your association uses to reach members more broadly.
- Host regional events. Regional events allow more of your association’s members to benefit from making valuable connections with their colleagues in person. Choose an AMS that gives the leaders of regional chapters access to the same event registration and management features that you use for association-wide events.
- Keep in touch with members via mobile. Look for an AMS with a mobile app that committees, regional chapters, and other subgroups can use to communicate with their members and keep them updated on the latest opportunities available to them.
Member-run committees, communities, and regional chapters encourage and provide more opportunities for collaboration and teamwork within your association. Facilitating these networking and planning opportunities makes your association more valuable to your members’ professional interests.
Whether it’s association-wide or intended for a specific regional chapter, an event is an excellent way to provide these in-person opportunities. Use your AMS to make the registration and management processes as smooth as possible.
3. Leverage eCommerce and event management capabilities.
Conferences and other events bring your members together, help your association build brand recognition, and provide an opportunity for increasing non-dues revenue through the sale of branded merchandise. In other words, they’re incredibly valuable to your association and you won’t want to miss out! Increase attendance at your next event and save your association’s team time by using your AMS to facilitate event registration and management.
To ensure that your event is well-attended, the registration process should be convenient and the highlights and offerings at the event should be relevant to your members’ professional interests. Your AMS can help you:
- Make registration easy for your members. When your members register for your event using your AMS, they won’t have to spend time re-entering information that you already have stored in their member profiles or in your CRM. You’ll also be able to gather the information they enter to keep your database updated.
- Keep members updated using event microsites. Event microsites are websites created through your AMS that are dedicated to your upcoming event. You can use them to share the agenda with your members, get them excited about your main presentations or speakers, and keep them informed as sessions fill up.
- Sell event merchandise through your eCommerce platform. Give attendees the opportunity to bring home a souvenir from your event that also helps spread the word about your organization. Looking for just the right item to sell using the eCommerce platform on your AMS? Partner with an online firm like Bonfire to design event t-shirts for your members.
Well-planned events keep attendees engaged, lowering your turnover among members and encouraging them to feel proud about their involvement in your association. To make sure they know about upcoming events and other news from your association, use your AMS to send automated communications.
4. Automate communications to foster efficient connection.
It can be difficult to stay in touch with each and every member of your association, especially if your membership base is large or growing. Automated communications ensure that you can share news without leaving anyone out, even if you’re sending your message to your entire association.
Choose an AMS that allows you to automate communications to all of your members as well as to select groups, including regional chapters. Automated communications can save your team time and energy on some of the most essential association management processes, including:
- Dues reminders and collection. Make the dues collection process hassle-free by sending automated communications to your members reminding them when their payments are coming up, due, and late. You can also automate the dues payment process using your member management software.
- Event reminders. Maximize attendance at your next conference or event by sending automated reminders encouraging your members to sign up. If the event is for members who share a specific geographical region, leaders within that regional chapter can automate communications to their members.
- eLearning course recommendations. If you’re using an association learning management system, also known as an eLearning platform, to offer your members continuing education courses, you can automate course recommendations based on their previous purchases within your association LMS.
Automation saves your association’s team time and ensures efficient communication with members, both association-wide and within specific groups. As an additional source of important information for your members, don’t forget to keep your website updated.
5. Keep members updated using your website.
When your members have questions related to your association, it’s likely that your website is one of the first places they go to find their answers. Your website is also an important source of information for potential members who are considering joining your association. Especially if you haven’t updated it in a while, it’s a good idea to give your association’s website a refresher.
The best association websites are engaging without being distracting, providing visitors with content that encourages them to explore your offerings in more depth while always directing them to the information they’re looking for. As you update your site, make sure it offers:
- A clean and modern layout. Choose a design that showcases news about your association and pertinent information, such as the deadline to register for upcoming events. Multimedia elements including photos and videos can be highly effective when used in moderation. You can find additional web design tips here.
- A protected members area. Members should easily be able to login to their profiles and other password-protected components of your site to which they have access. The link to this area should be prominent and the security level should be high.
- A mobile-responsive design. As we grow more and more attached to our smartphones, it’s likely that your members will want access to your website on-the-go. Make sure that all components of the site are easily accessible and functional no matter the type of device your members may be using to reach them.
Your association can use your website, AMS, and other technology to make managing every aspect of your operations easier and increase member engagement in the process. When your members are kept well-informed about programming and other opportunities that closely match their professional goals, they’ll be proud to participate and are sure to stay involved.
Using helpful software solutions to make your association management process easier gives your team more time to create programming that addresses your members’ specific needs and interests, encouraging their participation. Everyone involved with your association will benefit from the management solutions that these helpful software systems facilitate.
Jake Fabbri is the Vice President of Marketing at Fonteva with over 18 years of experience working in marketing management. He has experience with lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and event planning.