Ever have that sinking feeling you’re falling behind in using the tools necessary for effective, modern association communications that keep you competitive?
Tech Is Getting Better, and Getting Better Faster
Technology is not only always changing, it’s changing faster and faster. There are now tools out there capable of amazing functionalities with the potential to transform our organizations and the way we serve members.
Technology is also changing the lives of members and how they seek out and use information. In the process, they’re leaving behind a vast trail of data that could better inform associations what each member needs, and how best to serve up those needs.
A Firehose of Valuable Information
The amount of available data is increasing exponentially. A 2021 survey by Leftonic found that 90% of all data in the world was generated just within the past two years, as online users produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day.
Which leaves some questions for association communications leaders:
- Is your existing technology set up to take advantage of this data?
- How does your tech stack “stack up” against that of your competitors?
- Do you feel you’ve been just “getting by” with what you have?
- Is your technology meeting the expectations of today’s members?
Reluctant to Change?
When is the “right” time to invest in updated technology?
The rapidly changing tech landscape makes some association leaders reluctant to be early adopters, concerned that being “guinea pigs” will leave them with untested systems that don’t work, or by the time they implement new systems, they’ll already be behind again.
The problem with that thinking?
- You won’t be an early adopter. Most technology tools that collect, aggregate, integrate, analyze, and distribute data for better decision-making and content creation have been around long enough to have been thoroughly vetted.
- Today’s systems factor in the changing landscape by providing cloud-based subscription models that are constantly updating to meet new challenges and provide new features and new experiences.
- By staying put, you will only continue to fall behind, and your member experience will continue to degrade. Your staff will also lose out on efficiencies provided by new software.
- Ultimately, you may lose out to organizations who provide a convenient, streamlined and customer-centric technology-first approach to engagement.
Four Signs It’s Time for a Change
So how do you know it’s time for a change? Look for these signs:
1) You have a bunch of unintegrated tools
Imagine a football team. Each player has a position with a unique role for every play. Now imagine that team has no coach, no playbook, and never practices together. It would result in almost laughable chaos and loss after loss.
Yet this is how many associations are running their operations, assembling various software and technology tools that don’t talk to or work with each other. Sure, each tool may do a wonderful job of what you adopted it to do. But without true integration, each must perform as an island.
That kind of setup introduces several problems that limit your organization.
- The data you do get can never be unified, which means inefficient data flow. It’s fed separately into each system and gets updated (or not) multiple times across the tools in your tech stack.
- Lessons learned from the data that gets analyzed in each tool stays put. It does not transfer to other systems in the organization for aggregation.
- Staff spend way too much time pulling data from one place and manually entering it into another.
- The disconnects invite errors and old/bad data with little to no context.
- Data can’t be leveraged for things like automated drip campaigns because the data can’t go right to your email program.
- You can’t personalize or effectively target your messaging because the data needed is not readily available. Members probably find many of your emails irrelevant and unwanted.
2) Your staff is wasting a lot of time
What do you want your staff to spend their time doing? Probably what they’re really good at and that members find value in—in short, the skills they were hired for. That’s not happening if your association staff is spending hours, or even weeks, a month, moving, entering and reconciling data from many different sources.
This not only limits staff time on other critical matters, but also limits scalability. By spending your time serving your technology instead of the other way around, you have no room for growth.
3) You’re not really saving any money
“But if I stick with the status quo, then we won’t need to spend money on technology.” Right?
Many people follow that rationale with cars. They keep a car that’s paid for, only to pour money into it over and over again, until that old car cost more than a new, reliable one.
The “cost of no decision” – sticking to your old disconnected systems – can be far greater than making a change, for several reasons.
- You can’t streamline operations, so your operations budget balloons out of control.
- You spend loads of money on support services from multiple vendors, and costs creep up as you’re charged for each little issue.
- Your members have a hard time working through your online systems, or get frustrated at the varied user experiences between things like paying dues and registering for events.
4) You don’t know who your members are
The point of adopting great tech is to provide a great member experience. Gathering and using data to serve members better is how you accomplish that. If you find yourself struggling to form clear pictures of your overall membership, membership segments, and interests of your members, you should know by now your tech stack is not serving you well.
One System to Seamlessly Drive All Member Communications
The only thing certain is change. Technology is changing, members are changing, and associations must also be willing to adapt to serve members in the best ways possible.
A comprehensive, unified member communications platform like Higher Logic Thrive can turn the sinking feeling that you’re using a flip phone in a smartphone world into a certainty that you have the right system for maximum member service and growth.
Product Marketing Manager
Sarah Spinosa is the product marketing manager for the association line of business at Higher Logic. Sarah is a veteran of the association industry, with over 15 years of marketing experience. She had been using Higher Logic products for nearly a decade prior to joining the Orange Army in February 2022. She has also worked with SaaS organizations. Sarah served on the 2023 ASAE MMCC Program Advisory Council and as an ASAE Gold Circle Award judge.
Sarah holds a BA in Political Science from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, two daughters, and two rescue dogs in northern Virginia.
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