Think of your member engagement software as the center of a wheel that’s moving toward a great member experience.
Think of your database, your association management software (AMS), as a spoke on that wheel. When it’s integrated with your member engagement software (your online member community and marketing automation tools), it feeds useful data into your engagement software.
For example, when a new member joins your association:
- Your AMS sends that piece of data over to your integrated member engagement software.
- Your online community starts adding the member into the right sub-communities.
- Your marketing automation software triggers a new member welcome campaign.
- These communities, activities, and any actions the user took then get saved back into the AMS.
The results? Your staff enjoys the benefits of efficiency and your members enjoy a more personalized experience.
If all three components (AMS, online community, marketing automation) talk to each other, it means big things for your organization’s member strategy. For example, you’re tracking your members’ activity with your organization across the board – and you’re able to put that data to work to see three results:
- Better targeting to send more relevant content
- Improved outreach effectiveness
- Increased return on investment (including member satisfaction, retention, and acquisition)
Best of all, these results build on each other. Relevant content leads to improved outreach effectiveness, which leads to increased ROI for you and your members.
The whole wheel is moving toward a better member experience.
Result 1: Your Content Becomes More Relevant to Your Members
You want to send your members content that’s relevant, and they want to receive content that’s relevant – but it’s not always easy to identify what they want.
With an AMS-engagement platform integration, you can drive your content strategy based on the data. Targeting and segmentation based on member data are the best ways to reach members with more relevant content that’s personal to them (ideally, increasing your opens, clicks, and other engagement data).
The Illinois Association of School Business Officials (IASBO) used data from their AMS, netFORUM Pro, in their marketing automation platform to build targeted event campaigns to illustrate benefits for membership types, each with their different needs.
Delivering personalized, hyper-relevant content has transformed their engagement strategy.
Tammy Curry, Senior Graphic Designer at IASBO, said, “Integrated marketing automation was a catalyst for us to use our AMS at a deeper level…Our messages are no longer simply ‘come to our conference.’ They have evolved into ‘come to this conference that affects you in this way.’”
How do members like IASBO’s new strategy?
Tammy said, “Members are more engaged now. It’s not about delivering content we think they want, but instead what they actually want based on preferences or behavior.”
Like IASBO, they’ve broken out their member types and now send personalized content for each member. Christina Shupe, the Executive Director of VHMA, said, “We have found that the narrower the focus, the better the open and click rates are.”
You know what else?
Your communications become more efficient, too.
The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) integrated their online community with their AMS, Impexium, and created automation rule campaigns to efficiently reach members about association membership.
Sharon Conley, Web-Based Technology Director at NASN, said, “That we can get people to convert with the software we have now is really amazing.” They don’t have to do this work (clearing lapsed members and sending one-off emails) by hand anymore.
Overall, the targeted, personal campaigns you can develop using AMS integrations with both your community and your marketing automation software will improve your membership strategy, because members are finally getting the emails they want to read.
Remember how these results build on each other?
Result 2: You Improve Your Outreach.
Your new and improved targeting will dramatically improve your outreach, both from a community and marketing automation standpoint.
Better outreach to your members.
Professionals Australia has done this very successfully, using automated email drip campaigns to send series of emails on different topics, all staggered over a period of time, both for members and prospects.
Through the Higher Logic-iMIS integration, Professionals Australia collects information about their members. This process helps the association build automated email journeys based on who members are and what interests they have. Even better, this process can just keep on growing as you gather more data from their clicks and opens and community participation, making your communications more and more tailored.
For example, if one of Professionals Australia’s members uses one of their professional development courses, the association can use their database and automatic marketing to recommend the next best action to a member and set it to happen automatically instead of having to think about it the next time.
As a result of their improved, automated member onboarding and engagement journeys, Professionals Australia recorded the lowest number of member resignations for 5 years, seeing a 12.5% decline in resignations over the past year alone.
Better outreach to your prospects.
One of the services Professionals Australia wanted to advertise was bargaining and negotiation.
Before, staff and representatives would walk around an office and try to talk to employees there. Now, the association collects the email addresses of people from that company and adds them to an automated email marketing campaign.
The campaign explains why negotiations are important, how the audience might be affected, and why being together is stronger than being separate. From this single campaign, the association increased membership in that one office by about 30% in one month.
Here are a couple other examples of how the association has used automated email communications for successful member recruitment:
- Holiday Marketing: Like many associations, December usually is a quiet time for new member acquisition. But Professionals Australia ran a special campaign offering a holiday rate – taking December from one of their quietest months to the highest month of recruitment in their history.
- COVID-19: Professionals Australia has used Higher Logic Communications to test which messages resonated with potential members during the pandemic. They sent a variety of messages to potential members describing the different services they can provide. With the metrics available, they’ve been able to track which messages resonate based on opens and clicks.
Professionals Australia recorded the strongest single year of recruitment in their organization’s history –increasing recruitment by 21% – almost entirely due to the expansion of their automated marketing program. The key benefits have been to consistently get their message out to a wider audience, tailoring messages to the intended audience.
Among their younger members (under 35), they’ve seen an even greater improvement in both retention and recruitment, with losses declining by almost 16% and recruitment rising by 25%.
And your staff can do more with less.
The Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) found that automating and integrating their renewal campaigns slashed staff time spent on renewal campaigns by 50%.
Not only that, but the time they’ve saved helped them increase the number of communications they sent by 23% from the previous year, boosting engagement across their email campaigns.
Bonus: Get the best of both tools.
While it might seem like an easy fit to adopt a community tool provided by your AMS, you’ll find you’re lacking the functionality you need to create true member engagement. Instead, look for an AMS and engagement tools that will integrate (like Higher Logic) so you can get the best of both worlds.
The New Mexico Association of School Business Officials’ (NMASBO) team wanted an easy-to-use engagement platform that they could quickly implement for members, so that they could realize value from their membership and stay connected with each other — and with NMASBO.
Members needed to be able to ask questions of one another. They also needed to move fast, especially as back-to-school plans, hybrid learning options, and budget cuts created a stressful working environment.
The association switched to Higher Logic Community from the YourMembership community solution (while integrating their online community with YourMembership) to help their members stay engaged. They also implemented a virtual event strategy designed to re-create the spontaneity of in-person connection at their conferences.
Jessica Montaño, Deputy Director at NMASBO, said: “Everything is integrated between our online community and AMS, which makes my life so easy. Our members have this value-added software that’s so easy to use and it’s all coupled together so there’s no need to remember different logins or passwords. It’s a one-stop shop.”
All of this improvement in relevancy and outreach leads to something every organization wants – increased ROI.
Result 3: You Increase Your ROI.
When your systems are talking to each other, you can reach your goal of an improved membership strategy with less work and time, which will dramatically improve your ROI.
Boost your membership.
VHMA found this marketing automation integration generated a 5% increase in membership, adding an extra $18,000 in membership revenue. So, 50% of time saved, a 5% boost in revenue, and 23% more engagement? Those stats are looking pretty good.
NASN’s highest performing automation rule campaign in their community has seen a 32% conversion rate so far.
The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) integrated their marketing automation platform with their AMS, iMIS, and saw huge results (to the tune of $28,206 total reinstatement revenue in 60 days from 237 renewals).
Kaitlin Solomon, Senior Manager of Member Engagement at SNMMI, said, “Something that I know was invaluable for me, and that I’ve shared with everyone at the office, is learning the benefits of using compound target groups. Between developing personas and learning how to do the automated campaigns, it was worth every penny.”
Improve your event attendance.
For the BC Non-Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA), using marketing automation campaigns and engaging with different member types in unique ways has had a huge result on event attendance.
From 2020 to 2021, BCNPHA grew conference attendance from 400 to nearly 600 (an almost 50% increase) – despite adding a fee for registration. And with marketing automation, Krystele Chavez, Digital Communications Specialist at BCNPHA, was able to leverage the Higher Logic-iMIS integration to add the data and run the campaign.
There’s one more result I didn’t mention at the beginning – more data.
Bonus Result: You Create More Usable Data.
Your integrated AMS-community and AMS-marketing automation software will produce a wealth of data. You should step back and take in the landscape of data you’ve collected over time.
This gets you deeper into understanding what’s working or not working in your membership strategy.
The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) did this, partnering with Association Analytics to analyze the plethora of data they’d gained from integrating their online community with their AMS, Aptify.
“We built an analytics platform and ASAE helped us build a baseline,” said Julie Sciullo, President and CEO of Association Analytics. “Since Higher Logic is a standard integration, we were able to quickly and easily integrate community data into the rest of this new ecosystem, bringing to light different trends, ways to look at preexisting data, and a plan to prompt further actions. And that’s a big part of it – collecting data is cool, but what are you going to do about it?”
“Everyone talks a lot about ‘engagement,’ but we’re really close to actualizing that at ASAE, and the community is one of the key components,” said Julie.
ASAE has been working with Association Analytics to analyze the data and act on it. Through this analysis, they discovered their community had improved revenue, event registration, and member retention.
AMS Integration Takeaway
You can improve your member experience by expanding the scope of your AMS integrations.
All three pieces of software should complement each other in service of your larger goal of an improved membership experience.
Connect your community and your marketing automation software to your AMS, and you’re well on your way to achieving these three sweet results.
Beth’s marketing experience encompasses more than twenty-five years of marketing strategy and member/customer engagement in various industries, including puzzles and games, training, education and aviation.
In addition to marketing, Beth has worked in event management and web development, wearing a variety of hats in different positions. She has also been an adjunct professor of marketing at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia.
Beth received a Bachelor of Science degree in Merchandising from James Madison University, a Certificate in Event Management from The George Washington University, and a Masters of Business Administration/Marketing from the University of Phoenix. She has earned numerous awards for her marketing, including two Top Digital Marketer of the Year awards.
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