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Sector and AuSAE News

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  • 26 Nov 2020 4:49 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    2020 taught us a lot about strategic planning—this is what associations can do about it.

    If you are an association professional, we don’t have to tell you that you’re working harder than ever before. When the pandemic hit, you scrambled, pivoted, learned new tech on the fly and did whatever needed to be done to keep your members informed and your organization alive.

    Without question, associations big and small rose to meet this year’s unimaginable challenges. It was exhausting, at times frustrating, but you’re still standing. And now here’s the thing, a study conducted by Community Brands of over 1,000 association members says now is not the time to take your foot off the gas. If you upped your game in 2020, you’re really going to have to up your game in 2021.

    More than 50 percent of our respondents said that they value their membership more than they did before the pandemic, and member engagement rates show that. Associations have always been important to the people they serve, but now members see them as absolutely vital, and with more online and virtual options more members are engaging.

    So what can association professionals do in 2021 to meet the needs of current members, grow their membership base, increase revenue streams and not completely collapse from exhaustion? How do you meet big goals in a realistic and sustainable way? Our research has identified three key areas that truly matter to members, and that if executed thoughtfully, will make work for association professionals more impactful and more efficient.

    CONCENTRATE YOUR RESOURCES ON GIVING MEMBERS WHAT THEY WANT

    Associations do so many things for their members, but our research shows that a whopping 87 percent of those surveyed pointed to virtual meetings and conferences as the most helpful channels for building community and sharing information. Whether attendees are looking for new job opportunities, networking or education, these events are seen as crucial for career advancement. Again and again, we heard that while big splashy events are great, members really want more frequency and intimacy. Every event is an opportunity for growth, so associations would be wise to invest in tech that makes hosting and streaming with add-ons like breakout rooms simple and easy. While 2020 was a scramble where glitches and sometimes lackluster events were forgivable because everyone was learning how to do them in real-time, 2021 will be different. Higher expectations have been set, you need to meet or exceed them to keep people coming back for more.

    GET BACK YOUR OWN TIME

    Spending more time and energy on projects like these requires, well, more time and energy. While you can’t add more hours to the day, you can use technology to automate repetitive administrative tasks that eat away at your resources (password resets, dues reminders and the like.) Stealing back a few hours a day can make a massive difference to your workflow, and to your members. Assess what’s most valuable to your members’ in today’s environment, and focus there to make the biggest impact.

    FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF NETFLIX AND AMAZON

    Our research shows that more members are joining as students or within the first five years of employment—these are young people so your technology had better be on point. They want the convenience and ease they get with Netflix, Amazon and all of the other digital platforms they use. There should be no reason a member needs to re-enter a credit card number every time they want to buy something. There should be no reason that they can’t auto-renew a membership, or make monthly payments. Your goal is to remove as much friction as possible. Giving people the seamless tech experience they’re used to will help you retain and recruit more members.

    2020 was a year of unprecedented struggle. By taking strategic direction from the insights gleaned from our study, associations can make 2021 a year of unprecedented growth.

    This article was brought to you by Community Brands, the leading provider of cloud-based software to associations. To learn more about the association business model of the future, watch Preparing for 2021 and beyond on-demand webinar.

  • 19 Nov 2020 10:29 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    Last week Causeis launched their Digital Academy to resounding success! So much so, they are hosting another one before the year is out. 

    The next course is again set over two half days, 9.30am - 12.30pm (AEDT), commencing on Tuesday 8th December and finishing on Thursday 10th December. 

    Register now complimentary: https://www.causeis.com.au/Digital-Academy

    "Fantastic learnings and discussions around the future of tech and digital trends for associations." Jazz Tyrril, participant from the first Digital Academy


    This workshop-style course was designed to specifically help association professionals navigate digital transformation while remaining focused on the member experience. Attendees were immersed in learning the tools needed to formulate a comprehensive digital strategy and how to help their association adapt to a changing operating environment with confidence. An exclusive event for association executives and managers, it focused on defining and implementing a Digital and MX Strategy. The training covers:

    • Why is a Digital and MX Strategy critical for your association?
    • The interrelation of data, process, and experience
    • What can the past teach us?
    • Creating a culture of innovation
    • The role of member experience in your digital strategy
    • Framework for Digital and MX Strategy implementation
    • Industry leaders give us their predictions for digital strategy and future tech.

    *Numbers are limited to 50 seats

  • 19 Nov 2020 10:04 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    17 November 2020

    • BECA welcomes the commencement of the $50 million Business Events Grant Program – the Government’s support mechanism for the business events industry.
    • Austrade has opened EOIs to event owners to establish a Schedule of Approved Business Events. Owners of Approved Business Events may be eligible for grants under the program and Australian businesses wishing to attend will be able to apply for funding to cover up to 50% of eligible costs.
    • Industry continues to advise the Government on the grant guidelines. These will be announced as phase two of the grants program roll-out.
    • BECA urged State and Territory leaders to act proportionately in response to new outbreaks to ensure business confidence can be rebuilt.

    The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) has welcomed the commencement of the Government’s $50 million Business Events Grants Program which was announced by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and portfolio ministers in September 2020.

    As a first phase Austrade has opened an EOI process to business event owners to establish a Schedule of Approved Business Events. BECA has urged business event owners across Australia to submit EOIs by 30 November to ensure their events can be considered for the Schedule when phase two of the grants Program opens in mid-December.

    “BECA are pleased with the design of this first phase and think it has identified the most important aspects of the contribution the business events industry can make to the recovery of the Australian economy,” Chair of BECA, Dr Vanessa Findlay said.

    “The industry looks forward to working with the Government on the finalisation of grant guidelines and subsequent launch and allocation of grants across the business events industry.”

    Australia’s $36 billion business events industry was one of the first and hardest hit industries by COVID-19 and may be one of the last to recover, due to the long lead times between booking and holding a major business event. The industry virtually ground to a halt in 2020 with most business events scheduled cancelled or postponed.

    In welcoming the program’s commencement BECA noted the Government’s focus on the importance of the industry and the jobs that it supports. In September, Minister Birmingham said, “Our business events sector is doing it incredibly tough at present and getting events put back into the calendar will help this key part of our tourism industry which supports around 230,000 jobs turn the corner.”

    Prime Minister Morrison stated ‘’Getting business events up and running again will be a critical part of the recovery of our tourism industry but will also have huge flow-on effects through the entire economy.”

    “The industry has its fingers crossed that the design of the grants program will provide the necessary financial boost and confidence to business event owners to book and hold their business event during 2021,” Dr Findlay said.

    “Another year of cancelled and postponed events would put the entire Australian business events industry in a questionable recovery position. Without a solid recovery in 2021, the whole logistics and supply chain for the industry could be dislocated to a point where the impacts are felt for years to come. We do not want to see the industry focused on 5 years of rebuilding, before moving to recovery and then rebound.”

    “This grants program must first and foremost turn positive sentiment into confidence, and that confidence into event bookings.”

    Noting the developing reaction and reimposition of border controls to the recent COVID-19 cluster in South Australia, the business events industry urged Premiers and Chief Ministers to react proportionately.

    “As I watch the knee-jerk reaction of some Premiers around the country to the South Australian cluster with no notice, I fear the worst for any business trying to rebuild confidence in this uncertain environment,” Dr Findlay said.

    “For business events, this means decision-makers – those that bear 100% of the risk - will favour the continuation of virtual meetings over in-person meetings, which will have serious consequences for the Australian industry and the economy if delegates can’t move around the country with confidence.”

    BECA’s most significant priority is to create an environment where business event owners are confident to plan, book and hold a business event. Only then can the benefits of the industry flow across the economy.

    BECA will continue to advise the Government on the design and implementation of the Business Events Grants Program to achieve its primary objective – the restart of the business events industry in Australia – as well as other policies that will support the recovery and rebound phase.

    <ENDS>

    For information contact:
    Dr Vanessa Findlay
    BECA Chair
    vfindlay@businesseventscouncil.org.au

  • 19 Nov 2020 5:46 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    As the internet continuously evolves and changes, organizations that regularly fine-tune, tweak and adapt their content strategies are more likely to stay ahead of the competition.

    If you keep your content strategy the same year after year, your organization might not suffer in any obvious ways. But in the long run, this stasis can undermine your organization’s overall success. 

    There are many ways to experiment with content, but three tactics can help ##: Monitoring engagement, making adjustments and setting goals for improvement. 

    Monitor how people engage with your content

    Every once in a while, a blog post will unexpectedly take off. Traffic will flood your website, engagement will skyrocket on social media and your newsletter sign-ups will suddenly spike. It’s a wonderful feeling — and one you’ll aim to replicate.

    There are many variables at play when this happens. Maybe the news cycle made your content especially timely. Or perhaps an influencer sparked a wave of engagement. But often, many factors are actually within your control. 

    If certain topics are consistently engaging your audience, lean into making them a focus of your content strategy. Understanding exactly what your audience responds to will help you craft content that meets their interests and needs.

    Similarly, if certain types of posts rarely receive engagement, it may be best to discontinue them. Doing so will allow you to devote more energy to content that drives the best results.

    Experiment with adjustments

    At a certain point, you may accumulate a backlog of content that doesn’t attract much traffic or engagement. Rather than quietly removing it or charging ahead with more content, your organization should experiment to see whether simple tweaks can produce better results.

    For example, a past blog post might offer helpful content in an SEO-unfriendly format. In this situation, you might identify the most important keyword, then edit the post so this keyword appears in the headers and body copy. Next, look for opportunities to break long blocks of text into scannable lists or bullet points. 

    Simple changes like this may help you recover the time and resources you already invested, while informing your approach to future content.

    Set goals for improvement

    As you begin to refine what content your audience craves and best practices for formatting it, you can establish new goals and metrics. 

    Initial content goals should be simple and attainable, such as maintaining a regular production schedule for an entire quarter. Once your content strategy has a sustainable workflow, the possibilities are truly endless. 

    Common content strategy goals include:

    • Growing your list of newsletter subscribers by adding calls to action
    • Improving engagement on social media by posting more often
    • Launching a contributed content program to increase the frequency of posting
    • Experimenting with new forms of multimedia
    • Creating partnership or syndication agreements with like-minded organizations

    As you reach and set increasingly ambitious goals, focus your energy on tactics that will grow your audience over time. 

    BY ASSOCIATIONSUCCESS.ORG STAFF | NOVEMBER 16, 2020

  • 12 Nov 2020 8:44 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    New Zealand's largest gathering of association executive professionals is underway in Wellington. The two-and-a-half-day Australasian Society of Association Executives LINC Conference is being held at Shed 6 on the city's waterfront and kicked off on Sunday evening with a welcome function at Flamingo Joes.

    As well as providing networking opportunities, the conference is connecting delegates with thought leaders who are shifting the way we approach leadership, the economy and change.

    Further coverage of the conference will be in the November/December edition of Meeting Newz out later this month.


  • 12 Nov 2020 5:26 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Before immediately jumping to a survey to assess member needs, take the time to get to know their preferences so you can create a responsive tool to find out what they actually want. Here are five tips to guide you.


    Whenever association professionals start thinking about conducting a member needs assessment, they tend to leap immediately to a survey. Surveys usually include the usual prompts: “Rate our programs on importance and performance,” “On a scale of 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with the association?” and “How likely are you to recommend membership to a colleague?” In my experience—at both small and large associations—jumping straight into planning a survey is not a great place to start.
    Instead, take time to do some preliminary work that will lay the groundwork for an effective member needs assessment. Here are five important steps.

    Review what you already know about the relationship between your association and your members. 

    Interviewing the frontline employees who answer the phones and emails and who monitor social media can give you a lot of insight. Find out what members are reaching out about, what they’re angry about, what needs are not being met, and more. If you have the time, consider tracking member communications for a month or longer. This is easy to do on a shared spreadsheet, in your association management system, or in a Google form.

    Gather all the data you have on members. 

    In a perfect world, this should all be in your AMS, but many associations use different systems for events, education, certifications, and research. You may not be able to collate the data collected in those systems with the information in your AMS, but it is still worth looking at what events members attend, which webinars they register for and actually view, who is certified, how many serve on committees or in other volunteer roles, and what past surveys have revealed. This will help clarify which members are highly involved with the association and what member involvement looks like.

    Understand the competitive environment. 

    Look on LinkedIn and Facebook to see if there are groups that are meeting some of your members’ networking needs. Determine what other events members are attending. Review similar associations or for-profit companies that overlap your value proposition.

    Review your membership situation. 

    Look at renewal trends over the past decade. Is your retention steady, declining, or growing? Are first-year members renewing for a second year? Are your new-member rates steady, declining, or growing? Are your new members similar to your long-term members? Membership data has many nuances that can be analyzed, but you need to identify he purpose of the member needs assessment.

    Membership data has many nuances that can be analyzed, but you need to identify he purpose of the member needs assessment.

    Interview select members on the phone, virtually, or, ideally, at events in the future. 

    It would also be insightful to interview former members and nonmembers who interact with your association without joining. Use the information you have gathered in steps one through four to put together five key questions for the interviews. Don’t ask too many questions; give them time to talk about anything related to the association. You can learn a lot when you allow the interviewee to guide the conversation.After collating and analyzing what you have learned in these five steps, then you are ready to develop a member needs survey. First, clearly define the purpose of the assessment. Identify what is most important to know and how the data will be used. If you cannot determine how the information will be used, then drop that question. If something will not change, such as the location of your conference, don’t ask about it.

    The key is to keep the survey short and only ask questions that bring new insights or are needed for comparison with previous surveys. If possible, design the survey to use the information that you can collate for each member and non-member, such as events you know they have attended for example. It would mean you do not have to ask them first if they attended the event when asking about event value. The more the survey questions reflect what you know about each respondent the better the completion rate.

    Fully understanding the membership environment is valuable for many reasons. And it is essential for developing an effective member needs survey.

    Melissa Teates, CAE

    Melissa Teates, CAE, is the principal and chief research officer at Worthwhile Research


  • 11 Nov 2020 3:52 PM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    Members continue to engage with their associations, even in crisis, according to a new report, which reveals a surprise top member benefit and one that is rapidly emerging. Here are some insights to light the way forward.

    A new report from software provider Community Brands, Association Trends 2020: From Disruption to Opportunity [PDF], finds that despite the many challenges this year has brought, member engagement continues to grow and loyalty to associations is strong.

    Fifty-one percent of members surveyed said their association is more important to them today than before the pandemic. And they’re willing to pay for it: 74 percent of members whose employers pay for all or part of their membership dues said they would still renew their membership even if their employers stopped contributing.

    Good news.

    I reported on similar findings from Marketing General Incorporated’s (MGI) recent Association Economic Outlook Report, which also affirms growing member engagement in the face of adversity this year. It notes that 69 percent of association professionals who responded said they had seen a marked increase in the level of member activity and engagement in their organization.

    VIRTUAL ENGAGEMENT A main reason members are engaging more, the Community Brands report states, is all the virtual opportunities associations have rolled out during the pandemic. Virtual conferences have made it possible for members stay involved from a distance, but the report shows that they increasingly value other ways to connect and learn virtually year-round. Offering more personalized options like online networking, continuing education, and social networks—in addition to large virtual events and webcasts—will be key to keeping members engaged, the report states.

    A SURPRISING TOP MEMBER BENEFIT The recent presidential election highlighted the importance of understanding demographics and the role they play in influencing outcomes, and these are just as relevant in analyzing membership nuances. Black and Hispanic members, who tend to be younger, are more engaged than their white counterparts, the Community Brands report shows, and they are more inclined to value their association now than before the pandemic.

    Black and Hispanic members also value certain benefits at significantly higher levels than white members. For example, they rank code of ethics information among the top five benefits they value most. (If you need any tips for updating your code of ethics, a recent Associations Now post has some helpful suggestions).

    CAREER OPPORTUNITIES ARE KEY Members continue to value the job and career advancement opportunities associations offer. Interestingly, the association professionals surveyed in the study rated these less valuable than members did. With the unemployment and career challenges this year has brought, it is critical for associations to focus on these benefits when members need them most, the report states.

    MGI’s recent report shows that many associations are already on the bandwagon. Eighty-four percent of respondents said their association plans to increase virtual professional development opportunities for members.

    As I reported in the current issue of Associations Now magazine, the Council for Exceptional Children surveyed 26,000 prospective members it attracted with a free membership promotion to find out what was most valuable to them during the trial period. Eighty-five percent of respondents said online training and webinars were most beneficial. Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE, president and CEO of Avenue M Group, told me that retraining and access to processes or standards will remain highly valuable, and associations are well positioned to meet those needs.

    Challenges create opportunities, as we have learned many times over this year. These recent findings show that associations have incredible staying power and that members need them now more than ever. It’s time to really understand what members want and need—and give it to them.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Lisa Boylan.

  • 11 Nov 2020 2:52 PM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – 09 November 2020 –– The EventsAIR 6th Generation Event Management Platform won Best Event Management Platform at the 2020 Event Technology Awards (ETA). ETA recognizes the best in event technology.

    Trevor Gardiner, CEO of EventsAIR, says the award affirms their commitment to continuous improvement and innovative business processes, and recognizes the achievements of EventsAIR in the research and development of event management software.

    “We are very honored and humbled to win this prestigious award and congratulate all the nominees. I would like to dedicate this award to our hardworking team who work tirelessly to design, develop, and deliver great software so that event planners can add value for their attendees and delegates,” says CEO Trevor Gardiner.

    The EventsAIR 6th Generation event management software is built on the latest web architecture and delivers a comprehensive suite of event management tools that is trusted by event planners around the globe. Its recent addition to the platform is OnAIR, allowing event organizers to run virtual events with ease.

    “In a changing event climate, having the ability to deliver a great event experience is still at the heart of every professional event organizer and although in person events remain top of mind, it’s time to look at ways to deliver great content while keeping your audience engaged in new and exciting ways whether it be virtual or hybrid,” said EventsAIR Global Sales and Marketing Director Joe Ciliberto.

    The EventsAIR platform has been designed by event planners for event planners and has evolved thanks to the feedback and support from our loyal customers plus our dedicated EventsAIR team who makes it happen every day.


    About EventsAIR

    EventsAIR has been at the forefront of Event Technology and Innovation for over 30 years, continually pushing the boundaries of what an event management platform can do. Built by event planners for event planners, EventsAIR is a secure, scalable, cloud-based solution that can manage everything from in-person, virtual to hybrid conferences, meetings and events in a single online platform – anywhere, anytime and on any device. In use in over 50 countries by multi-national corporations, professional conference organizers, government departments and tertiary education institutions, EventsAIR is also used in global congresses such as G20, APEC, CHOGM and ASEAN, as well as sporting events like The Olympic Games, World Rugby, Commonwealth Games and Pan Am Games. EventsAIR is trusted by event professionals around the globe. For further information, visit www.eventsair.com

  • 11 Nov 2020 9:04 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    Welcome back to our AuSAE Member Chat Series – Half an Hour of Power. This week we are delighted to have sat down with AuSAE member, Ken Griffin, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association.

    In a short 30 minute interview we discussed four key questions with Ken to reflect on the last six months and look forward to the future.

    What do the next 6 months look like for your association and your members 

    From our association’s perspective the next 6 months will be an opportunity to harness and grow on the foundations we have already created this year. Our key focus will be reflecting, refining and creating a strong member value proposition as we move into a new stage of this crisis. This year has provided us all with the opportunity to stop, think and redefine what we can provide and what value we contribute to our membership communities.

    This year we have been able to increase our advocacy impact and play an important role in the development of health strategies in Australia, raise our profile with government, broaden our stakeholder network and ensure the voice of our members is being heard.

    I believe every Association CEO is grappling with the same set of issues from an internal team perspective – how do we keep staff engagement high and provide support during a time where uncertainty and the unknown is all we know. We are based in Melbourne which adds further challenges. For our team, over the next few months my goal is to provide as much certainty and control where possible.

    From our members’ perspective this year has been frantic, overwhelming, and difficult. They have had to adapt quickly and will continue to do so as this crisis continues to unfold. Our members’ focus and attention is now turning to the COVID vaccine and the role they will play on the frontline of administering this, and the impact on the health care system of avoidance on chronic disease management during the time.

    Areas of concern

    Our biggest concerns moving forward will be the policy surrounding telehealth for nurses and extension of funding as well as key budget priorities and the impacts on our members.

    Like most associations the changing landscape of events and our delivery of member value is also a concern. The days of gathering large groups of members are gone and it’s time for associations to reimagine their modes of delivery. We will seek to understand members – their priorities and expectations and form our strategy from here.

    Areas of opportunity

    We have some key areas of opportunity and we need to use this time to effectively prioritise and utilise the advantages we have been given this year.

    •  At an advocacy level we will play a large part in the development of primary health care strategy for the next 10 years.
    • For all of us, geographic barriers have well and truly been removed during this crisis. This opens a doorway to new ways of recruiting and retaining new talent into the sector. Over the coming months as organisation’s restructure and people reassess what they want to do, associations and not-for-profits have a great opportunity to harness this talent in the market.
    • The innovation that comes from difficult times is something I’m particularly passionate about. The new tools and technologies that will be available to businesses to refine efficiencies and increase organisational performance and growth is exciting. This innovation will help us to better manage remote workforces, help to make people more efficient and help us to communicate and interact with each other better than ever before. What we’ve seen in the past year is just the tip of the iceberg in where we will go.

    Celebrated moments in the past six months

    Our association has managed to retain all roles, and we have been able to grow our headcount during this time.

    We are about to enter a concerning workforce issue, as students graduating this year are unable to graduate because they haven’t met their placement hours. During this time we have partnered with Monash University to secure 175 placements for students so they can graduate as scheduled.

    I think what we are all proud of and what we have celebrated across the team is that when it counted we’ve been there for our members, representing their voice and being their anchor through all of this. At the end of the day – that’s what associations are here to do and we couldn’t be prouder to represent our members during this time.

  • 05 Nov 2020 4:44 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Member retention: It’s always on our minds. And in 2020, that’s truer than ever. When people face so many competing demands for time, attention, and money, how do you plan to get your members to stick around?

    Your membership renewal strategy is a critical component of revenue — and when it’s neglected, your association risks undermining your financial health and overall ability to serve members for the long term.

    The 2020 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report asked associations why they think members don’t renew.

    If you’re wondering how to attack the retention question this year, these stats are a pretty good indicator of where you should start. While a poor retention rate is bad news, the good news is that each reported reason is addressable.

    This is precisely why you can, and should, be addressing the top six reasons associations believe their members aren’t renewing:

    • 43% of associations say it’s because of a lack of engagement with the organisation
    Note: This number is growing – up from 37% in 2018 and 41% in 2019.
    • 29% of associations feel members don’t renew due to budget cuts/economic hardship of company
    • 28% of associations report that members couldn’t justify membership costs with any significant ROI
    • 25% of associations believe it’s because members left the field, industry, or profession
    • 25% of associations say it’s because members forgot to renew
    • 25% of associations find it’s because of a lack of value

    (By the way, Marketing General Inc. added that although they conducted this research prior to the global pandemic of COVID-19, this report explores core foundations that “predict whether or not an association’s membership will thrive going into the future.”)

    Based on this list, there are obviously some common problems that plague associations. We’re not telling you these problems will be quickly solved – they’ll require serious attention from your association – but they can be solved.

    Let’s go through and address each issue and how it can be fixed.

    REASON #1: LACK OF ENGAGEMENT WITH THE ORGANISATION

    Engagement has a serious impact on retention. According to the report, the biggest reason members aren’t renewing is because they don’t feel engaged. Focus on improving engagement as a part of your membership renewal strategy, and you’ll see improved retention.

    Also? A reported 24 percent of associations do not have a tactical plan to increase engagement. If that’s you, or even if you think your members are pretty engaged, this is an area where you should be focusing if you want your members to stick around.

    How to fix it: Get your members engaged

    • Center your focus: To start solving this problem, you first need to recognize that engagement is a real need for your members (and it’s also not going away).
    • Next, recognize engagement as a top priority in your organization. It’s not about blasting your members with content that may or may not be relevant to them. It’s about finding out who they really are, what they want, and providing it to them at the right time. (More on this below)
    • Embrace engagement technology tools: Dedicated engagement software, like online community and automated email campaign platforms, can help you get members involved.
    •  Build an online member community: An online community for your members helps you engage your members, by giving them a specialized space for connecting with both you and other members. Discussion threads, resource libraries, gamification rules, automation rules – these are just a few of the built-in tools at your service to get members interested and draw them into participation. See how other associations are using their communities to support members during COVID-19.
    • Automate your emails: Use automated email campaigns to send more targeted and personalized messages to all segments of your membership, increasing the effectiveness of your communications.

    With these types of powerful data-driven tools at your fingertips, you’re now engaging members with highly relevant content that inspires them to engage (since you’re targeting them based on what they were already interested in).

    REASONS #2 AND #3: BUDGET CUTS/ECONOMIC HARDSHIP OF COMPANY OR LEFT THE FIELD, INDUSTRY, OR PROFESSION  

    Of the six retention issues, this one will probably be the toughest for you to solve, since these reasons for not renewing are external. That being said, the best way to meet these kinds of retention issues is to make your association membership so valuable that dropping it is out of the question, even during this tough time.

    How to fix it: Make member success your top goal

    One of your top goals to address leaving the field should be to provide members with the resources they need to succeed in the industry.

    • Make joining your association equivalent to becoming the best in the field, so members are empowered for success in the long-term.
    • Again, look to engagement tools to help you with this task. Higher Logic’s online community software has networking tools, mentoring opportunities, learning management systems, access to experts, etc. and members can build the network they need to be empowered and well-connected in the field.

    Bonus: You could try restructuring your dues or creating special dues offers to encourage members to renew. Again, this isn’t going to be the strongest approach, since if members don’t see value, a lower price won’t be extremely convincing. Marketing General Inc.’s report provides a helpful analysis on successful strategies for association due discounts, so refer to the report for those strategies.

    Don’t miss our eBook: Streamline Your Membership Renewal Process: Go From Outdated to Automated.

    Overall, the best defense against this retention issue is going to be your engagement and value offense.  

    REASONS #4 AND #5: UNABLE TO JUSTIFY COSTS WITH SIGNIFICANT ROI OR LACK OF VALUE  

    These reasons are combined, since they’ve got similar root causes and solutions. Between 20 and 30 percent of members aren’t renewing because they don’t see value in paying for your organization. Since we both know your association offers amazing member benefits, the problem may simply be miscommunication.

    Providing value to members entails a few key communication needs:

    • You know what value members expect from joining your organization.
    • You communicate where and when they can get what they want.
    • You make what they want easily accessible.

    How to fix it: Cover the common bases

    Of course, there are a few buckets of “association membership value” you can generally expect members want, such as professional development, networking, or certification in the industry. From that perspective, here are a few practical ways to provide more value to your members, using engagement tech:

    Match each need with a tool:

    • You know you have a network of amazing members that want to connect and mentoring each other. Give them a way to connect from anywhere in the world by developing a mentorship program through your online community.
    •  If you have an excellent webinar series going on, give members an event calendar in your community where they can immediately see all the learning opportunities that are available.
    • If you offer incredible advocacy power, connect with them through your community so they understand you’re accessible.

    How to fix it: Meet individual needs

    But how can you know what members want, specifically, without undertaking a significant project where you ask each one individually and start catering to their unique requests?

    • Look to the data: With automated email campaigns, you can gather important engagement data. Your goal of providing members with relevant value is no longer based on guess-work or intense research. Your content is based on real, active data points that inform how you engage with them.

    For example, if a member engages with your emails and visits pages on your website about a certification you offer, you can continue to nurture this interest by providing them with more information in an email nurture campaign. You act on the cues they provide and share the content they want.

    • Review conversations: What are members talking about in your online community? 

    Don’t let your members leave your association without a clear understanding of the value you offer. Make sure you’re communicating the value you have and the value they want. This is a key piece of your membership renewal strategy.

    REASON #6: FORGOT TO RENEW

    No, no, no. You can’t let members forget that renewal is coming up. This is due to a lack of action on the part of the association (unless the member dropped off the face of the earth and stopped checking their email for three months). Your members should decide not to renew for a good reason, not because you allowed them to forget.

    How to fix it: Notify members about renewal 

    • Put renewal on auto-pilot: Maybe your staff is too busy to notify each member about their renewal expiration, but if that’s the case, you need to adopt technology to help you streamline the membership renewal process. Once you’ve created your amazing automated email campaign for renewal, you can set these renewal campaigns on annual autopilot.
    • Automated campaigns take care of your repetitive tasks like renewal reminder emails, and they’re more efficient, too. Your staff will save time that they can use to reach out to members and make those personal calls that make a difference for key members.


    These automated email campaigns will build on your engagement and value strategy well. You’re not only providing value to members, you’re letting them know when they’re about to miss out.

    MEMBER RETENTION IS IN YOUR HANDS 

    Members deciding not to renew isn’t a problem you’ll ever solve once and for all, and retention isn’t something you can keep at 100 percent. But you can take control of the problem by addressing the top reasons members don’t renew.

    Engaging your members, communicating your value, providing tools for member success, and reminding your members about renewal are just some of the ways you can affect your retention rate for the better.

    But either way, the majority of the stats we shared from the Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report are really about how your members perceive the value of their membership with your association.

    You could be offering what you think are the best membership benefits in the world, but if these benefits aren’t what your members are looking for, they won’t value them. Furthermore, they may not be willing to pay up when it comes time to renew their membership.

    So, how can we bridge this divide between what you’re offering, and your members’ expectations?

    We need to take a member-first approach, and we’ll get there through: 1) research, 2) refinement, and 3) follow through. 

    FOLLOW THIS 3-STEP PROCESS TO REFINE YOUR ASSOCIATION’S MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS (AND IMPROVE YOUR MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL STRATEGY)

    1. Research: Find Out What Your Members Value

    Your members join your association because they think they’ll benefit from the membership. If they’re not renewing because they’re not getting the benefit they expected, it’s time for you to do some digging.

    Finding out what your members need and want from your association is as simple as asking them. But how do you ask them? Try these suggestions:

    Online Community 

    If you have an online community, this is a great place to get to know your members. Even without asking for it, you’ll get feedback. They’ll share their needs, interests, and problems as they engage with their fellow members, and you get to hear it all because your organization owns the conversation.

    You may want to ask some specific questions about your membership. In this case, it’s usually most productive to reach out to a smaller group of members. Ask if these members would be willing to participate in a focus group. Your focus group can be a private sub-community, open only to those who accepted your offer. Ask honest questions and request honest answers. Try these on for size:

    • Do you think membership with our association is worth the dues you pay? Why or why not? (Explain)
    • Is being a member of our association what you thought it would be? Why or why not? (Explain)
    • Is there anything you could use or benefit from that we don’t currently offer? What’s missing? (Explain)

    Email Campaigns

    Sometimes your method of asking doesn’t have to be obvious. With marketing automation, you can run email campaigns that collect members’ activity on your site. This allows you to start personalizing their experience based on what they truly need. When you have the data in aggregate, you can analyze the most popular links clicked and most common web pages visited and infer what your members want to see more of.

    Individual Outreach

    Sometimes a little anecdotal evidence is helpful for justifying change. Contact a selection of new, lapsed, and long-time members, and ask them about their experience with your association. Get the details on why they joined, stayed, or left. Of course, don’t base changes to your membership solely on this feedback, as it might not be what everyone thinks or feels. But you can use their feedback to confirm things you’re already finding in your other research.

    Next, it’s time to do something about all these cold, hard facts.

    2. Refinement: Rework Your Offerings

    Depending on what you heard from members, you might need to keep up the good work, communicate what you’re offering more clearly, make your membership benefits more accessible, or change it completely. It’s likely you’ll need to do a mixture of all four. The bottom line is to use the research you’ve done to make sure your value proposition is answering their biggest needs.

    Here are 6 ideas for indispensable association membership benefits.

    Take their feedback and start a working group within your association – think about how you can better meet their needs. You might find that you need a new tech tool or a bigger investment in marketing to deliver a more personalized member experience.

    For example, if you hear members say, “I thought I’d have tons more networking opportunities than I do,” it might be time to invest in an online community and give members the connection they’re craving.

    Especially when in-person events aren’t possible, an online community is available year-round. Generally at no cost to members, it can be a great tool for linking members up with the right mentors or volunteers to fuel their professional growth.

    Or, if you’re hearing members ask for more relevant content, maybe you need to invest in a marketing automation tool that you can use to personalize and target the communications they receive.

    With the right tweaks, you can give your members the value they want.

    3. Follow Through: Communicate and Check In

    Any basketball or tennis players out there already know: follow-through is key to a good shot.

    Once you’ve finished refining your membership program, you’ve got to follow up with members to let them know you’ve made changes and to make sure they’re happy with what you did. It’s imperative.

    Communicate

    Instead of jamming every benefit you offer into one email, spread it out. Try creating a series of emails to welcome new members to your association, and create the workflow based on their interests.

    For example, if they’re really interested in your online community, guide them to participate in your mentoring program through the community. If they only read information about your advocacy efforts, give them more content about how to sign up.

    Check In

    This piece echoes the research you did in the first step:

    • Convene your online community focus group again, or better yet, ask a new set of members if they think the revisions will meet their needs
    • Run another drip campaign through your marketing automation platform to survey members about the feedback, and schedule one-on-one calls with those who seem particularly interested
    • Follow up with the same group of individuals you interviewed and ask how they like the changes (and if they heard about them)

    POSITION YOUR ASSOCIATION FOR SUCCESS IN 2020: HELP YOUR MEMBERS HELP YOU

    If you want members to stick around, you’ve got to help them. And by help them, we mean both help them see the value of being in your organization and literally help them – that’s why they joined your association in the first place. They were looking for something. Something they thought you could offer. But if they’re not renewing, they didn’t find what they were looking for, or even an unexpected value that made it worth staying.

    You need to know what your members want from their association membership in order to deliver on that value.

    So, dig in, and really get to know your members and how you can best serve their wants and needs. This is your key to creating a member experience they’ll find worthy of holding on to.

    Melanie Bond

    Manager, Strategic Services

    Melanie is Manager of Strategic Services at Higher Logic. Melanie advises clients on community management strategy and best practices for building a highly engaged and successful community. Prior to Higher Logic, Melanie worked at WeddingWire as a Senior Customer Success Manager.


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