Sector and AuSAE News

  • 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 | Deleted user

    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 | Deleted user

    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 | Deleted user

    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 | Deleted user

    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.


  • 04 Nov 2020 1:56 PM | Deleted user

    Wondering how to show new members the most value during digital onboarding sessions? Here are six tips to make them aware of all the benefits that can help them maximize their membership and—ultimately—prompt them to renew.

    A thread in ASAE’s Collaborate community [member login required] asked for advice on conducting successful digital new-member onboarding sessions and how to facilitate the conversation to give members the most value. Lia Zegeye, senior director of membership at the American Bus Association, offered some excellent suggestions on what has worked well at ABA since the pandemic began. I followed up with her to learn more.

    ABA is a trade association representing many parts of the travel industry—including bus operators, tour operators, lodging, attractions, and more—and its members have been hit hard by the pandemic. Like many other associations, ABA has been working tirelessly on the advocacy front to support the industry, and the membership team is leveraging that work to recruit new members. Once they are on board, Zegeye shows them all the benefits of membership they might not know about, customized by member segments.

    Showing members value at the outset is paramount, Zegeye said. Her mantra: “Keep it clean, concise, and easy to digest.” Here’s how she and her team do it.

    Make it personal. Zegeye conducts the onboarding webinars herself. “It’s a great way for me to connect with our members,” she said. The webinars immediately put a face with a name, and members are more likely to reach out to her directly with questions about the webinar. The digital onboarding has also been a good way to keep members updated on new programs in real time. Zegeye easily updates her PowerPoint slide deck and is good to go. “Mailing out packets has become a thing of the past,” she said.

    Show, don’t tell. The onboarding session includes a short promotional video from ABA’s tradeshow, providing a personal testimonial about the value of the event from a member’s perspective. It shows why the member is there and how they benefited from attending. Zegeye said she often gets thank you notes from webinar attendees who say, “Wow, I had no idea you guys did all of these things!”

    Guided website tour. During the webinars, Zegeye walks new members through key parts of ABA’s website, like where to access a government affairs report or how to edit their company’s description in the membership directory to market themselves more effectively. With the travel industry lagging, it’s a good time for members to update their information so they can hit the ground running when the industry kicks back into gear, she said.

    Engage with social media. Zegeye shows new members all of ABA’s social media platforms during the webinar and asks them to follow ABA from the start. Members tend to gravitate toward Facebook to discuss their challenges, which gives the membership team a good way to tap into what members are experiencing and engage with them in a meaningful way, she said.

    Share incentive programs. ABA has a member-get-a-member incentive program. Any member who brings in a new member gets a $50 gift card and is entered into a raffle with a chance to win $1,000 at the end of the year. Letting members know about incentives from the beginning means it’s on their radar from the start. “Your members are your best ambassadors” for recruiting new prospects, Zegeye said.

    Highlight social responsibility. Remember to include information on social responsibility programs, such as local community service projects at events. Through its ABA Cares program, ABA conducts fundraising events for a selected charity in the city that hosts its annual tradeshow. Talking about these programs during an onboarding webinar shows new members “you are more than just an industry,” she said.

    “We all have a wealth of information to share with new members at an early stage,” Zegeye said. “It’s all about how they can maximize their investment.”

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

  • 04 Nov 2020 1:30 PM | Deleted user

    It’s telling that when a pandemic hit, many associations moved immediately to get their members what they needed as fast as possible. This shift to quickly delivering value will be key to maintaining membership through the crisis and in the long run.

    When COVID-19 hit, one of the first things the Council for Exceptional Children did to support its members was to give away as many pertinent resources as it could—recorded webinars, journal articles, and more—and then use the value of those resources to seize a membership opportunity.

    CEC created a free membership promotion that would give new members access through the end of the year, and about 26,000 special educators took advantage of it. So far, CEC has retained nearly 20 percent of the members who came on during the free trial, says Executive Director Chad Rummel, CAE.

    Once they saw a spike in interest that nearly doubled their membership, they began to wonder why those people weren’t already members. “As we began talking to and surveying them, I was extremely excited to see how they identified an untapped need for professional development that I know we can provide,” Rummel says.

    COVID-19 has already had an enormous impact on membership, and how the future plays out is going to be different for each organization, says Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE, president and CEO of Avenue M Group. But, she says, “I believe there are pandemic habits that are here to stay.”

    Jacobs compares the decisions many members will have to make about how they spend their organizational budgets to managing a household budget. They will assess what they really need and what they can do without. Many association members will likely need a different set of skills than they needed before the pandemic, because the way many professionals do their jobs has changed dramatically.

    “There’s going to be a significant increase in certain kinds of retraining, or new skills, or access to processes or standards that members are going to find very valuable and are going to need,” Jacobs says. “That’s a positive that presents a huge role for associations.”

    The challenge is in how to package and deliver the new offerings, especially when association budgets are slashed. Jacobs says it goes beyond planning virtual events and asking: How do we get quick, easy, and reliable answers and new ways to work out to our members?

    What Do Members Need Right Now?

    One of CEC’s solutions was a new online training program called QuickTakes—short, on-demand mini-tutorials that focus on specific topics—to quickly address pressing issues for members, such as online privacy for students. Rather than planning a 75- to 90-minute webinar, the QuickTakes sessions run eight to 20 minutes and provide fast and highly relevant answers for members with more agility than a webinar.

    At the end of the free membership offer, CEC surveyed the 26,000 participants to ask why they took advantage of it and what they found most beneficial. Over 85 percent said it was the online training. Rummel says the team took that feedback and did a deep dive into their membership package offerings, which they determined were structured more around discounted add-ons than professional development opportunities. So they changed their membership packages.

    Now CEC has three tiers of membership built around valuable content. The first tier offers access to members-only content and the in-house QuickTake video series. Middle-tier members get access to all recorded webinars in the library. And the top tier allows unlimited access to all CEC’s live webinars. In addition, they used this jumpstart to launch a learning management system and their first five-part synchronous course, a timely resource designed for new teachers in the post-COVID classroom.

    Rummel says members’ professional development needs should be addressed not just at the programmatic level, but also in membership offerings. “These can’t be seen as just add-ons when they are so fundamental to why members come to our associations,” he says.

    THERE IS NO PLAYBOOK

    Staff and volunteer leaders at the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry spent the last year anticipating an economic downturn, although not to the degree of the current crisis, says Chris Williams, CAE, AWCI’s director of membership. AWCI repositioned its messaging when the pandemic struck to emphasize that it was there for members through good times and bad. The staff was confident in the association’s value to members after a 2019 focus group where members said their dues payment gave them a significant return on their low initial investment.

    Based on the organization’s position as the networking hub for the industry, a message of “Together We Are AWCI,” and the proven value of their dues payment, Williams says, “I believe we’ll be able to meet our recruiting goals even in the face of economic hardship.”

    AWCI will keep its dues as-is through the 2020-21 membership year, but it plans to help some of its chapters spread out their membership dues throughout the course of the year. Chapters collect dues from members and pay a portion of each member’s dues, in one lump sum, to the national office by July 1 of each year. AWCI is working with individual chapters to spread that lump-sum payment out over the course of the membership year.

    This will likely be a popular trend, according to Jacobs, who says there is so much more opportunity to take risks that were unthinkable in the recent past.

    There is no playbook, she says. Associations will have to plan for a likely dip in revenue while also offering members more flexible payment options and installment plans. “It’s what they’re comfortable with. It’s what they know,” Jacobs says.

    AWCI is launching a new membership management system in March 2021, which will provide an entirely new and interactive experience for its members. AWCI will tout increased access to member benefits and virtual networking and promotion opportunities created by enhanced member profiles, directories, and more in the new system.

    This is an opportunity to reinforce the actual value of not only AWCI membership, but association membership in general, Williams says.

    “Membership isn’t an expense—it’s an investment in not only sustaining your business and your employees through this unique time in history, but positioning yourself to grow now—and as we emerge from the storm,” he says.

    EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

    Nothing has turned out as planned since the advent of COVID-19—and that includes membership numbers. The American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics actually saw an increase in membership, with 100 new members joining since the same time last year, says Kathy Giovetsis, CAE, ASHI’s executive director. She attributes the growth to members’ need for ongoing education and continuing education credits.

    Rather than immediately changing ASHI’s dues structure because of the pandemic, Giovetsis’ team continues to analyze and reevaluate the membership categories and benefits linked to each tier. For example, the technologist membership category was originally offered for the first three years of a technologist’s career, but it was extended to five years to better align with the career trajectory of technologists. Recently, the ASHI board decided to lift the five-year restriction altogether and allow technologist members to retain that level of membership indefinitely.

    The unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 crisis has upended many sacred cows and forced everyone to crush the phrase “think outside the box”—maybe forever—with actions that go way beyond the brainstorming sessions and flip-chart purgatories of the past. Virtual events and webinars quickly became the coin of the realm, but Jacobs cautions that “it’s a dangerous thing to rely on what’s happening today,” because change is happening so fast.

    Jacobs credits the speed at which things are moving for waking up associations and getting them to “try new things and let the market tell them what works.” She adds, “We made decisions on what worked in the past based on the opinion of the highest-paid person in the room.”

    She sees a lot of “very smart” association professionals who have been waiting for permission to explore new ideas and innovative programs. Her optimism about the future is rooted in the knowledge that change is going to happen rapidly, and for the good.

    “I am optimistic because I’ve never seen such a great need for associations to exist,” Jacobs says. “But I’m also realistic in knowing that it’s going to take many iterations. We are not going to figure it out right out of the gate. And we’re going to have to be strong as we figure it out.”

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

  • 29 Oct 2020 8:33 AM | Deleted user

    Whilst technology plays an important role when it comes to enabling communication, in-person networking is still the foundation of knowledge sharing, collaboration and innovation.

    Virtual conferences, online seminars and daily Zoom calls with our colleagues have been fundamental in staying connected in the current environment. But while we’ve seen exponential growth in digital tools and platforms to make this possible, face-to-face meetings remain catalytic to the kinds of conversations and collisions that spark future innovation.

    Sydney’s business events bidding specialists BESydney have kicked off an integrated marketing campaign to boost confidence, focusing people’s attention away from Zoom and onto back booking meetings again.

    Launching the It’s got to be Sydney campaign NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres said that now is the time for organisations to begin planning their meetings and events for next year, as the government continues to ease restrictions across a range of venue categories.

    “It’s now crucial for the business community to be able to get back on its feet, to collaborate, share ideas and do business in person once again and we’re working hard to provide as many opportunities as possible to achieve just that. Zoom meetings only get you so far.

    BESydney CEO Lyn Lewis-Smith said: “In our work securing Sydney hosting rights for global conferences and incentives over the past 50 years, BESydney has been at the forefront of promoting, protecting and growing our city’s reputation as Australia’s premier destination for business visitors.

    It’s got to be Sydney is about hope,” Ms. Lewis-Smith added.

    “This campaign is filled with optimism for a new COVID Safe future, where our expert Australian business events sector is once-again delivering safe ways for business gatherings to get people making real connections off-Zoom and face to face.

    The Why Sydney? proposition is delivered in a punchy promo video jam-packed with reasons. Whatever you love – great places to eat and drink, the arts, festivals, noisy debate – Sydney’s happy collision of ideas and people often provides a twist on what’s trending elsewhere.

    For access to Sydney’s expert business events suppliers, tips and inspiration, visit www.meetinsydney.com.au



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