The digital imperative for today’s associations

Tirrah Switzer

October 4, 2021

    Recent association industry research underscores the importance for associations to be digital-ready. 

    Here are some key findings and what you can do with them for your organization. 

    Earlier this year, my colleague wrote an article on this blog about digital transformation and its importance to the future of associations. The article mentions how associations must reimagine how they engage with their members – especially today, when many associations’ member communications and interactions have gone virtual due to global health concerns, and many members are looking for more ways to engage online.  

    In short, it’s time to think, plan, and build digitally. 

    Recent association industry research from Community Brands underscores this digital imperative. Here are just a few of the findings from the study and how they point to the need for associations to be digital-ready: 

    • It’s time to move beyond traditional in-person only events. 
      While in-person events still have a valuable place in member engagement, nearly three quarters of members from the study say they now expect their organizations to offer all or most events in a hybrid (in-person and virtual) format. Also, across the board, most members in the study say they will continue to engage with their professional member organization mostly virtually (47 percent) or an even mix of in-person and virtually (26 percent). 

    What you can do: Prepare to offer a great hybrid event experience for your members by putting in place the right tools and strategies to engage both in-person and online attendees. Offering an online member community is another great way to allow your members to connect with other members and your organization online throughout the year. Your members will appreciate the ability to choose the options that best fit with their schedule, budget, health concerns, and expectations.     

    TIP: Nimble AMS offers Nimble Communities, which allows you to easily set up and host an online member community.

    • Members want more ways to learn.
      Findings from this study suggest that there are some disconnects between organizations and their members when it comes to the importance of certain benefits. For example, training and certification continue to be two of the most important benefits to members in the study, yet organizations tend to undervalue these benefits. Meanwhile, data from the study indicates that members are looking for a greater variety of learning modalities, including online courses via live webinar, webcasts of a live event, course recommendations, and short videos. 

    What you can do: Revisit your professional education and certification programs and find new ways to offer a variety of learning options to address members’ schedules, educational and certification needs, and learning preferences.  

    TIP: Nimble AMS integrates with the award-winning Crowd Wisdom learning management system by Community Brands. Crowd Wisdom can help your organization create and deliver personalized online learning experiences for your professional education program.  

    • Data, and what you do with it, is important.
      This study’s findings suggest that the state of organizations’ member data has room to improve. Just over a third of association professionals in the study say that their member data is excellent or very good. Another interesting finding: Those professionals with poor member retention in the past year tend to report having worse member data. 

    What you can do: House your member data all in one association management software (AMS) system so it’s easier to keep clean, updated, and organized. Also, use modern predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) tools to predict members’ needs and expectations and automatically provide them with relevant products and resources.   

    TIP: Using predictive analytics and AI tools in Nimble AMS, you can predict which members are at the highest risk of non-renewal, and then reach out to save them before they leave

    Learn More

    Discover more association trends: Read the industry study, 2021 Associations Trends Study: Building the Next Normal.

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