Whitepaper

Improve Membership Engagement Through Technology

Technology plays such a vital role in our day-to-day life, so why shouldn’t it be used to promote a more creative, efficient and collaborative association? Technology, especially artificial intelligence (AI), can become the cornerstone for driving your business forward if applied sensibly and efficiently.

It makes it easier for your association’s members to engage with your organization if they’re able to do so at their convenience. When your business is flexible, it has more room to scale. Technology can bring in that flexibility so your employees can engage with anybody, anytime and anywhere, improving membership satisfaction.

The best way to boost member engagement is through the use and application of technology.

Contents

Empower Staff to Provide a Better Member Experience Using AI

Action UI Predictions

Utilize Chatbots

Focus on Personalization

Identify Cross-Selling Opportunities

Benefit From AMS Automation

Frequently Asked Questions

Empower Staff to Provide a Better Member Experience Using AI

In 2021, AI has taken over most of the functions in an organization, and experts estimate that by 2030, it will contribute up to $15.7 billion to the global economy. AI is no longer restricted to traditional businesses as associations also use AI in everything from content creation and member communications to conference management and workplace organization.

This is why AI is no longer just artificial intelligence. Many in the community are stating that AI also means Association Intelligence or artificial intelligence for associations.

One other term closely related to associations is engagement, and while it means one thing to an association, it might mean several different things for its members. Many members are passive and may not want to engage, making it difficult to convert them into active members. One way to encourage active membership is to take advantage of what an association management AI can offer. Here are a few membership engagement best practices to provide a better experience to your members.

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Boost your conferences with AI: While technology has already reshaped the conference experience with sophisticated conference apps that have made conference content available online, AI is set to revolutionize this sector even further. AI can deliver interactive virtual conference experiences for more member engagement along with chatbots powered by AI.

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Upgrade your organization’s marketing strategy: The core of every association member engagement is a strong marketing strategy. Your brand, your mission statement and your value proposition are the three main things that drive more engagement from your existing members while attracting new members still. With a wide array of AI-driven predictive tools for marketing and tools that can track the existing marketing trends, AI has indeed revolutionized the way marketing strategies are drawn up.

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Scale up your content creation: Another very valuable resource to every association and its members is content. While great content can boost member retention and engagement, it can also be a time-consuming task. With AI tools that can help you to dictate a blog post, you can create content much faster. Also, AI tools can help you brainstorm ideas for your content critical in appealing to your target audience.

These tools are collectively called association management software (AMS). One way to use your AMS to boost association membership is to employ AI for action prediction.

Action AI Predictions

Each marketing manager of every association or organization needs to understand the members who signed up. Using your AMS to build dashboards, conduct thorough research and leverage your membership data is one way to do that. Still many miss out on identifying opportunities based on those research statistics.

The membership industry still faces many problems, most of them regarding membership management operations. Associations also need to solve problems regarding corporate strategy and marketing and business planning. These problems typically come from the usual questions many member-driven associations face when it comes to understanding their members.

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Membership composition: Associations need to understand who the members are and where they are located, as well as their professions, demographics and specialty distributions.

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Membership behavior: Behavior encompasses how the members engage with organizations, the events they attend, the content they find useful and how these behaviors change over time.

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Membership profiling: Profiling is the why behind the behavior. What interests these members and their perception of the organization along with the motivation that drives them. The most important part of member profiling may be what factors contribute to their membership renewals.

Many case studies have shown that answers to most of these questions lie in their AMS data. This is why leveraging the AMS data is very critical in building AI action prediction models. While questions of membership composition can be solved through basic data aggregation and reporting, analytics tools are best for learning about membership behavior. Member profiling can be difficult, but associations can find answers by leveraging modern technologies like machine learning (ML) for associations that profile members through classification, clustering, and regression techniques.

The Salesforce Einstein Prediction Builder provides marketing that uses Salesforce Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) to help associations build models that can predict various growth points for the association. This is where your AMS data can be leveraged as this software can quickly identify patterns within that data and predict future membership renewals and enrollments.

While building conventional predictive models requires huge efforts from building data pipelines and data storage to testing data models and creating API endpoints, the Einstein AI platform is a custom AI for association admins based on the customer relationship management (CRM) data available in the different versions of Salesforce.

Utilize Chatbots

Chatbots are a very efficient asset for any association to improve member satisfaction and engagement. Yet many associations are hesitant to employ this technology. However, with the rapid explosion of applications, many experts believe it is only a matter of time before they start realizing the potential of chatbots.

Organizations of all types that use this technology already are ahead of the curve. For example, Louis Vuitton uses chatbots to answer product-related queries during the peak holiday seasons throughout the year. Another such global association, Citi, employs chatbots to help their clientele with real-time banking solutions.

The biggest highlight can be given to the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA). This global association receives over 1,500 direct messages each month via various social networking platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Due to some resource constraints and the varying time zone differences, it was a cumbersome task for the member services team to answer all the queries correctly and promptly. They found the solution by developing and testing a chatbot before finally installing it live on social media. These examples show how chatbots can be utilized to scale operations.

Chatbots can scale your operations by performing a wide array of tasks. Since chatbots are computer programs, you can code them to meet your unique requirements. The availability of large amounts of interconnected data coupled with the improved algorithms and computational power of machines has made picking out patterns and making connections easier. Tasks that were once under the sole domain of humans can now be performed in a fraction of the time by AI-based chatbots.

Tapping into the potential of chatbots can open a door to vast opportunities for membership associations of all types. Here are some of the most common ways different organizations use chatbots:

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Scaling association operations via chatbot marketing and other applications

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Answering member queries for better member satisfaction

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Completing transactions and providing various other real-time banking support

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Automating membership management processes and activities

However, you can’t simply decide to employ chatbots in your organization one fine morning and do it that very afternoon. Every organization needs to take a few steps before actually employing a chatbot live.

The very first thing is to put together the appropriate internal team to discuss the problem they want to address with chatbots. This team may include staff from several relevant departments, such as IT, finance, member services and marketing. This team decides the functionality of the chatbot and where it should go live online.

Gathering the relevant data by using AI and ML is the second step. Depending upon your requirements, developing or modifying an algorithm to integrate with the data can lead to different functionalities, which makes each chatbot unique.

The final step is to test and train this chatbot before going live online. For every AI-driven technology, training is an essential part of development. Training the algorithm helps shape it and gives it the history it needs to be capable of carrying out the tasks you want it to.

Focus on Personalization

The art and science of marketing used to be about pushing a message outward, but modern audiences aren’t receptive to that kind of messaging anymore.

Modern marketing is less about directly promoting your product or service and more about building authentic, genuine relationships with your audience by providing them real value. It means understanding their core wants and needs. It means frequenting the same online spaces your audience does and interacting with them over mutual interests. An AMS can help you build those relationships.

Here are a few of the ways to personalize your marketing messages.

Provide Member Recap of Activities

It’s impossible for most people to remember every interaction a contact, member or prospect has had with your association.

Any interaction you have your audience needs to start with questions such as:

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How or why did they begin the engagement in the first place?

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What topics are they interested in?

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What problem are they trying to solve? How can you help them solve it?

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How would they like to receive information?

Most modern CRM or AMS software includes this information. Use it to your advantage to build trust with your audience.

Reinforce Engagement

Customers and members have come to expect personalization. They want to feel like more than another transaction to your association. If they need to reach out, they want to know that the person on the other end of that support call, email or chat message is a human being and not an automated program tricking them into thinking they’re human.

To provide the personalization your members expect, you must be in the know. Nearly 80% of consumers report they are likely to interact with an offer only if a brand has personalized it based on prior interactions.

Use email marketing tools to verify and use the contact’s first name, and customize your content based on your contact’s needs and specifications. You can also segment your content based on personas, such as by their industry and job title.

This encourages engagement and compels them to stay on your website for longer.

Create Personalized Offers

Your members want to know that you’re catering to their needs specifically and that they’re not just a number on a spreadsheet to you. People are more likely to do business with a company or engage with a membership association if it offers personalized experiences.

Personalization starts with listening to your members. Send out periodic surveys, read what your members say in your mutual online communities, and consider hosting online focus groups to collect the information you need to personalize your offerings.

Use Their Preferred Method of Communication

Do your members prefer to talk over text or email? Do they use social media, like Facebook messenger?

The modern internet gives people hundreds of ways to interact with brands, and they probably have a preference. Include surveys in your newsletters and social media posts to find out which communication methods your members prefer. Make the most popular options part of your member experience, and let your members choose how they want to communicate with your association.

Identifying Cross-Selling Opportunities

It’s hard to think of another tech giant that has mastered the art and science of e-commerce more than Amazon. One of the secrets to their success is cross-selling. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed that 35% of sales were a direct result of cross-sales.

When you see the “Customers who bought this also bought…” feature on Amazon, this is what he’s referring to. A relationship with a customer doesn’t just end with a single person. Cross-selling is a clever way of getting them to continue to engage with you by offering them related products in other categories they’re likely to want or need based on their previous purchase history.

Here are two ways you can replicate Amazon’s success:

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Create dynamic and detailed member profiles: When you audit your persona, consider how product usage has changed over time. Have your members migrated product lines? What indicators or triggers cause them to change their buying behavior?

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AMS data and personalized shopping: AMS platforms allow you to sort your contacts via purchase behavior and personality type.

You can use your AMS data to recommend products to your members and increase cross-selling. Determine what kinds of products or services your members usually gravitate toward, then consider what else you can offer them. An AMS can help you identify trends in the products and services your members buy. If most people who bought Product A also bought Product B, you can suggest Product B to members interested in Product A. You might also consider offering both products together as a bundle.

Benefit From AMS Automation

Even if contact or prospect joins your association once, they may not necessarily remain a member indefinitely. To run a sustainable association, you need to get them to keep coming back. This is what’s known as retention. Here are a few ways you can leverage AMS automation to increase membership retention.

Email Marketing for Associations

IUse your AMS AI software to segment your member list, and try to understand what they want from you and what they’re interested in. Look for metrics and data such as:

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Contacts who engaged with a certain amount of emails

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What specific pages on your website get the most views

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What specific CTA buttons were clicked on the most

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What states or regions your contacts come from

You can separate them further into new members, long-term members and inactive or unresponsive members. You can also use emails to remind members of automatic membership renewals, helping avoid lapsed memberships.

Gamification

You can use many of the same principles used in modern game design to make your automation more engaging. It uses the simple principle that people are more likely to do things they enjoy or think are fun.

Use the content that you serve them to tell a story: one where they are the hero of that story, and you are their humble guide. It’s a hero’s journey narrative widely seen in most forms of popular media, including games.

You can also reward your most engaged members with exclusive content or offer challenges or contests into your automation. Think about how you could automate a system that rewards members who engage with you the most.

Automating Workflow Processes

Your AMS can help you automate many workflow processes to help you track membership. You can schedule reports and automatically send them to yourself, managers and executive leadership. If becoming a member of your association requires an application, automating that process makes it easier for potential members and your staff and ensures every part of the application is complete.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about AI and AMS systems that might affect your association.

Does GDPR Impact AI Decision Making?

In some ways, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) makes using AI to gather consumer data more complicated for organizations in the European Union (EU) or that have members in the EU. However, this regulation also helps create the trust that good member relationships are founded on in the first place and helps governments and consumers accept AI technology more.

Are There Privacy Issues With Tracking Data in My AMS?

When your members share their private information with you, they trust that you’ll use it to provide them with a better experience.

In a survey, 71% of association members stated that tech made them concerned about their data security and privacy. However, 56% claimed that they were comfortable with companies collecting data on them if it was for their benefit.

If you’re an AMS manager, it’s your responsibility to strike a balance between providing the best member experience possible and adhering to ethical data privacy standards. These include:

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Using consumer data and personalization to enrich the experience

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Understanding privacy regulations and following them

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Developing a data governance strategy

How Can You Remain Accessible With Your AMS?

Web accessibility is the practice of making your website or app accessible for people with disabilities, including individuals who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing or colorblind.

Being accessible with your membership management software for associations is just good business. More accessibility broadens your potential audience and draws in more potential members.

Some things you can do to be accessible with your AMS include:

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Using alt-text for images

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Using sufficient color contrast

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Being keyboard accessible

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Adding labels to form elements

Contents

Empower Staff to Provide a Better Member Experience Using AI

Action AI Predictions

Utilize Chatbots

Focus on Personalization

Identify Cross-Selling Opportunities

Benefit from AMS Automation

Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing the right AMS matters.

Choosing an AMS is an important decision that can significantly affect the relationships you have with your members — the people who keep your association alive and thriving.

Learn more about how Nimble AMS can help improve your bottom line and make your association run more efficiently.

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