How To Rock With Automation In Your Software Programs

Business Process Management requires workflow automation software

It’s always crunch time in the world of Association and Nonprofit leaders: time to drive membership, mission, & sustainability. In this article, I cover workflow automation features which may bring extreme value to your Nonprofit or Association.

“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” – David Packard

Insight is Everything in Attracting An Audience 

I know few Associations that have enough staff to continuously and thoroughly sort out which strategy has worked (and which has not worked) on a personalized level for every prospect segment in terms of timing and content. I believe that most would agree that it’s important to know which of your marketing strategies has worked (and which failed) for which segment of your prospective members. Don’t you?

But, do you have the capabilities to do it? Here is the good news. Many marketing automation software programs have built in workflow automation features which can do the analytics and workload of many staff members. They have the power to provide those key data points, and more to bring your data to life.

Why Workflow Automation Works 

Why automate business processes? According to Act-On, a marketing automation software technology, it offers these benefits for bringing your prospects on board through scheduled programs:

  • It ensures that the rubber meets the road: it automatically aligns what you say with who your prospects are and their level of interest in your Association.
  • It employs “if-then” logic to follow up with prospects using messages that speak to each prospect in a personalized and appropriate way based on their previous interactions with your Association or Nonprofit.
  • It keeps your other strategic marketing steps in play while it churns out more effective campaigns to land new leads.

Business Process Management is a Blessing

Today, I believe that workflow automation features should be paramount in all software selection projects not just marketing automation programs. This includes CRM, AMS, and even Community Software too.

Simply put, I do not believe that setting up automated workflow programs to run on their own should not be relegated to just “attracting” new constituents to your community (the tribe).

One of the key things to remember with any software expenditure is that staff should think about “what’s in it for me”. Nonprofits are all about the member and donor experience. But, quite frankly, new technology introduced to the organization should not kill your staff’s ability to get things done.

I realize this shouldn’t be the case. But, many systems are there to simply store information. In other words, the data is dead and the system requires heavy lifting to get the software to become a living breathing entity with value to the staff, members, and executive team.

Workflow automation capabilities will allow your team see technology as a blessing and not a curse. Why? Because it’s going to make them look really good!

In short order, programming automation workflow will allow your staff and organization see the value because:

  • It cuts time staff now spends on creating marketing campaigns; your campaigns now can run “on autopilot” with your specifications in place.
  • It facilitates and speeds up the analysis your leadership team can perform to gain a deep insight into your marketing program by reviewing what approach is working well for which prospects, and what marketing approach needs tweaking.

Timing and Content are King and Queen for Landing Prospective Members

“As you’ve noticed, people don’t want to be sold. What people do want is news and information about the things they care about.” – Larry Weber

I would add that timing the delivery of your news and information matters, too. Prospects pondering membership or donations are much more likely to act if you are using varying platforms to provide a stream of new reasons, stories, and/or testimonials that are compelling and relevant to each prospect.

  • An automated marketing program excels at offering those extra touch points without manually developing them each time you want them delivered.
  • Messages can be targeted and delivered on time and with particular relevance.
  • With workflow automation rules you can improve staff time and productivity.
  • Engage members with the right information at the right time in their journey with your organization.

“The key ingredient to a better content experience is relevance.” – Jason Miller

Workflow Automation to Engage and Delight Members Too

In order to keep members continually delighted and engaged in your brand or community, you should demand software which helps you continually delight once they become a member, donor, or customer too. Let’s take a look at one example found within an online community software leader, Higher Logic.

Within their community software, workflow automation rules can be used to help set up automated workflow for your new member campaigns. You can set up automation rules and programs to feed your new members with relevant information as they join an organization so that they quickly see the value of becoming a member. Let’s take a look an example work flow which may be accomplished:

  1. Sign up to become a member via the CRM or AMS
  2. Schedule an email to have the member update their profile information
  3. Day 7 the system sends out an email to check in on them because they have not been back to their website
  4. 2 weeks out the community software sends out an email because their is no profile picture
  5. 4 weeks out the community software is scheduled to send out an email because they have not posted anything

Attracting new members simultaneously via marketing automation software and engaging your members at the right time with community software is  truly remarkable.

Ready to set up your Automated Workflow Programs?

If you do not have the ability to rope in new prospective members cost efficiently and effectively or continually delight them by engaging them too, perhaps your software needs updating.

Workflow automation capabilities should be viewed as a must have in all your platforms today. Unfortunately, I believe that a lot of software systems purport to be able to do this but simply don’t. If you are looking for a software solution and not just a piece of software to store data, dig deeper beyond simple features to what they system will do without user intervention.

Contact us and ask the questions that arose as you read this article. You’ll be wowed at the difference an automated system can make as you drive membership and revenue growth.

Free Software Advice for nonprofits

Monetize Your Online Community Success

Non-Dues Revenue with Online Community Software

The goal of a non-profit community is not usually to make money.  For most, it is to bring your constituents together in a secure and private space where stakeholders and others can interact, share, answer questions, and stay connected on their shared mission.  Yet many non-profits struggle for revenue and are usually on the lookout for non-dues opportunities and other ways to generate income. Why?

In this article, let’s discuss some options for digital advertising and how an online community website could generate non-dues income while still maintaining its purpose and integrity.

Increasing Non-Dues Revenue Via Advertising 

The idea of monetizing the relationships with your affiliates and sponsors is not a novel idea. But, there are good ways to do it and there are bad ways to do it.

Having the strategic vision for execution of their community members and finding the right technology partner is usually the hardest part for many nonprofits. To be clear, I believe that with the best fitted software, most online communities can generate income.

The old ways include slathering the website with off-topic advertisements. Or, hosting so many ads that a website is slow to load and hard to navigate.  A fresh new way involves limited, targeted ads and unobtrusive methods to get in front of the right person at the right time.

Let’s dig into these one by one.

Limited, Targeted Ads

The easiest and quickest way to add advertisements to any public website is with Google Adsense. Google supplies simple snippets of code that you paste into many webpages exactly where you want ads to show and then pays you whenever a user clicks on one of the advertisements.

The ads come in all kinds of sizes, so you can make them as obvious or unobtrusive and you want.  You can place just one ad per page or per site or as many as you want, although Google recommends no more than three ads per page.

Advertisements are usually either targeted to the site’s content or to each visitor’s interests, so inappropriate ads are minimized.  If they do pop up, you can block them from showing again. Google gets the money!

Limited, Affiliate Links

Another alternative on public websites, is to use Affiliate links which are similar to Adsense ads. But instead of Google paying you per click, an advertiser pays you when a visitor to your online community clicks on one of the advertiser’s affiliate links and then completes an action on his website.

For example, let us say that your non-profit works with children and you place a link to an advertiser’s children’s clothing store website on your site.  If someone clicks on that link and then buys some of the advertiser’s children’s clothing items, then he pays you a portion of that sale. Affiliate links are often as simple as a short text link and can easily blend into a community website.

Again, someone else gets the money!

Keep Your Money, Don’t Burn It 

There is a better way. And, one which you don’t have to share the money with anyone either.

Let me show you the money!

Communities are inherently useful outlets to grow and increase revenue streams and can even use to effectively promote your own events too.

Think about this for a moment.

Your association is a finely segmented entity ripe for a keen marketing program. Your members share a cause, a profession, or interest in learning. They talk about what is and is not helpful within their communities at events and conferences. Bring that dialogue in house and open it up digitally 24 x 7 x 365 days a year.

Who wins? Sponsors and your association benefit.

  • Your affiliate members (Sponsors) know that the buyers journey has changed today. It’s more difficult to capture their attention.
  • Sponsors love the “always on” of their marketing message.
  • Association members know they have the right audience which can appreciate their message.
  • Savvy advertisers knows how difficult it is to find the right connection.
  • They have information your members want to hear about and they need to hear about it too.

Your website pages should and could be the most valuable real estate found on the internet. So, why not take advantage of that real estate and benefit your community of users while making some money too?

It’s a win for everyone.

Advertising Options for Communities 

One of the advantages of Inbound marketing is that it leverages search engine optimization for your site. An open forum (one that does not require a log in) can help bring valuable new members into your site for more page views too.

Since we know that content is king on a website, a natural content creator like a community of users is priceless! Below you will find some options for placement of advertising in an online branded community:

  • Sponsor blog posts with high comments and page views.
  • Place Ad space on frequent threaded discussions.
  • Offer Ad placement on most popular member communities.
  • Feature logos in calendar events.
  • Promote sponsored/hosted webinars based on hot topic content from community.
  • Sale space in a most popular eBook or training downloaded by members.

Options are what sponsors want, right!? They want more members from a thriving and target ready community not the same old people year to year.

Consider A Branded Private Community for Non-Dues Revenue

So, things to consider here:

  • Don’t assume you need to place ads with Google in order to be effective on your website.
  • Do not believe that you need to place ads everywhere to make money or justify the endeavor.
  • Do practice and utilize personalization in your ads.
  • Consider a private branded community in order to promote more personalized ads for your sponsors.
  • Start out small & see what placements work best.

Does your non-profit association desire additional revenue opportunities?

If so, let’s discuss the value of online community software options. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Get the non-dues revenue you deserve with the tools you need

Why Email Deliverability Is Critical For Your Community’s Success

Email Deliverability in Associations and Nonprofits

As a non-profit organization you want to build, maintain and encourage everyone’s involvement; staff, clients, supporters and donors. One major avenue that non-profits use to engage those groups, and the individuals within them is email. Getting to that point demands strategy, standards and processes. In this article, let’s discuss how you do that today.

Email Deliverability Importance

You’ve probably seen a lot of email service providers advertise “98% deliverability” or “high deliverability” or “the best deliverability ever,” and you might be wondering what it all means. Deliverability is a way to measure the success at which an email marketer gets a campaign into subscribers’ inboxes.  Senders affect their own deliverability, too—so if you create good content and maintain a clean list, your campaigns will be more likely to reach your subscribers.

Your Community Email Strategy

According to various reports, 18% of permission-based email in North America never reaches the inbox: 5% is classified as spam, and the remaining 13% simply goes missing. While 82% inbox placement is not a horrible number, marketers would agree that there is certainly room for improvement.

There’s no question that email software and the people who use it are getting better at filtering out spam. This is good since it makes it easier for engaging emails to get through — but without a strong focus on deliverability, sometimes even quality, permission-based emails can get filtered out of your subscriber’s inboxes.

You want every email your organization sends out to be welcomed by the community and, where appropriate, responded to. Like most projects, you have to have a vision for how you get there.

Your non-profit must communicate with each group and sub-group found in it. You want to keep information flowing freely in both directions for your communications such as a:

  • Welcome message introducing a new staff member or new sponsor.
  • Weekly or monthly newsletters.
  • Events that are being planned, organized or reviewed to get maximum attention.

An email strategy underpins everything to do with successful email communication. You must ensure that:

  • Each email supports and enhances your goal of building, engaging and encouraging involvement.
  • Each email goes to the correct recipient.
  • Each email is both expected and welcomed by the recipient.
  • As many emails possible are opened and responded to.
  • Where it applies, you want emails which are created by group members to be accurate and appropriate.

To the point, you have to make sure that each email goes to the right person. They must open them. They must respond to them, and even add their own content for further distribution. In this personalized way, community involvement is maximized.

Ensuring Standards of Deliverability

Community software technology enables and ensures that required standards are met, so your strategy succeeds. Using a specialist company to manage standards of delivery, means you can focus on your organization and its community. Standards you want in place include:

  • The right subscription settings, to keep members’ preferences paramount.
  • Opting in and opting out are simple.
  • Emails are delivered correctly to authenticated addresses.
  • User-generated content is checked to make sure it is both authentic and appropriate to its recipients.
  • Servers and the network, itself, remain secure.
  • Feedback is continuous so any complaints, permanent blocks, etc. can be handled properly and problems get addressed.
  • Client monitoring, help desk access, etc. are under client control, and reports are produced so it is easy to review and respond to anything.
  • Application features can be customized to suit the organization’s style, feel and look.

Standards like these mean that staff and members can focus on the community, rather than worry about security or unwanted communication. When teams are planning or running a fund-raiser, for example, they have neither the time nor the desire to keep “looking over their shoulders” to see if everything is working as it is supposed to. This brings us to the processes.

System Processes

The technical details that are built into the software, and into the user interface are what enable the your community’s standards to be met. The email software must be able to continuously monitor email activity and content. This process then reports the results so everything is clear and obvious. The reports mean the community managers can either positively confirm that everything is deliverable or that they can order up improvements to fix minor problems before they become major problems.

Best Practices For Deliverability In Your Community

Trust and engagement matters in email best practices in your community.

First, your community should give your subscribers a good reason to opt in and set clear expectations about what’s to come. Then, follow through on your promises with timely, targeted, valuable emails.

Second, choose a solid email marketing service provider. Make sure the vendor you choose is sophisticated enough to provide:

  • Bounce codes, feedback loops, and connection optimization.
  • Has email technology which is up-to-date and compliant with today’s legal requirements.

A good provider must also cultivate good relationships with receivers by applying proactive issue resolutions, feedback loops, and whitelisting practices.

A modern email marketing service provider will ensure deliverablity. It will allow you to segment your contact lists into sub-lists so that you can target specific customers with specific messages. This is essential to keeping your audience engaged with relevant content and making sure the right person gets the right message at the right time.

Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.