The Road to Revenue Growth with Membership Management Software

Membership Database Software & Revenue Growth

How solid is your association’s dues revenue? What if there were a way to strengthen your revenue stream and boost members’ engagement simultaneously? Better yet, what if that could be accomplished without hiring more staff? If you said yes, in this article, I discuss how I see membership management software playing a part in achieving these things. Or, at least aspire to make it so.

Revenue Growth & Membership Management Software

Perhaps, I am an optimist. But, I truly believe in technology’s ability to achieve great things. And, with so many new technologies being developed, I believe it is exciting news the mere choice of switching to the right membership management software can possibly deliver an ROI in revenue, membership, and sustainability well worth the investment. Here’s how.

New technologies = New Opportunities

Before I get into the membership software side of things. Let me digress a bit to discuss PYMNTS.com, a website that tracks emerging payment options. They make not that “software developers are using new technologies to create innovative business opportunities and enable merchants to optimize the ways in which they engage with shoppers today.” That’s great news for Association CEOs who get that pivoting to take advantage of the best business practices should be their prime strategy.

So what’s involved in these new technologies and how do they optimize engagement and revenue?

Engagement and Revenue Generation

PYMNTS.com interviewed membership software developer Abila’s Director of Product Management, Darryl Hopkins, who discusses a revolutionary concept in Association member management: “revenue-generating payments.”

Essentially, Hopkins covers a couple of key areas in which Association member management benefit from the new opportunities:

  • Automating membership renewals which, unsurprisingly, nets a better rate of renewal and increased funds

Membership databases are set up so that you may be able to remove the barriers to paying for membership dues. And, these systems are set up to help with the ability to automate a membership fee paid by an organization or group of individuals—a situation that Associations will find themselves facing more and more over time.

The Challenge of Competition

Future trends and patterns are emerging rapidly as new tools and platforms are developed each day. It’s pretty exciting. Even though we keep track of so many membership systems in the market today (over 100), there are many that are being released every year. And, more rapidly than ever before.

Why? Well, I could go into many reasons, but suffice it to say, associations and NFPs are faced with the challenge of keeping up to date and roll forward with the many shifts that emerge. I believe that competition is a big impetus for the desire for CRM features in many membership management systems of today.

No longer are the days when Associations can take a passive approach to recruitment of new members. There is no more “Build it and they will come mentality”. CRM features are either becoming more common place in the membership systems today or Associations are gravitating towards those systems which are natively built on CRM platforms.

Having worked with Association Executives for over a decade, I see nonprofit executives who need to do more to be competitive. And, be competitive with spending as little money as possible. And, ultimately doing more with less. The CRM features being built into membership software are imperative to drive revenue today.

No Substitute for Demonstrating You Care 

In these days, Associations can’t just take money for their various services. And, I believe that many know this. They can’t just take a payment from a member. You must be able to link it back to that particular member’s account so you can keep a rich history of who this actual member is. You need to know the what, why, where, and how of that payment. This is exactly what was uncovered too according to Hopkins research previously mentioned.

Why? Which would you prefer?

  1. A thank-you acknowledgement that says, Dear Jane, “Your membership renewal fee has been received. Enjoy your coming year with us.”
  2. Or, Dear Jane, “We are excited that you will be joining us for the third year in a row. We think you will particularly enjoy our new educational offerings this year—they are just the ticket for your new position. And please let us know what we can add to make your membership even more valuable for you.”

Obviously, you would like something like #2. The membership software is able to alert Jane to the fact that new educational offerings in her wheelhouse are coming. There are so many examples. Suffice it to say, it is these types of segmented calls to increased engagement activity that carry the opportunity for revenue enhancement.

Workflow automation and building processes that are mundane and impactful can be done via membership software today. Nonprofits should take advantage of them.

By the way, you can access the article on the Hopkins interview here.

The Role of Segmentation

My blog on how segmentation boosts engagement talks about the need to segment by age and career stage—which also matters when it comes to payment options for membership renewals and Association activities. Research has shown that while Matures and Boomers may still prefer to mail in a check, younger members expect automated payment options—and for the youngest cohort, the more up-dated your payment options, the better return your on renewals.

Also, for more information on the perspective of the young career professional when it comes to payment options, download the Smart Payment Association’s white paper on the swipe-to-tap revolution here.

The Right Software, The Right Time, The Right Revenue Increase

Is there a good time buy new software? Well, the answer to that question is unique for everyone. But, in general, why would you want to wait if you are losing opportunities to increase your services and ability to serve your members better?

You should certainly plan the timing of your purchase. But, most of the time, it truly does not matter. And, quite frankly no time is better than the present if you’re not able to increase revenue.

So, now may be the best time to review whether your current software can handle the member management functions that your Association needs to increase members’ engagement and expand your revenue.

New technologies are emerging, CRM features are baked into membership software now, financial and accounting processes are being automated, personalization of communication is becoming a reality, and many associations are doing more with less. This is a direct result of those Association Executives who have invested in their staff and provided them with the software tools that they need to succeed.

If you find your software isn’t up to those tasks, take comfort in knowing that regardless of the size of and/or budget, I believe that we can help you find the best fit software to support your goals.

Contact us to help assess your database needs and offer our advice on which database solution may be the best fit. We’d be happy to put our expertise to work to help you meet your goals.

Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

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The Cherry in CRM Membership Software is Engagement & Participation!

Best Membership Software for Nonprofits helps Engagement and Participation

Do you have the right membership system in place now to handle your goals? If you are a membership based nonprofit (Church, Museum, Association, Society) you likely have big plans for outreach and growth in order to keep your nonprofit on track to accomplish its mission. And, chances are member engagement is at the top of the list of priorities in years to come too. In this article, we tackle how Membership CRM software may help with participation and engagement.

The Benefits of Engagement in Membership Software

Maximizing engagement with members and boosting their involvement with your association has become increasingly important over the past decade. According to the 2017 Membership Marketing Benchmark Report, the majority of associations consider engagement to be their most important goal, followed closely by membership retention.

Could a Membership System help? To know, you may find value in asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do you spend much of your precious time digging through databases and spreadsheets looking for the right information?
  • Do you feel like you never have a full understanding of what is going on to help plan for your association’s future?
  • Do you wonder if you’ll ever have more time for revenue-generating, member-focused activities?
  • Are the systems you have in place now allow you to put forth a solid effort in meeting your member needs?

This may sound odd for some nonprofit executives. But, there are still many nonprofits diligently putting forth an effort to serve their members needs with outdated systems. In fact, it’s amazing for me to find many associations still loading their member data on a spreadsheet. It’s a shame!

Today, Membership Software, can help in so many ways. But, one of the key benefits is helping take member engagement to the next level, by streamlining association processes to make your organization more efficient and easier to manage for sure. But, also keeping track of participation and engagement too.

Today, one of the wonderful benefits of “cloud technology” is the fact that the “cloud” has made strong membership management tools available for even small associations. In the past, perhaps you were limited by options. In fact, you maybe still living in that “pre-cloud” reality but may not realize the value of integration and the possibilities for better engagement with an integrated database and website.

The Power of Integration & Engagement in Membership Systems

I have seen some pretty interesting methods to keep track of members, dues, donations and event registration. These methods range from a Bob Cratchit (remember Scrooge’s clerk?) pen-and-ink ledger to a combination of the aforementioned spreadsheet and database (and hope for the best) approach.

A Membership software solution can “house” all of an organization’s information in one centralized database — from member email addresses and postal updates to social media profile information, preferences, and history. Without the right AMS, associations can end up with a disjointed, incomplete view of their members. With an AMS, though, you gain a 360-degree view your members and the ability to make informed decisions.

Today, an AMS executive dashboard can even offer instant snapshots of member participation, so Executive Directors can answer fundamental questions about what members are doing and capitalize on new opportunities for the association. With actionable integrated business data they can be confident information is updated and accurate. From there, they can make smart business decisions regarding the association’s future, and identify and develop best practices for the organization that align with industry trends including engagement.

The Possibilities of Capabilities in Membership CRM Software 

With membership software today, it may help in so many ways to increase engagement. Here are several quick examples:

  • Provide engagement because it is one central data entry and output location for your membership information.
  • Contain a strong content management tool for managing personalization of content.
  • Seamlessly connect with all existing software applications you use and eliminate duplication and data errors.
  • Manage your entire database and membership website. Integrating the database with your organization’s website is key when trying to present a consistent experience for members resulting in better engagement possibilities (From event registration and membership renewal to dues payments and social networking).
  • Allow your constituents to update their own files, collaborate, & participate with others.
  • Increase engagement because they are now available by members in a mobile environment.
  • A membership system allows Executives to focus on the bigger picture.
  • CRM Software for membership manages allows one to easily gather data on and share information with committee members (whether it is event updates, the latest documents, or day-to-day reports) in order to keep everyone up to date.
  • Taking advantage of reporting tools ensures that associations are given the proper feedback to continually provide meaningful content to members while eliminating the content that falls short.
  • By building events through the central database, communication management can invite members, collect registrations, and even poll attendees for post-event feedback all through one system.

Membership Activity Tracking to Facilitate Engagement 

Tracking the ways in which members are engaging with your organization isn’t just useful for reporting and business intelligence.

Using your membership system to collect these interactions on a per-member basis allows each member to do some of the following:

  • Receive targeted and relevant information consistently.
  • Your marketing and communications team members are able to use a membership system to automate member interactions and ensure that members are presented with events, campaigns, and offers that directly relate to them based on their previous interactions with the association.
  • Through Single Sign On capabilities, marketers are able to reach out to members on all active channels, in one system—making a notable difference in membership engagement.

The output is all about using your member data in meaningful and useful ways – reports, workflow, etc. That output greases the skids to making your association vastly more efficient, productive and successful. And, equally important increasing participation and engagement.

We can help you decide which software tool is best suited to lead your organization into the future.

Contact us and we’ll help get you there. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Online Membership Software for Engagement

Two Ways to Power Up Your Membership Management

Membership Management Software Power

If you read any trade publication today, you know that Association executives are jumping on the engagement bandwagon in higher and higher numbers. It seems the more I talk to executives, they get that when their members stay active in their organization, they are most likely to stay on and also draw in new members. In this article I bring together two key ways to approach engagement that are sure to power up your member management:

2 Ways to Power Up Membership Management Software 

I have made the case in previous articles that the best fit membership management software—software that supports all your engagement-related goals—is a key to success in attaining your membership goals. If you agree, here are some ways to think about improving (powering up) engagement opportunities at your association:

  • Engagement Judo
  • Interactivity based on like-minded interests.

Practice the Philosophy of Engagement Judo

What is the practice of engagement Judo? Let me explain.

But, before I do. I want to be clear and in full disclosure. I am not an expert in Judo. Simply put, my extent of knowledge comes from taking my son to a birthday party where Judo was taught. And, becoming intrigued by it’s principles. So, there you have it.

A true confession!

That disclosed, I was intrigued to find out that the two hallmarks of Judo’s philosophy are maximum efficiency and mutual welfare and benefit. How do these relate to member engagement? Good question.

Members want real value from their Associations, and nothing speaks value like activities that members view as having maximum efficiency and mutual welfare and benefit.

Here’s why: unless your members are mostly retirees, they tend to be busy people who choose to spend their time as efficiently as possible. And in today’s economy, they also want maximum value from their Association-related expenses.

But they don’t just want these for themselves. They are likely to feel some loyalty to and commonality with fellow members, and typically, want the other members to gain value from their membership as well—the mutual welfare and benefit aspect of the Judo philosophy.

The good news? If members believe their time and money is being well-spent by membership in your Association, they will want like-minded friends and colleagues to benefit, too, meaning that these members will become your best recruiters.

Note that I stress it’s the members’ view of value that matters. My recent blog posts underscore that Association executives who meet around a table and create a list of benefits for their members instead of making the effort to directly learn each member’s interests and preferences may find themselves at a loss—of members.

The bottom line? Make maximum efficiency and mutual welfare and benefit your Association’s new mantra to retain and grow an active membership.

Boost Interactivity Based on Like-Minded Interests

Whoa. You may ask. Didn’t every member join my Association because of a like-minded interest?

Absolutely. But not every golfer, or realtor, or businesswoman, or ___ (fill in the blank of your type of Association) shares the same needs, preferences, or even extracurricular lifestyles as all the others in your at-large group. By taking the best-practice approach to membership engagement, you will discover a number of like-minded segments of your membership group—smaller subgroups with interests and preferences that are more closely aligned.

  • If your Association includes men and women, are there women in the group who prefer, say, learning new management skills from other women?
  • If your Association is based on a business profession, is there a segment who prefers stretching their professional expertise to a different but perhaps related profession?
  • Is there a segment of your membership who takes an interest in philanthropy? In volunteering? In purely socializing? In offering scholarships?

Once you undertake a closer segmentation of your membership, engage a small subcommittee from each segment to draft programming ideas that will generate enthusiasm among members within that segment. Rotate the program committee’s membership annually to keep ideas new and current.

Here, too, the best fit software can support your efforts to increase member interactivity and enthusiasm.

Certainly, no membership management software is going to help unless you have some focus. Your focus on a strategic engagement approach ensures the sustainability and success of your Association.

But, it doesn’t hurt to have the right tools either. And, you may not be able to find the tools you are looking for.

If this is the case with you, we can help with making sure you have just the right software to reward your work with maximum efficiency and benefit. We marry your needs and budget with software already available to fit them.

Call on us with any questions.

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