Are You Meeting the Needs of Your Connected Members?

Management Software For Members & Membership Needs

From my perspective, marketing to customers (members) in the digital age has become an entirely different experience than what it was just a decade ago. Customer funnels have turned into customer lifecycles, touch points have expanded across multiple channels, and consumers are researching companies on mobile and through social media every day before interacting. In this article, I discuss findings from a recent report from Forrester and elements of membership systems needed to connect today.

For non-profit associations, the goal is not necessarily to “sell” a product per se, but to attract new members, retain members through providing valuable services and further their common missions. The concept of meeting the needs of connected members is still similar to traditional marketing.

Connecting Your Members with Membership Management

As mentioned, I read a recent Forrester study which looked at the behavior of consumers and how companies can adapt to changing patterns. While the study focuses on marketing for companies, the findings relate to non-profit associations nonetheless. In my opinion, the goal is the same whether company, nonprofit, or association: understanding your audience (connecting) and how to interact with it.

Cross-Platform Interactions

The study found that moments when you engage with your customer, known as touchpoints, are not longer isolated to a single channel. Google states that 90% of customers use multiple devices and platforms for shopping and other tasks. The same goes for non-profit associations. Attracting new members and interacting with existing ones shouldn’t be limited to just one platform. Your website should be easy to explore, whether on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop.

Consumer Behavior in 2016

What used to be known as the sales funnel has become the customer lifecycle. Companies need to inspire consumers to take steps in the journey, not push them down the funnel. This means catering your strategies to specific audiences and delivering the type of content they need when they need it most. As applied to non-profit associations, this means you need to develop an in-depth understanding of your member profiles, much like a for-profit company would develop buyer personas. By understanding the needs of your individual “customers,” you can identify how to best address them.

Understanding Your Members, Donors, & Constituents

How are associations supposed to understand their members and what they want as a customer experience? The same way a traditional marketer would but perhaps with a twist and some help of a membership system as well. Here are some thoughts:

  • Your membership manager needs to help analyze key decision points in the lifecycle of a member. Where are your members finding out about you? What is it that makes them “convert” and join the association? Don’t worry – an analytics platform within the membership software may likely (should) collect this data for you.
  • Membership Software for Nonprofits should offer simplicity and navigability in web design through a content management. This is important no matter the industry. Members want a streamlined experience that is aesthetically pleasing and easy on your website. Your membership site should be intuitive and should adapt to mobile effortlessly. Membership Management Software can and often does provide an integrated content management component (or integrates with one).
  • Nonprofit Membership systems should help your nonprofit manage it’s content. There is no changing the fact that content will remain king and needs to be treated as such. By understanding your members through data, you can create compelling, informative, and engaging content that they will find valuable. Progressive profiling, personalization of messaging, & storage of documents pertinent to your audience can be obtained in membership management software.

As the customer experience continues to change, so will marketing best practices. Though associations may not be trying to sell products or widgets, you’re still trying to sell something; events, services, education & training, & advocacy. Understanding how to engage with your members effectively with an association management software system will allow you to do just that.

Find out which member engagement software is right for you – contact us today. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

10 Predictions for Marketing Automation for Nonprofits

Marketing Automation Predictions and Trends for Nonprofits

You need to know where to allocate the bulk of your marketing budget, right? Marketing Automation Software may be able to help, assuming you buy into the trends in the marketing community today. In this article, I share with you some of my thoughts on recent marketing predictions and trends written by various sources so you may stay one step ahead of the game.

Marketing Automation Software Trends

In the nonprofit community as much as in the for profit community, the chatter is quite frequently heard about the topic of marketing technology. And, its influence is growing everywhere: at fundraising organizations, trade and professional associations, museums, & even chambers. Truly, it’s very hot.

In today’s digital world, marketing is a key department responsible for creating and sustaining a long-lasting relationship with the most important asset of any nonprofit – the member, donor, or constituent. For many in the business community, it’s plain old “customer”.

It’s not just my opinion. Rather, the belief of many experts today that marketers need to shift their focus from pushing messages at people to engaging them in an ongoing conversation and relationship. The speed, direction and magnitude of the changes in marketing have been widely discussed.

For many who don’t follow the marketing technology buzz, however, it may not be as clear. If you’re one of those who are exploring marketing technologies, this hopefully will clarify your thoughts on the importance of the marketing automation at your nonprofit.

As mentioned, I have reviewed many sources and taken some of the top 10 trends and predictions underscored in various articles below. So, let’s take a look at the checklist below from these sources to see if the trends resonate with you.


  1. Content Marketing: According to Content Marketing Institute’s recent B2B Content Marketing report, 9 out of 10 B2B marketers are using content marketing, and 45% plan to increase their spending on content marketing over the next 12 months. How do you compare?
  2. Marketing Analytics: Use of marketing data to help move buyers along the path to close. Without some marketing technologies, this may be out of your reach. As discussed, many may be using Google Analytics, but is that enough? Is that tool integrated to your inbound and outbound marketing campaigns.
  3. Marketing Noise: While this may seem impossible, many pundits believe that there will be an increase in marketing noise from various sources. Marketing noise is basically content which does not add value. Consider this, there are well over 150 million blogs alone on the internet. And, over 1 billion websites on the internet. Are your members and donors confused by how to participate or engage with your nonprofit as a result?
  4. Guest Posting: Decrease in guest posting is quickly fading. Per one source, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s head of spam believes that is has become a spammy tactic.
  5. Adoption of video. Even small nonprofits can use video today. A simple video can help enhance a donor relationship so much quicker than a simple plan text email today. Eg. BombBomb.
  6. Acquisitions: Increase in marketing software acquisitions is a good sign that this is not a fad but rather a significant trend. Many of the database providers are looking at integrations with email marketing software providers or adding it to their offering by acquiring the technology. They are being forced to respond to this trend predicted by many.
  7. Personalization. Your members and donors want to feel special. Moving forward, if we all aren’t pushing relevant information to our constituents, they will find a different cause to support. I believe that membership and donor systems will find new ways to integrate progressive profiling into their website tools. And, if not, integrate with a marketing technology which does it.
  8. Micro targeting and hyper-segmentation. This basically is leveraging small niche communities or groups to focus on their interests. Eg. If a significant amount of your donors are on Facebook (which who isn’t), then having a donate now integration into this social media outlet is certainly worthy of consideration. Social Media is going to continue to play a big part of our digital experience. And, CRM Software for Nonprofits will begin to pull in social feeds so that development officers and member relations representative can see what’s important them and target those folks.
  9. Mobility: With the latest release by Google, everyone better focus on mobile. I wrote on this topic recently too. And, it’s not a trend anymore but rather reality. Literally, you must be in the back pocket of your constituents! Software for nonprofits must be written today with a mobile first message. Signing up to be a member or make a donation on a mobile device is critical. Can your constituents do that now?
  10. Increased online ad spend. The digital footprint of every American is larger than it was ever before. And, it will continue to grow more in the future. Marketing Automation helps track the effectiveness of your paid per click activities so you can sharpen your understanding of where to put more $ based on relevant data.

All of this, of course, in my mind points to the need to be more efficient with your marketing efforts. One off campaigns need to be replaced with more effective, better developed, well-targeted investments. Now and in the future, Marketing technologies and platforms to assist you in researching, deploying, automating and measuring your responses needs to be factored into your overall marketing spend. If not, you will be left behind.

Do you agree with more than seven of the ten predictions and trends above? If so, hopefully this will provide you with a head start on your 2016 budget planning process. Please contact us to discuss which tools may be pertinent in your marketing department moving forward.

Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Marketing Automation Software for Nonprofits