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Remaking the Association Workplace
New Ways to Work

How to Future-Proof Your Association

In this article:
One technology executive shares how forward-thinking associations can experience exponential growth.

Share of mind, share of wallet—that’s the goal of today’s associations who are in a constant fight to find new members and, importantly, have them renew. But they’re competing in a world Fortune 100 brands like Bank of America and Amazon that have trained consumers to expect frictionless, intuitive service, so if associations are not keeping up with technology to meet those expectations, attracting and retaining members is a losing battle.

So says Patrick Dorsey, SVP of Marketing at Impexium, a powerful association management platform built to meet the needs of organizations big and small. “We’ve seen successful associations leverage technology in ways that significantly boost membership efforts and increase revenue,” he says, adding, “But here’s the thing: smart tech doesn’t just help on the business side, it is also a powerful way to attract and retain top talent.”

Here, Dorsey breaks down the ways associations are using people-centered modern tech solutions to bolster the health and financial future of their organizations.

Tailoring Offerings to Specific Needs

Sending the same marketing message to members who are in different career stages is incredibly inefficient—a manager with 20 years of experience is not going to sign up for the same course that might appeal to a new member who is two years out of college. “AI is a gamechanger for getting the right products in front of the right members,” says Dorsey. “In the same way that Amazon suggests books based on your previous purchases, AI will see that a member took these two classes, and send them messaging that hey, you will definitely benefit from taking this third one. And all of this happens automatically in real time without staffers having to mine data and decide who to send which offer to. Trying to do that manually is beyond time-consuming—it is pretty much impossible if you are talking about thousands of members.”

Finding Lost Revenue Opportunities

According to Baymard Institute research, nearly 70 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned. Seven in ten abandoned purchases represents a tremendous amount of lost revenue. It’s not surprising, as it is so easy to get distracted or put off completing registration until it is too late, however, the simple implementation of technologies such as AI and/or workflow automation can cut that down by 20 percent or more, says Dorsey. “AI sees the contents of abandoned carts and send simple messaging that says, ‘Hey, we saw you were interested in this course or product— here’s a discount code if you sign up or purchase now.’” This same technology is also a tremendous asset during renewal season or the lead up to an annual conference. Associations create messaging that goes out 90 days before, 60 days before deadlines. “And it can be very personalized,” says Dorsey. “Technology such as workflow automation will create a list of all of the great services, courses and events that a member took part in the previous year, reminding them why it is in their best interest to renew.”

Dorsey says that it is vital to not only get new members to sign up, but to quickly engage with them so that they learn the value of their membership. “After I join, messaging should be going out alerting me to all the great products and services that are available. Like a gym membership, you need them to develop this new habit. If people don’t go to the gym in the first month, they’re just never going to go. Same is true for associations. If they don’t take advantage of the great things their membership brings them, they’re not going to renew.”

Attracting and Retaining Talent

“On a personal level, people like to feel like they are making a positive impact at work. Nobody likes to spend their day in the weeds, copying and pasting and doing redundant work,” says Dorsey. “It’s stifling, uninspiring and exhausting.” So in terms of retaining talented and energetic team members at your association, an outdated technology platform that requires a lot of manual data processing presents a real problem. In fact, in a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum, “job satisfaction” was the number two factor cited by people who left their jobs during The Great Resignation.

Utilizing tech to automate your workflow gets people out of the weeds and able to focus on creative, big-picture thinking. “It’s a win for everyone involved,” says Dorsey. “If you can save 20 percent of your time not doing all these redundant tasks, you can use that time identifying new revenue opportunities, creating upsell opportunities, selling more sponsorships, increasing event registration—you’re experiencing personal success that in turn provides tangible, quantifiable value to the association.”

Staying Ahead of the Curve

If the pandemic has taught us anything, says Dorsey, it is that we can not be caught flat-footed again. “We can’t predict the future, we don’t know what is coming down the road,” he explains, “So we need technology that is nimble, that can grow with us and that can pivot when need be.” Whether it is something happening two weeks from now or two years from now, associations need to adopt modern technology that allows them to be proactive rather than reactive in managing the business of their association. “Technology isn’t going to be able to eliminate risk, but it can help us mitigate it, find a solution and get back to serving our members.”

Smarter, Simpler Membership Management: Impexium’s cloud-based membership management platform supports the full range of association business and administrative activities. By combining enterprise-level functionality with the benefits of a software-as-a-service model, we help associations of all sizes transform their business.

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