Automation Strategies for Associations

By posted Sep 09, 2014 10:38 AM


Let’s face it, over the years we continue to be challenged with doing more and more while at the same time having fewer resources to get things done.  And, all along the way being challenged with how you can increase engagement and conversions from your members and constituents.  Does this sound familiar?  I’m sure it does!

Well the good news is there are tools that can help you achieve just that. 

I’m sure you’ve noticed over the past dozen years or so, we are seeing that any tool worth its weight has the ability to integrate with other tools.  For instance, you likely have your AMS linked to your event registration platform and you are housing your content for your website and messaging programs on a CMS; which also may be integrated.  And of course you probably have these tools and others speaking to each other and linked to your online community and your messaging platform. 

Now what? You’re shifting data back and forth, but are you taking advantage of automation strategies that will make your life easier?  I talk to folks all the time that aren’t.  They are integrating all of their systems but haven’t made the strides to automate things or are just sending out basic triggered messaging.

Let’s take one step back for a moment.  How do you increase engagement with your members and constituents?  The answer is Relevancy.   Increasing relevancy will increase your engagement and consequently increase your conversions.  When we talk about being more relevant with your constituents we want to make the lists or segments as small as possible.  That may sound odd, but hear me out.  Segmenting your constituents into smaller, more targeted lists allows you to be more on-point—i.e. instead of sending a one-size-fits-all email newsletter to your entire member base, segment your members based on their preferences and deliver the content that they are asking for. 

Let me anticipate your next question, “I would love to be more targeted.  But this would require me to send out multiple variations of my newsletter.  But who has time for that?”  The key to this is automation; either through the use of tools like Dynamic Content, or integrating messaging features to your AMS and CMS.  This will allow you to tie in your member preference and allow for much more personalized one-to-one communications. 

Put yourself in the shoes of your members for a minute.  Imagine that you could select specific topical areas of interest and the frequency by which you would receive the newsletter.  You would open that newsletter every time knowing that you were getting just the content you need and no longer needing to sift through articles that don’t interest you.  Now, what if I told you this whole process is automated?  It’s not science fiction. It’s possible now!

Relevancy is not just important for content in your newsletters.  Relevancy is an important part of your member communications and event email as well.  It’s about being at the right place at the right time.  Strategies can be built allowing you to automate things like your membership renewal campaigns and remarket for your upcoming events. 

What if you could message to your members differently based on their level of interest in the event?  Well, it can be done, and automated! All you need to do is set up your invitations so that when a member clicks on the registration link for the event they are immediately added to a specific segment.  That member has expressed interest in your event by clicking on the registration link. That is important intel and you should use that to your advantage.  So now when you schedule the emails in advance of the upcoming event, you can message to this segment of interested members and exclude those that have converted by registering.  You are staying front-of-mind for members that are interested but have not yet registered; resulting in higher conversion rates for your events while significantly reducing the manual effort. 

I frequently get the question, “What type of automation strategy should I employ right now?”  There are several strategies that I would consider low-hanging fruit.  But one that I think everyone can easily tackle, as a first automation strategy, is a Welcome Program

When you bring a new member onboard, you should not only send them a welcome email, but a series of emails introducing them to your member benefits. Many of our clients have seen a vast improvement in engagement rates for members going through a welcome program compared to new members who were sent just a singular welcome email.  This is obviously due to the fact that your new members are opening up all of your email within that first few weeks.  Why not harness that advantage by ensuring that you properly show them around your website, event center, online community, etc.…  All of these messages can be set up to deploy automatically and with great flexibility based on your preferences for number of messages and message cadence.

All of this is just the tip of the iceberg.  If you have a data point or a series of data points that you can build an if-then query around, you can build an automation program around it.  It’s that simple.  Again, often times the data is there.  Take advantage of it and build programs that help you be more relevant to your constituents and you will see your engagement and conversion rates climb up and to the right!