For the last decade, Naylor has compiled the annual Association Communications Benchmarking Report, which surveys thousands of association executives across more than 100 industries. The purpose of this report is to show how associations like yours are tackling member communication issues, know what is important to the average association, and highlighting areas that might need to be improved within communication strategies in order to more effectively engage with members, sponsors and others who are connected to your association. This report is useful every year to see trends and best practices in the association community, but it takes on increased importance this year due to COVID and the enormous impact it has had on the standard operating practices of virtually every association across the globe.
Today, I want to take a deep dive into some of the findings of this year’s benchmarking report, and see how Naylor AMS (association management software) can be deployed to directly address our evolving business landscape to help your association survive and thrive.
Three out of five associations expect non-dues revenue to decline post-COVID-19
One of the most jarring initial takeaways from the report is that over three out of five respondents expect non-dues revenue to decline post-COVID. This can hardly be considered surprising, given the massive effect this pandemic has had on all of our personal and professional lives. Live events, which are typically a critical source of non-dues revenue, are delayed or cancelled; staff operations are made more difficult by impromptu remote-working scenarios; and in general, finances are a bit tighter for associations and members alike.
All this leads up to a very important question for any association – what can be done to mitigate or compensate for this loss of this revenue?
If you’re using Naylor AMS, here are several key ways you can leverage the tools within the platform to help bridge that gap between your initially budgeted revenue and the current economic climate:
Sell whitepapers or other industry-specific documents in the online store module.
Offer whitepapers as digital downloads in the online store module. Select different pricing options for different levels membership tiers. This provides an extra incentive for higher-priced tiers of membership by providing discounts to members, and a discounted fee for new or student members could also provide an incentive to join or stay. Charging for written knowledge also allows you to collect non-dues revenue from non-members who still wish to access these valuable resources. The number of associations who consider whitepapers to be very valuable communications rose by 13% compared to the 2019 Benchmarking Report, which is tied for the largest such increase along with our next area of focus….
Offer upsell items on the digital directory.
The number of associations who consider directories to be a valuable communication vehicle also rose by 13% over the previous year, illustrating the need for a dynamic member directory tool. Not only does Naylor AMS allow for a fully automated member directory that updates in real time as members update their online profiles, you can also use upsell items within the directory to gain some additional revenue. This can include charging to upload a photo or gif, allowing members to gain additional exposure through purchasing more searchable categories (defined by the association), or offering “priority listing,” where a member can be pinned to the top of any relevant member search for an additional cost.
Encourage attendees to register online for webinars and virtual events.
Over 60% of associations surveyed confirmed that they would be offering virtual conferences for the first time this year as a result of COVID-19. Whether your association is exploring this frontier for the first time or you’re already seasoned pros, you are able to utilize the event registration tool in Naylor AMS to handle virtual events just as you would use it for live events.
You are also able to set up event “categories”, making it easier for members and other attendees to quickly find the exact event type they are looking for. Perhaps most notable, in response to the overwhelming need for web-based events, Naylor has created free integrations with GoToWebinar and Zoom (the two most popular web-based event solutions) to ensure that registrations are simple, user friendly, and automatically connected to your event platform.
Customize your member communications
One final area to make sure to not overlook is the communication you have with your members. Now more than ever, it’s vital to make sure that the information you are sending out to your members is relevant and tailored to their individual needs.
The 2020 Benchmarking Report shows that associations are increasingly aware of that necessity. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed believe they could increase member engagement by improving their ability to customize messages for different sub-groups within their member base. Naylor AMS offers the ability to target segments for email based on virtually any data you keep track of – member type, geographic location, committee/group membership, member status, directory category, event attendance, or any other customizable question you add to the member profile (for example, “Would you like to receive communications about xyz, Yes/No”).
If you happened to prefer a different third-party email tool, Naylor also offers free integrations with most of the best-in-class email tools, including Constant Contact, RealMagnet, Informz, Survey Monkey, and MailChimp. That means you’re still able to customize the set of individuals to receive emails as outlined above, but you can export that set out to your email software of choice to manage the email itself.
Regardless of which email tool you end up using, the ability to specify the recipients to a highly detailed degree is an important step towards ensuring content is relevant and engaging, and that your members feel the benefit of your communications, rather than glossing over yet another one-size-fits-all email.
The world may be changing, but by deploying the right tools in a timely fashion, you can make sure your association is staying on the cutting edge of what members need and, more importantly, expect out of association membership today.
If you currently use Naylor AMS and would like some help with any of these useful tools, please click here to be connected with our support team. If you’re not using Naylor AMS but would like to see if it could be a fit for your association, please click here to receive more information or set up a web-based demo to see the product in action. Thanks, and stay safe!