Your AMS Should Include These 5 Features and More

By Nate Brown • August 17, 2022

As association leaders, you have a responsibility to your team and your members to keep your membership database organized and up to date with clean information on a day-to-day basis. To maximize your time and use of technology, you may be utilizing association management software (AMS) or deciding if this solution is right for your association. There are many features in an AMS that could hold value for your staff and members that will keep you in a top-tier position in your industry. Let’s take a closer look at these highlighted features that should be a part of your AMS. 

  1. Online Communities/Forum

According to Pew Research, 85% of Americans say they go online daily. That’s eight in 10 adults. With your AMS being a completely online tool, this is great news for associations looking to leverage modules within their AMS to drive engagement with members. Meeting your members online only increases the potential for engagement.  

One key element of an AMS that can impact your member engagement positively is your online community or forum. What is an online community or forum? This is not like LinkedIn, Facebook, or any other public-facing social media platform that anyone can access, but rather it is a platform that your members can use to log in and have discussions directly related to your association and their industry. This allows for opportunities for your members to talk about their needs, industry specific happenings, and a provides a chance to seek assistance and support from colleagues. Similarly, this extension of your website allows members to engage with each other about industry news, upcoming events, committee meetings, education courses, and more.  

Let’s look at ASAE’s Collaborate (Conversations and Community Connected by ASAE) as an example. It is a network for associations to catch up with peers in a private online setting. There are discussions that you can start or join by simply logging into the platform. Having in-depth discussions and receiving feedback and resources from industry peers is beneficial for all professionals. Within Collaborate, you can filter based off your industry, events, discussions, and so much more. These are such a few ideas on how to get your own online community started for your members.  

The primary benefit of having online communities or forums as a native space within your AMS is that it offers your members a private space to engage with industry professionals and to seek information and resources while helping to solidify your association as a valuable resource to all who participate. 

  1. Email Marketing 

When it comes to communicating with your members, a key component is making sure members are receiving communications that are relevant to them. A robust AMS will include an email marketing module that will allow your association to email anyone within the AMS with a valid email address and existing record.  

Similar to other email marketing platforms, this ability allows your association to segment emails based on different data points set up in the database – meaning you can easily filter your audience on fields such as member type, join/expiration date, ZIP code/geographic area, active member vs. former member and more. By using the in-system reporting tools, you can also track receives, opens, and clicks to determine how effective your communications are. For the times when you’d like to add a personal touch to a manual process, like event registration confirmations or member joins/renewals, you can set up automated emails to provide consistent messaging. 

Having an email marketing module in your AMS not only saves your team time, but it also reduces the opportunity for errors that come with manual list work. Additionally, by sending from your AMS, you track everything granularly, which can help gauge a contact’s engagement in correlation with likeliness to renew their membership, purchase a sponsorship to your next event or download your annual report.  

  1. Membership Profile Enhancements

At its core, an AMS is a database built by your association to house records that represent individual people and how they have interacted with your association over the years. But what sets an AMS apart is the member interaction it allows. By adding a “self-service” element to a member’s online profile, you allow the member to keep their information and preferences up to date on their own time. It’s important to note that while every AMS will offer member profiles, not every AMS will allow for enhancing that profile in a public-facing search. 

Member profile enhancements are options for members to select to make them standout within your association. Enhancements to profiles can range from allowing graphics, redirect links, and documents to member showcases and more customization within the profile. Traditionally these enhancements are available for a fee, which in turn produces non-dues revenue for associations.   

  1. Website and Content Capabilities

Living in a digital age it is essential to have a well-thought-out, mobile-responsive and easy-to-use website. An AMS system that offers robust capabilities to build an association’s website should be highly sought-after since they provide an invaluable service to associations.   

Best-in-class AMS systems will have multiple templates to use, many of which will allow for website advertising and/or sponsored content. Knowing if an AMS has streamlined template formats and mobile-responsive design should play a huge role in AMS and template selection. Just like any website projects, associations should consider their audiences – and revenue goals – when selecting a website template. 

It’s also important to consider a content management system for your website. You want to have something that is easy to use, so there isn’t a steep learning curve when new staff or board members need to learn to use it. You also want to make sure it can handle everything you’d want on your public-facing website – videos, sliders and social media feeds, to name a few. A good AMS should also make it easy to gate content based on member type, so everyone who interacts with the association has easy access to the information that is most relevant to them. 

  1. Events and Conference Management

Last, but not least, leveraging an AMS’s event module to ensure an easy, holistic event experience is a must. With a member’s data already within an AMS, using an event and/or conference module to manage an event provides a seamless experience that tracks member engagement with each event they attend, along with other engagement information. Registration only scratches the surface on value an event module can bring to your AMS. 

For associations looking to customize member experiences, the event module of an AMS offers opportunities for robust pricing and registration configurations that allow members to get the most out of every event opportunity. Maximize your non-dues revenue with sessions, upsell items, and pricing based on membership type. 

In Conclusion 

Getting the most out of your AMS by leveraging modules is an essential goal for your association since modules should enhance both your staff and member’s experience within your database. In addition to creating a better experience, the modules selected should help your team save time each day while earning additional non-dues revenue. An AMS should be an all-in-one solution for your data management with features that will include the above and more.  

Here at Naylor, we are committed to your success. Follow along with this step-by-step guide to find the perfect AMS and how, together, we can build a long-term partnership.  

About The Author

Nate Brown is the director of business development for SaaS solutions at Naylor Association Solutions. Email him at [email protected].