Beth Power is an association consultant with both a marketing and IT background, translating business needs into technology solutions.
The past year has shown that there are more—and sometimes better—ways than a one-size-fits-all approach to association technology. Association management software can be augmented to create a more comprehensive tech stack that enhances the member journey.
With so many associations expanding their digital member services, the association management system (AMS) is no longer the lone island of online functionality it once was. And an all-in-one option is no longer the prevailing philosophy among associations for tech ecosystem strategy. Now, leading associations create digital member experiences with a mix of specialized solutions.
The following are four areas to consider when looking to create a holistic ecosystem of tools for housing data and providing member services.
Foundation. Your AMS may be the cornerstone of your tech stack, but it’s what you do with the data it holds that turns your technology from a “system of record” to a “system of action.” Payment processing and donor management tools are standard, but are you using analytics to drive decisions? And are you integrating systems beyond single sign-on to leverage that data between systems for personalization and analysis? Analytics and integration are now as foundational as your AMS. AMS, Analytics, Donor Management, Integration, Payment Processing
Your AMS may be the cornerstone of your tech stack, but it’s what you do with the data it holds that turns your technology from a ‘system of record’ to a ‘system of action.’
Communication. The days of blasting emails to all your members are over. Marketing automation is the bedrock technology for reaching your members in a personalized and targeted manner. And the virtual and hybrid events are here to stay, so your event management tool needs to manage that evolution. Rounding out your communication, don’t forget the importance of putting your message in front of the right people with personalized online advertising and peer-to-peer marketing. Event Management, Influencer Management, Marketing Automation, Online Advertising
Distribution. Distribution of information plays a critical role in the quality of your members’ experience with you. This may mean improving search functionality so they can find value quickly and easily or creating more video content to serve the demand for new formats. And your content management system is vital to how you present the value you bring to your members online. Advocacy, Content Management System, Search, Video
Engagement. Of course, you can’t promote and distribute value if you haven’t created it first. From your online community to your career center to your learning management system, your engagement technologies allow your members to see and benefit from their participation in and connection with your association. Career Center, Community, Learning Management System, Mobile Community
There’s no escaping the reach technology has on every aspect of association life. But there’s also not a one-size-fits-all approach to meeting your organization’s needs. Conducting a thorough review of what systems you have and where your gaps are is a good place to start as you consider your technology strategy. Leaders from across the association, from the CMO to the CEO, should be involved.
Keep in mind that you may need new skill sets on your team, particularly among those who will implement new tools and work with them day to day. As you discuss new systems and implement them, begin any necessary upskilling as early as possible by taking advantage of webinars and other online training.
The pandemic accelerated the path to new technology for associations. It’s important to stay engaged in the marketplace to better understand the changing landscape and the new options available. What seemed impossible even a short time ago is quickly becoming the norm. Integrating specialized tools that complement your AMS will make you a stronger association, better equipped to meet your members’ changing needs.