Three Video Conferencing Myths (and How to Work Around Them)

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It’s easy to confuse hearsay for fact when it comes to video conferences—so let’s clear the air around a few not-quite-true Zoom meeting fables.

Like everyone else, you’ve probably been doing a lot more video conferencing than usual since last spring. And when everyone is doing something, everyone has an opinion about how to do it right.

Some are folklore. Others have evolved into myths.

In either case, not all widely held beliefs about video conferencing are true. But for a tool this essential, it’s important to have an accurate understanding of video conferencing, the technology, and the way you and your coworkers interact with it.

So let’s bust a few myths, shall we?

1. Video Conferencing Eats Up Your Bandwidth

Zoom, Google Meet, and other video-conferencing platforms have a reputation of being resource hogs, thanks in part to dropped calls and frozen frames.

But the truth is, these platforms don’t really need that much bandwidth compared with the capabilities of modern connections. Example: For 720p video in a 1-on-1 video call, a resolution most modern laptop webcams utilize, Zoom lists its bandwidth requirements as 1.2 megabits up and down. This is well below the maximum throughput of your average cable modem and easily within the realm of capability of your average LTE or 5G mobile connection.

However, if you are on a call with a lot of people, things can add up: Group video calls require 2.6 megabits, and a gallery call can require up to 4 megabits. (One idea: Turn off the gallery mode if you have low bandwidth.) On paper, a low-end 25-megabit cable or ADSL connection should nonetheless suffice—and your home may have a connection many times faster than that.

The real connection challenge comes from external factors. Let’s say your kids are at home watching something on Netflix, or you’re downloading a large file. Maybe you have something streaming in the background on your laptop. Maybe your spouse is on a Zoom call in the other room. Or maybe you’re taking a Zoom call in a coffee shop with 15 other people using the same connection on their laptops and phones. It’s not so much the Zoom itself that eats up the bandwidth, but the fact that your video conference has competition.

Now add to this the variable of WiFi—which is good enough in many cases but is more susceptible to latency issues—and you have a lot of elements at play that have nothing to do with Zoom itself. (Zoom does offer some suggestions [PDF] for managing calls in a low-bandwidth setting, and Microsoft Teams offers a low-bandwidth mode.) Maybe the issue isn’t Zoom being bandwidth-hungry, but your apartment having thick walls that make it hard for wireless signals to pass through. One way to solve this, according to PC Magazine? If high consistency and low latency matters, plug in to the internet through an Ethernet cable—or work near your router, where the wireless connection will be strongest.

2. Going On Camera Helps You Connect With Others

As remote work continues to be normalized, some organizations are requiring workers to stay on camera in meetings—a controversial practice, and a driving factor behind “Zoom fatigue.” A recent CNN piece even described organizations where people received HR complaints because they chose to leave their cameras off.

It turns out that research supports the choice to stay off camera. A recent University of Arizona study analyzing more than 100 health-services employees found that having cameras on during meetings was a deterrent to engagement, especially for women, because it fatigued people—and that the solution was to allow employees to turn the cameras off.

“In reality, those who had cameras on were potentially participating less than those not using cameras,” lead researcher Allison Gabriel said in a press release. “This counters the conventional wisdom that cameras are required to be engaged in virtual meetings.”

Perhaps the connection only needs to be at a voice level, or even over Slack. If you must be on camera, read up on some tips to look your best during video conferencing.

3. Video Conferencing Levels the Playing Field

In theory, a format in which everyone is in the same room and there’s no head to a table or visual cue that one person is leading the discussion would help ensure everyone can participate equally.

But in a recent academic paper, “You’re on Mute: How the Shift From In-Person to Virtual Board Meetings Impacts Board Governance and Communication in Nonprofit Associations,” University of San Francisco master’s student Theresa Hurley writes about how virtual board meetings can enable one person to dominate the discussion—especially on a teleconferencing call, where there is no visual feedback. “Some people will be drowned out or not feel comfortable speaking up, others may dominate unless there is an adequate facilitator so it is very easy for some to not participate at all,” she wrote.

Adding video can help with this dynamic, but it needs to be carefully considered. “Board intragroup dynamics such as sense of teamwork, the process of discussing and debating ideas, power of each individual and how conflict is managed should be considered alongside board factors such as structure and composition as a fundamental factor underpinning effectiveness,” she wrote.

 

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Membership Pro Tip: An Updated, Low-Cost Mentorship Program

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A revised mentorship program reduces expenses and engages members in new, unexpected—and fun—ways. Find out how one association pulled off its successful program and keeps it running smoothly.

Looking to cut costs, the Solid Waste Association of North America switched from a fully automated mentorship program, which was hosted by a vendor, to a hybrid version that is partially automated but also manually driven. It’s been very popular with members—and SWANA’s membership team. Here is a closer look at the nuts and bolts that make it work.

How Does It Work?

Looking at the program from a long-term perspective and scheduling the whole year ahead of time is a big part of the program’s success, says Shelby Truxon, SWANA’s membership program manager. Mapping it out a year in advance helps Truxon keep track of notifications and mentor matches and prepares her for times when it’s a heavier lift, so she isn’t caught off guard.

Promoting it is also essential. Initially the team thought people would just sign up for the mentorship program—and they did—but over time they realized some targeted messaging was in order. They started plugging it in to other programming, like SWANA’s young professionals’ program, student groups, and conferences.

Why Is It Effective?

Tracking how many mentors and mentees are participating provides measurable results to show how effective the program is and helps the team gauge how it is doing from year to year, Truxon says. This allows them to tweak the program and make improvements along the way to achieve better results.

What’s the Benefit?

It’s another way to get members involved with SWANA and engaged. And for staff, it’s an opportunity to come up with new ideas and different ways to promote it.

Plus, it’s a chance to branch out and create new ways for mentors and mentees to interact. For example, a mentorship forum on an online community, a speed mentoring event at a conference, or small group webinars where participants can interact online.

“Just have fun with it, play around with it, and listen to the members,” Truxon says.

Do you have a membership pro tip? Please share in the comments or send me an email.

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What to Expect in Today’s In-Person Meetings Environment

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One association that has resumed in-person events has advice for planners getting ready to do the same: Be prepared for reduced attendance initially, and communicate regularly with attendees about onsite service levels and safety protocols.

In-person events are coming back steadily, and while organizations want to return to normal, health and safety protocols and staffing shortages at some venues and local businesses are making gatherings different than they were pre-pandemic. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which has hosted nine events of varying sizes since August, has some insights about what other groups who have yet to meet might expect.

Tracey Steiner, NRECA’s senior vice president of education, training, and events, said there may be a decline in attendance compared with pre-pandemic levels.

“There’s a lot of talk about people wanting to get back, but we’re not seeing that fully realized in the numbers yet,” she said. “So, a decline in in-person participation is to be expected, and that will vary across associations and their memberships and what they have going on.”

Event planners should also expect that the return to in-person will bring mixed emotions. “While it does feel good to be getting back to what we know and what we love to do, there is anxiety and stress about, are we going to be able to implement these protocols? Is the venue going to be able to provide us the support and level of service that we need?” Steiner said.

She noted that a nationwide labor shortage may impact events, so planners should discuss the issue with the venue in advance to understand how service levels might be different. For one NRECA event, staffing fluctuations meant it took a while to nail down whether the venue would have enough staff to offer a manned buffet or if they would serve a boxed lunch instead.

“Have some patience and be able to talk through your options with your venue—and confirm their ability to deliver on expectations,” Steiner said. “Just don’t go in and assume it will be like it was before, where you come in with your wish list and all you’re waiting for is them to tell you how much it is going to cost.”

Communicating with Attendees

With many variables in flux, it’s important to communicate and set appropriate expectations with attendees.

“Preparing your attendees for what they can expect in terms of level of service is important,” Steiner said. “We really amped up the communication to our members.” For example, they let members know that some hotels didn’t have daily housekeeping service or valet parking, and venue restaurants and coffee shops might have reduced service hours or be closed.

In one case, NRECA hosted an event in a location that didn’t have a mask mandate, which differed from the association’s protocols. They asked hotel staff—who weren’t masked elsewhere—to wear masks when in the NRECA event space. They also trained association staff on how to best deal with member questions about safety protocols.

“We increased our internal communications, putting talking points together for our onsite team to address attendee concerns,” Steiner said. “And then we gave them some coaching. … The fact that we had prepared for this and talked it through helped our team be more comfortable.”

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Tips for Helping Volunteers Manage Stress in Tough Times

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Volunteers dedicate themselves to associations, but are associations keeping them in mind when times are hard? A mental health expert offers her insights on including volunteers in mental health outreach—and openly recognizing their struggles.

Volunteers are the life force that power associations. They contribute their time, brainpower, and hard work to help make associations more effective and successful. They come through in the clutch, but are associations doing enough for them when the chips are down?

It’s been a rough 18 months—and it’s been hard on everyone. It’s not getting much better, either. One year into the pandemic, nearly one-third of participants in a recent study by The Lancet Regional Health-Americas expressed having symptoms of depression. And one of the central drivers of that depression was the many stressors caused by the crisis.

Organizations have helped staff members cope with mental health challenges—and volunteers need to be a part of that outreach too. “It’s really crucial to remember that even though they are in a volunteer role, it is still work. It is something that they are passionate about and dedicating their time to, and they are experiencing total upheaval of their lives like everybody else is,” said Melissa Doman, MA, organizational psychologist, former clinical mental health therapist, and author of Yes, You Can Talk About Mental Health at Work … Here’s Why (And How to Do It Really Well).

For starters, if your association is hosting an event, webinar, or program about mental health at work, volunteers need to be invited to participate. It’s also important to keep in mind that acknowledging someone might be under stress is not taboo.

“Every human being on the planet, no matter what they do, will encounter all different forms of stress,” Doman said. Just because you are including volunteers in the conversation doesn’t mean you’re implying they have problems. It is acknowledging that managing stress is an important issue.

Doman recommends these other strategies for opening up the conversation and helping volunteers navigate a fundamentally altered landscape.

  • Readjust expectations. People’s capabilities are not the same. No one is the same person they were before the pandemic started. What “good” looks like, what “productive” looks like, and what “feeling OK” looks like are all different now.
  • Show you care. Volunteers might be feeling personal feelings of failure or concern they are reluctant to share with an organization because they don’t want to seem like they are neglecting their responsibilities. Let them know their wellbeing is important and give them a safe space to talk about it.
  • Intentional language. Being clear about where you’re coming from prevents people from becoming defensive or fearful. If you’ve noticed a few missed deadlines, check in to make sure the volunteer is all right. It’s about seeking to understand what’s behind the scenes that led to the missed deadline and coming from a place of genuine care.

Almost everyone in the world has experienced “a form of trauma,” Doman said. And many people are mourning the loss of the way life used to be. A recent Gallup poll, which surveyed people from 116 countries, found that 2020 was the most stressful year on record in the past 15 years.

“As humans, we are organisms under a massive state of distress,” Doman said. That’s why including volunteers and offering them support is crucial. “Each person is going through their own journey,” she said. “We’re all swimming in a sea of triggers, trying to find a boat.”

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Good Reads You Might Have Missed: Change Management

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Planning for a big change in your organization? These pieces from the archives might just make the process a little less painful.

Associations are in a position where, over time, evolution is a necessity to ensure that the organization keeps up with its members and industry.

But change isn’t always easy—and you may need change management to help push you forward. Check out the Associations Now and asaecenter.org archives for a few insights on where to start, including advice from organizations that went through the change-management process:

Change Management, Inside Out. This piece, from the July/August 2019 issue of Associations Now, breaks down experiences different associations have faced when undergoing major changes. “You really have to understand your staff and what is going to unsettle each of them,” said Kristin C. Hodgson, CAE, then manager of global chapter development, North America, for the Project Management Institute. “And if they don’t bring it up to you, you have to be able to bring it up to them.”

‌Making Big Changes? Talk About It. A Lot. Of course, making changes to a big organization means a lot of discussion beforehand. This piece, a companion to the previous link, offers advice for associations looking to make changes. “Probably the worst thing that could happen is that the leader is speaking to a cultural change where all the listeners don’t actually think that’s the culture they live in,” said Jim McNeil, the executive vice president and chief executive of business and trade industry practice at SmithBucklin.

How Change-Management Coaching Helped One Group Deal With Growing Pains. The story of CareSource’s use of change-management coaching to help employees get a handle on the organization’s fast internal growth, as well as the retirement of its CEO, offers a lot of lessons for association pros. “It was about bringing them together to help them look at change from a more systemic viewpoint, to make sure that they’re working together and collaborating even more effectively,” said CareSource Coaching and Mentoring Manager Matt Becker.

Preparing Your Staff for Organizational Change. This blog post by career expert Barbara Mitchell makes the case that association pros should plan for big changes with employees in mind. “Identify ‘change champions’: the people who will jump enthusiastically into a new initiative and will help bring others along,” she suggests. “If you don’t know who you can count on to be a change champion, now’s the time to find them.”

Rethinking the Change Adoption Curve. This 2017 piece, by Wes Cronkite of M Powered Strategies, argues that your organization should focus on enabling early adopters to embrace change more fully, while admitting that late adopters or laggards may not make the change as quickly, if at all. “Your strategy should be to empower those who adopt the change early,” Cronkite wrote. “If you position your change such that early adopters gain benefits that the laggards don’t, then you put your change strategy in a better position to succeed.”

 

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Want Better Engagement? Start By Thinking Small.

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One marketing pro reveals how a targeted approach to communications can yield wide-reaching results.

While no one has yet to invent a truly magical crystal ball, there is a key data metric that association professionals can count on to predict membership renewals: engagement. If members are actively participating in community boards, webinars and networking events all year long, there is a good chance they’ll not only be re-upping, but will likely take an active role in recruiting the next generation of members.

Since engagement plays a vital role in an association’s revenue and overall health, it has become a focal point for marketing pros (not to mention a source of great stress). In fact, according to the 2021 Association Communications Benchmarking Report—a survey of nearly 500 leaders of North American trade associations, professional societies and association management companies, 56% of respondents believe that they could get better engagement results by targeting their audiences more effectively, but feel stymied by the size of the task and the minimal resources at their disposal.

Meghan Architect, marketing and communications director at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International, knows what it’s like to feel overwhelmed. For the entirety of her first year, she was a one-person department in an organization devoted to supporting 9-1-1 telecommunicators and other public safety communications professionals. Her advice for other association professionals who want to improve their targeting but feel stretched too thin? “Start small and go from there.”

For Architect, the first step toward improving member engagement began with emails. “I dug into things and quickly realized that we were absolutely inundating our members’ inboxes,” she says. Almost every communication from the association went out to every member, whether it applied to their role in the industry or not. So, Architect made a bold move that would put many marketers in a cold sweat: “We decided to do less.”

Members were given the ability to opt in or out of certain emails and the option to customize the types of newsletters and announcements they’d see in their inboxes. “I have to admit that it was scary,” Architect recalls. “Usually, you feel like you want to keep hitting members over the head with things like event sign-ups. We couldn’t help but wonder if we were shooting ourselves in the foot.”

The team created new newsletters that were hyper-focused on subtopics within the broader scope of APCO and created preferences for webinar alerts, as well as other email subscription customizations. Within months, Architect saw open rates shoot up, click-through rates increased and event attendance got a healthy boost.

She extended this surgical approach to APCO’s social media channels. Rather than post everything everywhere, she took a look at what type of content got the most engagement on various platforms and made adjustments. “We honed in on our educational content for LinkedIn, featuring clips of speakers, and doubled our following in a year. For Facebook, we post a lot of positive stories, like congratulations to graduating classes or spotlights of members who helped save a life. And for Twitter, we use it mostly for the government relations side of our work. Across the board, our social followings have increased.”

For small departments hoping to find similar engagement success by targeting and segmenting their audience, Architect again advises taking it one step at a time. “Start with one campaign or one newsletter or one segment,” she says. “While it may seem scary to purposely inform fewer people about your offerings, the key to great engagement is grabbing people’s attention by giving them the content that they actually want.”

Lastly, think about how your communications fit into your members’ lives, she adds. “Our members are mostly shift workers, and don’t have access to their own computers or phones when they are busy saving lives. So it is very important to segment this audience—get them the information they actually want and need as quickly and seamlessly as possible.”


Naylor Association Solutions provides innovative association tools and services for strengthening member engagement and increasing non-dues revenue. Our offerings include member communications, management of live and online meetings and events, online career centers, Association Management Software (AMS) and Member Data Platform (MDP), full-service association management, and online learning. A strategic partner to professional and trade associations in the U.S. and Canada, Naylor serves more than 1,700 associations across 80+ industries. For more information, visit https://www.naylor.com.

 

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Nondues Revenue in Pandemic Times: Embrace an Entrepreneurial Mindset

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As the pandemic has torpedoed in-person events—a key revenue generator—associations have been looking to boost other areas of nondues revenue. Finding innovative ways to bring in new income during these times requires the right mindset, experts say.

While most association missions revolve around helping members or industry goals, that mission can’t be accomplished without funding and other sources of revenue. As the economy continues to be negatively affected by the pandemic, associations are looking to boost their nondues revenue. To find out what groups are doing to achieve this goal during these tumultuous times, I talked to a few experts, who say that new revenue streams start with having the right mindset.

“The associations that are going to generate new revenue—not your grandma’s nondues revenue—are the ones that can embrace that entrepreneurial mindset and create an environment of change,” said Teri Carden, cofounder and CEO of 100Reviews and organizer of the Non Dues-a-Palooza conference. “Creating an environment that’s conducive to these changes is really tricky.”

Carden said she likes associations to visualize successful nondues revenue approaches as the center of a Venn diagram with three ingredients. “You’ve got three concentric circles,” she said. “One is, it provides the member value. The other one is, it provides intel to the industry. And the third one is that it actually generates revenue. Where those three things crossover are the sweetest nondues revenue ideas. It has to do those three things. If any one of those three things missing, it falls down on doing a good job of generating nondues revenue.”

Alan DeYoung, executive director of the Wisconsin EMS Association, noted that his organization can’t charge a lot for dues because many of its members work in volunteer positions and wouldn’t join at high rates. Most of his association’s funding is from nondues revenue, and like Carden, he focuses on a similar sweet-spot approach.

“It needs to be recurring, it needs to provide some type of value to our members, and the process should be as automated as possible,” DeYoung said.

Finding Your Nondues Sweet Spot

Sean Soth, founder of Professionals for Association Revenue, notes that it’s a tough time economically now, so the first step in maximizing nondues revenue is to assess what the association is doing. He recommends a portfolio review of nondues-revenue-generating products—from sponsorship, to events, to content.

“I think it comes down to working with your team, understanding your market, and then making adjustments in your portfolio,” Soth said. “Inside the portfolio, it’s important to understand what is working and what isn’t.”

Carden agreed, noting that understanding what is not working is key to improving an organization’s nondues revenue situation. “Leadership has to have a mentality to embrace new programs and to sunset other programs,” Carden said. “Ultimately, if we just add on to the programs, and don’t sunset some, then we’re stretching our resources thin.”

Sunsetting programs can be hard because inertia or internal champions resist. If that’s the case at your association, Carden suggests conducting an audit and surveying members. She worked with an organization that went through and wrote down all of its programs. In columns beside the program/product name, staff added a member value score and the revenue generated by the program/product. “If it was low member value and low revenue, we got rid of it,” Carden said.

With programs elsewhere on the scale, associations can make other decisions that will help bolster nondues revenue. “You can see which programs can get more resources behind them to really make those programs go,” Carden said.

Along those same lines, Soth noted that it’s also important for associations to integrate customer feedback. “Many associations have been doing the same thing for a while, but what do the customers want?” he said. “And how can you build something around that?”

As organizations start to branch out into new products and services that fall into the revenue-generating sweet spot, Carden recommends setting up metrics to help know if the product is succeeding and when it might be expected to sunset.

“Anytime a new program is created, it actually has a shelf life,” Carden said. “We need to say, OK, what does success look like in one year? What does success look like in two years, three years, five years?”

This is the first of a three-part series on nondues revenue. The next two articles in this series will focus on ways associations are reshaping their sponsorship offerings and revenue shares to bolster nondues revenue.

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Technology Pro Tip: Sharing Passwords? Do So Securely

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Copying and pasting passwords in chat windows is a bad idea—but it seems like everyone does it. Using password managers or single-sign-on platforms could help cut down on the insecure copying.

Because cloud-based apps have grown like weeds—from SEO tools, to social media tools, to automation apps, and even data analytics tools—associations are dealing with a lot more passwords nowadays compared to even a few years ago. The truth is, not everything necessarily needs a unique account for each user.

Some organizations might find themselves sharing passwords among a small group of people. And while there are protocols employees can use to keep information like social media logins safe, sometimes you just need to share a password.

How do you do that without leaving that password hanging out in the open?

The Strategy

A little bit of software might help on this front. Password management platforms like LastPass, Dashlane, 1Password, and the open-source KeePass, can help a group of people share passwords, by making the passwords visible to those users.

1Password recently took things a step further with a feature it calls item sharing. This technique makes it possible to share basic logins, such as Wi-Fi passwords, without having to copy and paste the code. The link works even if the user doesn’t own 1Password, and can be set to expire. The Verge compares the approach to the sharing features available in a common tool in many workplaces—Google Drive.

If you don’t want to invest in a tool like 1Password, another approach that might come in handy is confidential email, a service offered through Gmail. The tool allows users to send a message, give that message an expiration date, and even require the use of an SMS passcode to access the message. It could come in handy in cases where info-sharing is necessary, but infrequent.

Why Is It Effective?

There’s a significant security benefit to not sharing passwords in the open, even through tools like Slack. Among other things, it prevents security breaches and encourages practices that limit access to organizational tools.

And on top of all that, password managers would likely put your security ahead of many other workplaces—according to a SurveyMonkey study reported by TechRadar, just 12 percent of knowledge workers say they use password managers, and 22 percent say they reuse passwords.

A password manager could allow you to vary those passwords, so when those rare times emerge where you do have to share a password, it’s complex, hard to remember, and only works in one place.

What’s the Potential?

Of course, if you really want to get fancy, a stretch upgrade for your organization might look like a single-sign-on tool, which can effectively put the login for a particular service behind a single-sign-on platform, such as Okta or Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory, making it so important logins are available to any user who needs them with a click of a button.

That way, you’re not sharing passwords, but everyone who needs to can access the necessary tools.

 

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A Website Redesign Boosts Member Engagement, Retention, and Value

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Listening to what members expect from their digital experience can pay off in lots of positive ways. Find out how a website redesign yielded several mutually beneficial outcomes for one association and its members.

Staff at the Auto Care Association realized members needed to have a better digital experience and improved access to information about its tools, resources, products, and services. But tackling a website redesign is not a quick process. It requires a lot of groundwork. Before even talking about technology, it’s essential to do research on what the business needs are.

“There needs to be a really good alignment between what the association wants, what the critical business needs are, and ultimately understanding what users are hoping for,” said Nathaly Branham, ACA’s web manager. That means member focus groups and surveys, to understand why they are visiting your site and what type of content they are looking for. It also requires getting buy-in from internal and board leadership to support necessary tech upgrades.

Once ACA had a good idea of what members wanted, it was clear they needed content management system (CMS), customer relationship system (CRM), and association management system (AMS) updates to support all the new bells and whistles for the redesigned site. The legacy systems couldn’t support what the new website is able to do now.

The power of the updates is apparent in several ways. For example, a streamlined online purchasing process means members no longer have to deal with cumbersome faxes, invoices, and spending time on the phone with an ACA sales representative.

“Now they can go ahead and go through the entire purchase process online,” Branham said.

DIY Member Updates

An ongoing challenge for associations is keeping member information updated. ACA’s new website allows members to log into the site, update their profile, where they work, see their peers’ information, and add new employees to their membership.

All ACA member-company employees are automatically members. Giving members the ability to update their own information has nearly tripled the logins to ACA’s website because members see the benefit of being able to access their own information, Branham said. Previously, only a primary contact at a member company or a couple of people who were using the membership had that option.

Opening up that access to everyone also gives ACA a chance to engage with more employees from each member company. And that means each company is better able to see what a valuable resource ACA is for their employees, which helps with member retention.

Better Engagement

Because the new site is so easy for members to navigate, the average session duration has grown exponentially, up 242 percent. Another added benefit to a more easily navigable website? ACA’s customer service department has seen a decrease in member questions and an increase in requests that are less vague and general than they were before. “Now it’s more intelligent, more informed,” Branham said.

Members see the information on the website and can clearly understand what they want to add to their subscriptions. That means the sales team doesn’t have to fish for answers because members know what they want right out of the gate. It cuts through a lot of wasted time and effort on everyone’s part.

As is often the case, listening to members to find out what will really make their experience better, careful planning, and leadership buy-in can yield fantastic results. “The website redesign really helped us bring that level of personalization, quick access, and discoverability to the different types of members we have in the association,” Branham said.

 

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Membership Pro Tip: Honoring Veterans

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Veterans Day honors those who have served in the U.S. military. One association found a way to honor both veterans and active military not only on November 11, but every day of the year. Here’s how.

Natalya Read, director of membership at the American Association of Echocardiography, knew the group had a segmentation of members who were either active military or retired. AAE had an informal discount available for active and retired military if someone asked, but Read wondered what AAE could do to honor them—not only if they requested, or on Veteran’s Day, but year-round.

After discussing the idea internally and with AAE’s membership steering committee, she came up with a more visible and concrete way for those members to access a discount.

How Does It Work?

The group decided to offer a 50 percent discount on AAE membership rates for physicians and sonographers with proof of their military ID, either active or retired, or their DD214 separation agreement form.

Because the forms can contain personal information, the membership team asks members to omit any sensitive information before they send them in. The team processes all the information and puts it in the system so when members are invoiced going forward, the 50 percent discount will be included.

AAE created a landing page with all the necessary information for the benefit. “We made it as easy as possible for existing members and new members to reach us if they fit the criteria,” Read says. They also promote it leading up to Veterans Day on social media and other platforms to encourage more participation.

AAE took it a step further and started offering 15 percent off registration rates for live and virtual courses for active and retired military. “We actually went beyond just membership and extended that special rate to our servicemen and women,” Read says.

Why Is It Effective?

“It’s a way that AAE can honor our veterans and active military for their willingness to serve and sacrifice for our country,” Read says. It’s a message that’s universal across all associations because most of them have members that are either active or have served in the past, she says.

What’s the Benefit?

Many of AAE’s military members transition and work in VA medical centers across the country caring for active and retired military personnel and their families. “It’s our way to help advance cardiovascular ultrasounds and improve lives through excellence in education, research, innovation, advocacy, and service to the profession,” Read says. “Which really is AAE’s mission.”

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