April 22, 2019
Nowadays, you can find software for every purpose imaginable, so every department wants to buy their own system. But once you start letting member and prospect data reside all over the place in different systems, trouble awaits. Here are eight reasons why your organization should keep event data in your association management software (AMS).
Engagement means something different for every member. Some members start the day with your newsletter and online community digests—that’s all they want and need from your association. Others love volunteering for committees and other special projects.
Another group of members doesn’t regularly open your emails or volunteer, but they attend every single annual conference. They even arrive early to go to an expensive pre-conference workshop so they can spend time with fellow members from across the country. This event—and their time with friends—is all they want and need from your association. But if your event data lives in a separate system, the engagement and loyalty of these event regulars won’t be obvious.
Keeping event data in your AMS gives you a 360-view of a member’s engagement. You can pull reports showing the whole spectrum of a member’s participation in association activities. You can personalize content that’s not only based on email clicks and self-declared interests, but also on the events they’ve attended in the past or have registered for in the future.
Of course, if your AMS has a solid integration with a third-party event registration system—and the integration works as you intended—you’ll also benefit from this 360-view of members and event attendees.
Members see only one association, but it often feels like their marketing budget is at the mercy of several associations inside of one.
No one knows how much this member company is spending with the association on PAC and foundation donations, exhibit fees, sponsorships, advertising, registration fees, purchases, and membership dues. No one has the full picture and the company is starting to realize that.
When member data is dispersed among separate systems, you can’t easily see the total investment of a company member. You don’t know how long they’ve been involved and to what extent.
If you keep all your member, attendee, and revenue partner data in one place, you can adopt a more holistic and service-oriented approach to your revenue partners. You can develop a new type of sponsorship package that prevents them from being assailed by multiple departments.
When you have the full picture of a revenue partner’s investment, you can analyze the data and figure out if it’s a fair exchange. Should you create a new membership tier for high-investment companies, perhaps a level that encourages more employee involvement?
Should you rethink benefits for companies who invest in your association, for example, extra trade show passes, exclusive sponsorship opportunities, or other membership benefits?
A member at your annual conference registration kiosk says, “Oh, I almost forgot, I have a new job and email address.” She walks away thinking all her association emails will catch up with her at her new firm. But no. Her email address was only changed in the event registration software not in the AMS.
When data is spread around many systems, member and customer records get updated in one but not the others, unless they’re properly integrated. Duplicate records abound. Staff lose confidence in AMS data because they’ve seen too many records with incorrect information. Reporting becomes complicated—exports, deduping, and all kinds of nonsense is required. But you won’t have to deal with these hassles if all your data lives in one place.
Event attendees are not one-size-fits all. Emails sent to them before and after the event should reflect what your association knows about their interests, job, career stage, association participation, and membership tenure—and that requires data in the AMS, not just the data in the event registration system.
If you use your AMS for event registration and management, staff working the registration desk can update a member’s profile or renew their membership—everyone likes that kind of timesaving one-stop shopping. If an event attendee wants to join on the spot, staff can handle that too. The attendee and member experience goes up a notch.
If you use the same software for membership and event management, your IT team will be forever grateful. That’s one less vendor relationship to manage, and one less system to worry about.
When your colleagues have only one system to learn, they’re less likely to make the kind of mistakes that compromise data integrity. They’ll also be more comfortable pulling the reports they need to make data-informed decisions.
The membership and event teams both want to nurture leads. The membership team needs quick and easy access to the data of non-member event attendees—the warmest leads of all. The event team wants to increase member (and membership prospect) awareness and interest in the association’s events.
Each team needs the other’s data to better understand their prospects, including their history of event attendance and participation in association activities, demographic characteristics, and interests—both self-declared and deduced from past behavior.
A perennial challenge of trade associations is getting more employees of member companies into the association fold. You have a much better chance of retaining a company member if you go beyond the primary contacts and build a membership fan base within the company. An additional bonus: when employees move to another company, they bring their membership loyalty with them.
When you have event data in your AMS, you can spot attendees from member companies whom you need to learn more about. You can nurture these members by including them in special email campaigns that introduce them to the benefits of their company membership.
Many of our clients have saved money by moving their event registration and management processes to MemberSuite. Besides having one less vendor relationship to manage, now they don’t have to spend their budget on:
You may love the idea of using your AMS for event registration and management, and keeping event data in the AMS. But, here’s the catch: what if the events department brings in a large percentage of your association’s revenue? They have political power and they want to use their own system, not “your” AMS. What’s the solution to this tough situation?
It’s the CIO or IT leader’s call to make.
Learn more about MemberSuite’s event management functionality so you can ask these tough questions and make a business case for a change that will help your association achieve its goals and provide a better member (and attendee) experience.