When events are vital to your membership organization, using the right technology is key. You might just find that your membership management software is the secret ingredient to successful events that engage your membership and offer both member and organizational value.
Events are integral to the membership experience
Members and events go together like peanut butter and jelly. In fact, our Small Membership Insight Survey found that the top three reasons members join an association or membership organization are:
- Access to current information
- Learning best practices in their profession
Since events can cover all three of these bases, it’s safe to say that events are an integral part of the membership experience. In addition, our research also found that events can be a critical source of non-dues revenue for membership organizations.
Key ingredients for successful membership events
But many organizations struggle with the administrative details involved with event planning and promotion. After all, these days, to serve up successful events that encourage member engagement and offer member and organizational value, you need a number of key ingredients such as:
- Event promotion on your website (and via social media)
- Email invitations to your membership
- Online (self-service) registration
- Automated confirmations and event reminders for registrants
Managing all of the details – from logistics around the venue, speakers and catering – is hard enough, never mind successfully promoting member engagement and ensuring effective registration processes are in place. It can be particularly challenging for organizations that rely on volunteers who are working from a number of excel spreadsheets or when staff are working with event software that is separate from and sometimes incompatible with your membership database. In fact, a few years back, we heard from an organization that had been using six different types of software to manage their membership and run their training and events.
4 ways membership management software can help ensure event success
We know that technology is changing the way participants experience and share events. But technology can also help ensure event planning success. With an integrated membership management program that includes event capabilities, you can:
1. Move it online
Many integrated membership systems offer easy-to-use templates and automated features that enable you to both promote and manage registration online through your website.
Instead of sending your usual brochure in the mail, you can move your event promotion online. Not only does this save paper, but it offers direct access to online registration too. Many integrated membership programs have capabilities that enable you to, for example:
- Create an events page with all of the event details and links to registration
- Include the event on an events calendar
- Use your blog to keep members up-to-date on event speakers, timelines, and tease out event information to keep them coming back to your site
- Start a forum where you can share event details and encourage member participation
Since you want to make it easy for folks to register for events, having online registration ensures your attendees can sign up using a direct link from any of your promotions. Many integrated membership systems include capabilities for:
- Online registration
- Secure payment processing
- Automated registration confirmations and invoicing
- Automated event reminder emails
2. Enjoy the marriage of membership and event management
When your system enables the “marriage” of membership and events data, you can be sure that you’re using up-to-date information for all of your event promotion and tracking. For example:
- If your system offers online self-service, members can update information easily, and this information is automatically stored in a central membership and contact database – so when you send out your event emails or newsletter, you can be sure you’re using an up-to-date list.
- You can also segment your list so that you send specific information to a particular member group or send a separate email to past participants, non-members, sponsors, etc.
By using an integrated program, you can also take advantage of consolidated data. You should be able to:
- Capture, track and report on event registrations and payments
- Customize your member database to track and report on member attendance at events as well as other member engagement data
3. Build member engagement in your events
With the right tools, you can build excitement with members and promote engagement by publicizing your event through:
- Customized automated email invitations
- Online event calendars
- Custom event pages
- Forums and blogs
You can also consider creating:
- Customized event invites and reminders
- Targeted email newsletters to promote special member pricing
- Invitations to a members-only reception or offer up member-exclusive event tips.
4. Keep it simple
The final way that technology can help is by making things easier and saving time. The right system should:
- Enable easy-to-use online registration for your members and other event attendees. After all, if registration is too complex, it can be a turn-off.
- Be easy to use and learn for the staff and/or volunteers managing your events
- Offer easy tracking and reporting for your staff or volunteer administrators.
Having a simple, straight-forward event management module can be particularly important for small organizations that rely on volunteers who may not be especially tech-savvy.
Do you have the secret ingredient?
If you’re intrigued by the idea of marrying membership and events and you’re using a number of systems to manage your member database, website and events, check out a few of the integrated membership management systems. Sign up for a free trial. Or perhaps you are already using an integrated membership program but haven’t got past the membership database options – check out its events module. You might just find that your membership management software might be the secret ingredient to successful events that engage your members and offer both member and organizational value.
Looking for Membership Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Membership Management software solutions.