Updated: May 24, 2021
How solid is your association’s dues revenue? What if there were a way to strengthen your revenue stream and boost members’ engagement simultaneously? Better yet, what if that could be accomplished without hiring more staff? If you said yes, in this article, I discuss how I see membership management software playing a part in achieving these things. Or, at least aspire to make it so.
Revenue Growth & Membership Management Software
Perhaps, I am an optimist. But, I truly believe in technology’s ability to achieve great things. And, with so many new technologies being developed, I believe it is exciting news the mere choice of switching to the right membership management software can possibly deliver an ROI in revenue, membership, and sustainability well worth the investment. Here’s how.
New technologies = New Opportunities
Before I get into the membership software side of things. Let me digress a bit to discuss PYMNTS.com, a website that tracks emerging payment options. They make not that “software developers are using new technologies to create innovative business opportunities and enable merchants to optimize the ways in which they engage with shoppers today.”
That’s great news for Association CEOs who get that pivoting to take advantage of the best business practices should be their prime strategy.
So what’s involved in these new technologies and how do they optimize engagement and revenue?
Engagement and Revenue Generation
PYMNTS.com interviewed membership software developer Abila’s Director of Product Management, Darryl Hopkins, who discusses a revolutionary concept in Association member management: “revenue-generating payments.”
Essentially, Hopkins covers a couple of key areas in which Association member management benefit from the new opportunities:
Automating membership renewals which, unsurprisingly, nets a better rate of renewal and increased funds
Membership databases are set up so that you may be able to remove the barriers to paying for membership dues. And, these systems are set up to help with the ability to automate a membership fee paid by an organization or group of individuals—a situation that Associations will find themselves facing more and more over time.
The Challenge of Competition
Future trends and patterns are emerging rapidly as new tools and platforms are developed each day. It’s pretty exciting. Even though we keep track of so many membership systems in the market today (over 100), there are many that are being released every year. And, more rapidly than ever before.
Why? Well, I could go into many reasons, but suffice it to say, associations and NFPs are faced with the challenge of keeping up to date and roll forward with the many shifts that emerge. I believe that competition is a big impetus for the desire for CRM features in many membership management systems of today.
No longer are the days when Associations can take a passive approach to recruitment of new members. There is no more “Build it and they will come mentality”. CRM features are either becoming more common place in the membership systems today or Associations are gravitating towards those systems which are natively built on CRM platforms.
Having worked with Association Executives for over a decade, I see nonprofit executives who need to do more to be competitive. And, be competitive with spending as little money as possible. And, ultimately doing more with less. The CRM features being built into membership software are imperative to drive revenue today.
No Substitute for Demonstrating You Care
In these days, Associations can’t just take money for their various services. And, I believe that many know this. They can’t just take a payment from a member. You must be able to link it back to that particular member’s account so you can keep a rich history of who this actual member is. You need to know the what, why, where, and how of that payment. This is exactly what was uncovered too according to Hopkins research previously mentioned.
Why? Which would you prefer?
A thank-you acknowledgement that says, Dear Jane, “Your membership renewal fee has been received. Enjoy your coming year with us.”
Or, Dear Jane, “We are excited that you will be joining us for the third year in a row. We think you will particularly enjoy our new educational offerings this year—they are just the ticket for your new position. And please let us know what we can add to make your membership even more valuable for you.”
Obviously, you would like something like #2. The membership software is able to alert Jane to the fact that new educational offerings in her wheelhouse are coming. There are so many examples. Suffice it to say, it is these types of segmented calls to increased engagement activity that carry the opportunity for revenue enhancement.
Workflow automation and building processes that are mundane and impactful can be done via membership software today. Nonprofits should take advantage of them.
By the way, you can access the article on the Hopkins interview here.
The Role of Segmentation
My blog on how segmentation boosts engagement talks about the need to segment by age and career stage—which also matters when it comes to payment options for membership renewals and Association activities. Research has shown that while Matures and Boomers may still prefer to mail in a check, younger members expect automated payment options—and for the youngest cohort, the more up-dated your payment options, the better return your on renewals.
Also, for more information on the perspective of the young career professional when it comes to payment options, download the Smart Payment Association’s white paper on the swipe-to-tap revolution here.
The Right Software, The Right Time, The Right Revenue Increase
Is there a good time buy new software? Well, the answer to that question is unique for everyone. But, in general, why would you want to wait if you are losing opportunities to increase your services and ability to serve your members better?
You should certainly plan the timing of your purchase. But, most of the time, it truly does not matter. And, quite frankly no time is better than the present if you’re not able to increase revenue.
So, now may be the best time to review whether your current software can handle the member management functions that your Association needs to increase members’ engagement and expand your revenue.
New technologies are emerging, CRM features are baked into membership software now, financial and accounting processes are being automated, personalization of communication is becoming a reality, and many associations are doing more with less. This is a direct result of those Association Executives who have invested in their staff and provided them with the software tools that they need to succeed.
If you find your software isn’t up to those tasks, take comfort in knowing that regardless of the size of and/or budget, I believe that we can help you find the best fit software to support your goals.
Contact us to help assess your database needs and offer our advice on which database solution may be the best fit. We’d be happy to put our expertise to work to help you meet your goals.
Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.