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Association Management Systems (AMS): 5 Software Strategies

Written by Jake Fabbri on October 22, 2019 at 10:00 AM

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Your association provides your members with many different opportunities to develop as professionals and grow in their careers.

But to do this effectively, you need to have a system in place for gathering, organizing, and accessing the member information that provides you with insight into their goals and preferences: an association management system, or an AMS. As you get larger or want to offer more advanced programming, managing your membership through spreadsheets or disconnected databases just won’t cut it.

(Already use an AMS for your association? These tips will help you make the most of your investment.)

Let’s take a look at how your association can use your AMS to engage and provide for your members with these five strategies:

  1. Create comprehensive member profiles.
  2. Facilitate event registration and management.
  3. Automate your communications.
  4. Take advantage of eCommerce capabilities.
  5. Learn more using reporting features.

An AMS makes it easy for you to gather important information about your members, communicate with them, and help them take part in your programming. Your management software should support integrations with quality tools to help you meet your objectives and support your members.

1. Create comprehensive member profiles.

Gathering accurate member information is essential to every aspect of association management. Your team needs to know what programming your members have participated in, whether they’ve paid their dues and more. Choose association management software with robust integration capabilities, making it easy to create and update member profiles with key data.

When you use your association management software solution as your membership database, you can automatically gather data to create and update member profiles. To ensure that you’re gathering all of the information you need in your member profiles, look for software that is:

  • Integrated with your online community platform. It’s awesome that members can self-serve by updating their own information in their online community profile (for example, a name change, title change, etc.). But you also need this data to automatically translate back to your AMS so that the data flows over seamlessly. An integrated community-AMS does this and saves you time and prevents lost or confused data.
  • Highly customizable to your association. This way, your association can include the fields that matter most to your members. Members can also display awards and badges they’ve earned in activities and work related to your association.
  • Native to your CRM. If you’re using Salesforce, look for an AMS that is native to your CRM, saving your team the effort of integration and ensuring that your member database and the member profiles it contains are always up-to-date.

Updated member data is essential for communicating with your members and understanding their reasons for getting involved with your association. The member information stored in your database is also useful when it comes time to plan your association’s next event.

2. Facilitate event registration and management.

Events are great opportunities for your members to meet in person, learn valuable new information and skills, and reaffirm their dedication to your association’s mission. Your association management system can make planning and hosting your next conference or event much more efficient.

You can save your team a lot of time and energy by choosing an AMS that integrates with your event management software system or your online community’s event management tools. When you use integrated systems, you won’t have to transfer any information manually from one platform to the other.

Whether you’re using integrated systems or a standalone management system, you’ll want to use your software solution to:

  • Gather event participation data automatically. Want to know which members attended your event or participated in specific sessions? This information will transfer directly to your management system, keeping your member database updated.
  • Apply early bird and other member discounts. Your members will appreciate registration discounts in return for joining your association or signing up early for your next event. When eligible members register for your event, these discounts will apply automatically.
  • Allow chapters to plan their own events. Regional chapters of your association who are familiar with your AMS will find it much easier to plan their own events when the event registration and management platform looks and works just like the system they already know.

The right software solution can improve your association’s event management by making it easier for attendees to register and participate in the various components of your event such as classes and presentations. By facilitating chapter and regional events, your tools help your association expand and strengthen its presence in new areas to acquire new members.

After the big day has come and gone, you’ll need to reach out to follow up with your event attendees. These automated communications features make this process easy and allow your association to stay in touch with all of your members whenever you need to reach them.

3. Automate your communications.

Automated communications are essential for spreading the word about upcoming dues payments, event registration openings, and other news.

Automated communications keep all of your members in the loop and save your team time (and increase event revenue!) so that you can focus on the contents of your outreach rather than the logistics of delivery. To make the most out of automated communications, you’ll want to select an AMS that can integrate with your marketing automation platform, so that you can:

  • Simplify the dues collection process. Your association won’t be able to contact each one of your members individually when their dues are coming up or late. Automate these communications to make sure you reach every member efficiently.
  • Personalize member communications. . Whether you communicate with your members primarily through automated email campaigns, your online community, direct mail, or another method, use your AMS data to segment your members based on their preferences. Members are more likely to engage with relevant communications.

Resource: The 3 Best Data Points to Grab from Your AMS for Marketing Automation Campaigns

When your association automates communications, you can be sure that you’re addressing every member and can focus your time on creating content for those messages that will appeal to them. Personalizing communications engages your members and strengthens your association’s community.

4. Take advantage of eCommerce capabilities.

Whether your association has set up an online store, wants to make paying membership dues easier, or both, you’ll want to look for an AMS with eCommerce and financial reporting capabilities or one that can integrate with an eCommerce tool. This way, you can sell products, memberships, subscriptions, and other merchandise while keeping records of these transactions.

With the help of the right association management system, you’ll make eCommerce and online payments of all types easier for your members. You’ll be able to:

  • Sell custom merchandise. Branded merchandise is a great way to build recognition for your association, especially among new members or during exciting times such as the period leading up to a conference. When your eCommerce platform is managed through your management tools, all of your members will have the opportunity to buy these items easily.
  • Manage recurring payments. Dues and other membership and subscription costs are an unavoidable part of association operations but making sure that they’re processed on time doesn’t have to be difficult. Make sure you have a secure automated payment processor and the ability to automate your renewal campaigns.
  • Accept payments from multiple sources. Depending on the nature of your association, not all members may be using the same currency or payment gateways to purchase items or pay their dues. You should be able to accept a range of currencies and online payment methods to save both you and your members time and effort.

Want to draw more attention to your eCommerce capabilities? Ensure that members can access your online store and other online payment locations through your association’s website.

5. Learn more using reporting features.

To determine the success of your most recent event, identify trends among your members, and recognize opportunities for further growth, your team is almost certainly going to turn to reports. Reports that are easy to understand and customized to your association’s needs provide you with the information you need to better serve your members.

The best reports present relevant data in a visual format, making it easy for the members of your team to understand and take action. Your AMS can illustrate important data when the reports it creates come from an integrated toolkit and are:

  • Automatic. Manually importing data from your association’s membership database to your reporting system doesn’t just waste your team members’ time, it also means you risk losing important data. When your database and reporting features are integrated, you can be sure that your reports are comprehensive.
  • Customizable. Different divisions of your association and members of your team need to see the data that is most relevant to their roles. With highly customizable reporting features, you’ll be able to create reports most relevant to the different segments of your association.
  • Easy to produce and use. Reports are designed to facilitate understanding, not challenge your team members technologically. The more automated the report creation process, the easier it is for your team to develop them and interpret the data they contain.

The right association management system will facilitate your association’s growth by helping your association gather more information about your members and generate reports that allow you to better understand and address their needs. You can learn more about choosing an AMS to suit the needs of your association here.

When you keep your members’ data organized and can incorporate it into your communication strategies and reporting, you’ll be able to provide them with the personalized opportunities they’re looking for. Use your AMS and integrations to manage information for the benefit of both your members and your team.


If you're looking for ways to grow, an AMS is definitely a good place to start. We've got a few other ideas in our 15-minute webinar on 3 Ways to Skyrocket Membership Numbers This Year. Check it out below.

WATCH THE WEBINAR

Topics: Associations, Member Experience, Member Engagement, Marketing Automation, Online Community, Integration, Events

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