For as long as most of us can remember, a large majority of revenue for professional associations came from membership dues. However, that number has decreased over the years. As the importance of non-dues revenue continues to grow, technological advancements have become one of the biggest drivers. These advancements allow associations to be more innovative while increasing the value they can provide to their members.
What Should I Monetize?
That’s really up to what your learners will pay for. If you’re offering anything for continuing education credit, certificates or certifications are the first things we would recommend putting a price tag on. Many live virtual events and on-demand recordings are also educational in nature, and people will likely be willing to pay for this type of content – especially if it’s presented by popular VIP speakers. Here are some ideas to get started:
- Develop and sell courses. These can be courses created in-house or with an instructional designer, or developed from content that’s currently available. Examples are live or recorded webinars or recorded content from annual meetings.
- Host and sell live and on-demand virtual events. Whether part of courses or not, virtual events have become increasingly popular throughout the years. These include fully virtual webinars or live streams from in-person meetings and conferences. According to the Tagoras Virtual Events Report from last year, 42% of associations reported that they had previously offered a virtual event. Of those, 80% were directly charging participants. As for the associations that had not yet offered a virtual event? Another 25% of them were planning on offering one in the next 12 months.
- Start a podcast channel. While many webinars and webcasts are one-off events, your audience is likely more accustomed to subscribing to a channel of podcasts. If this sounds overwhelming, remember that you don’t necessarily have to start from scratch. Think about all of the content you already have! For instance, you could take the “best of the best” from on-demand recordings and convert those soundbites into a series.
- Record content from in-person meetings and events. While this isn’t a new concept, there are many organizations out there not doing this simply because it’s an added expense. However, when you consider the amount spent on the in-person meeting and the potential non-dues revenue from repurposing this material, the additional spend will most likely be worth it. Recording the content will also allow you to reach an entirely new audience who was unable to attend your in-person meeting, which can increase the amount of value they feel they are receiving from your association.
Considerations when Selling eLearning
Figuring out what you want to sell is just one step in the process. Next, you need to determine where you are going to sell these items. Since we’re talking about eLearning specifically, you’re probably going to want to sell these items on your LMS. If you’re in the process of selecting an LMS for this initiative, here are some things to prioritize:
- Integrated payment gateways
- eCommerce functionality through an AMS integration, which enables all sales to be processed through your association management system
- Personalized pricing, allowing you to differentiate pricing between members and non-members, attendees and non-attendees, and any other groups you define
- Coupons and discount codes
- eCommerce reporting to help you confidently prove and improve ROI
- Coupons and discounts that can be used for specific items or sitewide
- Product bundles to help sell a bulk of content at a discounted price or sell less popular items bundled with more top sellers
Pro Tips for Additional Monetization
You could start selling a handful of courses, virtual events, and on-demand recordings and leave it at that. But why would you want to? Here are some additional tips to continue to grow your non-dues revenue.
- Upselling. This can mean a variety of different things. One example is to offer a premium for certain courses where an individual can purchase a class. As an add-on, they can also purchase a collaboration session or a 30-minute Q&A with one of the experts who created that course. Upselling personalized services like a one-on-one tutoring session can provide unique value to your members while creating a new revenue stream for your association.
- Sponsorship. All of your eLearning non-dues revenue doesn’t have to come from your learners! You’re probably accustomed to selling sponsorships for your annual conference and other in-person events. So why not sell sponsorships for eLearning as well? You could sell sponsorships for live virtual events, on-demand modules, courses, or even the entire LMS.
- License content or revenue share. This could be with partner associations, local affiliates, or educational institutions. By having other organizations help with content creation, you’re reducing internal resources while expanding your options for growing your non-dues revenue.
- Career Development. Continuing education and certifications are not the only strategies for career development. You can also incorporate self-assessments and mentoring opportunities into your LMS and eLearning programs to create additional value for your learners.
While we’ve covered the main ways that many associations are monetizing eLearning today, keep in mind that each program will be specifically tailored to the organization. From there, you can determine which items make the most sense and how to get creative with things that you may not have even discovered yet! Start by understanding the LMS and eCommerce capabilities that your learners and organizations need, and then you’ll be able to identify what is truly important for your association to succeed.
Jocelyn Fielding – Director, Marketing & Sales Operations
Jocelyn is responsible for all marketing activities at Blue Sky eLearn, as well as overseeing sales from an operational standpoint. She has over 10 years of experience in sales and marketing, with 7 of those years being spent at Blue Sky, marketing and selling to associations, corporations, and pharmaceutical companies. When Jocelyn isn’t working, she enjoys being outside – whether hiking or heading to the beach. She’s also an avid traveler, has been to six of the seven continents, and is always planning her next trip (or two!).