Selling online courses for your association is a key engagement strategy that drives genuine value for your members. Explore our favorite tips and tricks here.

Tips for Selling Online Courses to Your Association Members

A major driver for becoming a member of an association is the opportunity to further a skill or advance in a particular field. Depending on your association’s mission and offerings, you likely host in-person events with speakers, or maybe even multi-day conferences, all to provide ample networking and learning opportunities.

However, your regular plans were likely thrown in for a loop the past 18-24 months. Now, virtual events and online experiences have taken the reign. Included in this genre are e-learning and online courses.

Selling online courses to your association members is an effective way to provide engaging and educational experiences and opportunities. If your association is made up of professionals in a similar field, online courses can even be offered for official accreditation that members can announce and pin to their online profiles.

If you want to expand your own online learning opportunities for association members, this article is here to provide you with some guidance. Selling online courses is more than just pulling together educational materials and handing them off to your members. From the topics you offer to the ease of your registration process, we’ve compiled a few key tips to keep in mind:

  1. Offer courses that will appeal to your members
  2. Make the online registration process easy to find and complete
  3. Invest in a secure online payment processor
  4. Follow up with a course registration confirmation email

Providing members value through online courses is not only an effective recruitment tool but can also increase retention rates for your association. You just need to offer courses that appeal to your members and encourage registration. Let’s begin. 

1. Offer courses that will appeal to your members

This may seem obvious, as you wouldn’t offer online courses on the subject of business marketing to members of a professional medical association. However, there are additional steps you can take to ensure that the online courses in your catalog are driving genuine value for your members. The best way to do this is by analyzing your data. 

Your association management system should store key information that you collect from your members. This should include both personal information like names, contact details, job titles, and engagement metrics such as what types of events they usually sign up for, and more. Make sure this information is easily accessible within your management solution.

This data can give you a clue into what online courses and events will garner the most registrations and meet the needs of your members. For instance:

  • Consider past courses or conference workshops that have been popular and pivot them to take place online
  • Make note of common job roles and levels and create online courses that target them

Along with looking at your existing data, you can also research similar associations in related fields and explore the online courses they offer.

Or, be more proactive and send out a survey to your entire member base. Ask them if they have a particular skill they want to develop or a course they want to take for accreditation. From there, you can begin planning how you can take this learning experience entirely online. Using live streaming software and other e-learning platforms will be your best approach. 

2. Make the online registration process easy to find and complete

Once you have a catalog of online courses for your members to select from, it’s time to start encouraging your members to register. No matter what, your online registration process should be easy to find and complete. 

Within your association’s website, have a dedicated space for your online courses built into your main navigation or include a prominent link on your homepage. Include calls-to-action within your event calendar or other association offerings. 

Send out an email to your members letting them know about the online learning opportunities. Ensure that you place a clearly displayed link to your registration page so that users know exactly how to sign up if they want to. From there, it’s critical that your online course registration process is as streamlined and convenient as possible. Often, a registration form that takes too long or asks too many questions can be what causes the potential attendee to simply give up in frustration.

Creating an intuitive and quick sign-up process is where a dependable online registration tool will come in handy. Let’s take some insight from this scenario featuring the Northwest Hydroelectric Association. They needed a solution that not only automates the registration process but also centralizes data for helpful reporting. After investing in a solution, they said “It frees up time from having to manually input every entry,” ultimately streamlining the sign-up process and positioning them for increased registrations.

Make sure your own registration solution has the following capabilities:

  • Customization to ensure the form is branded to the association. This not only improves user experience but also helps build the relationship between the registrant and your association. 
  • Embedding options for your organization’s website. Sending users to a third-party site not only interrupts the registration process but can also confuse the registrant and even make them suspicious of legitimacy. 
  • Personalization to cater the registration process to each individual. Look for tools with conditional logic abilities that react to the registrant’s answers by changing the form and the questions. If a member indicates that they’re interested in a follow-up course, the form could change to include additional information regarding their options. If they say they’re not interested, the form does not change at all. 
  • Integrated payment abilities. This way members can checkout during the registration process, meaning you don’t have to charge them with another tool or bill them later. We’ll talk more about your payment processor in the next section!

Along with the above capabilities, make sure that your registration page has all of the necessary information that attendees will need before they sign up for the opportunity. After all, online courses aren’t the traditional form of learning but have been rising in popularity due to their cost, convenience, and wide accessibility. If specific online software is required or the course you offer requires multiple sessions, these details should be prominently displayed before individuals register.

3. Invest in a secure online payment processor

The final step of the registration process for your online courses is payment. You don’t want to mar your member’s registration experience with an insecure and unsafe online payment process. One data breach can ruin your association’s reputation and make the selling of online courses (and acceptance of membership dues or event tickets) much more difficult in the future.

Make sure that you invest in a dependable and integrated payment tool, ensuring that course signups get finalized and that everyone’s data is protected. Your payment tool should

  • Be PCI Compliant. According to iATS Payments, “The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) was created by major credit card companies to set high technical standards to safeguard customer information. PCI Compliance is mandatory for all merchants, regardless of size.”
  • Automate payment invoices breaking down the transaction and registration. 
  • Offer payment plans and auto-billing to ease costs. 
  • Provide comprehensive payment reporting using a centralized system that both registration coordinators and accountants can access

To jump-start your online course registration offer discounts or early-bird signups to your most active association members. Some tools can even automatically trigger and apply discounts depending on the applicant. 

Consider creating different discount codes for member tiers. Taking insight from this Fonteva article, segment your members based on different discounts, like who has taken previous online courses or who has been a member for longer than a specified period of time.

4. Follow up with a course registration confirmation email

As the online course registration wraps up and payment is completed, it’s time to send out a course registration confirmation email. 

Registration confirmation emails have a couple of key uses. For one thing, they prevent confusion down the line about whether the registration was accepted. This verifies to the registrant that they have successfully signed up and that their payment has been received.

This type of email also opens up a communication channel between your association and online course participants. If there are any questions that registrants need answered, they can simply hit reply or use the preferred contact details provided in the email. 

This is also the place to relay all pertinent course information and target actions in the email. For instance, if a particular form needs to be completed before the course, make sure you have a bright button indicating that. Or, if the course requires a Zoom profile, the email should make this the focus action. If there are any urgent deadlines or other dates, make sure to bold them so that readers don’t accidentally gloss over these important details.

If you are having some trouble figuring out exactly what to say in your online course registration emails, Regpack has a handy guide along with three templates. Use the templates as inspiration and then tweak them to fit your association’s exact needs. 


Selling online courses to your association members provides them with engaging experiences and exciting learning opportunities. From making sure you offer the right courses to streamlining the registration process, the above tips and strategies will help you take your own member engagement to the next level moving forward. Good luck!

About the Author

Asaf Darash, Founder and CEO of Regpack, has extensive experience as an entrepreneur and investor. Asaf has built 3 successful companies to date, all with an exit plan or that have stayed in profitability and are still functional. Asaf specializes in product development for the web, team building and in bringing a company from concept to an actualized unit that is profitable.

Strengthening Member Engagement: Tips From an HR Consultant

As an association leader, you work hard to provide opportunities for your organization’s members to learn and grow professionally, connect with each other, and contribute to their communities. This wealth of opportunities is exactly why your members join your association in the first place, and why they keep renewing their memberships year after year. 

But despite your best efforts as a leader, much of the success of your association depends on the dedication and action of your members. Your team can set up a mentoring event, plan a conference, or create a job board on your website. But without buy-in and participation from your members, opportunities and resources like these will be of little value to anyone. 

That’s why it’s important to monitor and work to improve member engagement within your association. While having an insider’s perspective can be useful, it also poses challenges. Sometimes it’s beneficial to get a fresh perspective from experts outside of the realm of association leadership. Doing so can invite you to consider new strategies and best practices that will bolster your members’ enthusiasm and breathe new life into your association’s management strategy. 

In this guide, you’ll get tips on strengthening member engagement from an HR consultant. In the world of HR, one of our most important focus areas is employee engagement, which impacts job satisfaction and retention. These same principles that apply to the internal staff experience can and should teach you a thing or two about boosting external engagement with your members.  

In particular, we’ll cover these six tips:

  1. Invest in a comprehensive management solution. 
  2. Define the value you provide to your members. 
  3. Maintain transparency. 
  4. Communicate consistently. 
  5. Offer ample learning opportunities. 
  6. Provide tools and opportunities for members to engage with each other. 

Even if your association currently has high levels of member engagement, taking a proactive approach to sustain (and improve) engagement levels can only lead to a brighter future for your organization and its current and future members. 

Let’s dive in!

1. Invest in a comprehensive management solution. 

Investing in a management solution for your association will make your efforts to strengthen engagement much easier, especially if you want to empower your members with the tools they need to engage with your offerings and each other. It’s also incredibly useful to track all of those key engagements, which your software can do. 

The solution internal HR leaders turn to is talent or performance management software. For associations, membership management tools will be your best bet. Depending on the opportunities your association offers, try to look for membership solutions that can integrate with or also have event management capabilities.

Here are some of the top features your own solution should have:

  • Member database. Every piece of data and information you have on your members should live in your member database, also known as a constituent relationship management (CRM) system. Not only does this help keep your association organized, but you can use these data points to personalize member communication and build more meaningful relationships. Make sure to actively track engagement, as you can use information like event attendance and online activity to tailor association offerings to your members’ interests. 
  • Online member profiles. Encourage users to add profile photos so that your members can get familiar with one another, even if they can only do so virtually. Members should also be able to update their profiles through self-service capabilities.
  • Email marketing and communication. In order to actively engage your members, you need a way to communicate effectively with them. Especially for large associations that rely on the majority of interactions taking place in the digital space, a management system with highly capable email and communication tools is key. We’ll touch on this more in the next section. 
  • Event planning and management. As mentioned previously, finding an association management solution with event planning capabilities is key. For one thing, your association is already likely hosting a number of events, whether they’re smaller meetings, larger conferences, or virtual experiences. With event tools integrated into your core management system, you have the ability to easily create event pages and streamline the registration process. Then, all of that data can be centralized in your member database to further help you engage your members. 

It’s worth it to invest in a comprehensive association management system whenever possible, instead of piecing together separate tools as your organization grows. With an integrated solution, you can pull all of your data together to create in-depth and meaningful reports. These help you and your team understand past data, ensuring you have the resources needed to make informed decisions and move forward.

2. Define the value you provide to your members. 

In order to encourage higher levels of member engagement, you have to consistently remind your members of the value they’re getting out of interacting with your organization and with fellow members. Doing so will remind members that full participation is necessary for reaping all of the benefits their membership offers. 

Here are a few suggestions for making the value of your membership program clear: 

  • Define your membership model on your website. According to Morweb’s guide to building a membership website, you should showcase your membership model on your website and explain what benefits your members receive for joining your organization. Some associations use a tiered structure for their membership model, where lower-level members receive only basic benefits and higher-level members gain access to more exclusive resources and opportunities. 
  • Highlight the element of exclusivity. Letting members (and potential members) know that their membership gets them access to exclusive opportunities can illustrate the need for deeper engagement and continued membership. For example, perhaps you have a job board you reserve for members only, or perhaps you host a members-only retreat each year. 
  • Share success stories. Reporting on how other members have benefited from engaging with your association can also encourage better participation. For example, you might report on how a CSR course helped one member to improve his company’s volunteering days program or how a recent college graduate benefited from your mentorship program. You can even have members write “review-style” success stories themselves. These are great for sharing on your website or in your newsletter. 

Communicating the value add of your association is similar to an organization communicating its benefits and perks for employees. Doing so won’t just motivate current members to more fully engage with your programs and opportunities. It’s also useful for marketing your association to new members! 

3. Maintain transparency. 

Loyalty to your association can be a big factor in how motivated a member feels to interact with your organization online or register for an upcoming event. HR professionals know the value of loyalty when it comes to employee engagement and retention. And, according to Astron Solutions’ guide to employee loyalty, one of the best ways to cultivate loyalty with employees is to prioritize transparency in all of your operations. 

The same idea applies to association members. Transparency is key to building trust and ensuring that the expectations your members have for their experience with your association will be met—or better yet, exceeded! 

Of course, it’s easy to be transparent about the great things that your association is doing. It’s a little trickier when it comes to being transparent about the not-so-good things. For example, maybe your association loses a major source of funding or has a high-profile conference speaker cancel. Being transparent with your members, even during those difficult times, will pay off as they see your organization as authentic, genuine, and honest.

4. Communicate consistently. 

When a member joins your association, that doesn’t mean your communication with them should stop. In fact, as soon as they officially become a member, this should be the start to a long-lasting and two-way communication channel. 

As an association leader, your role is to offer exciting and valuable opportunities and content, while your members should engage, ask questions, or offer feedback when prompted.

However, it isn’t enough just to send a couple of emails per month. The average email open rate is only around 21.33%, so taking steps to optimize your communication strategy is worth it. One essential tactic that many growing organizations often neglect is email segmentation.

Segmentation involves sorting members into different groups based on shared characteristics, like how long members have been active, what skills or experience level they have, or what their preferred communication method is. This will be unique to your association and the data points you value. 

Then, you’ll create targeted content for each segment and use your membership management solution to send emails to relevant recipients. If you want to take this to the next level, consider data automation to personalize your email communications. 

In order to automate data personalization, it’s crucial that your membership database and email tool are integrated and work together seamlessly. Your tools should pull the relevant data points from your CRM and populate it into email communications. You might use these personal data points:

  • Name
  • Role
  • Membership length
  • Past accomplishments
  • Engagement history (or past event attendance)

These little tidbits of personal information ensure that members know that the email they get is made for them. After all, no one enjoys receiving and scrolling through hundreds of spam emails that don’t even pertain to them. Set the expectation early on that each email you send to members is valuable and tailored for them.

5. Offer ample learning opportunities. 

Many times, members join associations to further their career or expand certain skills. That’s why professional associations are so popular. This means that one of the most engaging ways you can continue building your relationships with members is to offer ample learning opportunities, which are much like professional development opportunities in the workplace. 

In particular, online learning opportunities have become extremely popular in recent years. And this form of learning also enables you to expand the number of people who can experience it. Members (or non-members) can sign up and participate in the course no matter where they are, and no matter what time it is.

To get a better sense of the types of learning opportunities your members would most likely be interested in, consider the following:

  • Take a look at your membership database and make note of common goals.
  • Review what other professional associations are teaching and offering to their members.
  • Research the industry and jot down different skills for different levels.
  • Take a look at available e-learning courses and select a few that you think might benefit your members.
  • Create and send a survey to your members asking them to rank their top choices for new educational content.

Partnering with an e-learning content development company is another option to explore, especially if you want to create your own courses, design a long-term learning experience, or even translate courses into other languages. 

6. Provide tools and opportunities for members to engage with each other. 

Along with the engagement opportunities you offer to your members, consider how you can encourage members to engage with each other. After all, a huge draw to becoming a part of an association is meeting others in your sector and taking advantage of networking opportunities.

Over the course of the pandemic (and beyond), virtual interactions have become particularly popular. Here are some tools and opportunities you can provide to maintain and grow virtual engagement among your members: 

  • Dedicated online member portal where members get familiar with the other members, access discussion boards, and more.
  • Virtual association events where members can take advantage of live streaming tools and other online solutions to engage with others.
  • A membership directory, which members can use to connect with each other, see the accomplishments of peers, and network for professional opportunities.  
  • Association member committees made up of some of your most active members. Invite prospects to be a part of the committee, let them know of the role requirements, and encourage them to chat and discuss topics via text, audio, or video.

Ensuring that your members are engaging with each other is crucial for your recruitment and retention strategies. The same goes for employers trying to increase employee productivity. Without the ability to talk and interact with other team members, it’s harder for employees to feel a sense of belonging and loyalty to the organization.

HR consultants are familiar with many of the challenges associations face when it comes to engagement. Like employee engagement, member engagement impacts every individual member’s experience and the long-term future of your organization. 

By implementing these tips, you’ll be able to improve how you engage your members as an association leader. As you do so, remember to rely on a comprehensive management solution as the foundation for all of your efforts. You’ve got this! 

About the Author

Jennifer C. Loftus, MBA, SPHR, PHRca, GPHR, SHRM-SCP, CCP, CBP, GRP

Jennifer C. Loftus is a Founding Partner of and National Director for Astron Solutions, a compensation consulting firm.  Jennifer has 23 years of experience garnered at organizations including the Hay Group, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Eagle Electric Manufacturing Company, and Harcourt General.  

Jennifer has held volunteer leadership roles with SHRM, New York City SHRM, and WorldatWork. She serves as a subject matter expert to the SHRM Learning System and as a SHRM instructor.  Jennifer is a sought-after speaker for local & national conferences and media outlets.

Jennifer has an MBA in Human Resource Management with highest honors from Pace University and a BS in Accounting summa cum laude from Rutgers University.  

Jennifer holds Adjunct Professor roles with Pace University, Long Island University, and LIM College.

Jennifer received the 2014 Gotham Comedy Foundation’s Lifetime Ambassador of Laughter Award.

5 Tips for Creating Online Professional Development Courses

Picture this: you’re sitting in a conference room, yawning your way through a mandatory professional development workshop. There’s limited opportunity for interaction, and the accompanying reading materials are lackluster. The training session may even be covering material you already know or have learned in a previous course, creating an even more monotonous experience.

Luckily, this nightmare doesn’t have to be your (or your association members’!) reality. By creating online professional development courses that are convenient, engaging, and customized to your members, your association will be better able to provide value to members and boost engagement.

At Skyepack, we create interactive digital courses and microcredentials that achieve learning outcomes for professional associations like yours. With experience working with a wide range of learners, we’ve gleaned many helpful tips and tricks to make your association’s online course materials more engaging and effective.

To develop a course that helps your members thrive, consider the following strategies:

Whether you’re trying to help members meet mandatory continuing education requirements to earn or maintain certification or you simply want to share industry trends and best practices, effective online courses are a powerful tool. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to increase membership satisfaction by providing them with the education they need.

Design the course with learner needs in mind.

As an association leader, your primary goal is to provide value to members. This is at the forefront of every decision you make, whether it’s choosing your association membership software, planning an event, or in this case, creating professional development courses.

To provide value with your professional development materials, tailor your courses to your members’ specific needs and interests. Consider your members’ expectations, prior knowledge, and future needs when curating content and developing each course. Aim to answer the following questions when conducting research:

  • What topics have members expressed interest in previously?
  • What content areas have you already covered in previous courses?
  • Do any of your previous courses need to be refreshed to align with current best practices?
  • How much time are your members willing and able to devote to a course?
  • Will they need to track CE credits to align with employer or licensing requirements?
  • Are there any industry-wide trends or concerns that you should consider covering?

You can obtain this information using a few different sources, including previous course performance data in your learning platform and member engagement data in your association management software. Consider going straight to the source and sending out surveys that ask about the topics that members would be most interested in taking courses about.

Include high-quality, multimedia and interactive content.

One of the biggest benefits of online courses is that you can include a wide variety of dynamic, interactive content to engage your audience. When members can explore different types of content, they’re more likely to stay engaged from start to finish.

In addition to maintaining attention, variation in content type allows members to interact with information that best aligns with their learning style. Whether a learner prefers visual, audio, or written content, they can find something that appeals to them.

Consider including any of the following multimedia elements in your content:

  • Video
  • Animations
  • Photos
  • Graphs, charts, and infographics
  • Audio clips

While you may have some of these multimedia resources already on-hand (such as ready-made infographics), you may also find yourself needing to create new content for your course. In that instance, consider exploring the world of open educational resources (OERs).

Skyepack defines OERs as “educational resources that are freely accessible to anyone who has internet access.” This could include text, video, visual, and interactive resources. With careful searching and evaluation, you may be able to find ready-made resources that are available for use in your course.

Lastly, consider going beyond multimedia content to also include interactive resources. While multimedia content is useful, it’s still a one-way teaching format. To increase engagement, you should create interactive learning opportunities for your members. These include features like drag-and-drop elements, embedded assessments, or reading comprehension questions within the content.

Consider incorporating microcredentials into your lineup.

Microcredentials are a specific type of professional development course that are especially effective for association members.

Unlike more robust professional development courses—like licensure-related courses that cover a wide variety of topics—microcredentials are hyper-focused on developing specific skills. They’re commonly found in high-growth fields, such as IT support, data analytics, project management, cybersecurity, and digital marketing. 

For a learner, the process of completing a micro-credential involves:

  1. Reviewing online learning materials.
  2. Completing any corresponding assignments.
  3. Passing an assessment or skills test that shows they’ve learned the knowledge in question.
  4. Earning the micro-credential badge or certificate.

These courses are most often asynchronous and learners can complete them in just a few hours to a few weeks. This means your members can purchase and complete microcredentials as a supplement to any required professional development efforts, better tailoring their educational efforts toward their personal goals.

To begin offering microcredentials to your members, consider partnering with an instructional design team that is already familiar with this newly-developing area of continuing education. This partner can both teach your instructional designers to create such courses and help your team physically build these courses.

Choose a modern, cloud-based platform.

NPOInfo notes that “Only 1 in 3 associations feel their association software helps them achieve their fundraising goals.” The more accessible and convenient that you can make content, the more likely members will be to purchase it. With that in mind, if you haven’t already, choose an online content delivery platform that’s cloud-based.

Your members won’t want to download software or be restricted to a single device to access content. The biggest benefit of a cloud-based delivery system is that content can be accessed from anywhere and at any time. So, whether members are working from home, in the office, or traveling, they will have access to the content they need to complete their professional development goals.

Beyond that, streamlined content delivery platforms are convenient because they offer a centralized hub for all course information. Members won’t need to manage physical documents or PDF packets, because all materials will be accessible from one location.

Continue to improve upon the courses over time.

Whether it’s new innovations in your industry, updates to professional requirements, or a shift in members’ working conditions, you may need to make changes periodically to your professional development courses.

To ensure that your courses continue to be engaging and useful, set up a protocol for continuously reviewing and improving them. Depending on the nature of the courses, you may choose to make updates annually or after each new cohort of learners completes a given course.

To give you an idea of what this process could look like, consider the Agile Instructional Design method:

  1. Analyze learning needs.
  2. Research the course material.
  3. Design the course infrastructure.
  4. Curate materials for the course.
  5. Build the course.
  6. Launch the course.

This is an iterative process. After the course is launched, the cycle begins again as needed to ensure the content is kept up to date. This ensures that a course continues to engage your members as learning needs evolve over time.

Your association’s members look to your organization as a resource for growth and professional development. To make sure you’re meeting these expectations in providing educational content, you should strive to create highly engaging online development courses.

By researching learners’ interests, including high-quality multimedia and interactive resources, incorporating microcredentials, choosing a modern cloud-based platform, and continuing to improve your courses over time, you will be well-positioned to create and maintain informative and interactive courses.

Austin Bates: Director of Operations & Instructional Design 

Born and raised in Texas, Austin learned at an early age the importance of dedication to a craft. During his Masters pursuit at Texas A&M University in Educational Technology, Austin began to question “Why not create better ways to teach in the online environment?” Skyepack soon became his catalyst for this new paradigm in online instruction. He is valued for his abilities to plan course designs, implement powerful teaching technology, and execute daily production assignments. In his spare time, Austin enjoys biking, watching football, and making every minute count.

Association E-Learning: 3 Tips to Provide Member Value

As an association professional, your job revolves around member engagement. It’s the driving force behind your association’s existence.

That being said, if you find yourself asking, “Why aren’t members engaging with our association anymore,” you’re not alone. It’s hard to maintain association member engagement during a year like 2020.

The formula for engaging members hasn’t changed. Provide value for members, and they will come. But, given that the value offerings from your association may look markedly different from a year ago, that can be easier said than done!

Time and time again, we’ve found that e-learning is a great way to provide value to association members. But, the landscape for e-learning in professional development is incredibly competitive. Your association is now competing against similar organizations and off-the-shelf solutions such as LinkedIn Learning and Pryor Learning Solutions.

For your association to provide value to members and stand out from the crowd with e-learning, the content needs to be stellar and customized.

Let’s break that down a bit. How can you, or the e-learning development company you choose to work with, create courses that can’t be overlooked?

Highlight subjects that are useful for your association members.

Complete this exercise with us. Look around you. What does professional development look like for your team in 2020?

Does it include:

  • Working from home?
  • Increased distractions? (streaming services and homeschooling, we’re looking at you)
  • Increased workload, or otherwise strained working conditions?

Many people—and yes, this includes the members of your association—are experiencing at least one of these environmental factors. Somehow, though many are staying home to abide by social distancing recommendations, we have less time than ever before. Our plates are full!

Because of this, it’s crucial that e-learning content is useful—not just interesting, but actionable

E-learning courses need to help your association members do something better, whether in their jobs or personal lives. Here are a few ideas to kick off your content creation brainstorming:

  • Provide education and preparation for certifications. In-person training courses are likely canceled for the near future. But, that doesn’t mean the accompanying certifications are paused. For some sectors these certifications are crucial. We’ve found that e-learning can be a great alternative—for example, just consider the benefits of healthcare e-learning!
  • Consider general professional development topics. For example, are any of your association’s members struggling to adjust to working from home or seeking a job in a volatile job market? We’d bet that courses on these subjects are in high demand.
  • Create content about navigating specific changes in your industry. For example, let’s say you’re a part of an association for marketing professionals. Consider creating e-learning courses discussing writing marketing copy during times of socio-economic unrest!

If you were a member of your association, which would you prefer: canned, out-of-sync content or personalized e-learning content, tailored to your interests? We’d prefer the latter.

Choose the format of your courses intentionally.

Have you ever fallen head-over-heels for a novel, only to see it misrepresented when turned into a movie? Maybe you’ve said something along the lines of: “The movie was okay, but the book was better.”

We’ve all been there! At the end of the day, some stories and lessons are told better in certain formats. This holds true for the e-learning courses you create. To create e-learning that provides member value, part of your mission is to discover the perfect format.

Here are a few quick tips to help you choose:

  1. Evaluate what needs to change. Do members need to develop a new skill, such as how to write a cover letter? Or, do members need a change in their mindset, such as understanding the importance of positive self-care practices?
  2. Identify how that change happens. What will drive the point home? This could be practicing a skill, watching a presentation, or even getting motivated to achieve more.
  3. Choose the format that meets that need. This could be microlearning games, immersive scenarios, or multi-module, multimedia courses.

We’ve talked about format conceptually. Now, let’s see how this would actually play out. Bring the course content ideas from the last section, and let’s brainstorm how you might choose the format for each:

  • Education and Preparation for Certifications: The last thing you want is a member completing a prep course… and walking away with little knowledge to assist them with exams. Let’s draw on the healthcare example from before. Members need both to learn new information and practice applying it. An in-depth, multi-module course that’s interesting and comprehensive is key!
  • General Professional Development Topics: Let’s consider the example of working from home. In this situation, learners don’t need an in-depth overview of the brain science behind working from home—they need quick, effective tips to make their day-to-day life more manageable. A microlearning course that focuses on the top tips for an effective WFH desk set-up would do great here.
  • Content About Navigating Industry-Specific Topics: Scenarios are ideal for learning about new developments in your field. We encountered industry-specific education when working with the Society for Pediatric Sedation. They needed to educate members on a crucial, specific skill—pediatric sedation decision-making. In the long-form course, learners experience case-based scenarios and reflect on the different decisions and outcomes.

With that, tell us this: How do you want members to speak about your courses after they’re completed?

Tossing away their popcorn, saying something like, “It would have been better if it was shorter/more immersive/more comprehensive…”? Or, not discussing the format at all, because it was so effective and all they are interested in now is putting what they learned into action? (We shouldn’t need to answer this one for you.)

Write assessments that are educational and challenging.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing assessments only exist to assess the knowledge of your members. Your association is providing e-learning courses to increase the value association membership provides. That should carry through to every aspect of your courses—assessments included.

There are some situations where the entire driver behind assessments is the grade at the end (like certification exams). However, in pretty much every other scenario, “passing” the knowledge checks holds little value. Do you know anyone that still discusses their high school or college GPA? Unless you’re surrounded by very competitive adults, probably not.

So, how can you create assessments that provide value beyond a “grade”? Create tests, quizzes, and knowledge checks that educate the members while testing them.

Let’s explore this through the lens of our earlier examples:

  • Education and Preparation for Certifications: Consider providing assessments that present realistic questions and challenges compared to what learners would experience in a certification exam. Then, give them the opportunity to evaluate their answers against an expert’s, to see if and where there is room for improvement.
  • General Professional Development Topics: Let’s say your course has a section on the language of your industry. Instead of creating a standard multiple-choice assessment, build a short game with scoring. It will engage and test the learners’ comprehension.
  • Content About Navigating Industry-Specific Topics: Consider assessments that walk through examples and allow the member to practice new industry developments. Drawing back to our marketing example, have members fill-in-the-blank to practice crisis-scenario phrasing. Then, include a discussion of why certain phrases work (and others don’t!)

Think of it this way: Have you ever completed an exhaustive course, and then rushed through the assessment at the end just to get it over with? Yeah, you don’t want to replicate that experience for your members.

Creating educational assessments is key to providing value from the opening notes of the course, all the way through the final quiz question. If you’re unsure about how to craft assessments in this way, you can partner with consultants in custom e-learning development. These consultants can help you craft courses and assessments that are value-packed from start to finish.

Beyond effective assessments, we recommend capturing the data from courses and assessments in your association management software (AMS). Have you ever wanted to understand what your association members want? This is how you can do that and give members an easy way to log their completed courses. It’s a win-win!

The truth is, the e-learning landscape is packed with competitors that are providing effective courses. For members to engage with your courses, you have to stand out from the crowd. With these tips, you’ll have a great head start.

Amy Morrisey is the President of Artisan E-Learning and serves as Sales & Marketing Manager. Amy started with Artisan as a contract writer/instructional designer. She was our Production Manager for four years and helped the team to double its capacity. As President, she stays focused on maintaining the high standards our clients have grown to expect. She believes that staying close to our clients, our people, and our work is a smart way to do that. One of her favorite things to do in the e-learning world is jump in with a client to write a storyboard that is creative and application-based. Before working with Artisan, Amy spent 17 years in corporate training and development predominantly teaching leadership development and coaching teams and executives. She currently serves on the board of ATD Detroit.

Social Learning: Creating Community Around Learning

Social Learning has been a buzz word for some time now. It’s easy to talk about the benefits of wrapping social features around more traditional courses and education initiatives but how does it all really work? 

1. Build a Community

Before we get into the details around software and ideas on how to wrap community software around learning, it’s important that you’ve built a sense of community with your association members in general. From optimizing your website to taking advantage of event software to investing in reporting features, these five tips for digital member engagement can help set you in the right direction.

Now that you have started to build a sense of community with your users it’s time to start using community software. There are many options out there so find the one that works best for you — we recommend making sure it can play well with other items in your tech stack, such as your association management system and your learning management system.

2. Segment Community Groups

Once you’ve set up a dynamic, auto-populated community you’ll want to start segmenting people into different groups. Basing groups on users who are engaged in a course or attended an educational event is a great way to kick things off. Do it on a course by course basis, or create a community group based on something slightly larger than a single course – perhaps a community group for a specific curriculum or category, or for all learners. 

Depending on the nature of your courses and programming, you can determine what the right level of anticipated engagement might look like and then create an automation rule to put people in those groups. Community participation (I.e. make X number of posts / replies) could even be a criterion for course completion and certificate awarding. 

In a similar fashion, you could set up community groups around live events and webinars that happen through your LMS. Then invite attendees and your speaker/instructor for a follow up Q&A to happen in the community. This also generates a lot of great content for your community that could be made available to the group after the fact. 

3. Gamification 

Gamification is another buzz word up there with social learning and it’s becoming increasingly important. Sure, if people need to obtain continuing education credits each year or specific certifications to move to the next level in their career, they’ll take your courses. And yes, there are always people who want to continue learning. However, people are busy and have short attention spans. So why not make learning a little bit more fun? 

Badges are not only a great way to reward your learners for their participation, they also serve as a marketing tool for others to find out about your educational programs. Say you’re in a general community group, or maybe in a discussion forum after an event and Mary, who has the Expert Course-Taker 101 Badge leaves a comment. This might trigger you to find out what she had to do to get that badge and follow in her footsteps to take that course (or courses!). 

Badges can be displayed in private communities, but can also be displayed in broader social worlds, like LinkedIn, allowing recognition of badges from your educational content to reach a much greater audience. 

4. Marketing 

You’re engaging your current learners with communities and gamification, but what about those who haven’t joined in yet? You need to keep marketing! With some communities, their automation rules are driven off of user activities, and because LMS activities can be sent over to the community and counted among these, it’s easy to generate a variety of automation rules to segment your audience to better personalize your marketing. Think – is a renewal campaign going to be more effective if you send the same email to every member? Or is it going to be better if you target users based on their activity? Should you send the same renewal email to someone who has never taken a course vs. someone who is getting a ton of member benefit out of your LMS?  

With an LMS / AMS / Community integration you’ll know these things easily. The same goes for pretty much any call to action you might be putting in front of your members – not just renewals, but onboarding, event registration, volunteer recruiting, etc. Improved segmentation leads to better rates of conversion in pretty much any of these cases.

Jocelyn Fielding

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!).

Five LMS Content Strategies to Attract, Engage and Support your Learners

Content is key to bringing learners together and creating valuable online education experiences. Essentially, it is the bread and butter of an LMS. When your content is developed thoughtfully and implemented strategically through a smooth process, your learners will find it effective and keep coming back for more.

These 5 strategies will help you create LMS content that attracts, engages, and supports your stakeholders:

1. Move from a Catalog to a Knowledge Community: 

Cultivate a dynamic knowledge community as opposed to a static catalog. This approach will allow your learners to draw from the synergy of multiple learning styles, including curriculum-based learning, live onsite and online events, peer engagement, and informal learning.

Learners can engage at a pace that feels comfortable for them, whether they have only a few minutes or can invest the time in an 8-week course. They will also benefit from collaborations with subject-matter experts who provide real-world insights. Shared information and ideas are constantly evolving, and your learners will want to check your LMS daily to see what they might have missed.

2. Present Your Content Strategically

After you have developed your community approach with varying learning styles and contributors, it is imperative to understand and utilize your content correctly. 

Low-commitment content will attract learners, such as an interesting podcast or a post in your news feed about the latest and greatest industry development. Foundational and curriculum-based courses serve as the core substance of your LMS, offering the most impactful and enriching opportunities. These courses are typically monetized and sustainable.

Finally, online classrooms and events can serve as great community-building options. Evaluate your content’s purpose and be sure it is being applied and consumed in a way that best serves your organization, LMS, and learners.  

Through these 3 levels of engagement, your organization can create a synergy between the various types of content to attract new learners and provide resources that build participation and revenue.

3. Ensure Professional Branding: 

Your LMS needs to be neat, cohesive, and maintain a complete appearance; this will give a professional look and feel to what you are presenting. Maintain consistency between all of your platforms – from your website to social media to your LMS. Factors can include fonts, colors, logos, graphics, photo styles, etc. Consistency will make an end-user experience less jarring when transitioning from your website to your LMS.

Refer to your association or organization’s style guide for these standards or read more about style guides here. This also means it’s also important to take the time to fill in profiles within your LMS, including titles, profile pictures, and bios. Investing time on the visuals on the back end will create a more organized and appealing experience for your learners.  

4. Consider Certification Opportunities: 

After you’ve developed great content, implemented it correctly, and branded your LMS, there should be a way to measure your learners’ success. That is where certification opportunities come in. These serve as an excellent incentive for learners to dive deeper into your LMS because they are given the chance to hit career milestones, demonstrate mastery of a skill, and measure achievements.

Once your learners achieve certifications, reward them with digital badges to add to their profiles and endorse their accomplishments. Certifications create a more holistic experience for LMS users by validating and giving credit for their achievements.

5. Personalizing and Organizing Content: 

Curate content to directly meet the needs of your learners so they can benefit from every resource available to them. When participants log in to your LMS, allow them to set preferences and personalize their learning experience. You can then use those preferences and member demographics to recommend content and learning opportunities.

Make it a habit to continuously audit your content. Use an intelligent taxonomy to organize information, remove out-of-date material, and accurately tag content. That way, your personalized recommendations are precise and valuable. 

The technology around LMS may be evolving, but one thing remains the same: content is everything. Establish an energetic community of learners and contributors on your LMS by creating and providing great content. By following these steps, your LMS will be well-rounded, polished, and organized. As a result, you will be more prepared to meet your learners’ needs throughout their education journey.

By: Julie Ratcliffe, Content Creator for CommPartners 

Read this article and find the best practices for monetizing eLearning content.

Best Practices for Monetizing eLearning Content

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!).

Check out our guide on AMS platforms and how they can benefit your association.

AMS Platforms: A Comprehensive Guide for Associations

Running an association can be an incredibly rewarding experience. From providing membership programs to offering educational courses to hosting unforgettable events, your team works hard to bring people together over a common cause— whether they are colleagues in a particular field or volunteers working together to achieve a shared goal. 

Without the right capabilities in your association management software, it can be very difficult for your team members to navigate your association’s wealth of data in order to make the best possible strategic decisions.

If you tend to add different software solutions to your toolkit on an as-needed basis in order to keep up with your association’s growing needs, you already know that this approach can quickly become unmanageable. Instead, investing in a centralized AMS platform will be the smarter move. 

While software solutions address specific needs and will typically require individualized solutions for connecting them into your broader system, an AMS platform is the broader system that comes preconfigured with the tools you’ll need and can be easily expanded to include more. 

Upgrading to a robust, centralized AMS platform can be a particularly smart move for more established associations with a large membership

If you think an association platform might be the right tech decision for your team and want to learn more, then you came to the right place. After this guide, you’ll be able to answer these questions:

  1. What is an AMS platform?
  2. What is the difference between an AMS platform and association software?
  3. What are the benefits of using an AMS platform?
  4. What AMS platform should you choose?

Making tech upgrades can be a daunting task for associations, but taking it on an entirely solution-by-solution basis can easily over-complicate things. Don’t miss out on all the features and benefits that a more holistic solution like an AMS platform can bring your team.

Are you ready for an AMS platform that can handle your administrative duties for your association?
What is an AMS platform?

1. What is an AMS platform?

An association management software platform is a centralized solution for your organization to handle member registration, events, marketing, and more. An AMS platform should also have capabilities to build upon its codebase and connect to other software to grow as your association does.

The terms “software” and “platform” were previously used more interchangeably, but as technology keeps advancing, their capabilities do as well.

With association software, the ability to integrate each separate solution is crucial if you want the perfect, streamlined toolkit for your needs. Whether you want a specific CRM system or need a customized form builder, software integrations can take your overall tech strategies to the next level but will require potentially complicated steps in between.

But with an association management platform, these tools can all be available— without the integration process. A comprehensive platform will contain (or easily add) the essential tools and serve as a foundation to continue growing your toolkit. You can expand your platform to include:

Your AMS platform can expand and be built out with various tools like member registration tools, database tools, website builder, etc.
  • Member registration capabilities
  • Cloud-based member database
  • Website builder
  • Email marketing options
  • Online store
  • Online event registration
  • Online payment and donation processing

You may already be using various association software solutions to address these functions separately, so why should you make the complicated switch to a whole new platform? Let’s take a closer look at the difference between software and centralized platforms.

What is the difference between an AMS platform and association software?

2. What is the difference between an AMS platform and association software?

Platforms are constructed to allow other software functionality to be built on it within the same technical framework. Software solutions have more focused capabilities and are constructed to accomplish a more specific and limited set of tasks.

Let’s give a common example. Like platforms, today’s smartphones have their own operating systems and core sets of built-in functions. But they also have the ability to be built out and expanded with additional apps that are built especially for your smartphone’s code.

Platforms give you the ability to more easily do things that were not originally included in the original version of the platformand that’s what’s so useful about them.

On the other hand, a simple software solution’s code, customizations, and functionalities are completely separate from your other tools. While you maybe can customize your association software to fit your needs or even integrate them with other management tools, you need to also be aware of each tool’s differences to gain a comprehensive look at your association.

Membership Management

Both AMS platforms and association software can handle member management, but AMS platforms take it to the next level with its' unique features.

Association software usually has some sort of membership management functionality, but will probably need an outside CRM with integration capabilities. Using a constituent relationship management system is important for keeping all your data on your members in one organized place. Once you integrate your CRM and your association software, you can use that data to do things like create member profiles and track their engagement.

Rather than complete separate integration and customization projects with other membership software, you can choose an AMS platform that is fully native to your specific CRM system (like Salesforce). This way:

  • Your data is consolidated.
  • Both your CRM and association software run on the same code.
  • Member profiles are well-rounded and have a single, accurate information source.

Event Management

Event management is crucial for both AMS platforms and association software, though its capabilities are going to be more efficient with platforms.

Events allow association members to come together, whether it’s through an educational course to get a certification or with a conference to provide networking opportunities. When you manage events, your association software should be able to support essential functions from registration to post-event data analytics. However, without integrations with your CRM, it’s hard to conjure a full report on how well your event did and how your members engaged with your event. 

On the other hand, AMS platforms are configured from the beginning to provide built-in connections across all of your essential tools and features. With an association platform, your event management tool and member management tool are both based in the same place. This allows you to more easily look at trends over a wide time period, drawing data from all different sectors of your operations without ever having to leave the core of the platform.

Payment and Accounting

You need robust payment and accounting abilities with your AMS platform or association software, with AMS platform's being more comprehensive and secure.

Whether it is for membership dues or for generous donations, associations rely on revenue raised from their supporters to create more engaging and valuable programming. Your association software toolkit probably includes some sort of payment processor and accounting tools, but the financial data that your software is collecting isn’t being fully utilized if it’s not positioned within a broader scope.

However, imagine the informed decisions your association can make when you have all your financial data, event data, and membership data, centralized in one location.

An AMS platform will have a full profile on each of your members, providing you with not only robust member profiles but also give insights to help you identify and pursue membership goals, like improving your member renewal rates.

Association Software vs. AMS Platform 

To recap, the main differences between association software solutions and AMS platforms are that:

  • Platforms are solutions that are made to extend their original design with additional built-in tools to perform functions that weren’t originally included.
  • An AMS platform is the foundation for a broader management system. Building on your foundation, a comprehensive ecosystem can flourish.
  • Association software is much more specific and typically needs special capabilities to integrate with other tools, like your CRM or event management software.

Making the transition to a platform can certainly be an important investment for your association. The whole process might involve updating your data architecture or rewriting some of your website’s code.

However, if you seem to be constantly adding and integrating new pieces of software to support your growing association, a centralized AMS platform will grow with you. In the end, the switch will help to save your association time and money.

What are the benefits of using an AMS platform?

3. What are the benefits of using an AMS platform?

If your association decides to upgrade to an AMS platform for your management needs, you’ll ensure that all your tools speak the same language and share data more freely. This doesn’t just save time and energy for your association’s staff, but also makes your members’ lives easier. 

Your AMS platform functions on one codebase and common language, making it easier for your staff and team to use as well as your members.

Benefits for your association’s staff

If you want your association’s staff to be spending more time on engaging your members and planning events, your association should switch to a platform solution. An AMS platform will provide your association with all these perks:

  • Easier data migration. The best benefit of a platform solution is that all your data will be truly centralized in a database. This way you can easily access and refer to data across your different tools, whether it is for generating a financial report, creating new marketing content, or performing member research.
  • Data-driven decisions. Your association deserves to make future decisions based on accurate, real-time, and reliable data. When you invest in a platform, you have access to data from all software streams. Since your data is within the same platform, you know you are pulling information from the right source. 
  • 360-view of member engagement. When your association relies on an AMS platform, you have access to a 360-degree view of your members. The best platforms are able to give you a comprehensive view of your members and let you easily locate member engagement metrics like event attendance. Using data trends pulled from your platform, you can better refine your engagement strategies for different segments of your member base.

Benefits for your association’s membership

Moving to an AMS platform solution doesn’t just make your life and your staff’s lives easier. A platform solution offers a smoother experience for your association’s members with:

  • Improved use of all association features. With an AMS platform, your members can register for courses and access association details in an effortless process. All of your operations and tools will be more closely connected, so the overall functionality of your association management system will be improved.
  • Easier access to association resources. Since all of your resources are in one place, and every feature is based on your single platform, your members will be able to access any information that they’re looking for. Make their lives easier by having readily available pages with event listings and a member directory. You can even configure a members-only portal to increase your resources’ authority. 
  • Less duplicate field-filling. Because all your data is centralized on your platform, there is less risk for duplicated field-filling or inaccurate information. Sometimes your members will fill out forms for events and then forms for donations with their personal details being submitted twice. A platform solution will intuitively compile their personal details and create member profiles by pulling data from different streams.
What AMS platform should your association choose?

4. What AMS Platform should you choose?

If you’re ready to start thinking about switching to an association software platform, start by exploring Fonteva.

Here at Fonteva, we know that platform-based solutions are the future for associations and other complex organizations. Why is Fonteva the AMS platform your association should choose?

Fonteva is an AMS platform that is 100% native to Salesforce, one of the world's most popular CRM.

Fonteva is built on Salesforce, one of the most popular, flexible, and effective CRM systems available today. This means that from the start, Fonteva’s association and membership management tools are seamlessly built into your underlying database. Other solutions boast about their CRM integration options, but Fonteva was genuinely made for Salesforce.

When you use an AMS platform, pick Fonteva for a hollistic look at your association's members through its membership dashboard.

With Fonteva, you can configure your platform solution to your association from the very beginning and simplify your activities. Investing in Fonteva will help your association:

  • Not waste time with customization. Because your platform has been configured from the start, you don’t have to tweak any tools to fit your association.
  • Eliminate data silos, point solutions, and costly integrations. You don’t have to worry about having any inactive duplicated member profiles floating around.
  • Have access to a community of coders and developers who are familiar with Fonteva. As Salesforce experts, Fonteva’s team will be able to help your association with any questions you have.

Don’t miss out on Fonteva’s association management platform. Start increasing member engagement today!

Additional resources 

Looking for more information on association management platforms and how to make your members’ lives easier? Check out the following additional resources for more guidance:

Are you ready for a platform that can do it all? Check out Fonteva for a comprehensive AMS platform.
Make the most of your association LMS with these eLearning best practices for associations.

5 eLearning Implementation Best Practices for Associations

If your association is looking for more ways to facilitate your members’ professional development and encourage them to take active roles in all that your association has to offer, you’ll want to consider providing them with eLearning opportunities.

Effective eLearning targets your members’ most pressing continuing education needs and presents courses in a captivating way.

eLearning helps your association improve your members’ engagement by providing them with a valuable resource for their growth and keeping them informed in their field. You can utilize your association learning management system (LMS) and other platforms.

Let’s take a look at how your association can get started providing eLearning opportunities for your members. To implement your eLearning system successfully, you’ll need to:

  1. Choose an association LMS that will suit your members’ needs.
  2. Provide members with the opportunity to earn and track professional certifications.
  3. Notify members when new courses are available to them.
  4. Promote social learning opportunities and live learning events.
  5. Share learning opportunities on your association’s website.

The first step in getting your members started with eLearning is to choose the right association LMS to suit their needs. When the learning experience is personalized, they’ll be motivated and engaged.

1. Choose an association LMS that will suit your members’ needs.

The best association LMS will positively impact both your members’ learning experience and your education team’s work to create and distribute course content. Look for a modern LMS that incentivizes course progress and completion for your members and communicates with the association software you’re already using.

Choose an association LMS that helps your members get excited about completing courses through:

  • High-quality content. Content is king in eLearning, and you are the expert in your field. Provide high-quality content to keep your learners motivated to complete courses and come back to you for more. Look for an association LMS that makes it easy to get your content up and running quickly, without sacrificing quality.
  • Interactive learning experiences. Interactive course authoring capabilities like being able to add interactions to videos and drag-and-drop experiences help learners retain more information than they would reading or watching alone. When members enjoy the learning experience, they’ll be motivated to complete more courses.
  • Gamification elements. Everyone loves a little friendly competition or a challenge to beat your personal best! Scoreboards and other gamification elements keep members motivated throughout their courses, while completion badges that they can display on their profiles in your association management system (AMS) increase their engagement with their fellow members.

The right association LMS facilitates your members’ professional development, engages them in your association’s offerings, and provides them with the opportunity to share valuable information about their areas of expertise with their colleagues. When your LMS and AMS are integrated, sharing this information becomes even easier.

2. Provide members with the opportunity to earn and display professional certifications.

The certifications and credits that your members earn when they complete courses using your association LMS are important indications of their professional standing. In certain fields such as healthcare, these certifications are often required for maintaining their career and potential advancement in their fields. Help your members progress in their careers by selecting an association LMS that they can use to earn and track necessary professional certifications.

As you compare eLearning systems for your association, look for one that facilitates the certification process by:

  • Encouraging course completion. When members know that their profiles in your AMS will be updated automatically to reflect the courses they’ve completed and the certifications they’ve earned, they’ll be motivated to participate in your continuing education offerings.
  • Show CE records. Many of the accreditation bodies need to see continuing education records from the past three years, so ensure that members are able to self-report courses they’ve completed and certifications they’ve earned on their profiles and upload transcripts from previous eLearning systems they’ve used.
  • Connect with other members. One of the major benefits of membership in your organization is the opportunity for networking with other professionals in the same and related fields. When members are able to earn and display their certifications, they’ll know who may be a valuable connection or resource just by browsing their colleagues’ profiles.

An effective eLearning system makes earning required certifications more convenient for your members, helping to remove potential barriers in the way of their career development. To learn more about granting professional certifications through an association LMS, you can visit Web Courseworks to see how the process works for healthcare associations.

When your members learn that using your association LMS to complete courses is both enjoyable and valuable, they’ll want to enroll in more. Make sure that your members are made aware whenever new courses become available to them.

3. Notify members when new courses are available to them.

Creating new courses is an important component of your association’s mission to facilitate continuing education opportunities for your members. The first step is selecting an association LMS that makes it easy for your team to develop effective ways of presenting the material they most need to learn. You’ll also want to use your LMS and other software systems to send automated notifications and reminders to your members.

For the most effective communications, choose an association LMS that integrates with your membership management system and can help you:

  • Provide an adaptive learning experience. Help your members continue gaining valuable knowledge and skills in a specific field or subfield by selecting an association LMS that recommends them future courses to take based on their history in the LMS, past purchases, interests, and more.
  • Automate your communications. Both your association LMS and your AMS can help you communicate with your members more efficiently by allowing you to set up automated email notifications and reminders.
  • Facilitate course purchasing and registration. Purchasing and enrolling in new courses shouldn’t be inconvenient for your members. Choose an association LMS that automates parts of those processes to save them time and energy.

With an up-to-date LMS (and potentially new membership management software as well, to make more effective use of your integrated software systems), your association is sure to meet your learners’ needs. You can even make their experience a collaborative one through social learning opportunities.

4. Promote social learning opportunities and live learning events.

Everyone’s preferred learning style is unique, and everyone can benefit from engaging more deeply with the material they’re learning by discussing it with others. Choose an association LMS that facilitates social learning on the platform and allows members to register for live learning events.

When your learners have the opportunity to participate in social learning opportunities, they’ll retain more of the information they learn and be more motivated to complete additional courses. Your association LMS can help by incorporating:

  • Discussion boards and live chat features. Learners participating in an online course can take advantage of these features to discuss the material with each other, gaining new perspectives and better understanding.
  • Registration for live learning events. Host a live learning event for members who live nearby to attend. They’ll be able to meet each other, collaborate in person, and learn more about your association. Publicize the event in your association’s communications to increase attendance.
  • Materials from past live learning events. Your online learners are likely spread out all over the country, if not the world, so they won’t all be able to attend your live learning events. However, this doesn’t mean they have to miss out! Make sure that your association LMS allows you to upload materials distributed at the event so that online learners can access them, too.
  • Updating members on future learning events. Even if all the details aren’t ironed out yet, it’s still a good idea to let your association members know when and where your learning events will be held as early as possible. As presenters, topics, and times are being finalized, you can find a conference management software that helps you manage other elements of your conference like reviewing submissions.

When you’re able to engage all of your online learners in social learning opportunities and even bring them together at live learning events, they’ll have a more memorable and enjoyable experience.

This is easiest to accomplish when your association LMS and membership management software are communicating to help carry out your event. If your membership management solution is built on Salesforce, you can check out re:Charity’s list of the top Salesforce apps to find the right software for facilitating your live learning event.

To make sure that your members make good use of the courses, events, and other learning opportunities that your association offers them, don’t forget to share them on your association’s website!

5. Share learning opportunities on your association’s website.

Your website is a hub for news about your association and information on all of the ways your members can choose to get involved. A clean, modern site that offers easy access to all the features of your AMS and association LMS will motivate members to take part in the continuing education offerings your association provides.

Whether your association has recently updated your site or you simply think it may be time to revamp your online presence, you’ll want to make sure that your site offers:

  • An engaging site design. Have new courses to offer or other exciting information about your association? Ensure that all of your updates are clearly presented on your website and that members can easily navigate to your most-used site areas. If you’re looking for guidance or inspiration, you can check out some effective web design tips here.
  • Access to members-only content. Members should be able to login securely to their courses on your association LMS, their member profiles on your AMS, and other protected areas via links on your website. To make the process convenient for them, make sure that they can get wherever they need to go in just a few clicks.
  • Mobile functionality. Your members are busy professionals and often on the go, so make sure that they can access your site from their smartphones. You’ll also want to choose an association LMS that allows them to complete coursework on their mobile devices so that they can continue learning from wherever they may be.

By choosing an excellent eLearning platform and incorporating it into an effective network of software solutions, your association can transform your members’ experience. You’ll encourage them to become lifelong learners and motivate them to take part in the opportunities your association creates for them.

When your association provides your members with quality eLearning opportunities, you’re demonstrating that you value their continuing education and professional success. The right association LMS is sure to improve your learners’ experience and encourage them to grow.

Author Bio

Amber Bovenmyer is the Director of Sales & Marketing at Web Courseworks. She’s committed to helping association executives realize the potential of their education programs and turn them into high performing revenue generators. Amber was named one of Madison, Wisconsin’s 40 under 40 and the number 1 LMS salesperson by Talented Learning.

Explore our top picks for the best Salesforce plugins for associations!

Salesforce Plugins | Top Picks for Your Association

Learn how business intelligence empowers the modern association in our whitepaper!

If your association uses Salesforce, you already know why it’s the world’s leading CRM and management platform for businesses and organizations of all sizes. Its features are comprehensive and offer an unrivaled level of functionality.

However, the Salesforce AppExchange is by far one of the platform’s biggest benefits.

The AppExchange is a central marketplace for Salesforce apps and plugins, which allow for the complete customization of the platform’s utilities. This makes it incredibly easy to build your own toolkit of features, all designed to work seamlessly on the management platform you’ve come to rely on.

We’ve written elsewhere on the top Salesforce plugins for event management, but hosting member events is just one part of what your association does.

Associations have complex needs. From membership management to fundraising, partnership building to digital marketing, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Study up on the wide range of plugins for Salesforce available on the AppExchange with our top picks:

  1. Fonteva Membership
  2. Fonteva Events
  3. Salsa
  4. OneCause
  5. SwagIQ
  6. Marketo
  7. SMS Magic Interact
  8. Ebsta
  10. CalendarAnything

These top plugins offer a fairly comprehensive overview of the level of quality and utility to expect from top-notch apps. Let’s dive in:

Fonteva Membership is a top Salesforce plugin for associations looking to streamline management.

1. Fonteva Membership: Best Salesforce App for Association Management

Plugin Overview

Designed to be the last management tool you’ll ever need, Fonteva Membership is the future of association management software. With comprehensive data management, member engagement, and eCommerce features, Fonteva’s AMS solution is a top plugin for Salesforce that should be on every association’s radar.

The intuitive features of Fonteva Membership makes it one of the top Salesforce plugins.

A few features and characteristics make this plugin a top association management software solution, including:

  • Full member profiles. Comprehensive profiles are automatically populated with new engagement data, combining the robust CRM foundation of Salesforce with the management insights of Fonteva. Easily track key engagement metrics at every level.
  • Member portals and communities. Create public and private microsites and member communities. Empower your members to engage in new ways with self-service options and interactive chapter, committee, and group portals.
  • Intuitive reports and dashboards. Draw from your wealth of data to generate customized reports at the push of a button. Refine your engagement and management strategies in real time with built-in dashboard capabilities.
Intuitive data reporting tools make Fonteva Membeship a top Salesforce plugin.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

It can be a challenge to find the right association management solution to meet your needs, but if your association already uses Salesforce, this one’s a no-brainer.

Because Fonteva is a native Salesforce app, that is, software built entirely on the Salesforce platform, the integration is seamless.

This translates into several major benefits for your association. As a true-cloud solution, Fonteva Membership software is always up to date. Your management and database tools speak the same language, meaning all your data is automatically reported.

The intuitive, comprehensive, and lean features of Fonteva Membership give your team the flexibility to effortlessly switch focus from individual metrics to big picture trends and fine-tune your strategies like never before.

Fonteva Events is a great Salesforce plugin for nonprofits that need to plan and manage events of any size.

2. Fonteva Events: Best Salesforce App for Event Management

Plugin Overview

As Fonteva’s suite of event planning and management tools, Fonteva Events is a fully native plugin for Salesforce. Designed to streamline even the most complex, enterprise-level events like major conferences and expos, Fonteva Events packs a punch with its comprehensive features.

Fonteva Events is one of the most powerful Salesforce plugins for event planning available.

Associations regularly plan and host all kinds of events for members, partners, and their communities. This plugin makes planning events in Salesforce a breeze because it offers features like:

  • Event lifecycle management. Comprehensive planning features and intuitive management interfaces let you track the progress of your events every step of the way. Get big-picture insights as you manage micro-level details.
  • Dynamic session builder. Association events have to be engaging, and Fonteva Events makes it easier than ever to create custom session tracks for your attendees. Your member communities can even collaborate on their own sessions for the big day.
  • Custom event sites. An event website has to accomplish a lot, from promoting your sessions to processing registrations and payments. Fonteva Events offers an all-in-one solution to host your event website and report its generated data directly to your Salesforce database.
Custom event sites integrated with your database makes Fonteva Events an excellent Salesforce plugin for associations.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Like its counterpart membership management suite, Fonteva Events is the perfect Salesforce app for event planning and management because it’s fully native to the platform.

In the past your organization might have used a third-party event planning tool to organize and manage your meetings, conferences, and fundraisers. If that’s the case you already know that a lot can fall through the cracks when your team is busy switching between platforms.

With Fonteva Events, all your management data and tools reside within your Salesforce CRM.

This allows your team to make more informed decisions at every step in the complex event planning and management process. Plan smarter events, manage them more efficiently, and then learn more from them than ever before.

Salsa is a top Salesforce plugin for online fundraising.

3. Salsa: Best Plugin for Online Fundraising

Plugin Overview

While not available as an app on the Salesforce AppExchange, Salsa offers a robust online fundraising suite that fully integrates with your Salesforce CRM.

For associations that devote considerable time and energy to raising money and processing payments online, Salsa’s collection of tools can be an invaluable addition to your toolkit. Its full integration with Salesforce means it speaks the same language as the management platform on which you’ve already built your operations.

Some top features of the Salsa suite of online fundraising tools include:

  • Peer-to-peer fundraising capabilities
  • Customizable fundraising and donation forms
  • Donor, advocate, and volunteer-specific tools
  • Embedded matching gifts database access
SalsaLabs is a Salesforce plugin that offers a full suite of online fundraising tools that fully integrate with Salesforce.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Integration with Salesforce means your set of online fundraising tools from Salsa can draw directly from your data, helping you make smarter decisions in any campaign.

For instance, integrated fundraising tools make the perfect addition to the list segmentation features of Salesforce. Target your members and supporters better than ever while raising more along the way.

OneCause is a top Salesforce plugin for donor engagement.

4. OneCause: Best Plugin for Donor Engagement

Plugin Overview

OneCause leads the race in donor and member engagement tools.

Besides offering a suite of online fundraising tools, OneCause makes a powerful partner for associations that need to better engage their members. Even better, it offers a free plugin for Salesforce to ensure that all the valuable engagement data you generate goes exactly where it needs to be — in your Salesforce CRM.

OneCause specializes in a few main areas of donor and member engagement, including:

  • Text-to-give software
  • Online payment processing
  • Mobile bidding tools and apps
  • Online auction planning and management
OneCause is an effective Salesforce plugin for donor engagement.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Auctions are among the most reliable fundraising and engagement techniques for all kinds of enterprise-level organizations and associations. OneCause leads in online and mobile auctions because its tools were the first and continue to be the best in the space.

If your association needs a new engagement-boosting set of tools for its arsenal, the integration provided by the OneCause plugin for Salesforce might just be the icing on the cake.

SwagIQ is a top Salesforce plugin for building relationships.

5. SwagIQ: Best Plugin for Building Relationships

Plugin Overview

Your association has a lot of crucial relationships to foster and cultivate. From sales to partnerships, marketing to engagement, it’s essential that your team stays on top of managing the web of relationships that supports its efforts across the broader space.

SwagIQ is designed to help you close more deals, attract more partners, and break through the noise by simplifying and managing your interactions.

As a plugin for Salesforce, this means your whole database of information is at your fingertips as you use any of SwagIQ’s key features:

  • Create and manage your swag gifts and products for members, partners, and donors
  • Boost your marketing efforts by making real connections
  • Track shipments, direct mail, and digital marketing campaigns
  • Trigger outreach at the right moments with real-time, rules-based alerts in Salesforce
Swag IQ is a top Salesforce plugin for building and managing relationships.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Relationships with their members, whether individuals, businesses, or other organizations, is of utmost importance for associations. Smarter tools and plugins for Salesforce like SwagIQ make it easier than ever to drive engagement and grow your influence with both physical and digital outreach.

Marketo is a top Salesforce plugin for digital marketing.

6. Marketo: Best Plugin for Digital Marketing

Plugin Overview

More and more, associations depend on their ability to engage members online and attract new audiences using digital content and tools. Digital marketing is a challenge for many associations, but the right tools can help.

You already know that Salesforce offers powerful tracking and reporting capabilities for your marketing campaigns. Adding the Marketo suite of marketing and email automation tools to the mix is a smart move for any association.

Some of Marketo’s top features and tools include:

  • Email campaign creation, management, and tracking
  • Smart automation tools to maximize the impact of email communications
  • Lead nurturing features for cross-channel campaigns
  • Lead scoring and analytics to track potential donors, members, and upgrades

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Of all the aspects of your association’s operations, the ability to easily access and analyze your data is perhaps the most important when it comes to marketing. Marketo is an ideal plugin to help your team better streamline its marketing activities and learn more from your past campaigns.

SMS Magic Interact is a top Salesforce plugin for communication.

7. SMS Magic Interact: Best Plugin for Communication

Plugin Overview

Smarter communication strategies are an essential way for modern associations to maintain the healthy cultures of engagement that they encourage among their members.

Salesforce apps like SMS Magic Interact make it easier than ever for those associations to reach members where it really matters — on their smartphones. Increasing visibility in the right places goes a long way toward increasing member engagement.

Consider these features:

  • Central text conversation management, segmentation, filtering, and alert tools
  • Industry-specific message templates for easy use
  • Fast text campaign set-up and customization
  • Video and image embedding

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Like Fonteva’s suite of association management tools, SMS Magic Interact is a native Salesforce app. This means all of your text message tools, past campaign data, and member contact information are within easy reach of one another. Take your communications to the next level to keep your members engaged!

Ebsta is a top Salesforce plugin for integration with LinkedIn.

8. Ebsta: Best Plugin for LinkedIn Integration

Plugin Overview

It’s likely that many if not most of your members and other contacts use LinkedIn to stay connected and updated within their professional circles. Information that your members add to their LinkedIn profiles is valuable for your association’s communications and outreach efforts.

Ebsta is a plugin for Salesforce that allows you to update your Salesforce records as you browse your members’ and other connections’ LinkedIn profiles. Because Ebsta is an extension that you can access right from your web browser, you don’t have to leave LinkedIn to add information to Salesforce.

Using Ebsta, you’ll be able to:

  • Identify records that already exist within Salesforce as you browse LinkedIn
  • Update Salesforce without having to navigate away from LinkedIn
  • Gather information from other professional networking sites and job boards
  • Log and plan calls, tasks, and other interactions with your contacts
Ebsta is a top Salesforce plugin for integrating with LinkedIn.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

The more updated information your association has on your members, the better you’ll be able to stay in contact with them. Ebsta helps you gather the most important details into Salesforce for easy reference and more effective outreach. is a top Salesforce plugin for integration with WordPress.

9. Best Plugin for WordPress Integration

Plugin Overview

Your association uses several online platforms to keep in touch with your members and provide them with opportunities for professional growth. One of the most important locations for your members to stay up-to-date on your association’s offerings is your website.

If your association has built your website on WordPress, one of the most popular CMS platforms around, you can use to integrate your Salesforce member database with your WordPress website as well as over 100 additional apps your association may be using. can help your association:

  • Eliminate the need to import data manually between apps
  • Automate communications with members
  • Create workflows that allow you to market and sell your association’s offerings
  • Gather valuable information from emails and social media sites is a top Salesforce app for integrating with WordPress and other popular apps.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Especially as your association expands, keeping all of your members updated on your news, events, services, and other offerings can require a lot of effort! Save your team time and energy using a Salesforce app like

CalendarAnything is a top Salesforce plugin for scheduling.

10. CalendarAnything: Best Plugin for Scheduling

Plugin Overview

Whether your association is hosting a conference, sending out communications to members, or planning additional opportunities, scheduling is an essential part of your process. Creating an effective schedule becomes much more manageable when you can do so directly within Salesforce.

With the CalendarAnything scheduling plugin for Salesforce, your association can create calendars right in your member database. Customizable color coding and views, as well as a mobile app, make it easy to stay organized.

CalendarAnything offers features such as:

  • Calendar creation from preexisting standard and custom objects in Salesforce
  • An easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface
  • Sharing capabilities via the Salesforce1 app and Office 365
  • Messaging capabilities for greater collaboration
CalendarAnything is a top Salesforce plugin for scheduling across your association.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Scheduling your association’s various activities and offerings—and making sure that all of your members are aware of these opportunities—is a more efficient and effective process with a Salesforce app like CalendarAnything.

If your association is smart enough to use the world’s leading CRM and data management platform for businesses and organizations, you owe it to yourself to explore the AppExchange.

Plugins for Salesforce can completely change your interactions with the platform, taking it from an excellent foundation to the ultimate toolkit.

Be sure to continue your research with a few additional resources too:

Ready to learn how Fonteva can help you? Check out our virtual tour