There are a variety of reasons that people join associations. These reasons include networking, leadership development, and oftentimes professional development – all translating to your members looking for opportunities to grow.
When it comes to networking, face-to-face events still take the lead. These face-to-face networking events can also combine leadership development and educational programming. However, in today’s world we also want to be able to connect with people outside of a scheduled networking event. We want to be able to learn outside of a face-to-face conference. We want to be able to do these things whenever we want, from wherever we want.
As the world continues to deliver us so many things right when we want them, the demand for the ability to learn online continues to grow. Your members are experiencing this in both their personal and professional lives, and have come to expect the same from their association.
How can you easily deliver content to members online? An LMS! An LMS is a Learning Management System. If your association is not already delivering educational content online through an LMS platform, you are already falling behind in the digital transformation. If you’re still not convinced, we’ve outlined some of the top benefits of having an LMS:
First, there is the practice of accessibility to make your LMS usable by as many people as possible – traditionally thought of as people with disabilities but also benefiting other groups – such as those on mobile devices, or with slow internet connections. When you are going through your LMS selection process, it’s important that you make sure your LMS is ‘accessible’ by these definitions.
Second, make your educational content accessible. While face-to-face conferences or events will probably never disappear, they include travel costs and time away from work and family. With an LMS, you’re delivering on-demand content from these in-person events, webinars, and from original content created through authoring tools such as Articulate and Captivate. You can also utilize the LMS to live stream webcasts from those in-person events or professional studios!
By delivering all of this content on-demand, you are enabling your members to grow, to receive required continuing education credits and further engage with their association, whenever it is most convenient for them, from the comfort of their home, office, or anywhere else in the world. And by delivering your learning content in a variety of ways, you give the learner ability to not also choose when they want to engage, but how. By giving them choices, this gives the content longer lets for wider access ability for members. This also allows you to expand your reach outside of those members who are willing and able to attend your in-person events.
2. Cost Savings
Yes, an LMS costs money. However, it helps significantly save costs associated with traditional training and education. For example, you may be hosting the same meeting multiple times in different cities – this translates into venue costs, food and beverage, travel, and time!
Alternatively, you could hold the entire meeting online via a webinar, or live stream a webcast from one location. This also allows your members who cannot afford (whether it be time or money) to travel to these in-person meetings the ability to attend online or take an on-demand course after the fact – allowing them to continue their education and engagement while saving money and time.
3. Non-Dues Revenue
In addition to creating opportunities for your organization (and your members) to save some money, an LMS should provide you the opportunity to also generate more non-dues revenue. Your LMS should have eCommerce capabilities as well the ability to integrate with the eCommerce functionality within your AMS or CRM, if you’d like all of the purchasing to happen in one place.
Within these eCommerce tools, you should have the flexibility to offer different pricing scenarios – such as member vs. non-member, attendee vs. non-attendee. Features such as product bundles and coupon codes can also allow you to market content in different ways and continue increasing sales. It is important to remember that eLearning is not bound by the same constraints as in-person events and to use these new opportunities to multiply your revenue potential.
4. Learning Assessment and Education Management
Again, LMS stands for Learning Management System. Whether that learning is required continuing education, optional certificate programs, or watching on-demand webinars and conference sessions here and there for some just-in-time training about specific topics, it can all take place on the LMS.
Part of the accessibility of courses and education via an LMS also means easy access to tests and assessments, instructor-led virtual learning, automatic certificate generation and credit management. Whether your learners are receiving automated rationale on tests to manual feedback from instructors to providing their feedback to associations through surveys, your learners will continuously be assessing their online education.
In addition to learning assessment, the LMS can also serve as the repository for all of the learner’s awarded certificates and continuing education credits. You can also have this information written back to your Association Management System (AMS) with the appropriate level of integration, or to a community platform, allowing your learners to show off achievements to their peers.
5. Data & Analytics
At this point, it’s clear that an LMS can expand your organization’s reach, potentially help you cut down on some face-to-face costs, and generate additional non-dues revenue. Once you create the content, organize your courses, and have learners visiting your LMS; you receive more than just additional revenue and engagement – you now have data!
An LMS allows you to track and maintain a lot of great learner data. You can easily see the popularity of courses and events, the points where learners are falling off and disengaging, what people are purchasing, and if specific marketing tactics and promotions are successful. Utilizing this data, you can monitor, analyze, and improve learner adoption as well as behavior and financial performance, allowing you to outpace your competition.
In this ever-changing world where we continue to become more and more reliant on digital, where your members expect more from your association than before, it is important to stay ahead of the curve and continue to be seen as an industry-leader in your field.
Whether your goal is to expand your reach to more members, more learners; to cut down on costs or to increase non-dues revenue, one goal all organizations have in common is to retain members and grow memberships. As the competition heats up with platforms such as Lynda and Coursera, it even more important to understand that an LMS is a vital part of many organizations’ digital ecosystem and that without one, they will be left in the past with their face-to-face conferences and mailed certificates.
Jocelyn Fielding – Director, Marketing & Sales Operations
Jocelyn is responsible for all marketing activities at Blue Sky eLearn, as well 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!).