Last week I was chairing a seminar track at Harnessing the Web 2015 (#HTWEB15), the biggest MemberWise conference to date with 300 delegates registered. My seminar track, held in Room 2, was supported by Pixl8 and SmartImpact. It was focused on how to optimise online member engagement, value and growth. One of the themes that emerged throughout the day was that sometimes you have to take a big, bold step if you are serious about moving ahead – hence the header photo for this post!

Aiming high
2866Lisa Dalton and Christine Joyce from CJ Association Management spoke about the Materials Handling Engineers Association who wanted to take their Bulk Handling conference to the next level. They didn’t go for incremental growth, they set highly aspirational targets of 400 delegates and 50 exhibitors, and exceeded them. Aiming high doubtless meant greater investment but produced far greater results.

Looking at a process from the right angle
3231James Marsh of IE Design described how his agency worked with Round Table to streamline their member acquisition process. Round Table needed to get prospect in touch with recruiters much more quickly and reduce the admin overhead.
By looking at the process from what would suit the prospects and also understanding the behaviour of the volunteer recruiters throughout the process, IE Design moved the acquisition process away from web-based forms and email communications to a more self-service approach for prospects and clever use of text messaging for managing the whole process of sharing information and updating the system by the volunteer recruiters. This bold move got the process moving more quickly, with fewer touchpoints and also doubled online membership sign-ups in 12 months.

Take inspiration from unlikely sources
Running is not an immediately obvious source of inspiration for the Association of MBAs, but Adam Bolton showed how when the Association faced a big challenge on lack of member growth, it was by looking for inspiration outside their sector that they found a way forward with technology that would solve their problem.
The Association needed to use their online community to connect with individuals throughout their membership and to generate revenue. On the website The Running Bug they saw a quite different type of community solving those same challenges and they were able to adapt the technology to suit their own needs. Member acquisition has more than doubled and revenue growth is on target too.

Using the best technology …
Teresa Folkes of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) had a rapt audience for her presentation about how she is taking CPD online. CPD can be a great frustration for professional bodies; members don’t really want to do it. Professional bodies want to make CPD recording easier to do but if it is too easy to maintain the record does that mean what is being recorded is too trivial?
CIM have used some market-leading online learning technology and the benefits of this are twofold. The technology itself will handle all the issues around mobile, different devices, accessibility and the agency team brings expertise in user interface and user experience design to make processes a pleasure to use.
… in the best way

More importantly CIM has extended their approach. The new system allows members to record and submit CPD records but it also lets members undertake a skills analysis, to plot learning pathways and it encourages and facilitates applications for Chartered Marketer status. By combining it with their CRM CIM can share insight from all areas of member engagement, to make further improvements.

3276The need to make technology work for you was also emphasised by David Hart and Stuart DeBoos explained how they worked together to deliver a successful CRM implementation for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Stuart had recognised that if this technology project was to succeed he had to learn from where others had failed. That meant taking a bit longer, spending more money and involving far more people around the organisation.

Director of E and H Consulting, David was the project manager and worked with the CSP stakeholders to create the Benefits Dependency Network, which showed everyone involved in the project where the benefits would come from, identified the contributions needed from around the CSP, and positioned the technology as just one part of that process. David’s comment “Nothing changes until people behave differently” provoked a frenzied outburst of note taking around the room.

To boldly go
What all these speakers demonstrated is that although there is a time and place for dipping a toe in the water sometimes we need to strike out boldly for a more distant goal. To go in search of the best – rather than the easiest, cheapest or quickest – solution for harnessing digital technologies if we are really committed to providing engagement and value for our members.

We also had presentations from Mark Walker of Eventbrite, Jackie Sculley of Think Intelligence and Luke Stevens-Burt of CILIP – watch this space for further blog posts!

@photos from the #HTWEB15 conference: courtesy of Elliott Franks

Message For Harnessing the Web delegates: All the speakers were great and really engaged their audience. I encourage you to catch up with the presentations if you couldn’t make it to all of them on the day.


Harnessing the Web research: take part

Harnessing the Web is an annual conference as well as an annual survey conducted by the MemberWise Network. The survey provides a clear understanding of the progress that associations and membership organisations are making in the digital space. Download your copy from the MemberWise Website…

Author: Sarah Alder a digital marketing consultant working with membership organisations and companies to help them use digital technology to deliver business results. Get in touch with Sarah: [email protected]

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