Technology to Support Membership Growth

Association professionals (65%) and members (63%) agree with a bold statement in a trends report: Professional membership/trade organizations that don’t transform technology within the next few years won’t survive. The report also identifies associations that are early adopters of technology as having the most loyal members.

Future-proofing an association by focusing on technology that enhances the member experience is a given. While the sudden switch to online learning and virtual conferences meant the adoption of technology to keep the association afloat in 2020-2021, successful associations don’t stop with one “upgrade” and continually evaluate the benefits of emerging technologies.

When listing 10 association trends that everyone should pay attention to in 2023, six of the trends identified by the author are related to technology:

  1. AI for Normal People

AI tools are becoming more accessible, relevant, and entertaining. ChatGPT is the publicly accessible tool in the news these days, but there are many other tools.

  1. Match Event Place to Purpose

When designing programs, think about how people want to spend their time at in-person and virtual events. People who attend in-person events want to connect with others, so that’s what you should give them – opportunities to combine learning and connecting. Don’t forget the people who cannot go to in-person events. They want to meet and interact with other attendees too, so your virtual events should provide those social learning and networking opportunities.

  1. Gamification at Events

Don’t make assumptions about gamification. I’ve seen never-gamers enjoy it. When you add a leaderboard to your event, you can reward attendees for going to sessions, making exhibitor appointments, serving as conference buddies for first-timers, or volunteering. Award a prize, such as a free membership or registration, to the top scorers. 

  1. Social Flux and the Human Touch

Social media is unpredictable as ever. Know which platforms different membership and market segments actively use. Things can change quickly. Does your association have outposts in the metaverse? There has also been an upsurge in discussions about online communities. Put your efforts into fostering a community on a platform you own where you get to keep data, like an online community, not Facebook. Consider giving non-members limited viewing privileges to lure them into membership.

  1. Amateur Data Analysts

It’s surprising—and disappointing—to hear about associations who aren’t taking advantage of their data beyond simple reporting. There’s so much to learn from engagement and behavioral data. With the tools available now, anyone can be an amateur data analyst. Often, staff don’t trust and use the association’s data because it’s not clean. To prevent data integrity issues, a small team must take ownership of data governance and develop a strategy to ensure data serves association and department objectives. This team must enforce data management and entry practices and use quarterly data integrity reports to assess their progress.

  1. Best-of-Breed Tech Ecosystem

Consultants, technology providers, and association professionals are talking in favor of best-of-breed systems that leverage horizontal integrations. The all-in-one, customized AMS is going out of favor. To take full advantage of the best-of-breed ecosystem, you must understand the importance of API and integration so you can connect systems directly or through middleware.

For the full list of trends, see the original article.