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Closing the technology gap

Nearly all of us rely on technology to get us through the day – some more than others.

For example, according to a recent study by Community Brands, 63 percent of respondents said technology plays a big role in their lives.

So, it makes sense they would expect their membership organizations to be equally technologically savvy.

But that’s not the case. In fact, the study found associations are struggling to meet members’ expectations.

“In our study, we discovered technology and personalization play pivotal roles in driving member loyalty, but there is a growing disconnect between where members believe their organization is delivering the best experiences and what they value,” said Sig VanDamme, membership software evangelist at Community Brands. “The experience gap is especially pronounced with personalization. Members who believe they are receiving personalized content feel significantly more satisfied and connected with their organization. However, less than one-third of surveyed members believe their organization currently delivers personalized content based on member-provided data.”

Other key findings:

  • Organizations that consider themselves early adopters of technology use data more frequently.
  • Professional membership organizations said they aren’t ready for the future and therefore don’t feel prepared to meet members’ needs.
  • Even so, only one-quarter of the organizations in the study plan to invest in technological improvements. Cost is the main concern.

So, in which kinds of technologies are members most interested? First and foremost is email marketing. And, marketing 101: Know your audience. But, it seems associations are struggling to create meaningful communications.

In terms of online education, 46 percent of those surveyed report having taken an online course or continuing education through their membership organization’s website. According to both learners and staff, education is suffering from a lack of personalization.

Twenty-nine percent of members report using a learning management system, and Community Brands recommends integrating the LMS with the AMS to create personalized learning paths.

Other recommendations:

  • Map out member experiences while also identifying areas for improvement. Start from the first interaction to ongoing engagement.
  • Focus on the technology members most value. The key is planning: Leverage technology to improve members’ digital experiences.
  • Think mobile. In today’s 24-7 climate, people expect to access websites and general information via smartphones. So organizations should ensure their websites are responsive.
  • Use data to personalize experiences. Members understand organizations collect data, so put information to use by creating relevant experiences for education, career development and products.
  • Ask for help. If organizations are struggling to keep up with technology, they should turn to their early adopters. By incorporating member surveys and focus groups into business operations, associations can determine members’ needs and desires, while also keeping tabs on trends.

“Organizations need to take technology experience gaps seriously and progress to more seamless experiences that align with evolving digital behavior and meet increasing member expectations for flexibility and personalization in everything they do,” VanDamme said.

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