CRMs for Associations Super-Blog Series
- Every Association is unique, but it helps to know what other Associations prioritise when it comes to CRM features.
- The top six CRM features used by Associations are; user portal, membership management, marketing hub, event management, creating online communities and integration.
- The CAMS team has deep experience successfully implementing CRM solutions for Australia’s Associations.
CRMs come with a seemingly endless list of features. How do you know which will suit your Association best?
Looking to other Associations and what they’re using it for is a great place to start. These are the top CRM features Associations are currently using.
Feature 1 – Membership self-service web portal
Members love being able to interact via an easy to use web portal. This includes basic functions such as managing their own profile, picture, and password. But it can be much more sophisticated with options such as:
- Member access to articles, events, and items equivalent to their level of membership
- Members being able to add content
- Members being able to interact with each other
The better the portal, the more members will engage, share, and recommend it. Don’t skimp when it comes to how your self-service portal looks and behaves. It needs to reflect the quality of your Association’s brand and work seamlessly and responsively across a variety of devices.
Feature 2 – Membership management
They say the devil is in the detail, but the detail is your friend when it comes to membership management.
Your CRM should allow for a comprehensive level of tracking, updating, and managing all aspects of membership. The basic functionality you should ask your partner to include in your CRM is:
- Easy to use membership dashboard
- Membership reporting – providing a 360-degree view of your membership
- Track any communication and interaction against member profiles
- Easy to use invoicing function – including automation
- Create, segment and define different types of members by using a robust and flexible system
Feature 3 – Email marketing and communications
How are you communicating with your members? Is it a laborious manual process to send a newsletter via email once a month? Are you able to track which content your members respond best to?
Marketing often comes second fiddle when it comes to CRMs. But it’s THE most important tool in your arsenal when it comes to communicating with members and getting a clear picture of who your members are and what is meaningful to them.
The marketing hub of your CRM should enable to you:
- Track leads by source – including types of advertising that brought them to you
- Segment your customer base – and set up your own rules for this
- Have access to a range of email templates including inline editing options
- Create and track member journeys – with variations built-in (e.g. if they don’t open, a follow up is sent; if they reply they immediately, they get a confirmation email)
Feature 4 – Event, training and conference management
Events are crucial for the life of an Association, whether virtual or face to face. Having a CRM that allows you to manage your events end-to-end will save you and your staff from dealing with the pain of multiple, static spreadsheets, syncing information, and unnecessary double handling.
Information and functionality can include details of speakers (and all communications with them from your team), travel and dinner bookings and registration processes.
An event timeline that takes you through organizing an event step-by-step (and you have to tick each one off before you can move on) is a good way to streamline and regulate event management processes.
Also included in event management should be the capacity to send out automated feedback surveys after every event. These capture crucial information and tag them to that specific event in your system.
Feature 5 – Creating online communities
In addition to regularly distributing engaging member communications, Associations can benefit from creating and encouraging online communities. Digital forums present excellent networking opportunities, a benefit that is often a driver in gaining and retaining members.
Online communities can also become a good channel to host or promote events, renewals, and key member communications.
Association members are known for their willingness to network, share their experiences, and learn together, by creating an online community your Association can provide the framework for this to take place.
Feature 6 – Third Party System integration
Your CRM should enable Association growth, not stunt it. The right CRM will integrate with your other software solutions including finance, payments, reporting, and learning management systems.
What is most important here is the integration with Microsoft Outlook, so your team don’t have to enter information about meetings, emails, and calls into multiple locations.
Additionally, every CRM needs to integrate with a finance system and a payment gateway. Check with your vendor and partner to see if they can seamlessly integrate with systems such as Xero and MYOB, and payment gateways such as eWay or Paypal.
Your partner should also be able to help you implement parts of your chosen CRM solution at different stages. For example, you may choose to start with the membership management solution and then add in more elements over time. Open architecture, ongoing support, and careful attention to detail from your trusted partner are essential for success.
Ready to implement?
We’ve successfully implemented CRM solutions for Associations across Australia and have deep experience in working together for a smooth project outcome.