What is an Engagement Management System (EMS)?
Understanding the difference between an Engagement Management System (EMS) and an Association Management System (AMS).
Optimizing your association’s digital content for a mobile audience is essential; use these 7 best practice strategies to boost member engagement.
Ensuring your organization is accessible to members via their mobile devices is critical to your success. But it’s not enough that they can simply access your website from their phones. You need to provide a mobile experience that’s optimized so members can quickly read your news, download your resources, update their information, purchase products and network with colleagues.
Here are 7 tips to make this happen:
Responsive Web Design (RWD) ensures that your website displays well regardless of the size of the screen, its orientation (landscape or portrait), or the type of device it’s viewed on (laptop, desktop, phone, or tablet).
RWD uses proportion-based grids, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), flexible images, and other methods to ensure your content looks just as you intended it.
RWD ensures that your website displays well regardless of screen size, orientation, or type of device
Luckily, you don’t need to know too much about the technical details — the RWD functionality is typically built right into modern association software like an Engagement Management System that combines database management and web publishing in a single system.
If you’ve ever visited a website on your phone and had to pinch and expand the text, the font goes wonky, images take forever to load, and then the site freezes up, you know how frustrating it can be.
Your members likely move from one device to another multiple times a day. Your website design might be beautiful on a desktop but a nightmare on the phone. You want to make sure the web experience is seamless, so members can easily:
• Register for events
• Find resources
• Purchase products/services
• Network with colleagues
The Makaton mobile website features large buttons that create easy-to-follow navigation
It’s important to keep in mind that when your members change from their desktop view to a mobile device, their expectations change as well. They need information faster and more streamlined. Processes must be straightforward and easy to complete.
Your membership system’s website management capabilities should include responsive templates and themes that will make the RWD process very simple for you. Here are a few things your responsive site should include:
• Images that will resize depending on the device
• Scalable fonts
• Flexible button and link sizes
• Responsive tables
• Agile business processes
Images on the NAWIC website rearrange based on the device
Just like Responsive Web Design, your association software should offer mobile-responsive email templates. These are designed to ensure that your email displays well on any device. It will automatically fit any screen size or orientation so your communications will look amazing, and your members can easily view them and take the desired action.
Using responsive templates makes life easier for your members and signals to them that you care about their time and their mobile experience. Your system should allow you to see and test how content will look on various devices so you can adjust as necessary.
If you don’t test, your members can become frustrated — and you might not ever know that this is what caused your opens and clicks to go down and the unsubscribes to go up. According to Constant Contact, as many as 75% of subscribers admit they will delete an email if they can’t read it on a mobile device.
Every email client is different, so you’ll need to test for yourself, but here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind as you’re preparing emails for a mobile audience:
• Keep subject lines to about 45-50 characters
• Use email previews to include information you can’t fit in the subject, but limit to no more than 60-70 characters
• If you use headlines, keep them at about 55 characters
• Limit bullet length to minimize wrapping (about 45-50 characters)
• Use no more than 5 bullets in a series so the reader doesn’t get overwhelmed — if you’ve got more information to share, create another bullet series.
Have you ever noticed a message on your phone or Inbox with a subject line followed by a line of text saying something like “View in browser”? That means the sender didn’t use an email preview line. A preview is typically visible from the Inbox on a mobile device and it’s your opportunity to add some of the information you couldn’t fit into the subject that might convince your member to open the email.
Which of the following emails do you think is going to get more opens/clicks?
So, you may be thinking, “I don’t have time to write different content for all these different devices!” You don’t have to. Write all your content with the mobile device in mind first — website pages, emails, event descriptions, product descriptions, and even press releases. If you start by writing copy that’s mobile-optimized, it will work everywhere you need it.
While we’re on this subject, another best practice is to write content you know you can use in at least 3-4 different places (such as your website, newsletter, marketing materials, emails, etc.) rather than spending precious time working on copy that can only be used once. This way you’ll optimize your time as well.
A few other things to keep in mind as you’re writing:
• Keep headings short and use active words
• Keep paragraphs short — separate into two if they get long
• Craft paragraphs so the first sentence conveys your point, and the remainder supports your position
• Use bullets and images whenever possible to break up the text
Ideally, you need to see how your website, email, or other content will look on a mobile device before it’s sent/posted. If that’s not possible, make sure to look at it from different devices once it’s gone out and then change it right away if it’s not easy to read/take action.
How would you like us to contact you?
It’s a simple question but you’d be surprised how many organizations either don’t ask or — even worse — ignore the member’s preference when communicating.
This is not the same as an opt-in or opt-out question. Members can decide to opt-in for your email newsletter, but they might prefer to hear the latest news from you via text — especially for time-sensitive updates. Other members may hate texts and quietly resent the intrusion. To quote Apple TV’s Ted Lasso, “All people are different people.” Respect their individual needs whenever and wherever possible.
You can ask for their preferences via:
• Welcome call when joining
• Email or mail survey
• Member profile update on website
• Contact center standard question
Your association software should be able to support members’ varying communication preferences. But, if you’ve got a bunch of data silos that don’t integrate, you could end up ignoring your members’ needs and angering them. Use an Engagement Management System with a single source of truth, so you can respect your members’ wishes.
Mobile access isn’t just for members; you need to ensure your staff, board, volunteers, and other stakeholders can access your information and resources on the go. Work From Home (WFH) often means they look at email on their phones, get updates via text, and access information outside of regular business hours. You want to make it convenient for them.
Your association software should:
• Allow you to easily configure staff portals with responsive web design so it’s easy for them to access your key systems
• Adapt to your specific business processes for:
• Field sales or member service staff
• Support internal processes:
• Logging professional development time
• Accessing benefits
• Submitting timesheets
• Purchasing goods/services according to your policies
How would you change your join or renewal processes if members could only access them through a mobile device? It’s important to regularly test these processes using different media to ensure they’re working well and to determine how they could be further optimized.
Check out our 5 Tips to Position Your Association for Success in 2022 blog post for insights on digital transformation and how to create a digital member value proposition — so you can deliver everything remotely.
Consider these tips:
• Make the join process as quick and simple as possible
• Capture only what’s necessary to calculate the member fee (ask them for the additional data you need later)
• Use pre-renewal steps to simplify the actual renewal
• Offer automatic renewals (direct debit or credit card)
Engagement is essential for long-term viability and a year-round mobile app is an excellent way to foster this. While many associations may use an app just for events, it should be an integral part of your overall communications strategy. The app is a quick and efficient way to get urgent information out to your members — and a post is much faster to write than an email.
Your year-round mobile app needs to fully integrate with your association software. It’s a central location for everything — content, engagement, collaboration, and events. The engagement-focused features give members a reason to regularly log in. When the app and the association software are integrated, members can use the same login to access both your membership system and the app. It’s easy, convenient, and your members will love it.
Your mobile app should be capable of offering:
Need more information on how to find the right mobile app for your organization? Learn how iMIS Mobile is specifically designed for associations.
Another advantage of a year-round mobile app is that it offers two-way communication. With a website or email, you’re communicating to the member. With an app, they’re also communicating back to you — and to each other. A quick survey or poll in the app gives you invaluable information you can use to better support your membership.
Members control the types of notifications they receive — so they only get the news and alerts they want. This is an excellent medium to let them know about late-breaking news, important event updates, cancellations, schedule changes, etc.
They get the information quickly without having to do anything. As members begin to rely more and more on your association for breaking news and other important information, the app becomes “sticky” and increases member value.
You can generate advertising revenue from your app, such as banner ads, splash screens on start-up, and other advertising. But you might also pursue sponsorships. Sponsored content can be a great way to provide members with valuable information about goods and services on the market. In this case, partners increase their visibility within your membership base, and you generate additional revenue. Everyone wins with sponsored content.
Remember the 7 tactics we’ve outlined:
1) Make Sure Your Association Uses Responsive Website Design
2) Take Advantage of Responsive Email Templates in Your Association Software
3) Write Content for Mobile Consumption First
4) Ask Your Members for Contact Preferences — and Use Them!
5) Don’t Forget Mobile Access for Association Staff & Volunteers
6) Simplify Online Member Joins and Renewals
7) Provide a Year-Round Mobile App for Your Association
Look at everything you do through the mobile lens. By eliminating data silos, modern association software provides a single source of truth that will support and automate your efforts to provide a seamless mobile experience. You’ll see increased engagement, leading to better retention and new member acquisitions.
Isn’t that what every association wants?
Understanding the difference between an Engagement Management System (EMS) and an Association Management System (AMS).
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