Member-Based Associations' Virtual Events

Goals

To obtain information about examples of member-based associations that have used digital conferences in the past few years, features of the digital events that made them engaging for members/attendees, value/ROI for sponsors of the digital events, and case studies about member-based associations/like-minded organizations delivering virtual conferences. This will be used to inform member-based association clients of ways to engage their members using virtual events.

Early Findings

Member engagement — Virtual events

  • ASAE has a featured event called, "Best of Spark: The Art and Science of Adult Learning Online Seminar Series" that is slated for March 31, 2020. It is a professional development program for its members in the form of a virtual conference over two days and will be focusing on "current trends in association education".
  • To keep members engaged during the program, ASAE will be using video as well as live chat to make the program interactive in the virtual space and give members/attendees the opportunity to share their insights.
  • The online sessions will feature a video of an expert presentation conducted at Spark after which, there'll be some virtual discussion with the speaker and the attendees

Member engagement — Online communities

  • The Metal Treating Institute started its own online community in 2009 as its main avenue for digital transformation which lead to a retention rate of 97%, revenue growth of 2,600% over 14 years and a 50% decline in transactional requests.
  • The trade association tried to engage members across several communities throughout the year, rather than just for its annual conference. They targeted experts in various areas and stages in their career so that members could learn from each other and get responses to their questions quickly.
  • The company found that it was good for bridging the generational gap across its members.


Sponsors

  • Sponsors can gain recognition through digital events if member-based associations mention their names or provide information about them during their live-streamed speeches, display their logos on their platforms for events, and in event-related emails or social media posts or when sending swags.

Tools to help engage members

  • Member-based associations are leveraging digital marketing tools such as HighRoad Solutions — Adestra and SharpSpring, to increase member communication and attain recruitment as well as acquisition goals.
  • SharpSpring is used to generate leads, nurture leads and convert leads while Adestra is used to nurture members. Using the two-pronged approach helps associations to gain new members while still keeping existing members engaged.
  • Zoom and GoToMeeting are two options that can be used for hosting virtual events as they are able to provide a similar setting as that of an actual conference where a speaker is seen in front of the audience.
  • To keep members engaged, associations could also provide prerecorded sessions where members are able to access them on their own time, speakers provide ask-me-anything (AMA) discussions, and share follow-up resources even after the event has ended to maintain engagement with attendees.

Summary

  • Our background research shows that specific examples of the past events for member-based associations that have used digital conferences was challenging to find in the first hour of our research but we were able to provide some useful insights from an upcoming member-based association virtual event as well as a trade association that had a digital transformation and now leverages communities online to engage its members.
  • We were also able to provide some insights into how sponsors can gain value and tools that can be used to engage members online.

Proposed next steps:

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