Online Communities and Online Events: The Perfect Match

Online Communities and Online Events: The Perfect Match

Online communities have become a valuable component of an organization’s engagement strategy.  According to the advisory firm IDC, the online community market will reach $1.2 billion dollars by 2019. A University of Michigan study found that customers / members spent 19 per cent more after joining a company’s online community.

Paralleling the growth of online communities is the expansion of the virtual event market. Virtual events include virtual conferences, virtual trade fairs, livestream programs, webcasts and live courses. Market Research Media states, this market will grow from $14 billion annually in 2018 to $18 Billion annually in 2023.

Online communities and virtual events bring people together to exchange ideas, network and learn. Since they basically do similar things, there are advantages to connect these two offerings to provide greater participation and engagement. The premise is based on the knowledge that participants are already psychologically committed to their community. They established their picture and profile, have made connections and are accessing resources. In integrating and offering virtual events, participants can continue to use current features. Support for registration and access will be in place.

Integration of community and virtual events is now possible through Higher Logic’s integration with a virtual conference site through CommPartners’ Elevate Platform.

Here are five reasons to consider folding in your virtual events through your community:

  1. Positioning virtual events as an added resource to current engagement vs a separate offering will increase the likelihood someone will register. A trust has been established and participants have already bought in to the value they are receiving.
  2. Attendees can use their picture and profile that’s already established in the community for each event. 
  3. Adding virtual events will nurture greater commitment and participation in the community.
  4. Attendee participation in virtual events will be counted in the community’s reporting of individual and overall engagement including the rewarding of ribbons and badges.
  5. Conversations that begin in an event can seamlessly evolve once the event is over.

There is a belief that sharing of knowledge that occurs through a community, an LMS or virtual events should not be segmented and separate. If we can have these resource integrated and seamless, both the learner and organization will benefit.


For additional information about CommPartners Elevate platform integrated with Higher Logic Communities, contact Meghan Gowen at mgowen@commpartners.com

Membership Management Software and eLearning | 5 Tips

Membership Management Software and eLearning | 5 Tips

Guest blog by Jake Fabbri, Senior Vice President, Marketing – Fonteva, Inc.

Whether it’s online courses, learning sessions, discussion forums, streaming seminars, or live webinars — when it comes to eLearning and the value it can bring to your organization, the possibilities are endless!

You might already understand the value of eLearning from a marketing or sales perspective, but it can also be a great tool for online users. Offering useful information and training can go a long way to familiarize online users with your space, while also creating a great impression for continued engagement.

If your membership management solution supports eLearning and event planning, both online and in-person, are you making the most of it?

eLearning is a major engagement opportunity for organizations ready to make the most of their tools in smarter ways. We’ve highlighted a few of the most important benefits that effective membership management software can have for your eLearning efforts. Your software should accomplish the following:

  1. Foster community
  2. Give members the flexibility they need
  3. Offer integrated eLearning opportunities
  4. Encourage networking and extended engagement
  5. Collect and analyze rich eLearning data

Your eLearning program shouldn’t have to be cobbled together! Any effective software solution should give you the tools you need to plan, organize, and manage your courses and sessions more effectively than ever. Ready to learn how? Let’s dive in.

1. Foster Community

Making the most of your eLearning capabilities starts with building a sense of community. By this we mean a feeling of mutual understanding and belonging, of being drawn together in support of a larger goal.

We also mean literally grouping your members together into online communities!

Of course, the benefits of encouraging the more abstract meaning of community are obvious. Validating your members’ feelings of inclusion and usefulness are essential. The benefits of digitally managing communities for your members can be just as significant. They include:

  • Encouraging interaction and engagement, with you and with each other
  • Creating custom permissions based on membership levels and communities
  • Allowing members to create and manage their own subgroups and committees
  • Extending discussions and collaboration between members
  • Creating a stronger culture of peer support and interaction
  • Boosting interest in your in-person events and sessions

Making it easier to engage with your work is the first step (and often the most effective way) to boost engagement all around. Your management software should actively help you build a more distinct sense of community and shared purpose in your program!

Doing so will lay a strong foundation for the new eLearning programs you develop. Simply providing the tools to strengthen community ties between members can provide a serious boost in interest for your upcoming programming.

2. Give Members the Flexibility They Need

Your membership management software must offer features that are flexible and truly useful. They should definitely be geared to you as an administrator, manager, or executive, but they must also apply to your members!

Member-facing flexibility is crucial for actually engaging users with eLearning programs. Otherwise, they might feel underappreciated, or as if they’re simply being treated as customers rather than full members. Prioritizing UX is certainly a good place to start.

More generally, you should use membership management software that’s already built on a flexible platform like Salesforce, or one that integrates seamlessly with the management tools you already use. Membership tools that work with your underlying management system should include integrated reporting, member profiles, and automation features.

Your members need effective, flexible tools, too! Make sure your management software gives your members the freedom to really have a say in how they engage with your programming. They might want to:

  • Create and manage their own subgroups within communities
  • Form committees to formally conduct program business
  • Allow chapters to fully plan their own online and in-person events
  • Foster small- and large-scale collaboration between communities
  • Create smarter reports and draw from program data to make decisions

Imagine hosting a major convention for all your chapters. Now imagine if each chapter, committee, group, or community were able to plan their own learning sessions and seminars. They could easily share their updates and insights with the rest of your members, generating big-picture thinking and a stronger sense of community.

Now imagine taking that capability online! Offering that same level of freedom and variety with your eLearning programming leads to richer relationships with (and within) your organization.

Not all membership management software can offer this level of flexibility, though. Be sure to conduct an exhaustive membership software comparison before making any changes.

3. Offer Integrated eLearning Opportunities

Working to integrate your online eLearning experiences with your live programming is a best practice that many associations and organizations overlook. This is often because their management doesn’t offer intuitive planning tools, or it’s because they get trapped in a certain way of thinking. Don’t think of your programming events as separate, disjointed units!

All of your educational programming should work together to enrich your members’ experience and invest in their development. This includes your live, in-person programming like keynote addresses and panels and your live, online events, like live-streamed seminars, lectures, or presentations.

For instance, offering live seminars, live-streamed online versions, and recorded webinar versions for later use is an excellent way to make sure everyone who wants to engage with your eLearning content can.

This connects back to the flexibility we discussed in the previous section. Simply put, integrating your educational programming across outlets and events offers your users more opportunities to get involved. The result is increased engagement all around.

There are a few reasons why this comprehensive planning  – connecting your digital, live, and in-person programming – is a best practice. It has major benefits, including:

  • Increased opportunities for new or inactive members. Offer more ways to get involved, then connect all of them for maximum effect. Inactive members might just need a new way to engage with your programming.
  • Strengthened connections within your network. Integrated community features of your software help everyone get to know each other before the event, then it gives them an easy way to stay in touch afterwards.
  • Boosted engagement with gamification and badging features. Tie digital rewards to in-person attendance and vice-versa using your management platform.

For the best results, use a membership management platform that’s built on a larger, comprehensive system. For instance, integrated Salesforce event management features can totally support your eLearning efforts and take them to the next level.

4. Encourage Networking and Extended Engagement

The right membership management software can facilitate interactions between your members like never before. After all, the point of your program or association is to bring like-minded individuals together around a shared interest, cause, or profession.

Your eLearning programming should facilitate increased activity at every level. Members should be able to interact naturally in a variety of ways:

  • Engaging directly with your program via online eLearning content
  • Attending in-person gatherings and sessions
  • Interacting with each other in membership communities
  • Collaborating on community, group, or committee projects
  • Engaging with each other in learning and discussion sessions
  • Networking both online and in-person

Effective membership management tools can offer member-facing networking features that provide a serious boost to your rates of engagement with eLearning programming. For instance, member self service tools, engagement scoring, and chapter or committee microsites make it easier for your members to identify one another and make connections.

Combined with an integrated approach to programming (above in Section 3), these features can contribute to a robust culture of interaction in your community.

Let’s say all your users can freely engage with one another on your eLearning presentation software, posting discussion comments and seeing each other’s interactions during webinars. Extremely productive collaborative relationships emerge when those discussions spill over from the webinar to a newly-formed committee in your management platform!

Start with this rundown of some top membership management tools from Double the Donation to study up on ways to boost engagement and unite all your programming efforts.

5. Collect and Analyze Rich eLearning Data

One last essential benefit that your membership management software should provide in relationship to your eLearning program involves data. Of course, data collection is one of the major benefits of any integrated management or planning system, but this is particularly true of any program that regularly engages its members with online-only content.

There are a few ways that your membership platform can benefit your eLearning programming through smarter data collection and analytics tools, including:

  • Self-service data collection. Giving your members the ability to freely update their own information results in more data overall. Engaged and excited members will happily provide you with their professional histories, interests, or additional contact info.
  • Awards, credits, and badges. As we’ve touched on in other sections, try offering special achievements then tying them to particular levels of engagement with your eLearning program. This provides an easy way to track and measure those activities.
  • Program analytics. A comprehensive but flexible membership management system will offer analytics tools to generate smarter reports on any aspect of your program. These insights will help you track engagement, sign-up, and session attendance metrics.

Access to richer, more comprehensive sources of data like this will directly contribute to your organization’s or association’s ability to make more precise budgets. Plus, adapting to your members’ preferences and interests in real time creates more engaged communities in the long run!

Make sure any membership or eLearning software you use includes intuitive analytics tools and  seamless reporting to your CRM or other underlying platform.

Offering your members and the wider community eLearning programming is an excellent way to keep your base of support engaged with your work. More importantly, it represents the value that you place on your members, investing in their professional and personal development.

If your membership software isn’t actively contributing to your eLearning planning, strategy, and management, you’re missing out. Get all your tools in sync for the best results! If you’re looking for new or updated management tools, be sure to review some of the most essential features to look for with Fonteva’s comprehensive membership software guide.

The TV Show Cheers and Your LMS

The TV Show Cheers and Your LMS

It’s hard to believe that the TV show, Cheers, had its last year on air in 1993, which is actually the year CommPartners was founded. People remember that Cheers, the name of the bar in the show, was a welcoming place because everyone knew your name when you walked in. People felt they belonged. They were recognized and appreciated.

So what does Cheers have to do with an LMS? It’s rather simple. When we invest our time and energy when accessing an organization’s LMS, we want to be recognized and provided relevant opportunities to our interests and education needs. Associations, as well as other types of organizations, know quite a bit about their learners. Just like people that walk into their friendly neighborhood tavern, it’s important to offer a welcoming environment that becomes the go-to place for our stakeholder’s online education needs.

So how can you create your LMS be to be the Cheers of online learning? With Elevate LMS, we strive to enable our clients to be their communities’ favorite learning destination. Here are five ways that we support the Cheers approach:

Elevate Relevancy Engine: When learners first log into Elevate, they are able to select their interests and “likes.” On future visits, Elevate recognizes the learner and presents programs of interest to them.

AMS / Community Integrations: We think of integrations as functional processes to connect two or more platforms. With Elevate, integrations provide additional value. It allows organizations to decide which content should be seen by which stakeholder. If it’s not relevant, why show it and clutter the experience? Pricing by learner type can also be automatically established.

Roles: In addition to member type, Elevate can further delineate who a learner is based on their role within the organization or other designations, such as a practice group. Roles also determine pricing and access.

Private Branding: Private branding can be unique for groups of learners from organizations. Seeing the unique design reinforces the relationship between you and your client.

Automatic Triggers: Like frequent flyer miles, automatic triggers assign credits based on rules that are established, such as a member renewing their membership.

All of these benefits provide a way of saying – I know who you are and based on your role or interests, we are providing you learning engagement opportunities that are just for you. In other words, this a place where you feel welcomed and have a relevant, individualized experience.

It’s the place where we know your name.

If you would like more information Elevate LMS, give us a call at (800) 274-9390 or fill out our online contact form to get in touch with someone.

We’ll see you in Chicago for ASAE Annual!

We’ll see you in Chicago for ASAE Annual!

CommPartners is excited to once again be exhibiting at the 2018 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition from August 18-21, 2017 in Chicago, IL.

This event is the highlight of our year as we are able to connect with thousands of associations, clients, and friends.  CommPartners will be showcasing all of the new features of Elevate LMS, as well as our services related to Webinars & Webcasts, Livestream Events, Virtual Conferences, and Content Recordings.

We hope you are able to connect with us…here are a few options:

 

Visit Our Booth #234

Learn more about CommPartners and our offerings from our onsite staff, Aubrey Mellos, Meghan Gowen, and Sam Hirsch. We have launched some pretty amazing learning sites over the past year and will be spotlighting our latest initiative with Tracy King of InspirEd and Aaron Wolowiec of Event Garde, Engaging Learners, on Sunday August 19th, 12:15 – 1:15pm live from our booth. They will even be sharing a few tips and best practices for training your speakers and engaging your event attendees. If that wasn’t enticing enough, we will also have games, prizes, and chocolate so be sure to visit us at Booth #234!

 

Schedule an Appointment or Demo

We will be on-site for one-on-one meetings to further explore our services, simply catch-up, or to view a demo. You can arrange a meeting by visiting the Attendee Service Center or contact us directly at info@commpartners.com.

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Celebrate With Us at Adler Planetarium
Sunday, August 19th 7-10pm

 

Are you ready for a night with the stars? We are co-hosting an exclusive party with Higher Logic and other leading industry partners on Sunday, August 19th, from 7-10pm at Adler Planetarium. This event also features drinks, light hors-d’oeuvres, and access to two exhibits, Mission Moon and Our Solar System.

Learn about America’s first steps into space, the women behind Hidden Figures, and the planets, moons, and asteroids that orbit the sun. Your colleagues are welcome, so bring them with you!

 

 

We look forward to connecting with you in Chicago!

 

CommPartners Celebrates 25 Years of Service

CommPartners Celebrates 25 Years of Service

This summer marks CommPartners’ 25th year in business. The year it all began (1993), was the same year the World Wide Web was born, Intel launched the Pentium microprocessor, Jurassic Park and Mrs. Doubtfire hit the box office, and Beanie Babies became an overnight sensation. Looking back, a lot has certainly changed, but a few ideals established in the beginning have withstood the test of time: we embrace evolution, we are dedicated to serving associations, and we aim to provide meaningful e-learning solutions.

What started as a fax broadcasting business has evolved into an all-encompassing e-learning hub. With clients at the helm, CommPartners has adapted and evolved from fax broadcasting to email marketing to audio seminars to webinars, livestreaming and beyond. This dedication to innovation led to the creation of Elevate Learning Management System, an all-in-one learning platform.

We will continue to cultivate relationships with our clients, provide an all-encompassing, seamless approach to e-learning, and forge partnerships with industry leaders. We are excited for the future of CommPartners, but for now, enjoy a look back at our most notable milestones!

1993

 

 

 

Rich Finstein, CEO, founded CommPartners, and shortly thereafter hired the first team member, Mary Golden, who still works at the company today. 

 

1997

 

The first office space opened in Columbia, MD. 

 

2003

 

 

Our webinar platform, Event Center, was launched.

 

2006

 

We updated the logo to the one still used today.

2009

 

Our event team produced our first live-streamed event in Washington D.C.

 

2012

 

 

 

We produced our first virtual conference, NHPCO’s Ignite, an event we still produce today. 

 

 

 

2014

 

 

 

Our learning management system, Elevate, was launched. 

2014

The CommPartners family welcomed new, young members as our growth continued.

2017

Greek Food Truck Fridays became a weekly (and delicious) tradition.

2018

In March, we launched our first user conference, Peak, which thanks to its success, will become a biennial event.

2018

When CommPartners began 25 years ago, the path was not determined, but we love the journey our client-centered focus has taken us on and look forward to our future developments.

6 Tips and Tricks for Creating a Webinar That Sells

6 Tips and Tricks for Creating a Webinar That Sells

Guest blog by our partners at  WebMechanix

Creating a webinar that sells is one of the best ways to generate revenue online. There’s no better way to get in front of your target audience and wow them.

So, are you sure you’re fully optimizing your webinars for conversion? The truth is everything from promotional emails, to how you hook attendance, to how you present your offer ultimately affects your sales.

After extensively researching webcast and webinar best practices, and drawing from our own experience, we have found some powerful ways to optimize webinar sales.

Today, we’re sharing the top six webinar tips and tricks that have the highest impact on the bottom line.

The class is in session…

1. Prepare and Practice

WebMechanix marketing manager, Clare French, has conducted countless webinars over the years. She highly recommends making sure you plan and practice beforehand.

You’ll want to outline the marketing automation plan for your webinar follow-up process early. Nail down the dates you’ll have your slides and other content emailed to your attendees, and have your sales and support teams follow up personally with prospects and customers afterward.

Many platforms have a practice mode for presenters to sync up just before the event starts. Taking a few minutes to make sure everyone is on the same page about the technical set-up and behind-the-scenes communication is invaluable to the attendee experience. There’s nothing worse than a presenter fumbling through the presentation because they don’t know the basics of the tool.

Schedule at least one practice run 3-5 business days before the event. Doing it earlier allows more time to make changes and regroup once more if needed.

Always give “housekeeping” tips at the start of a webinar to let attendees know how to communicate with the presenters. These tips should set the precedence for when questions are answered (in the moment versus at the end), and gives you the opportunity to set expectations about following up with attendees.

2. Use Organic (and Paid) Social Promotion Beforehand

Your webinar is a one-time, live online event. It’s powerful because you get to interact live with your audience. Squeeze all the juice out of it by filling as many seats as you can.

When it comes to webinar promotion best practices, be sure to get all the presenters and partners to promote the webinar on their social and professional profiles beforehand. Also, if you have the budget, use paid ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Instagram.

3. The Magic is in the Q&A

Out of our six webinar marketing tips, this simple tweak may yield the most to your bottom line.

Make sure you answer attendee questions and interact with them during your webinar. That’s the beauty of a live event. Otherwise, you may as well do a pre-recorded presentation.

Tim Paige of LeadPages, world record holder for most webinars conducted, tripled revenue and increased attendee stick rate, the percentage of the event an attendee stays, to an impressive 98%. He did so with one tweak: answering questions during the presentation rather than at the end.

When answering questions, keep it natural. Make sure you don’t destroy the flow. Answer a handful of questions at regular intervals during your webinar. Mention the inquirer’s name and the question out loud before you answer to re-engage attendees.

4. Measure Yourself Against Benchmarks

Webinar engagement metrics (based on CommPartners clients) typically look like:

  • 50% attendance rate for free events; 65-75% for paid or credit events
  • 75-80% participate in polls
  • 5-10% participate in the chat
  • 50-60% download presentation slides

By using benchmarks, you can effectively gauge the success of your webinar optimizations. If your live events aren’t performing as well as you’d hope, benchmarks can help you can identify potential issues and adjust. Stats can give great insight into how you can improve your webinar engagement and stick rate. For example, considering using emoticons and interactive behavior to help with stick rate.

5. Provide a Real Phone Number

At the end of your webinar, offer a number for people to call with questions. You often can’t answer everything on the presentation and prospects may only think of a good question after it’s over.

Russell Brunson, the founder of an eight-figure SaaS company, was already implementing a ton of webinar tips and tricks. Then, he tried something new that increased webinar sales by 25%. At the end of his webinars, he offered a Google Voice phone number to call and leave questions — and he called everyone back with an answer.

If you have call center capacity, consider experimenting with a live phone number to answer questions immediately. There’s a reason why infomercials do this: it works. Creating a webinar that sells depends as much on the quality of the follow-up process as the event itself.

6. Double Down on What’s Working

After you have a few webinars under your belt, you’ll notice specific parts of the process that catapult results and others that peter out. To sculpt the perfect webinar, double down on what’s working.

If storytelling balloons attendance, duration, and sales conversion, do it more often. If sending three emails instead of four before the event leads to more attendees, send three. If a tweak to your Facebook ad doubles conversion rate, scale up your ad budget.

This tip may sound more like common sense than an effective webinar tip, but common sense isn’t always so common. With all the moving parts to hosting a webinar, it’s easy to forget about doing more of what’s working when there’s so much to juggle.

Every part of the process has room for optimization.

Pro Tip: If you change your Facebook ad creative to focus on the solution you offer rather than your personal branding and face, it performs better with a cold audience. Your face doesn’t convert as well because they don’t know who you are yet.

Conclusion

By implementing these six webinar tips and tricks, you’ll see higher attendance, more engagement, and a more extended attendee stick rate. And all of these tactics together help you create a webinar that sells.

Since webinars can get confusing with all the moving pieces, focus on these fundamentals, and you’ll be on your way to a sales-optimized webinar process with a lot less headache.

What’s your favorite part of a webinar?

As a webinar production company, CommPartners has over 25 years of experience providing webinar and webcast hosting services to clients. If you’re looking for someone to host your webcast, or need general help with webinar management,  fill out our online contact form or give us a call at (800) 274-9390 to see how we can help.