By: Jesse Howard

In the association world, the entire workforce prides itself on offering fantastic face-to-face events. We thrive on providing our attendees a first-class experience while we host them at a unique location. But what happens when the members return home after the meeting? Does your digital presence mirror the fantastic experience you provided face to face?

Jesse Howard

Many associations whose primary revenue driver is conferences emphasize the attendee experience onsite—and rightfully so. This is the bread and butter of your association and the key to survival. Enhancing their experience by bringing a similar experience online drives up web traffic and increases member loyalty.

Enter the omnichannel experience.

What does omnichannel mean?

As defined by Dictionary.com, Omnichannel denotes or relates to a type of experience that integrates the different methods of exposure available to consumers (e.g., website, social media, conference, print materials, etc.). This easily translates to creating that same amazing face-to-face experience in your online setting for associations and societies. 

How can I apply an omnichannel experience to my association?

Multiple resources and consultants exist online to help you define your omnichannel experience. However, many associations and societies can’t afford the fees, so here are my top three tips to enhance your experience.

Tip #1: Branding Guidelines are Key

Does your face-to-face branding match your branding on the web? If your answer is yes, you have achieved an important part of the omnichannel process. If your organization has the same branding guidelines that are followed online and face-to-face, you’re halfway there. Whether it’s your color palette, how you refer to your conference, the graphic used throughout premarketing and onsite, or your consistent verbiage, consistency is vital.

Tip #2: Don’t Be Afraid of Personalization

Your members expect and deserve a highly personalized experience at every touchpoint. While most associations have data integrity issues, these three steps outlined by Forbes.com will help you get started.

  • Step 1: Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)--Define who your audiences are and segment them in your database, email marketing list, etc. By establishing these key data points early, you will monitor each segment closely to determine your growth. An essential suggestion here is not to use multiple lists but rather tag contacts on your primary list to help ease a more significant data issue later.
  • Step 2: Keep Obstacles in Mind--Don’t overload your team by creating multiple personas that compete with each other. Each member or potential member within your community should easily fall into one category.
  • Step 3: Research Similar Organizations Omnichannel Experience--You’re not the first association to consider or implement an omnichannel experience. Research your favorite associations or consumer brands to see what they’re doing successfully.

Tip #3: Develop Your E-Commerce Strategy

In the age where e-commerce has taken over the preferred shopping method, don’t be afraid to develop your own e-commerce strategy. At the end of the day, your association is selling a product, whether that be membership, webinar registration, materials, conference registration, etc. Having a cohesive e-commerce strategy to help push your customer through the traditional marketing funnel will help close those leads and drive revenue for new organizational initiatives.

Omnichannel experience isn’t something association leaders should fear, rather we should embrace. By breaking down the independent channels, your members will have a unique experience within your organization that is guaranteed to lead to member loyalty and take your organization strongly into the future.

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