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Six Steps for Achieving Digital Transformation: Step 5

Posted By Sherry Budziak, Founder and CEO of .orgSource, Friday, March 25, 2016
Updated: Friday, March 18, 2016

This is the fifth entry in a six-part blog series about achieving digital excellence. Here, we discuss aligning stakeholders to help with flawless execution of your digital strategy.

So far in our digital transformation series we’ve tackled: forming a digital strategy, achieving greater customer insight through data, establishing a clear roadmap of activities and goals, and creating clear metrics for success.

In other words, we’ve created the digital transformation recipe, selected the ingredients, and done all the prep work. Now how do we ensure a flawless, fully baked execution?

The answer: Alignment of both internal and external stakeholders.

External partners include all of the various technology vendors as well as the board. The internal group includes anyone who has a role in developing and managing aspects of your digital operations and offerings: in today’s business environment, that probably means the majority—if not all—of your staff.

How do you align these integral stakeholders? Communicate, communicate, communicate. Providing clear communication of your digital transformation strategy cannot be overdone.

Some tips for ongoing internal communications:

  • Craft and communicate a compelling digital vision.
  • Give employees clear direction while providing flexibility.
  • Engage employees by connecting with them—and enabling them to connect—through blogs, video, and other tools.
  • Be transparent with goals.
  • Open up conversations and give employees a role and voice.

Engagement among your staff and external stakeholders is a must in making your digital vision a reality. For further guidance on this important quest, call upon .orgSource—leaders in IT and digital strategies for more than 10 years.

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Six Steps for Achieving Digital Transformation: Step 4

Posted By Sherry Budziak, Founder and CEO of .orgSource, Friday, March 18, 2016

This is the fourth entry in a six-part blog series about achieving digital excellence. Here, we discuss creating clear metrics for success.

After a series of huddles with your team, you’ve come up with someconsiderable goals for your digital strategy. Maybe it’s increasing operational efficiencies and providing superior customer value. Perhaps it’s growing volumes of content and producing it with a mobile-first mindset.

However, in the end, it doesn’t matter how impressive the goal is if you can’t see the results of your efforts. You must be able to measure whether your goals are having the desired impact on your business. That means creating clearmetrics for success.

Proper measurements for your organization might include:

  • Brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Increase response rates
  • Sales
  • Relationship management
  • Retention
  • Loyalty
  • Advocacy

Whichever ones you choose, you must align those measurements with your specific goals in order to see how you’re progressing toward those goals. Choose metrics that will prove the value of your strategies and what is driving real, tangible results.

Once you determine your goals and metrics, make the pledge that you will be disciplined to track your progress against them. Sounds obvious enough, but it’s not always done. Track how closely you’re trending toward your goal at certain intervals. And look carefully at any changes during those times.

Armed with powerful knowledge, you can then have the facts to determine what to stop, start, and continue during your digital transformation.

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join the #whatisengagement conversation

Posted By Aaron Wolowiec, Founder & President, Event Garde, Friday, March 11, 2016
Updated: Thursday, March 3, 2016
8f5a2112-3c39-4265-83ff-f083c8c2aae0Engagement. We know we want it. In most cases, we know we need it. But with the ambiguity surrounding what engagement really is, it’s challenging to develop and deploy strategies we’re confident will grow the participation, reach and value of our education programs. In an attempt to create a unified definition, to illuminate best practices/strategies that truly engage learners and to identify real-world examples of engagement done right, both Tracy King, chief learning strategist of InspirEd, and I have prepared a few questions for which we would love your opinion. Specifically, we’re interested in your thoughts on what engagement is and strategies that work for both you and your learners. We’ll compile responses into a resource we will then share with you. We hope you’ll consider joining the #whatisengagement conversation sometime between now and the end of the month. It’s easy and fun (we promise)! Moreover, your ideas are important not only to us, but to the greater professional development community. With only seven questions to answer, there’s absolutely no barrier to participation and the aggregate responses are sure to be informative. Just be sure to share with us your responses (no matter your experience level) before the survey closes on March 31. Should you have questions or feedback about the survey, please don’t hesitate to email me your thoughts or insights. In the meantime, thanks in advance for your participation. And stay tuned for more details about this project in the coming months. It’s kind of a big deal.
The #whatisengagment survey is now open and may be accessed here. Please share it with your friends and colleagues. The more, the merrier!

Tags:  best practices  community  definition  education  engagement  examples  InspirEd  learners  participation  programs  reach  strategies  survey  Tracy King  value 

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Engaging Members: Five Email Techniques to Try

Posted By Tara Burghart, Director of Content and Marketing, .orgSource, Friday, March 4, 2016
Updated: Thursday, February 25, 2016

In the first part of this “Engaging Members” series, we we looked at why associations are seeing their “organic reach” on Facebook drop so dramatically. Simply put, Facebook wants businesses and organizations to pay for advertising. In the second part, we examined one of the best alternatives for associations that lack the big advertising budgets of corporate brands: Email marketing.          

It’s an “old school” tool with a lot of life left in it! But few associations have tapped all the opportunities that email marketing offers. So today, as we wrap up the “Engaging Members” series, we present five techniques that could move your email marketing efforts into the fast lane:

Don’t be a stranger: Personalized emails always outperform communications that are not personalized. An obvious example is using the member’s first name. But in a recent survey of more than 5,000 subject lines, Informz also found good results with personalized company names, chapter names and geographic data. The subject line “Your membership has an expiration date of ‘Expire Date’” had a 52 percent open rate, well above the benchmark average of 35 percent.

Or how about using the details of the last event a member attended to encourage her to RSVP for another one?

Make subject line testing part of your regular routine: By doing A/B tests regularly, and not just for special occasions, you can figure out what really works with your members. Do they like plays on words? Lots of capital letters? Short subject lines? Long subject lines? Depending on your membership, you can even test out an emoji!

Consider adopting automation: Keep in touch with your members “automatically” when they join the organization – in fact, consider a series of emails that could introduce them to all the benefits your association has to offer. Create a win-back campaign aimed at former members. Suggest some new CE offerings for members who have recently taken a CE course. Or, in the vein of e-commerce providers that email when you abandon your shopping cart mid-purchase, create a trigger email that would encourage members who might start to sign up for an event or meeting without finishing the process.

Think about mobile at the very start: The emails your association sends out are most likely mobile-friendly. (If not, they should be!) But if you find that a segment of your readers are consistently opening up emails from you on their smartphones instead of a desktop, think about tailoring the content you offer those members to be easy to read and interact with.

Don’t forget the design: AssociationsNow addressed this issue in a popular post in November entitled “The State of Email Design Stinks.” If your email isn’t pleasant to the eye and easy to digest, members could start to ignore it. Think about investing money in the creation of a few custom, flexible templates that your association can use for its various email marketing needs.

As your association continues to build and strengthen the important relationships with your members, email marketing should be an important part of your strategic plan.

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Six Steps for Achieving Digital Transformation: Step 3

Posted By Sherry Budziak, Founder and CEO of .orgSource, Friday, February 26, 2016
Updated: Thursday, February 18, 2016

This is the third entry in a six-part blog series about achieving digital excellence. Here, we advise on focusing your efforts through a clear roadmap of activities and goals.

Digital excellence takes a lot of work. But it could end up being a lot of work done in vain if it lacks focus. Therefore, you must start your digital journey by asking a fundamental question: What is most important for us to achieve? It could be increasing operational efficiencies internally, providing superior customer value, or engaging member experiences.


Whatever the answer, it will set the course for your digital transformation.

In order to develop a clear roadmap for digital excellence, you must focus your visions on organizational capabilities, customer needs and competition in your industry.

Take into account these proven strategies:

  • A well-coordinated system of priorities for digital channels, each with its own defined role in conveying your brand’s value proposition and delivering benefits.
  • Clear criteria for evaluating any new opportunity or idea, allowing for innovation but protecting against the “shiny new object.”
  • Balance between long-term commitments and quick wins.
  • Establish and manage the right resources for planned projects and activities.

Also, assess your digital readiness by asking:

  • Are our existing products and services digitized?
  • Can we consider new digital marketing channels?
  • Can we analyze customer data?
  • Are our systems integrated?
  • Do we have policies and business practices to adapt to the changes digital will bring?
  • How much opportunity is there for the organization to gain a competitive advantage?
  • Do our employees have the skill sets needed?
  • Do we have the right resources? Budget, people, time?
  • Are people in our organization excited about the opportunity to make digital a focus?
  • What commitments have been made to the board?

Through an honest, thorough assessment and prioritization, you’ll be equipped to plot your roadmap for your desired digital destination.

Check out the first two blogs in the series, focusing on how to create a digital strategy and getting to know your customers better by making data-driven decisions.

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Six Steps for Achieving Digital Transformation: Step 2

Posted By Sherry Budziak, Founder and CEO of .orgSource, Friday, February 19, 2016
Updated: Friday, February 12, 2016

This is the second entry in a six-part blog series about achieving digital excellence. Here, we focus on getting to know your customers better by making data-driven decisions.

How well do you know your customers?

Today, it’s easier than ever to track online habits, produce surveys, and provide forums where customers’ opinions and experiences are viewable to the masses.

But are you tracking the right movements? Asking the right questions? Identifying the key issues to resolve?

Consider these questions:

  • How do your best members or customers spend their time online?
  • Where do they go and how do they behave online?
  • In what ways do they interact with your association and what are the expectations?
  • What information is most important to them?
  • What information do they need to make decisions?
  • How can you provide information through content, social media, and real-time support?
  • Where are your customers most likely to find this information online?
  • Are your competitors providing it?

Without a common view of customers, it is extremely difficult to accomplish advanced customer engagement techniques such as personalized service or location-based marketing. It’s tough to gain a good understanding of the customer when customer data is spread across many systems.

So put your customer experience at the center of your digital transformation. Part of digital transformation is transforming the business experience. This includes uncovering bottlenecks and issues with your members caused by limits from old technologies, and then determine how to resolve them. Evaluate your progress or current standing with:

  • Semantic website and personalization
  • Social CRM
  • Integrated strategies for the website, mobile, social and cloud computing
  • Technology partners, and complete elimination of DIY systems
  • Systems delivering actionable information
  • C-level planning and execution
  • Collaborative and customer-focused IT support

Want to ensure you are delivering the right products, services, messages and experiences that delight your customers? Then, make the commitment to never stop learning from your customers—and from data.

Check out the first blog in the series, focusing on how to create a digital strategy.

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Engaging Members: Email Marketing Is Not Flashy, But It Works

Posted By Tara Burghart, Director of Content and Marketing, .orgSource, Friday, February 12, 2016
Updated: Thursday, February 4, 2016

In the first part of the “Engaging Members” series, we looked at why associations are seeing their “organic reach” on Facebook drop so dramatically. Simply put, Facebook wants businesses and organizations to pay for advertising.

So where does that leave nonprofits that want to better engage their members but lack the big advertising budgets of corporate brands?

One of the best alternatives is something associations have been doing for so long that it’s become like a favorite pair of sweatpants: Comfortable, reliable, but certainly not exciting.

That something is email marketing, which is consistently shown to outperform “sexier” options like social media and display advertising.

Here are some stats to back that up:

  • Email is nearly 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter combined, according to this study from McKinsey & Company
  • Email reaches its intended recipient 90 percent of the time, compared to about 2 percent for Facebook posts
  • Facebook has more than 1 billion users, Twitter about 255 million users. There are nearly 4 billion active email accounts.
  • A survey by Informz of more than 1,300 large and mid-size associations who used the company’s marketing platform found open rates in the United States averaged about 34 percent with click-through rates of about 15 percent.
  • Email conversion rates are three times higher than social media, with a 17 percent higher value in the version, according to McKinsey & Company.

Even though it feels like email marketing has been around forever, more sophisticated techniques and tools allow for more specific targeting than a decade ago, along with the potential to mine a lot of valuable data. 

Here are just a small number of the things that associations can use email marketing to accomplish:

  • Promote events and continuing education opportunities
  • Increase membership renewal rates
  • Welcome new members with information, tips and resources
  • Share industry news and positions taken by the association
  • Create a regular digital newsletter to replace or enhance your print products
  • Direct traffic back to your website
  • Strengthen relationships with members

OK. So this “old school” tool seemingly has a lot of life in it. But few associations have tapped all the opportunities that email marketing offers. Those opportunities are what we’ll take a look at in Part 3 of the “Engaging Members” series, so stay tuned!

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Tags:  content  email marketing  engaging  marketing 

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Six Steps for Achieving Digital Transformation

Posted By Sherry Budziak, Founder and CEO of .orgSource, Friday, February 5, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, January 27, 2016

This is the first entry in a six-part blog series about achieving digital excellence. Here, we focus on how to create a digital strategy.

Over the course of two decades, “digital” has become central to our lives. Yet many associations still struggle to make digital central to their operations.

They wrestle with managing the risk of growing volumes of content, transforming content-intensive business processes, using content to better engage customers, employees and partners, and gain business insight out of the plethora of information being gathered.

So, how can associations achieve digital excellence? If you answered “through technology,” that’s only partially correct. While it’s true your organization won't be able to take the digital leap without the required technological tools, it requires much more. It requires big picture priorities and supporting structures and processes. It requires strategy.

In today’s .orgCommunity webinar, “Achieving Digital Excellence: Creating the Right Approach to Transform Your Organization,” we discussed what goes into a good digital strategy. Some considerations:

  • Identify business drivers. Assess whether you are more focused on technology operations or business innovation, and where you lie on that spectrum. Rethink your operations from people, process and technology perspectives and consider inefficiencies in your business processes.
  • Establish digital vision. You need a strategy that is embraced at the top of the organization, aligned across the business for effective execution, and a recognition that digital strategy is not simply technology or marketing but a new way of doing business.
  • Assess current alignment and/or gaps. Outline what technologies are needed and ensure the workforce is trained in the required skills to implement those technologies. Are there skill gaps in your association that could be filled through training and development of talent? Is your IT department comprised of not only technology enablers, but strategic visionaries, entrepreneurs, project planners and individuals who are agile?
  • Evaluate and prioritize IT initiatives. Is it investing in people to improve internal processes? Enhancing technology or project management standards? Improving member satisfaction and the value of membership by delivering the right products, services, messages, and experiences?
  • Adjust IT strategy as necessary. Finally, associations must recognize that a digital strategy is an ongoing process. With a rapidly changing field like technology, priorities are likely to change—sometimes often. Smart organizations recognize this and adjust their digital strategies as needed over time to respond to the inevitable changes.

The benefits you’ll reap from a good digital strategy are a better digital workplace and an increase in stakeholder engagement. This is possible because of your proper planning for growth and innovation, customer value and operational efficiency.

As your association begins its digital transformation journey, be sure to start with a good strategy. For assistance, call upon .orgSource (, leaders in IT and digital strategies for more than 10 years.

Up next week: Get to know your customers better by making data-driven decisions.

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Engaging Members: It's Not You, It's Facebook

Posted By Tara Burghart, Director of Content and Marketing, .orgSource, Friday, January 29, 2016
Updated: Monday, January 25, 2016

Have you found that your association’s members are engaging less with your organization’s page on Facebook, and that your posts are reaching fewer of your “fans”?

Don’t blame your social media posts, their timing or wording.

For several years now, Facebook has been fiddling with its news feed algorithm in a way that decreases organic reach. (Organic reach refers to how many people you can reach for free on Facebook by posting to your page.)

Facebook also points out that there is more content shared every single day and therefore more competition for your member’s attention. “Rather than showing people all possible content, News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them,” Brian Boland, Facebook’s vice president of advertising technology, says in a post about organic reach on the social media platform. “Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300.”

Not surprisingly, Boland urges business and organizations to consider buying ads on the social media network’s right column or paying to “boost” a post to a targeted audience.   

“Paid media on Facebook allows businesses to reach broader audiences more predictably, and with much greater accuracy than organic content,” Boland writes.

But of course associations are nonprofits, and they lack the budget of big corporate brands to pay for advertising. Plus, these are people who have already “liked” your organization’s page, indicating they do want to hear its news and updates.  

Many nonprofits are frustrated by their lack of ability to reach “fans” they spent years cultivating.

“It’s an absolute catastrophe for us and every organization that’s paying attention,” Seth Ginsberg, president of the Global Healthy Living Foundation, an advocacy group for patients living with painful joint conditions told the International Business Times.

Despite the changes to the Facebook algorithm, there are still some strategies you can try to improve organic reach:

  1. Take a look at the data. Facebook Insights does exactly that – provide insight into everything you share. This tool is located at the top of your page, next to tabs for “messages,” “notifications” and more. You can find the reach of individual posts, the types of posts that do well, when your fans are online, external referrers and more. You can export the data to an Excel spreadsheet so it’s easier to digest. This should show a pattern of what’s working for you – and what isn’t – and provide some guidance on when is the best time for you to post on Facebook, what types of posts do best, etc.
  2. Focus on quality, not quantity. Some experts think that posting less often (just two or three times a day) helps organic reach, but again, look at what your specific data tells you.  
  3. Mix it up. Don’t post the same kind of update day after day. Instead, a use a mix of photos, videos, graphics, memes, links and text. Similarly, make sure everything you’re posting isn’t strictly related to your association. Make sure to share content from a wide variety of sources – mainstream media, blogs, other nonprofits. And continue to try to directly engage your members with questions, or asking for help or suggestions, even when you might not get a lot of feedback. Eventually one is likely to strike.

That said, no matter what you do, you are going to have an increasingly hard time connecting with your Facebook fans without paying. For instance, Ogilvy & Mather predicts that for corporate brands, organic reach on Facebook will eventually hit zero.

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Brand First, Logo Second

Posted By Doug Klegon, PhD, FACHE, Managing Director - Customer Experience and Marketing, .orgSource, Friday, January 22, 2016
Updated: Thursday, January 21, 2016

Several years ago I wrote an article for FORUM about designing a brand identity—not just a logo (October 2011). That article came to mind today when I read that Microsoft Bing has new logo. The new version is green (or perhaps teal). It also uses an upper case “B.” The new color is intended to be easier to read than the previous yellow and display better across Microsoft products and services. Perhaps the timing also relates to Bing, the search engine that powers Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, becoming profitable.

But Bing still significantly trails Google.  In my original article, I quoted Douglas Edwards, Google's first brand manager. In I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59," he tells the story of setting up a meeting to discuss his marketing plan. He argued that in a world in which search engines might become equal, Google would need to rely on "branding" to differentiate itself. As Edwards tells the story, the room grew quiet until cofounder Larry Page spoke up: "If we can't win on quality, we shouldn't win at all." The core business strategy articulated by Page was to deliver superior quality.

A second story I included in that article was from Dan Pallotta (Harvard Business Review Blog, June 2011). He wrote: "Back in 1969 NASA didn't have the best logo. But man did it have a brand. It has a nicer logo now — but the brand no longer stands for anything. If you don't know where you're going or how you're going to get there, that's your brand, no matter what fancy new name you come up with."

So, as I think about Bing’s new logo the question is whether a better user experience is behind that redesigned logo. If I click on the logo or use it as my default search, will I have a better experience? What is the brand promise? How will my expectations be met and exceeded?

Ultimately it is the organization’s brand promise that leads to the creation of products and services adding customer value. The organization comes to be defined not by a visual identity but by the users’ experiences—all the touch points that can create an emotional connection between the user and the brand.

The lesson is clear. The organizational logo may be the symbol of your brand. But your success or failure will be based on your understanding of your customers and your ability to organize strategies, processes and resources (including people and technology) to deliver value.

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