Making the Most of the iMIS/Higher Logic Integration
Alex Mastrianni: Welcome to the Member Engagement Show with Higher Logic, the podcast for association professionals looking to boost retention, gain new members, and deepen member involvement.
Heather McNair: Throughout our show, we'll bring on some experts, talk shop about engagement, and you'll walk away with strategies proven to transform your organization. I'm Heather McNair.
Alex Mastrianni: I'm Alex Mastrianni, and we're happy you're here. Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Member Engagement Show. I'm excited today to be joined by a guest host, someone who you probably will recognize as she's been a guest on the show before, but Beth inaudible, welcome to the show.
Beth: Hey Alex. Thanks. It's great to be here again.
Alex Mastrianni: Yeah. I am so excited to have you back, even though we talk constantly it seems...
Beth: We do.
Alex Mastrianni: In our day- to- day lives, but today we're going to have a great conversation around integrating your community with your marketing automation and your database, specifically IMS. Because when I think about people who are experts in this type of thing, you are the number one person who comes to mind.
Beth: Thank you.
Alex Mastrianni: Can you give our listeners a little bit of background on your experience? Let's start with your general association marketing experience. I know you have a ton.
Beth: Yeah. I've been worked in kind of all industries, for- profit, nonprofit, but the majority of it, my career has been spent in associations. I have a lot of experience doing association marketing and working with different databases and email platforms, and things like that. But the last almost seven years, I was at AAAE, the American Association of Airport Executives, where I headed up all the marketing, ran the implementation for the database, there we go, and just basically set up a lot of infrastructure that included community IMS.
Alex Mastrianni: Yeah, I think it's really cool, because I know you were not only the strategic genius behind how all of these pieces were going to work together, but also hands on doing a lot of the work. No one knows it better than you. But during your time at AAAE, that's when you really got familiar with these three different types of tools, right? How did that impact your day- to- day job?
Beth: Setting up the infrastructure was fun and exciting, and a challenge, but once it was set up, the things that we could do with it, the fact that we had integration and all the records were going back and forth between first IMS and INFORMS. Then we also added community. The way that all three of them talked to each other, I jokingly call it the power of three, but it's true. We were able to do so many different lead nurturing campaigns, and campaigns that would really bring the member along the journey of the path that they needed to take to help them advance, just through automation and bringing in the information we had about them, from IMS and what they'd done in the community, and what their interests were. Then we even were able to turn that back and start displaying content on the website, based on their interests and based in part on what they did in the community and INFORMS. I like to say that without INFORMS in particular, but that combination, I really would've had to hire one or two more people. I joke about it being one and a half, because it really is between one and two people that I would've had to hire just to cover all of the marketing they were able to do by that automation. I'm still not sure it would have been as effective because we have the ability to hit people, right when they're looking at something, right they're interested in it, which is invaluable.
Alex Mastrianni: Who wouldn't want an extra one and a half people on our teams. I think everyone could use that or more. I know I first met you through some of the work that you were doing with INFORMS years ago, but do you want to maybe paint the picture for our listeners about maybe the order that you brought these three in, and then also how you used each one, from the start and maybe compounded bringing them together?
Beth: Sure. We started out with INFORMS because when we decided to go with IMS, we switched to INFORMS from Constant Contact. We're using INFORMS just by itself while we built an implemented IMS. That was January, 2015. We implemented IMS in September and had everything between those two integrated by sometime in November I think it was, and started really going back and forth. Then I started billings and campaigns and we started using the automation, and got the web tracking set up obviously, and then started using the automation with the web tracking. I think our first campaign was probably for annual conference. It was one that just basically, like so many campaigns that I talk about, the beauty of it is it supported the things that were we were doing. It was supporting the reasons why people went to the annual conference, and we still did the regular emails about who the speakers were, what the education was, things like that. But we were able to run this one that just supported all of the reasons, all the warm and fuzzy, just based on what our past attendees had said about what they liked about the conference, the networking, the evening events. We did cover the exhibit hall and education, but we just linked out to that information and just being able to support those efforts when people showed interest to follow up with it was just invaluable.
Alex Mastrianni: Before we go on a little bit more, can web tracking is one of the coolest things...
Beth: It is, it is.
Alex Mastrianni: I think about marketing automation and probably one of the biggest areas that's underutilized. When I first started using marketing automation and discover how cool web tracking really was, I was, " Oh my goodness, this is going to help us do so many things. We can trigger things off of people being on certain pages, send them certain information." Can you talk a little bit more just about web tracking? What that is, because I think that is something that so many people could benefit from using.
Beth: I can talk for hours about inaudible. You might be sorry you asked. I guess most people are familiar from Google analytics about what web tracking is and how it works on a basic level. But when you get web tracking, we have an INFORMS and inaudible real magnet. It has the ability to actually track your specific users, any known users, and that known user is anyone who has clicked on a link in INFORMS. That becomes a known user and then INFORMS is able to track them, and you're able to see, " Okay, this person opened an email." Great. That's fantastic. You already know that everybody knows they can look at their clicks, but this person then goes and looks at four different things on the website. Now you'll not only know that they were interested in what they specifically clicked on, but you know that they're interested in four other things or they're so interested that they went to the page and then they looked at five other pages. Now you've got all this data and you can look at it and search it. That's great. It can help sales teams for exhibiting sponsorship or for training, onsite training, create inaudible. But then you can take it a step further and you can create target groups based on who visited those pages. Once you've done that, you can use that in individual emails, say they clicked on a link for annual conference. Great. You're going to now use it in individual emails. But when they go into those target groups, if you want to take it a step further, you can actually set up an automated campaign. Anybody who clicks on those links and goes and looks the pages on the website, it's tracking them as they go across these pages. If they come back three or four days later, if they come back a week later, a month later, as long as that tracking information is still there, it's still tracking them. If they come back three other times, you could say, " Okay, this person's visited our biggest certification three times. It's time to put them into a campaign." Whatever their web activity, you can choose campaigns based on that. Even if it has no relation to what they originally clicked on in an email, the only reason they have to click on emails, that's the only way that INFORMS can tie their computer and their ID to information. Once you've got that information, there's so many things you can do with it. It's an invaluable tool. I have had tons of success with it in terms of driving registrations, in terms of membership. There's a membership, a lead nurturing campaign that's been running at AAA since 2017. The last time I checked about a month ago, the conversion rate on that membership campaign that's been running, I can't do math. What is that? Three and a half years. It's been awesome. Running that long and the conversion rate just keeps going up right now.
Alex Mastrianni: I'd like to say, it's just web traffic. crosstalk in the toolbox to give you that information on what people are interested in. It doesn't have to be this creepy thing where you're watching people. It's, " Hey, this is just knowledge that X, Y, Z member, or group of members is interested in this topic. Let's do some content on it. Let's invite them to come to this event on this topic, something like that.
Beth: Right. I think some people have that idea of, " Okay, this is creepy. I don't want to do that to people," but you're not doing it. You're not trying to be creepy or invasive. Particularly in associations, the whole idea of the associations that we should know our members, we should know them better than Amazon knows its customers, because you're just one of a bazillion customers to Amazon. They're using one algorithm. But at associations we should know our members. This is a way of providing a member service. In my view, you're saying, " Okay, I'm going to make sure that you see the stuff you're interested in. I'm also not going to take up your time by necessarily forcing you to come and tell me everything you're interested in."
Alex Mastrianni: I've never heard anyone say it that. This is a member service. That's a great way to put it because members expect you to know them, to understand them. This is just another way to do that.
Beth: Yeah, exactly.
Alex Mastrianni: Started with INFORMS, brought in IMS, started integrating some things. When did community come into the picture?
Beth: We launched the community in 2018 as a member benefit. It was really the perfect completion to the other two. It was the third corner that made a triangle, a nice little triangle. It helped our members communicate with each other. It gave us place to put information and resources for members that really increased the value of their membership. It really increased the value of their membership and helped them connect with other airports, with companies that had solutions, help them have a safe place to go hidden, hidden behind a firewall so to speak, where they knew that the people who are going to be answering were dedicated members of their industry. They could ask questions about, say, a security thing that had come up or, " We're looking for this employee, do you have any suggestions?" and all kinds of things that and know that they would get good, solid answers from people who cared as much about the industry as they did.
Alex Mastrianni: I know that we're going to get into a couple of different specific use cases about how folks can use the three of these tools together, but before we get too deep into it, I know there's some upcoming changes to the integration and improvements that the team has been working on, that you've definitely been helpful in sharing some of your hands- on, personal experience therewith, can you talk a little bit about what's coming down the pike?
Beth: Yeah. There's a lot of really exciting stuff coming down the pike. In particular, this integration... We're all aware as users talk to each other, we're all aware there was some challenges integrating with the cloud at first, but a lot of that's been worked out and we are now partnering with ATS on a bridge. I think that that's been a huge help. There are a lot of really cool things that are going to come with this new bridge right out of the box. In addition to the features that we all love using, the profile manager and the ability to do the web tracking and all of those things, they're going to be some new dashboard inaudible in widgets that will go into the system automatically, and you can just update the IQAs to turn them on. There's a lot of really exciting things that are going to come with this bridge in particular. Looking forward to getting that finished and launched, we've done been a huge amount of work going on over here on that. It's been a great team effort and it's been a lot of fun to be involved in. I can't wait to see everybody getting crosstalk.
Alex Mastrianni: Cool. I know that's always one of the fun parts of rolling these things out, is getting the feedback and sharing it with the world. Let's talk about, this is the member engagement podcast after all, how can people use these three tools in conjunction to drive engagement at their organizations?
Beth: Oh my gosh, there's so much...
Alex Mastrianni: Where to start.
Beth: I know I'm there's much you can do. Where do I start? I talked about it being almost a triangle, but it's a complete circular triangle. That's not even a word. You just keep going around the triangle and over and over and again, and connecting the dots. I got lost in my analogies there somewhere. I think I've joked to you before that I literally have a soap box saying'email is engagement'. Email is not a bullhorn. Email is absolutely engagement. It is not just speaking out to people. It is a two way communication. If your email doesn't get read, that's a communication. That's the equivalent of, " Talk to the hand." I just dated myself.
Alex Mastrianni: Because no response is a response.
Beth: Exactly. Thank you. If you get a huge response, then not only do that people read it, but if you've put your links in and labeled them everything, you can immediately see what resonated. If you get a huge amount of clicks, you can see why. That is data that you can use. It's actionable data that you can use to go back and sort of alter your communication strategy in a lot of ways, engagement in the community, obviously. Without a doubt that is engagement. Don't think anybody's going to argue that. It's something you need to foster. It's not a'if you build it, they will come'. You actually have to put in the work just you do with creating, crafting good emails, and sending them out at the right times, then analyzing the responses are coming back and doing better every time. You have to put in the work in terms of engaging people, figure out what works, figure out what helps your members because, as associations, it's all about helping your members. That includes putting in all this work in marketing and working closely with membership and working closely with the events team, to just make sure that everything that you're putting out and everything that you're giving them is engaging. Then you get all of the information that flows back to these people's records in IMS. That's where you can put in that member service that I was talking about earlier. You can use that to figure out what they see when they log into the website, you can use the website to drive them back to the community to have conversations. One of the most underutilized features in community, I think is the RSS feed. It's so under utilized that I didn't even know, until I came to work here, that it existed. That's how underutilized it is. I immediately took it and went back to my friends at AAAE and said, " Hey, you should be using this." and help them figure out how to use it. They now have it running. The first thing you see when you go to their member app is the feed, the RSS feed from the community.
Alex Mastrianni: That's awesome.
Beth: When you open the assets, driving you back to the community, their daily newsletter that they do five days a week has a section that is the latest conversations going on in the community. It's powered by the RSS feed. The person who does it just brings it in, cleans it up a little bit. That goes out. Then on their news page, underneath the newsfeed is the community feed. All of the things are providing constant new content and ways for them to develop content. It's from something they already had. It's bringing in real conversations that their members and their peers are having right now, and driving people back to the community, out of the conversation.
Alex Mastrianni: It doesn't really get more timely and relevant than that. That's it.
Beth: It's a community version of web tracking.
Alex Mastrianni: Yeah.
Beth: It's the community equivalent of book tracking. That's what it is. Yeah.
Alex Mastrianni: Now what about with sales and marketing? I know that was another big use case for you at AAAE.
Beth: Yeah. For everything I said for engagement, multiply that by 10 is to how many options there are to start talking about this. We all know, obviously you send out emails. Yay. Every time somebody is like, " Oh, you're in marketing, so you email me a lot." No, that is not what I do, but thanks for that. Kind of telling inaudible, " Oh, so you take pictures." Yeah. Okay. inaudible. Beyond just the email, email's the start, once somebody clicks on an email, that's where the fun really starts. That's where you get a known user. That's where you get somebody who's interested. From that point on, you have so much that you can do to provide them with value. Obviously you want to sell them things. You want to get money. Using AAAE as an example. That membership was obviously just the first thing that we" sold". Then it got into events. Most of AAAE's revenue that supported all of the things they did for member, actually came from things outside of dues. It was mostly non- dues revenue. Sales and marketing worked very closely together because sales was hugely important, between the onsite training and then exhibits and events, exhibit sponsorships, and events. Those were the big things. One of the ways that we just use web tracking in a different way, was I'd create a report, giving away all the secrets here. inaudible Corporates are going to be listening to this. We had a report that they could go search and see who was visiting sites with specific keywords. Then that would basically drive their call list for the week. It could drive their call list. They could be like, " Okay, these are the people who I know are interested right now." It is the equivalent of a web tracking campaign. Only it's a call. I actually got to the point where for some of the ones that they were working on, I actually created an automated campaign. All that automated campaign did, was every time somebody visited a webpage with a specific keyword that they would have normally searched for, that automated campaign sent that information to the sales team. Said, " Hey, this person just visited these pages that you had typed," and then they need to call them. It was the web tracking campaign, but cool call style.
Alex Mastrianni: So many applications. Then I know that you're a bit of an analytics wizard, nice way of saying data nerd. You love it. Tell us about the analytics that you watched that were important to you when it came to these three systems together.
Beth: All of them? If anything, sometimes I would actually get so deep into the data that I didn't always catch exactly what was the most important right at first. I would need to sort of ...
Alex Mastrianni: It can be overwhelming.
Beth: Yeah. I needed to step back a little bit and take a look at... Analytics, what you look at first should always be tied to your goals and you should never go into something without a goal, because you don't know if it works. Oh my gosh. My old boss at AAAE right now is going to be listening to this going, " Oh my God. You really did learn that." Thanks Jackie. You have to have a goal because that drives what you're going to do. That also then drives the analytics and which ones you look at, because otherwise you will get lost on them. Early on, in particular, I got really lost in them because there was so much that we had the chance to look at that. Just trying to decide what to look at and what was important was the first step. Then, once we did that, we were able to sort of step back and figure out, okay, which things are actual goals. In addition to the usual opens and clicks and registrations and revenue that was tied to emails, a lot of things I like to look at were just what those people did in the week or two after. It's fun sometimes to take an email that you feel should be effective, that you do on a regular basis. Like a newsletter. A newsletter is a great one to do this with. Take a newsletter and just follow the journey of the people who clicked on the links in it. If you had one that was particularly effective, or even wasn't, follow the journey of those people, figure out what they did for the next month, or take all of the people who opened your newsletter and clicked through in a week and just follow their journey for the next month. See if it had an impact, see if they got into communications, because if you've got these three tools in particular, you have so many different ways that you can see what they did. You can see what discussions they had on the community. You can see what other web pages they went to on your site. You can engage them in other ways, just to see if they respond. Sometimes you can get lost just following that path. It's kind of being lost in the woods.
Alex Mastrianni: It's so interesting, that whole idea, because I feel it really goes along with the concept of just nurturing your members. Because not every single thing that you send is going to be an ask to buy something or to register for something, but it's priming them for when the time is right. That's really a good point.
Beth: Yeah. One of the things that we're doing with ASI, as we ramp up to this new bridge, is we're doing a series of webinars. I think it's the second one. That's about automating the member journey. It's from something that I did when I was at AAAE, I basically just took... The example I give is not this a specific person, it's a fictional person, but it is almost exactly the real journey that one particular person did take. inaudible company took. It just follows them from the time they saw an ad, all the way through an entire year of engagement with us, and all of the things they did and the purchasing they did, and the value that they added to the members in the association, because it was a corporate, as well as the value that they got back. I did a second one that was an individual airport person that followed them, basically from being an intern at AAAE all the way up to being an airport director. That was also based on a specific person. It's so fascinating to see what a member's journey looks like and how you can then use automation to help move that along. But also that two way value, it's amazing because you tend to think of it in the moment as, " I have to sell this, I have to make this money, or I have to provide this value because these members want it," depending on what your job is, and to step back and look at it at the impact that you've had with them and that they've had with you and your organization, it gives me chills. It's kind of cool.
Alex Mastrianni: It is really cool. Speaking of just automation in general is huge with the three of these things, with your community, with INFORMS, with IMS. It's so much more than the things that we've talked about, in terms of creating that better member experience, because you're providing them the right stuff that they need, based on how they're interacting or behaving in your emails or on your website, or in the community, but the impacts that it has on your team too, because there's so many cool things that you can do that you just wouldn't have been able to do manually.
Beth: Absolutely. When I came to AAAE, they would basically download a list of all of the people who had attended the meetings in the last three years, and anybody who had ever marked that as an interest in the last 15 years. They'd pull that list six months before a meeting an event, and they would put it into Constant Contact and that's who they would send out emails to. Nothing against AAAE, or nothing as to people who were working there, those were the tools they had. That was it. Those were the tools that and they were very careful about it. They made sure to pull the people who had attended and the people would mark the interests. That's what you're supposed to do. They use Constant Contacts. That's what they sent it to. They didn't have the resources to download the list every time and then re- upload it, Constant Contact, it just didn't exist. Having these tools, the mission didn't change, the desire to help the members and to make sure that they knew about these events that could... Why these events were helpful didn't change. That was all there. What changed was the capabilities. It did. It had a huge impact. A) it freed you up to do other things, because so much of this was just, " Okay, you filled out the email, okay, now you've got your list." It's going to be exactly right. You can set it up three days in advance. There's going to be the most recent list. The automation freed you up to spend more time thinking about content and thinking about other things that you could do to promote that same event, or to promote something else, to provide another member benefit. It takes a huge weight off of a team shoulders and lets them... Is it going to sound corny? I'm saying, lets them really fly, but it does.
Alex Mastrianni: In some cases just take a breath, " Okay, I've got these 10 different hats that I'm wearing. I can put a different one on for today."
Beth: You're sitting there, this weight is holding you down and that's all you can do. That's all you have time and strength for, is to hold this weight up and figure out, " How am I going to keep doing this?" Your brain is occupied with that too. Once that's gone, you can breathe. Then you can actually think and you can do other stuff. You can move around because you're not stuck under that weight anymore.
Alex Mastrianni: Right. Definitely an inspirational note there. If somebody has all three of these things, or is thinking about getting all three of these things, I know we've got a lot of resources out there. Some that you know, you've used as a user of these products and that you're involved in now, where can people find out more information?
Beth: The best place to go with HUG. HUG is the Higher Logic users group community. I love HUG. I was pretty heavily involved in HUG before I came over to work here, because it's so much fun. You have peers that you can talk with. The cool thing about it, I used to go to... Done collaborated at SAE as well, which is a great community. But what I loved about HUG, as a user, was that not only was I talking to people who had the same problems as me and were going through the same things as me, they also the same tools to solve them. That's huge, because now you're not saying, " Oh, I'm trying to engage my members. What should I do?" You get three people who have a completely different solution. You can't actually do what they're doing. Then five salespeople who want you to buy their solution. Those things can be great and they can lead to you actually getting new systems if you don't have the right thing in place. But here, everybody's using the same tools pretty much. On top of that, the advisors and the strategic people from Higher Logic are on there, so they'll answer questions, and then there's a whole wealth of learning on there. There are pathways that will take you through everything you need to know on an on- demand way for the product and how everything works. There's also live trainings, listen inaudible are amazing and do a wonderful job with the trainings, and listen in particular as the whole reason that I actually know how inaudible works. But they both are. The trainings are just so helpful and so amazing. One of my favorite stories from this year is we had a customer who I was talking to them on March 31st, and they didn't realize they had marketing automation. They didn't, they had a inaudible, they didn't know they had marketing automation. I showed it to them that day on March 31st, and the person there took the marketing automation training that was coming up. She went through the day- long training and then she set up the one... I talked to her one more time, just to look through the stuff she had the IMS INFORMS integration. On April 19th, she launched a seven email month long campaign for registration, from open registration to the last chance day before the conference for their clients. In
Alex Mastrianni: just a couple of weeks.
Beth: She was so excited because she's like, " Usually I'm having to write these one- offs. Each time I write up, I get it approved. I have to put the list in." She's like, " It's done a month before the conference. I can focus on other things." Now that is my favorite example though, because it was 19 days from learning they had automation to launching a seven email month long complex campaign. She used the advanced starter kits for two. She really took advantage of all the tools once she saw she had them. It was just amazing.
Alex Mastrianni: That's really cool.
Beth: There's also the Niag group. That's the IMS user group. It's a company wide, or association wide membership. If you're an IMS user and you're not a member of Niag, I highly recommend joining. I was pretty active. They have some great conferences, there's also an amazing community there with peers to talk to about IMS and ask questions of, and they really do put on some first rate education about IMS and using the product. Niag is a great resource if you're an OMS user, highly recommend going, joining, participating in the Listserv, seeing what they've got to offer in terms of education.
Alex Mastrianni: Cool. Then I'm just going to do a quick plug for some webinars Beth has, that are coming up. I know you mentioned them briefly earlier, but we have a three- part webinars series that we're working on with ASI that launches at the end of this month, May 25th. We've got topics on non- dues revenue, automating the member journey. Then also just the power of these three tools. Definitely check those out on ASI's website and on our website as well. But last question, because I have to ask all of our guests this, I may have asked you this before, but maybe you have another one that you can share. What is your number one engagement tip?
Beth: I'm going to cheat. I'm going to use something that I said earlier, because my biggest engagement tip is that email is not a bullhorn. It is a two- way conversation. It is so important to understand that because that is the beginning of understanding the power of all the integrations and the information you actually have at your fingertips.
Alex Mastrianni: Yeah. I love it. No, it's totally true. I say it on every episode it seems, but there's somebody on the receiving end after you hit'send', that is going to give you a response, whether you like it or not, but what you do next after is what really matters.
Beth: Yeah. That's where it goes from being an email to engagement.
Alex Mastrianni: Yeah. Cool. Well, thank you so much, Beth. This has been awesome as always, I am amazed by the level of knowledge that you have when it comes to these three. I hope our listeners were able to pick up a tip or two, or three, I'm sure that there's something that you can do today, if you've got combinations of these tools, that can make an impact at your organization.
Beth: I will say, if you didn't pick up anything, or even if you did and you want to expand it, I didn't mention when I was talking about HUG, every Thursday at 3: 00 PM Eastern, we do the HUG connect and marketing office hours, and it's always around a topic, and it's a little mini conference session once a week, where you don't have to leave your desk.
Alex Mastrianni: Higher Logic customers. If you want to get in connection with Beth, go join her on HUG. She's there. She's active.
Beth: I'm there all the time.
Alex Mastrianni: Well, that's going to do it for another episode of the Member Engagement Show. Thanks so much for joining us this week. We'll see you on the next episode.
This week, Alex and and Heather are joined by Beth Arritt. Beth is the Product Marketing Manager at Higher Logic, and is here to discuss how to integrate your community with your marketing automation and your database. Tune in now and hear Beth's insights about how she can help drive member engagement!