by Amber Winter of Web Courseworks
Trade associations need to provide experiences that are valuable for both their member organizations as a whole and the individual learners that are part of those organizations. It’s easy to see why trade associations face challenges such as high administrative cost, struggles to increase membership, and low non-dues revenue.
It’s your association’s responsibility to lead your member organizations with e-learning that prepares them for the future of your industry. But how can you use your e-learning programming to truly set member organizations up for success?
At Web Courseworks, we specialize in software solutions for professional, healthcare, and trade associations. Drawing on our experience helping trade associations elevate their learning businesses, we’ve outlined the following three tips to help you set member organizations up for success with e-learning:
- Invest in an intuitive LMS made for extended enterprises.
- Make purchasing courses an easy decision for institutions.
- Work with an e-learning consultant to map a path for growth.
Whether you work at a trade association, a nonprofit with regional membership groups or chapters, or a corporation working with many partners, there are unique challenges with providing training for member organizations versus individual learners.
Let’s discuss what you can do as a learning business to overcome them and set your team and member organizations up for success.
1. Invest in an intuitive LMS made for extended enterprises.
Overcoming the challenges that come with implementing an e-learning program for your member organizations can be tough if you don’t have the right tools. If you’re facing major hurdles delivering your e-learning program, it may be a good time to upgrade and invest in an extended enterprise learning management system (LMS).
Upgrade your LMS, and minimize your team’s administrative burden with key features and functionalities:
- Co-branded sub-portals
With individual member portals, you can brand each portal and provide a unique experience for each member organization. You can segment reporting to understand performance and participation across your organization as a whole as well as within each individual member organization. Further, you can maintain the privacy of each organization and automate your reports for simplified data analysis.
- Intuitive navigation
When your LMS is easy to navigate, it saves your team time and energy that they can then dedicate to what really matters: providing a superior experience for member organizations. Designed with your members in mind, a learning management system’s responsive design can ensure the best and most engaging learning experiences for all, regardless of the device used.
- Built-in features for virtual events
While you can invest in a separate virtual conference platform, some LMSes can function as an e-learning and virtual event solution. This means you only need to invest in and manage one solution as you continue hosting virtual and hybrid events in the future.
- Built-in marketing and advertising
This includes the ability to promote upcoming events and e-learning opportunities, upsell courses with additional offerings like downloadable resources, and cross-sell products by allowing members to compare courses, all from directly in your LMS.
- Integrations with your other software solutions
According to the team at Fonteva, the ideal association management software can host member profiles, reports, accounting tools, and other features that are essential for daily operations. If you choose an LMS that can integrate directly with your AMS, the data in your LMS will be included in your main database’s reports. This allows you to see a full picture of member activity and make informed decisions about the future of your learning business.
An enterprise LMS with these capabilities will reduce the time and energy that your LMS administrator needs to dedicate to ensuring the system runs smoothly. This will benefit your staff, member organizations, and the individual members navigating it.
2. Make purchasing courses an easy decision for member organizations.
When it comes to increasing membership and non-dues revenue, there are a few steps that you can take to increase the value perception of your materials and make investing in your learning business an easy decision for member organizations:
- Empower learners to submit their own external learning.
In your LMS, allow learners to track credits earned in your system and outside of it. When they’re able to create a comprehensive portfolio of achievements, individuals in your member organizations will be incentivized to continue engaging. The impact of this will be that member organizations will increase their investment in your programming.
- Provide course recommendations and learning paths.
Pay attention to the courses that individual member organizations invest in, and provide recommendations for similar courses they may be interested in. For example, let’s say a member organization registered members for basic sales training courses. You could then recommend courses on cold calling and outreach.
- Enable bulk purchasing and registrations.
With this, leaders at your member organizations can purchase course seats and register multiple individuals at once. This type of pay-per-user e-learning pricing model removes much of the administrative burden from your member organizations and makes it incredibly easy for them to invest in your courses.
Benefits like these make investing in e-learning convenient and can help point your member organizations in the right direction when it comes to identifying the courses they should invest in. The ability to provide these benefits will depend on the LMS you use to deliver e-learning programming to member organizations.
3. Work with an e-learning consultant to map a path for growth.
Administering e-learning to member organizations can mean providing courses for large numbers of individuals. That means the needs of your e-learning program may outpace the capacity or expertise of your team.
In that instance, it’s helpful to partner with an e-learning consultant to formulate a strategy to elevate your programming. This graphic, pulled from Web Courseworks’ guide to e-learning consultants, highlights some of the services a consultant may provide:
As indicated by that graphic, an experienced e-learning consultant brings many attributes to the table. Let’s take a slightly deeper look at each of those common services. An e-learning consultant may be able to help with some or all of the following:
- Formulating a strategy for growing your learning business and guiding your team through carrying out that strategy
- Sourcing the ideal learning technology to meet your needs, whether a learning management system, course authoring tools, or something else
- Creating a content development strategy, from researching the courses that would best appeal to your members to managing subject matter experts (SMEs) during the authoring process
- Converting your existing materials into a new format, such as revising courses that used Adobe Flash elements (the Flash Player reached end of life in 2020) or preparing live training materials like recorded lectures into digital formats
- Administering your LMS, including troubleshooting any tech challenges that arise and assisting end users who call with questions about how to access their training
- Measuring the efficacy of your e-learning program, generating reports, conducting analysis to understand areas of improvement, and making data-driven decisions
- Planning virtual or hybrid events from the ground up or transitioning in-person events to the digital space using virtual conference software
The idea is that e-learning consultants provide solutions tailored to your organization’s exact needs—so, if you’re struggling with one of these challenges, they can formulate a roadmap to help you surpass it.
When choosing a consultant, it’s crucial to choose the right one for your organization. To do that, ask yourself the following:
- Is the consultant a good personality fit for my team?
- Does the consultant have experience in the industry that my association operates in?
- Can the consultant provide examples of past work, and are those examples proving success?
These questions will help you choose a consultant who will be an effective partner to surpass the obstacles in your path now and formulate a path for growth well into the future. Whether decreasing administrative burden, increasing membership, or raising non-dues revenue, a consultant can build out your e-learning strategy.
Setting member organizations up for success in the future using your association’s e-learning programming can be a challenge—but not one that you can’t overcome.
To recap, upgrading your current LMS to a more intuitive system that’s made for extended enterprises will drastically decrease the administrative burden on your team and create a more pleasant experience for members navigating it.
Further, increasing the perceived value of your e-learning programming will make the choice to purchase courses an easy one. This can have a direct impact on the amount of non-dues revenue your learning business generates.
And, last but not least, working with the right e-learning consultant can help your team choose technology, implement it seamlessly, overcome any unforeseen obstacles, quickly pivot to a new strategy, and more.
With these tips, you’ll be off to a great start when it comes to setting your member organizations up for success with your learning programs.
About the Author
Amber Winter is the director of Sales & Marketing at Web Courseworks. She’s committed to helping association executives realize the potential of their education programs and turn them into high-performing revenue generators. Amber was named one of Madison, Wisconsin’s 40 under 40 and the number 1 LMS salesperson by Talented Learning.
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