New Ways Associations Can Generate Revenue From Online Education
Digital technology has changed virtually every aspect of our lives, including the way we learn. By implementing an online education platform — and embracing the power of live video streaming, just-in-time videos, e-commerce and digital marketing — associations can generate new forms of revenue and increase their influence.
1. Virtualize your events
People join associations for a variety of reasons, but chief among those are ongoing training and networking opportunities made possible through a well-scheduled calendar of events.
Conferences and meetings are most often an association’s pièce de résistance; they offer informative plenary sessions, feature important keynote speakers and demonstrate the convening power of a membership-based organization. Indeed, over 12,000 international association meetings took place in 2017, which highlights their popularity.
Yes, attending an association event is an exciting opportunity. But a variety of reasons can keep your members from being present. Associations should make it a priority to virtualize their events — panel sessions, lectures and keynotes, and seminars — by streaming live audio and video to members. Doing so, and charging a nominal fee to tune in, will allow your quality content to reach members who cannot attend your events but want to experience the benefit of being an association member.
Importantly, the process to live-stream has become much more affordable through advancements in technology, including improvements to modern smartphones — high powered cameras and editing software — and access to third-party software like Livestream, Facebook or YouTube.
While live-streaming, associations can simultaneously record rich event content and make it available for viewing once meetings are concluded. This audio and video can be easily incorporated into association’s online educational courses, which provides additional incentive for individuals to become members.
2. Create just-in-time learning videos
The use of educational video has been transformative in how individuals learn. Engaging visual cues help facilitate thinking and problem-solving. Moreover, learning videos have shown to be useful tools for communicating complex facts and processes.
In addition to teaching efficiency, the beauty of videos is that they can be produced at a low-cost and in a short amount of time. This should incentivize associations to adopt the just-in-time philosophy when it comes to communicating important lessons, principles and rules to their members. Lawyers, engineers, doctors and other professionals often require critical knowledge at their fingertips; your association’s just-in-time educational videos will help facilitate on the job learning, increase productivity and improve expertise by offering time-sensitive information in an engaging way.
3. Simplify life for members by offering e-commerce
It’s likely that association content you’ve published and promoted, or watched, read and listened to has mentioned new educational resources or upcoming events requiring registration. Websites should make it easy to access this content — and to see whether or not it’s being consumed.
Effectively incorporating e-commerce into your association’s website gives members access to a clean and categorized catalogue of exclusive material that best suits their development and the growth of your own association by providing you with data on the popularity of your content.
4. Centralize learning opportunities by using an online platform
A Learning Management System (LMS) lets associations deliver and track a customized catalogue of online learning material — especially when it’s delivered in conjunction with e-commerce.
From a user’s perspective, an LMS should provide a simple and aesthetically pleasing visualization of content available for consumption — including aforementioned online videos as well as resources like e-books and online lessons — that is outlined and categorized by topic or some logical learning progression. As well as being mobile friendly, which is critical to the user-experience, the LMS should offer a learning interface and a reporting feature that allows associations to keep track of how frequently content is being watched or read. Data of the latter will allow associations to optimize LMS e-commerce functionality by adjusting hierarchies in catalogues and the price of access to each piece of content.
5. Utilizing digital marketing for new revenue and new members
Once associations have an LMS with catalogued content and a reporting feature, they should utilize digital marketing to generate new members and new revenue.
Digital marketing channels, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google, will offer your association not only a wide reach to new audiences but also the ability to target ads to very specific audiences based on key factors such as age, geography, interests, industry and job function.
Another key component of your association’s digital marketing strategy should be a targeted e-mail campaign that offers direct contact with individuals who are likely to be interested in your content. Importantly, associations have to ensure they’re conducting business within the parameters of anti-spam legislation.
Through a carefully considered and consistent e-mailing effort, which helps avoid being labelled as “annoying,” and by creating a campaign of targeted digital ads based on defined budget, your digital marketing efforts will offer access to your content with minimal barriers — a potential member is only ever one to three clicks away from joining your association, registering for an event or joining an online class.
Digital marketing also offers easy-to-use analytics tools that help associations understand what and why marketing efforts are not working. By investigating what is or isn’t being clicked or purchased, you’re able to adjust and refine your efforts to develop an effective marketing campaign.