Connect Your Members with Your Continuing Education Programs

Your association provides its membership with a variety of value propositions. However, there may be none more valuable than the consumable content you offer. And, of that content you make available to your members, the continuing education programs are the true gems.

Professional development courses are incredibly valuable to your members because it allows them to add a particular skillset or knowledgebase to their repertoire, in an expedited fashion. When you develop or add a new course to your offering, you want it to get as much mileage as possible. Setting an e-learning program up for success is very important when attempting to establish strong uptake.

Below, we have provided several steps your association should take to prepare your membership for the release of new learning content. Don’t let these valuable assets collect virtual dust or allow your members to miss out on exploiting your community for what it has to offer. Retaining your members requires that they perceive their relationship with your association as a bountifully valuable one. Setting this precedent will rely on your ability to meaningfully engage your members in your content – e-learning content included.

Target Particular Members
When you add a new continuing education course to your library, you need to have a grasp on who it’s for. Assuming there are a variety of member levels within your association, it’s not always the case that a course is for everyone within your community. Sometimes, a piece of content will be tailor-made for young professionals, where another will be more suited for your executive or experienced members. Always identify which member group will benefit from the course content most and target your efforts with them. It may be the case that other member groups will find value in the content as well, but getting the ball rolling with a sure thing is the best approach. Knowing what group the course content is targeting will influence all steps that follow.
Focus Your Content & CTA
Now that you’ve settled on who the educational course content is for, it’s time to wet their appetite and prime them for strong uptake. How you present the course matters. The way you describe the resource needs to be written in a way that’s easy to consume and piques their interest about the new content. It should be concise, speak to the benefits of the course and explain how it can be accessed. However, the most important part when spreading the word is establishing a call to action (CTA). You can successfully get the reader excited about the course and clearly explain how best to take it, but if you don’t ask the reader to take a specific action, there’s a good chance they won’t follow through. The reason for this is that everyone is busy. If you don’t ask something of them, there will be no sense of urgency created. And, if there’s no sense of urgency, chances are they will park the opportunity for later. Unfortunately, when people put things off, they rarely get back to them. The world moves too fast and there’s always too much on everyone’s plate. That’s why you need to motivate them to interact with the course in the here and now instead of down the road. Don’t be afraid to spur them on by asking something specific. “Go sign up now to unlock the course’s value”, is an example of a way to phrase it. However, there are an endless amount of great ways to ask your members to complete the course. Just make sure you ask.
Once you’re settled on how you want to communicate the release of your new course, it’s time to put it out there. Where you choose to post the news matters – big time. If you market your course in places that your members don’t prefer to make use of, you aren’t going to stimulate the kind of uptake you’re looking for. The first platform you should target is direct email. Via your association management system, your administrators should be empowered to easily and quickly template and dispatch any variety of communications. Your marketing campaign for the new course should start here since, through your AMS, your members are just a click away from direct interaction. However, while sending out a beautifully designed email blast with concise content and clear calls to action is a great start, don’t stop there. Make sure you also flood your social media with the update. And, while you shouldn’t neglect any particular platform your association has an account on, you should make sure to nail hard the platforms you know to be preferential for your members. You may even want to create a series of posts related to the course, on particular platforms, to ensure visibility is high. Whatever your marketing strategy is, make sure you have one. You’ve got these great educational resources ready to be consumed – shine a beacon so your members can exploit their benefit.
Deliver in a Meaningful Way
This may be the most important element of connecting your members with the educational courses and content you offer. The system that houses, supports and grants access to your courses has to be exceptional. If it tends to be buggy, glitch-ridden, confusing, convoluted, non-intuitive or slow, there’s next to no chance you’re going to accomplish the uptake you want. Where your courses are hosted must be easy to access, intuitive, and consistently functional. This is why having a comprehensive AMS that natively supports your courseware is so imperative. If your learning management system is an afterthought you may get your members to take one course on the platform, but they won’t come back for more. A system that causes the user frustration is a sure fire way to guarantee your educational courses will not get the use they so deserve. What’s more, because your educational resources will be rendered unusable because of the clunky system, your association will not be able to be mined for the value it offers – causing many members to struggle in seeing the worth of your community. This scenario will undoubtedly result in dwindling membership and an overall poor retention record. Fortunately, there’s no need to ever have to deal with this issue. There’s no shortage of education platform friendly member management systems available. Guild is just one of the providers offering an AMS that allows your association to house their educational content in a streamlined and impactful way. If you’d like to learn more about Guild, or schedule a demo to see how your continuing education courses can be effectively presented, please click here.
Execute & Review
With all of these pieces in place, it’s time to trial your approach. Prior to executing, establish some key performance indicators that you want to track and measure, and define a period you want to evaluate them within. Coming up with a plan to drive your members to your educational resources is fantastic – but it will all be somewhat meaningless if you don’t also intend to follow-up with analysis of your plan’s effectiveness. By reviewing your efforts and how it impacts course uptake, you should garner some valuable insight into what may work, and what may not.

There are many strategies your association could execute to stimulate uptake of your available continuing education resources. The key is that you make some effort, whatever it may be, to encourage your members to exploit the value your community has to offer. Always keep in mind that you are in a perpetual state of having to prove your worthiness of your members’ loyalty.