asae rasa.io partnership logo associations now smart ai newsletter

ASAE and rasa.io Form a Partnership to Bring Smart Newsletters to Associations

ASAE - rasa.io partnership

rasa.io and ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership - which has more than 42,000 members who lead and manage more than 7,300 associations all across the globe - have partnered together to bring AI and smart newsletters to associations around the globe. ASAE will be using rasa.io technology to power its daily newsletter, and ASAE will also help bring rasa.io technology to the global association community.

ASAE and rasa.io began working together earlier this year to increase engagement for ASAE’s Associations Now Daily News, which is delivered to 50,000 people.

A new, smart, AI-powered newsletter

Similar to many organizations, ASAE had previously sent their daily Associations Now email in a static format to all 50,000 of their readers. The Artificial Intelligence within the rasa.io product enables ASAE to individualize their email content for each reader and simultaneously absorb valuable insights from how those members engage with the content that is delivered.

Feedback on rasa.io artificial intelligence

John Graham, President and CEO of ASAE reports: “Gaining a deeper understanding of our members’ needs and interests is more important than ever. This is a game changer for ASAE.”

“The rasa.io technology is a true innovation for ASAE, the first killer app in AI for associations,” says Reggie Henry, Chief Information and Engagement Officer at ASAE.

Robb Lee, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer concludes:  “Over many decades, the marketer’s dream has been to get to a ‘Segment of One.’ We are there now. We are learning about our audience at a rapid pace. Our members have voted with their opens and clicks, and personalized content is the clear winner.”

Make your newsletter smart today

In addition to using rasa.io for its own newsletter, ASAE and rasa.io have agreed to provide a discount to members of the ASAE community for use of the rasa.io product. Visit www.rasa.io/asae to learn more.

asae rasa.io newsbrief - associations now ai powered newsletter
asae rasa.io newsbrief - associations now ai powered newsletter

rasa.io ai personalized association newsletter

15 Ways to Take Your Association Newsletter to the Next Level: AI, Personalization, Automation, Content and Email Best Practices

Your association newsletter: 15 ways to give your news a boost

Your organization’s email newsletter is an incredibly valuable way to consistently engage your members and show them how you are staying ahead of the important topics and news in your industry. It also provides you the opportunity to associate your organization’s brand with the cutting-edge information in your space.

rasa.io highlighted blog ai generated association newsletter

Most organizations, however, are not taking full advantage of this useful communication tool. In this piece, we will explore 15 ways that you can take your email newsletter to the next level. First, we will identify ways in which you can leverage new technologies to make your email newsletter more sophisticated and, at the same time, less of a drain on your internal resources - or, in other words, save time.

The second section of ideas around taking your association newsletter to the next level will outline ways in which you can maximize your newsletter real estate.

Finally, our list will conclude with ensuring you are leveraging the fundamentals of email engagement for your association newsletter.

Pro tech tips for taking your association’s newsletter to the next level: personalization, automation, and artificial intelligence

1 Personalizing your news content

We all are beginning to understand the power of personalization. In this day in age, one-size-fits-all communication essentially equates to one-size-fits-none engagement practices. According to market intelligence company Aberdeen: “Personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%.” And it’s no different for association newsletters.

Hand-segmenting your list based on member interests, occupations, and interaction activities is one way to begin personalizing to increase engagement. You can send several different versions of your association’s email newsletter based upon the historical data you have collected on your members. There are various email tools that have been designed for this kind of hand-segmentation.

personalized email statistic regarding association newsletter engagement

Image source: Mailigen.com

The practice of hand-segmenting email newsletters has its downsides, however. For one, hand-parsing excel docs and hand curating several different versions of an email is extremely challenging and time consuming. Second, the member data that you have might be stale. Finally, even if the member data you have is current, people don’t always accurately self-report their interests. For example, I might say that I am a marketer interested in reading about branding, but in reality, I might actually be clicking on articles that focus on digital and SEO. How would you ever be able to keep timely tabs on my interests if I self-reported my top interest as ‘branding’?  

That’s where automation comes in.

2 Automating the association newsletter process

We all share one commonly scarce resource: time. Automating your email newsletter process can be one way that you save your staff’s time. Automation generates results because you can engage with a new level of frequency without having to spend more time or more money.

With regard to newsletters: Instead of scouring the internet for the latest, important industry news and hand-curating your association’s email newsletter, you can have stories from relevant and authoritative news outlets automatically pull into your emails in order to support an auto-send process.

While many of us have considered automating the email newsletter process, one of the reasons many associations hold back is because they do not want to sacrifice the margin of personalization and relevance they gain from hand-segmentation.

3 Optimizing with artificial intelligence

So how do you get personalization and automation in one, plus the added benefit of continually evolving intelligence for your association newsletter? Why, AI, of course.

Email services now exist that allow you to compile a list of credible news sources - on top of those that include your organization's own events, blogs, news, journals, and articles - and have that content auto-populate into individualized emails.

AI can be leveraged to then scan the content of the hundreds upon hundreds of articles that come in from those sources and choose the specific stories that get pushed to each user’s email, as determined by their behavior, preferences, and AI insights gathered from other similar users. Imagine sending a unique email to every single one of your members, based upon just-in-time insights on their reading behaviors.

Maximizing your association newsletter real estate

Now that we have covered ideas around leveraging innovative technology and automation for your newsletter, we are going to share best practices for optimizing your email real estate.

4 Including links to your subscribe and / or membership renewal pages

At rasa.io, many times we get the questions from our clients and prospects along the lines of: “Why do we need to include a ‘subscribe’ link if people are already receiving our email? Doesn’t that mean they are already subscribed?” Well, the short answer is, yes, they are already subscribed, but it is best practice to include a subscribe link, and here’s why:

If you are sending out engaging content, chances are, your members and subscribers will be forwarding around your emails. When those outside users consume the forwarded content from your email, providing them easy access to a subscribe link will allow them to join your list with just one or two clicks.

benefits of including a subscribe link in your association newsletter
Depending on your email newsletter structure or strategy, however, you might not want to allow non-member users to automatically opt into your newsletter send list. This is of course understandable depending upon your organization’s processes. In this case, you can direct them to a membership page or to another landing page that will allow you to collect their information for whatever purposes you choose going forward.

5 Making social profile info easily available

Whether it be in your footer, or in your header, or via some other strategic placement in your email newsletter, you should always include links to your association's social profile pages. This will allow users to easily click out and view the most up-to-date components of your online presence via your social pages. And if they have not already, it provides the an easy avenue from which to follow or like your various pages.

social profile images in footer of an association newsletter

6 Using calls-to-action for important events

Every good marketer knows you always need a good CTA. That’s how you know you’ve done your job and made progress to your ultimate goal, whatever that goal may be. In most cases, when it comes to digital marketing and communications, you want one, clearly defined CTA in order to progress your audience member down a clearly defined path.

For email newsletters though, CTA strategy is a bit different. You want to inform your members, readers, or subscribers about the latest news and updates in your industry, in a (largely) unbiased way.

It is still beneficial, however, to leverage your newsletter communications in order to separately promote your association’s current goals. You can use some of your real estate in order to encourage members to sign up for your upcoming webinar, register for your conference, or renew their membership, for some examples.

7 Infusing other interesting and important messaging

Along the lines of calls to action, you can also leverage your association newsletter real estate in order to infuse other newsworthy and important messages. Many of our clients infuse daily lead text, as we at rasa.io like to call it, at the top of their newsletters in order to share their own editorial alongside the latest industry news.

You can use this editorial space to feature progress toward major goals, new hire information, board meeting updates, a highlight on a superstar member or volunteer, and the list goes on.

8 Highlighting your organization’s key content

Creating quality content can be difficult. Creating a lot of quality content is even harder. That is one of the reasons that we at rasa.io recommend aggregating your organization’s own content with other relevant industry news within the space in order to alleviate some of the pressure off of you to curate your newsletter. Adding in outside content makes it so you can send a content-rich newsletter without needing all of the content within the email to be your own.  

When your organization does put out a quality blog, podcast, news or journal article, however, you want to ensure that piece is highlighted within your association email newsletter. We recommend allowing some featured real estate in the email - a highlighted or boxed visual treatment, for example - in order to make it very apparent when your organization publishes something new.  

We find that when our clients infuse their own content into a visually-highlighted space, it gets greater engagement than it otherwise would with the same visual treatment as the rest of the stories. (Watch our webinar on other tips and tricks for promoting your organization’s content!)

9 Leveraging promotional opportunities

Deciding whether or not to include paid advertisements in your newsbrief is one that is multi-faceted. You have to consider: the size of your audience; your engagement rates; if there are advertisers who would be advertising industry-appropriate goods and services; if you have a vendor or someone internally that can sell the ads; and the list goes on.

If you do decide to include paid ads, the obvious benefit is monetization of your email. Another benefit is exposing your members to vendors and products that they would not otherwise have been aware of.

Even if you make the decision to steer away from paid advertisements, you can still leverage advertising space for internal promotions.

rasa.io highlighted promotions in an association newsletter

You can use a graphic designer to create engaging promotional images that advertise web pages you want to drive traffic to; upcoming educational events; and even external educational resources that you feel are appropriate for your community.

10 Incorporating “evergreen” content

It makes sense to primarily include the latest, breaking news in your association's newsletter. However, sometimes there might be a piece that is relevant to your subscribers that might have been published months - or even years - ago.

If you are interested in having historic, relevant content pull in from journals or other reputable online publications, like the Harvard Business Review or the New England Journal of Medicine for some examples, you can include those sources in your list of content feeds as well. You can also leverage artificial intelligence in order to only bring in an evergreen piece when it is particularly relevant to an individual member.

Optimizing the fundamentals of your association email newsletter communication

So we’ve hit on tech tips and email newsletter real estate optimization. Finally, we are going to cover the fundamentals of email communication. We will delve into what our data - and the data of some other big players in the space - points to when it comes to optimal subject lines; send time(s); send day(s); preview text; and send frequency.

11 Optimizing your subject line

Why is subject line so important? Without an effective subject line, the content within your association newsletter has little chance of being consumed. Below are 5 ways to help you craft effective subject lines, along with some examples:

  • Numerical lists of tips, tricks, value propositions - like 7 Reasons to Embrace Artificial Intelligence or 8 Great AI Tools.
  • Recent news headlines or relevant announcements - oftentimes what we use at rasa.io. When we use AI to choose the most relevant subject line for each individual reader, we bring personalization to the next level and significantly increase the chances that the email will be opened. Plus, we can then depend on the content specialists who have written any of those given news headlines to write something enticing.
  • Personalization tags - like Top industry headlines for Erica. People are up to 50% more likely to open an email when the subject line is personalized with one of their individualized attributes.
  • Intriguing questions are a great way to pique a reader’s interests. Some examples: Wonder how to stay ahead of association marketing? And: Having trouble retaining your members?
  • Action oriented language and commands implying deadlines and scarcity also drive open rates. For example: Register by August 1 in order to take full advantage.

12 Choosing send day

Choosing the day(s) of the week on which to send your association newsletter is a decision that profoundly impacts overall email engagement. (That is, if you don’t send your digest out every day in order to maximize engagement, and we will talk about the more in the Send Frequency section.)

As the Mailchimp graph below demonstrates, Tuesdays and Thursdays tend to be optimal send days, followed by Mondays and Wednesdays, followed by Friday, and, in dead last, are weekend days.

mailchimp best send day for association newsletters
Image source: Mailchimp

13 Considering your newsletter send time

Email send time is also a critical engagement determiner. It is a common misconception that if you send on a good day, a member will just open the email newsletter at their convenience - but it doesn’t quite work that way. The truth is that an email is 5 times more likely to be opened within an hour of its send time, so you need to consider hour of the day as well as the time zone(s) of residence of the majority of your members, clients, and subscribers.

According to the chart below, put together by CoSchedule.com, the top four send times are 10am, 8pm, 2pm, and 6am. Confirming that - for better or worse - people go to bed as well as wake up with their inboxes!

coschedule best send time for association newsletters

14 Deciding on send frequency

You can send your newsbrief daily, two or three times per week, once a week, twice a month, or however often you like. We oftentimes recommend sending daily or multiple times per week so that our rasa.io Artificial Intelligence can best learn about each individual reader’s preferences.

Sending multiple days per week also increases maximizes your unique weekly engagement rates. In other words, you maximize the chances that you will reach each of the members of your audience on any given day, because as much data as there is on optimal send days, the fact of the matter is that every individual’s schedule and read-day preferences are different. (However if your industry is extremely niche, it might be best to send less frequently if there is not as much daily news published for your particular industry.)

15 Crafting appropriate preview, or pre-header, text

Many mail clients these days incorporate preview text into their interfaces these days. What is preview text, you ask? It is the snippet of content that appears after the subject of an email, before you even open it to see what is inside. And it’s critical you take advantage of this extra real estate that some email clients allot.   

pre header preview text examples for associations newsletters

If you do not craft your own custom preview text, then it will normally just default to the first sentence or so of the email. Many email send services allow you to customize your preview text. At rasa.io, we recommend customization, as it allows you another chance to intrigue your reader and encourage them to open your email.

Conclusion

So there you have it! 15 ways to bring your association’s newsletter to the next level, covering everything from innovative, personalizing and time saving technologies to the content within your newsletter to email send best practices.

If you have questions about taking your association’s newsletter to the next level, the experts at rasa.io are here to help. Contact us today for a quote and to receive more information.


rasa.io artificial intelligence nurtures engagement infographic

3 Ways AI Increases Member Engagement


AI for member engagement

Every time you engage with your social media platforms, they become a little better at understanding what you want to see, which affects the content that they present to you. Of course it is no coincidence that the product you were recently searching for via Google is being advertised at the top of your Facebook feed and pictured at the top of your Instagram!

Facebook, for example, has become an expert on you because of its application of artificial intelligence. What does that mean? AI leverages complex algorithms to sort through your engagement behavior in order to decide what you will find most interesting to present next in your feed. As an experiment, scroll through your feed for a minute. Now try sorting it by “Most Recent”. Which made for a more compelling read? This is in large part why Facebook still has over one billion active users even after all of these years; they have perfected the game of engagement.

AI isn't just for social media

There are numerous applications of AI these days. Approachable applications of AI. Applications of AI which will allow you to engage your members on a completely different level. Have you considered what throwing artificial intelligence into the mix will do?

At rasa.io we use AI to perfect the content that our clients' members receive. In a world with an overabundance of content, we help members sort through the noise and get connected with the articles, blogs, news and stories that are actually relevant to them. Learn about how rasa.io can begin to use artificial intelligence to deliver your members the content they want to read and increase your member engagement. 

3 ways AI nurtures member engagement:



AI_infographic.jpg


ensync corporation rasa.io partners using ai to help associations

enSYNC and rasa.io: Leveraging AI to Personalize and Automate Newsletters

We are proud to announce our recent partnership with enSYNC Corporation!

enSYNC and rasa.io are partnered with the goal of furthering our missions to help associations use helpful and innovative technologies to propel their missions forward.

About enSYNC

enSYNC’s mission is to help their clients make distinctive, lasting, and substantial improvements in their performance and to make a measurable difference in the success of their association or nonprofit organization through increased membership, donor support, or engagement.

One of the ways in which enSYNC helps associations achieve success is by offering a variety of different software solutions. rasa.io is proud to be one of enSYNC’s preferred technological platforms.

Ready To Dip Your Toe Into AI?

In a recent blog post, enSYNC outlines the emergence of artificial intelligence in the association world and how to begin utilizing it in a way that aligns with your overall purpose. The article goes on reference the benefits of rasa.io AI technology and our ability to automate and personalize your email newsletter. This personally customized content branded by your organization yields higher engagement rates and creates a platform for increased monetization.

Join forces with rasa.io and enSYNC to propel your association’s mission forward

Check out the rasa.io product page on the enSYNC website! And get in touch with us today if you are interested in using AI to better inform your members and to automate the newsletter creation and distribution process.


academyhealth rasa.io customer case study

AcademyHealth rasa.io Customer Case Study: Moving 2 Missions Forward

AcademyHealth customer case study

We’re excited to share the results of our AcademyHealth customer case study! 

About AcademyHealth

AcademyHealth is an association with the mission of improving health and the performance of the greater health system by supporting the production and use of evidence to inform health policy and practice. And because our Core Purpose at rasa.io is “To Better Inform The World,” their mission was one that truly resonated with us. You can read the full case study here.

AcademyHealth and the rasa.io newsbrief

AcademyHealth was looking for a way to proactively encourage their members to connect with all of the benefits they offer. AcademyHealth’s research has put them at the forefront of the Health Services industry. They wanted to ensure that their members were not only staying informed on AcademyHealth-specific news, but also leading external news from other authoritative sources. With our missions being closely aligned from the start, the rasa.io daily email newsbrief was a great fit. By using our automated AI-powered email technology, AcademyHealth is now able to automatically email members their leading content alongside personalized industry news.

From the AcademyHealth Director of Membership

Angélica Rodriguez, Director of Membership at AcademyHealth, describes the results they’ve seen from the rasa.io newsbrief:

“We see unique weekly open rates that range between 45% and 55%, our average open rate is 49%, and our average click-through rate is 16%. Having an extraordinarily high level of weekly exposure with our members is invaluable.

The artificial intelligence tool analyzes member behavior and interests then adjusts content accordingly, crafting individually personalized emails that each person wants to read. Our customers are then in turn able to gather insights on their members’ interests and learn what matters most to them. Rodriguez goes on to explain the value of the automation:

“Now we have an automated way to ensure our messages to members and our important articles are getting absorbed, all while knowing we are providing our members the important information they need to remain leaders in the industry.”

Read the full AcademyHealth case study here.

Are you ready to send your members the personalized content they want to read?

Contact rasa.io today if you are interested in learning more about how you can leverage our automated AI tool to increase member engagement.


use rasa.io to send automated personalized relevant ai emails to your members

3 Reasons Why Email Isn’t Dead

3 Reasons Why Email Isn’t Dead

Nowadays we see new electronic communication outlets popping up at a more rapid pace than ever. With all of these different outlets for marketing and customer engagement, people are quick to say that the email is dead. Here’s why they are wrong:

1 - The research is there.

Even with hundreds of new ways to get your message out, research shows that email is still highly effective when the content is relevant to the reader. According to a Hubspot study, 70% of consumers report reading all or most of their emails. So, how can you make sure your content is relevant?

At rasa.io, we are dedicated to delivering perfectly curated, personalized news to each individual receiving your emails. Infusing your organization’s promotional and educational content with industry news that is specifically customized to each reader will result in higher open and click rates and thus a better chance of your organization’s messaging getting seen. Just take a look at our case studies.

2 - It’s all about evolution.

Industries are constantly evolving as new technology becomes available. We’ve seen companies who were once industry giants become extinct because they failed to evolve their customer experiences.  

For example, retail stores are closing all over the country and constantly receiving bad press for these failures. At the same time, Direct to Consumer brands like Warby Parker and Bonobos are opening more and more brick and mortar stores. Neil Blumenthal, the co-founder of Warby Parker explains, "I don't think retail is dead. Mediocre retail experiences are dead."

The same goes for email marketing - email isn't dead, mediocre email is dead. If you are sending out the same stale emails, your members will disengage.

We use our cutting-edge artificial intelligence tool to learn each users’ interests, behaviors, and preferences so that you can evolve and maximize the quality of their member experience. Our reporting gives our partners access to these insights so that they can use them to increase member loyalty.

3 - A new, automated normal does exist.

We didn’t invent email newsbriefs, we’ve made them better. Another way we’ve done that is through automation. Not only do we personalize the content within each member email, our automation provides a way for your organization to constantly update, evolve, and improve your member communications without the disruption of manually sending out emails.

Put the ‘ai’ in your email.

Contact rasa.io today to request a quote and learn about how we can help you use AI to stay relevant and maximize your member experience.


associations talking about rasa.io ai in order to listen to their members

The Secret to Member Engagement: Part III

Want to know the secret to member engagement?

The key to member engagement is listening to your members. On the importance of listening, author Doug Larson once said: "Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk."

In the first part of our series, we explored the importance of listening to your members in order to leverage their feedback for maximum engagement. In the second part of our series, we explored 7 applicable tactics for listening. In this third and final part of our series, we will explore how you can listen to members at scale and automatically implement their feedback in real time.

Listening to members at scale with AI-powered software

You know the old saying: actions speak louder than words. Here’s an example of that in real life. A year ago, a member checked off four different interests on a form you sent out. However, for the last several months, unbeknownst to you, they’ve been primarily reading articles about a completely different topic.

Here’s another one: Your team made an assumption based on survey data and board discussions that older members are concerned only with management issues. However, in reality, many of them are focused on “upskilling.” They need to learn about a certain new technology so they can remain relevant and employed. Again, you had no idea.

You would know about their interests if you could observe what they’re doing—if you could “listen” to their behavior. Well, now you can.

Automated, AI-powered newsletter technology

New tools make this type of listening easier. Software powered by AI, like rasa.io, observes and tracks online behavior. It “listens” and learns about a member’s interests by tracking the links they click, and refines what it sends in future emails based on what it learns.

Personalized listening and communication is the purpose of rasa.io and the reason why our organization exists. But unlike the other listening methods described above, rasa.io is practically hands-off. Each daily newsbrief email is tailored for the individual subscriber according to their interests and done 100% automatically by the AI.

rasa.io’s AI “brain” personalizes content for each daily newsbrief from a list of news sources, plus you can add your own content too. Because members soon realize the relevancy of their daily newsbrief, they’re more likely to open those emails and, therefore, see your content too.

If your organization isn’t able to produce enough content on your own, providing a curated selection of content based on a member’s interest is undoubtedly one of the most valuable membership benefits you can provide.

What you can learn from listening to members

Listening to members—by using one of the seven methods described above or by using AI-powered software—provides valuable information. But with rasa.io, this data is provided in real-time. You can spot emerging interests and issues immediately instead of hearing about them eight months later on a survey.

You can also gain insight by tracking topic trends overall or by membership segment. You can put this new information to work when making decisions about:

  •       Online or in-person educational programs
  •       Content strategy for digital or print
  •       Board and committee meeting agendas

In many associations, the membership value curve is skewed. Only a minority of members can afford to go to events or spend time volunteering. They’re the ones who have traditionally experienced the most membership value. But many members don’t have the budget or time to get that same value. With a personalized daily newsbrief, everyone has a fair shot at experiencing the value of membership—and your association continually learns how to provide even more value to them.

Listening to members with rasa.io

By now we have outlined the importance of listening to members, but we all know that we share one, limiting constraint: time. rasa.io AI-powered tools allow you to automatically adapt the content in your newsletters to individual member preferences, without having to lift a finger. Contact rasa.io today to learn how you can listen to your members in real time in order to meet their ever-evolving needs.


associations using artificial intelligence to listen to their members in real time

The Secret to Member Engagement: Part II - 7 Ways to Effectively Listen

The secret to member engagement is listening to your members

In the first part of this blog series, we explored how vital it is to listen to your members in order to keep them engaged. Listening allows you to adapt in order to meet the needs of your members and customers. In this second part of the series, we are going to explore tactics you can implement in order to actively listen to your community.

7 tactics for listening to members

When you’re in a long-term relationship, you spend time every day with that person. Opportunities to listen occur frequently. But what if you’re in a relationship with thousands of members whom you rarely or never see? It’s more challenging but not impossible to listen to a representative sample of them.

Whichever method you choose, don’t keep what you learn to yourself. Come up with a monthly or quarterly routine for sharing insight and trends with your colleagues.

#1: Random phone calls

I’ve met a few association professionals who make a random call every week to a member. Random is key so you don’t call the usual suspects. However, you must make an effort to call a diverse range of members over time.

It usually takes a few attempts to get someone on the phone so you’ll end up leaving lots of voicemails. But even if you never reach someone, they know you’re taking the time to check in with them.

Random calls end up becoming an enjoyable habit. It’s only a small sample but the calls will be illuminating. You’ll learn more about your members’ professional lives and make new acquaintances. Plus, members will feel appreciated and important.

#2: Question of the month

Every month, come up with a question to ask members at the end of a call or email. Ideally, you’ll convince your colleagues to help out. Ask members, “Before we hang up, can I ask you a question that’s been on our minds here?”

Develop questions that elicit more than a yes/no response:

  •       If XYZ regulation passes, how will that affect your business?
  •       How are you dealing with issue XYZ in your office?
  •       What’s your biggest frustration at work right now?
  •       What skill do you need to learn to get promoted?

You’ll learn about issues that can guide decisions about advocacy, education, and content.

#3: Focus groups

Focus groups are ideal for a more in-depth discussion. The only hitch: they usually take place where members are already gathered, like conferences. You could end up talking only to active members, not less active members.

#4: Advisory groups

Advisory groups are a good way to gather and include the perspectives of member segments who aren’t usually sitting at the leadership table, for example, chapter leaders, young professionals, and other special interest groups. Don’t convene an advisory group unless you have a way to put their issues and interests in front of your association’s leaders.

#5: Listening tours

ASAE’s Associations Now has highlighted several examples of listening tours:

  •       The CEO of the National Confectioners Association conducted a listening tour to hear members’ concerns about a new strategic initiative and to share data that helped win them over to the idea.
  •       The NAACP national leadership met with local members, community leaders, activists, and partners in seven cities to discuss issues, challenges, and future plans for the national organization.
  •       A team from the American Dental Association visited dentist offices to listen to members’ unmet needs.

The only downside to a listening tour is the expense and time away from the office, but the long-term benefits outweigh the costs.

The five methods we’ve discussed so far collect data only from a limited group of members. They’re time-consuming, but according to those who make the time, they’re well worth the effort. In a recent ASAE Collaborate discussion about new member onboarding calls—another good reason to talk with members—someone said, “I also make these phone calls…and it's my favorite part of the job.”

#6: Surveys and polls

Since time is a limited resource, how can you get as much information as possible from members? How can you listen at scale?

The traditional listening methods, surveys and polls, cast a wide net, but only a small percentage of members generally respond. A one-question poll on your newsletter or website home page can quickly reveal information about your members and audience.

Surveys must be expertly designed to collect useful data. Unfortunately, they’re usually not done frequently enough. It can only take a year (or less) for a member’s professional life to change and for new interests and challenges to emerge.

#7: Video conferencing

Invite members to an online town hall conducted via video conference. Ask them to send in questions and comments ahead of time. Put the most requested ones on the agenda for a live Q&A session.

Surveys, polls, and town halls aren’t perfect solutions because you’re dealing with a self-selected group of members. Are they representative of your entire membership?

Take the art of listening to the next level

This blog is part of a 3-blog series where we explore The Secret to Member Engagement. In the third part of our series, we will explore how you can listen to members on an individual level, and at scale, using artificial intelligence.

If you are ready to begin amplifying engagement by way of listening carefully to your members and tuning your messaging in order to meet their needs, then request a quote to begin learning how rasa.io can help you today.


associations using artificial intelligence to listen to their members and increase engagement

The Secret to Member Engagement: Part I

The secret to member engagement

“The art of listening is the greatest communication tool of all time,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp. “If you learn to listen, the world will reveal itself to you.”

Donald’s first act as CEO was to go on a listening tour. He listened to Carnival guests, people who said they’d never go on a cruise, industry analysts, journalists who had written negative stories about the cruise industry, and a wide range of employees including janitors, administrative assistants, and cabin stewards.

He listened and learned how to exceed the expectations of Carnival’s guests. As a result, during his tenure as CEO, Carnival’s profits skyrocketed and its stock price doubled. Imagine what your association could learn and achieve if you started listening to members in a brand new way.

The importance of listening to members

The secret? Listening.

If you want your association to become indispensable to members, you need to understand what’s going on in their world.

  •       What do members need to know?
  •       What do they need to learn?
  •       What problems do they need to solve?
  •       What are they interested in?
  •       What worries them?
  •       What do they hope to achieve?

Assumptions based on conventional wisdom no longer work. In a time of rapid change like we’re experiencing today, conventional wisdom is dated information. Your members (and prospects) have moved on. They have new skills to learn, new threats to their businesses, and new career paths to pursue. You’ve got to find a way to keep up.

You also can’t make assumptions based only on the perspectives of your board and committee members, or your staff. Your volunteer leaders can only speak authentically for people like themselves, but not everyone else in your membership and audience—unless you’ve intentionally recruited a diverse selection of volunteer leaders. If you’re not listening to a wide range of perspectives, then you may not be staying in tune with the existing and emerging needs and interests of your members and prospects.

When an intentional effort to listen to members becomes part of your association’s culture and practices, members take note. They know you’re in tune and see that you’re focused on them.

People in relationships listen to each other. Demonstrate your commitment to your relationship with members by adopting one or more of these listening methods.

7 tactics for listening to members

This blog is part of a 3-blog series where we explore The Secret to Member Engagement and the importance of carefully listening to members so that you can act on their preferences, wants and needs, in real time. Tune in next week when we explore 7 effective tactics for listening to members.

Start listening to your members right now

If you are ready to begin amplifying engagement by listening carefully to your members and tuning your messaging in order to meet their needs, then request a quote to learn how rasa.io can help you today.


the open garden association by amith nagarajan

Association Overhaul: The Open Garden Blueprint for Change in a Digital World

Announcing the launch of The Open Garden Organization, A Blueprint for Associations in the Digital Age

At rasa.io, we do a lot in the way of intelligent email content, but today, we are excited to announce the launch of a new book that is very close to our team: The Open Garden Organization, A Blueprint for Associations in the Digital Age. Open Garden is written by our rasa.io Chairman, Amith Nagarajan, and the book encourages experimentation and innovation within associations in order for them to remain relevant in our world of rapid technological advancement.

About the author, Amith Nagarajan

Amith is passionate about helping associations, non-profits, and other brands engage with their audiences on a daily basis. He founded and grew Aptify into a worldwide leader in Association Management Software, and he sold the company in 2017 to Community Brands. Now, along with our team at rasa.io, Amith works on developing cutting edge AI to drive meaningful daily engagement between brands and their audiences via personalized content curation. Outside of rasa.io, Amith is an active early stage investor in B2B SaaS companies.

Embracing The Open Garden Model and fostering a culture of experimentation

The book begins by encouraging organizations to foster a culture of experimentation. The “business as usual” mindset is easy to fall into when you are not constantly innovating new ways to drive success. Without this kind of experimental culture, you may achieve short-term success in order to satisfy immediate stakeholder needs, but such a short-term mindset will ultimately lead to stagnation. Now, more than ever, it is important to take advantage of new resources and new ideas in order to maintain relevance.

The Open Garden Organization brings contemporary ideas about technological solutions and business management into the hands of association professionals. Associations need to leverage technology and explore new frontiers in order to maintain the historic trust they have developed with their members.

A Brief Overview of the book and The Open Garden Model

The book’s Open Garden Model is an equation founded on the following principles: purpose + culture + inclusivity. These principles are expanded upon in the book’s three sections: “The Bedrock,” “The Soil,” and “The Crops”.  

The Bedrock of the Open Garden

The Bedrock focuses on finding your Core Purpose and defining your Core Values. In order to find your true purpose, you must ask yourself why your organization exists in the first place. Once you’ve established why you exist, you can begin to define the set of behaviors - or Core Values - that you need to implement in order to successfully pursue your Core Purpose. Your Core Values need to be communicated regularly to your team and persistently reinforced in order to effectively live up to your Core Purpose. At rasa.io, our Core Purpose is “To Better Inform The World,” and we behave guided by seven core values in our daily actions in order to achieve that purpose.

The Soil of the Open Garden

The second part of the book concentrates on constructing and nurturing your culture. The culture of your organization should be created internally, and intentionally. Nagarajan calls this concept “Culture by Design.” Culture By Design is driven by three things: Core Purpose, Core Values, and an Envisioned Future. When these pillars are carefully crafted and clearly communicated, it creates a purpose-driven culture throughout the organization and a stable foundation for success.

An Envisioned Future should include a BHAG, or “Big Hairy Audacious Goal.” A BHAG is a far-out, massive-scale aspiration that an organization establishes in order to motivate the internal team, and all other stakeholders, in working together toward a long-term, uniting goal. rasa.io’s BHAG is: “By 2030 we will improve the lives of one billion people around the world through better information,” and you can read more about it here.  

The Crops of the Open Garden

This final section of the book is all about finding and engaging your community. In the Digital Age, people are exposed to more content than ever before. Because of this information overload, we consume this content with less confidence in its credibility. Associations have already established that credibility but they often don’t engage their membership as frequently as they should.

At rasa.io, our mission is to bridge that engagement gap with our daily, personalized newsbriefs. Our AI-driven approach to finding the most relevant industry news makes this an email that members will look forward to opening. Higher engagement levels won’t just keep your members happy, they will also open the door to new economic benefits for your organization.  

Buy the Open Garden today

The Open Garden Organization, A Blueprint for Associations in the Digital Age is now available for purchase on Amazon. Buy your copy today in order to learn about how you can position your association for success in this new era of technological advancement.