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Thoughts from a Think Tank: The Work We Do


The Work We Do is our second topic from the Think Tank event I recently moderated for the Association Executives of North Carolina’s Young Professionals group, FUEL. This portion of the conversation revolved around how our world continuously changes during this pandemic, seemingly cementing our future work post-pandemic. The questions dove into ways we can make changes now to help accommodate our “new normal.”

Catch up on what we’ve learned so far in our previous blog post, Thoughts from a Think Tank: The Shifting Work Culture.


The Work We Do

How do you share resources or partnerships within our network without feeling sales-y or pushy?

  • Share your VALUE! Lead with what you can do to help prospects or clients with their unique situations. You must use a WIIFM (What’s In It for Me?) approach for consumers to pay attention. When you think from their perspective, it’s a no-brainer to listen to what you have to say.
  • Build your partnerships with the pursuit of TRUST as the cornerstone. If that is not where you start, then frankly, you are just more noise to weed through!
  • HubSpot is an excellent resource for content on how to market both you and your business. Multiple people in the audience had used HubSpot as a resource and found value in the content shared.
  • Lead with questions that help discover pain points, concerns, and actions that benefit the prospect, client, or member. Active listening is so essential in moving the needle forward!

What are your favorite apps or processes that you use to stay organized? How do you manage your to-do list?

  • COZI is a shared family calendar that can help keep appointments, activities, and lists (i.e., grocery, chores, and holidays) in one place for all family members.
  • Multiple people use the Microsoft Outlook to stay on track by using a couple of different methods:
    • Some noted they use appointments that sit at the top half of the day (all-day appointments, marked as “Free”), color code to categorize tasks, then uncategorized when completed or delete when completed.
    • Others use tasks in Outlook and schedule them so that they have affiliated dates. You can also accompany those dates with reminder rules.
    • Inbox Zero is a concept developed by Merlin Mann, where you keep your inbox empty or almost empty. People use various rules that work for their personal, business, or client preferences, but at the end of the day, the goal is to resolve issues or move items to trackable folders for further follow-up. The concept goes against using your inbox as a task tool and is more about organizing tasks appropriately.
  • Microsoft OneNote has a tasks feature that allows you to check off items when completed. The app is also very user-friendly—tasks are viewable and readily available at all times. You are also able to create notebooks to help keep you organized in your work and personal lives.

How do you make time for strategic thinking? How do you automate and streamline day-to-day task flows?

  • DELEGATE! Let go of some stuff! If you are in a position to do so, get items off your plate to make room.
  • Try weekly or monthly working “sabbatical”. The sabbatical is an active exercise for one of the audience members. They take one day every 6-8 weeks and clear their calendar, notify coworkers, and stay off the phone, email, and any other tools, like Slack or Teams. Act as if you are out of office, but you aren’t; prioritize your strategic planning, conversations, or projects. Block the day off and get stuff done! (This was highlighted in our last blog—but I wanted to reiterate it here.) I love this idea and will be stealing it for sure!
  • No-Meeting Fridays are a way for your team to get things done and wrap up the week. The idea is not to have any internal meetings to allow team members to work through their to-do lists. The available time also provides space on Fridays for “water cooler” time. Team bonding is important and can make space for your team members to have fun together without prepping for meetings and formal conversations. This open time also allows for time to focus on larger projects or initiatives to drive completions.

What are some successful ways in which you have bridged the generational/age divide in understanding data integration in your workplace?

  • Educate and train folks on your CRM/AMS systems (or other tools), store all information in the CRM/AMS, and show what it CAN do for them. The group generally felt like there is a barrier of understanding as to what some of the current tools an organization uses can do. Be sure to emphasize how powerful the tools are and what they can accomplish – don’t harp on what they can’t do.
  • For those who don’t buy into the new tools or processes, prove to them that they can trust the data. Put data entry processes/standards and a data cleansing process in place to prove it to them.
  • Be very careful not to put junk data in the system! One person should oversee the cleanliness of the data and own the cleansing process. Also, be sure to put a review process in place for approving new entry fields. Ensure there is a purpose for all items tracked, which will lessen the burden of capturing data. If you can point at what each data point is contributing, then people will be more apt to spend the time entering it correctly in the first place!

How do you deal with conflicts, whether between colleagues or with clients?

  • Try implementing a “clearing time.” Schedule a specific time to address topics or issues and call it out, so the person knows what you are planning to discuss. Clearing time could also be implemented in small groups or meetings, but there must be trust within the group to be effective.
  • As a culture, make it acceptable to voice your concern in the moment, and if significant enough, make it part of your values.
  • Make sure you have the right people in the right seats!
  • Implement a personality test for all team members to learn communication styles, preferences, and set expectations within teams or specific roles to ensure you have the proper people in the right places within the organization. Going through the exercise allows for an unbiased approach to seeing how people engage with others and helps to identify communication preferences, amongst other things. These points are the most actionable items that can apply to everyday work life with your colleagues. There are a ton of personality tests out there. I’d encourage you to do your research and find the best for your organization.



Sitting down to put all the ideas gathered at Think Tank in one place solidifies that the association world can make major changes to the way we work. The beauty of these sessions is that they allow attendees to take a step back and a deep breath, and hear that they are not the only ones struggling with these issues. They are not alone in their pursuit to move the needle. Their efforts mean something; in fact, they mean huge things for our future.

I hope you are enjoying the insights I’ve shared thus far! Be sure to look out for the next blog where we’ll share the topic area, How Will the Work We Do Be Affected Post-Pandemic? .


Headshot of Amanda Davis, Vice President of Client Experience

About the Author

Amanda Davis, CMP is our Vice President of Client Experience and has nearly ten years of experience in the association world, strategically focused on learning products. With multiple association roles as Director of Learning & Development and Online Learning Manager, Amanda has a deep understanding of the adult learning landscape and what keeps association executives up at night. Amanda recognizes the importance of strong learning technologies for today’s nimble associations and hopes through her role with Blue Sky eLearn, she’ll be able to contribute to the success of our growing mix of association clients.

Amanda graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, with a degree in Communications Studies with a concentration in Interpersonal Communications. She and her husband are parents of a four-year old, Leo. Amanda enjoys playing competitive tennis, completing DIY projects for their very own “Fixer Upper”, and community outreach activities. Seemingly she stays very busy but is always sure to make time for family fun.



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What I’ve Learned after 10 Years at Blue Sky eLearn

What I've Learned after 10 Years at Blue Sky eLearn


Summary: We have some incredible people here at Blue Sky eLearn, so we’ve decided to share some stories and observations from someone who’s been with us through thick and thin: Jocelyn Taylor, our Senior Director of Sales Operations. With over 10 years of experience at Blue Sky, Jocelyn has seen her share of ups and downs, wins and losses, and an incredible amount of change in our industry… Take it away, Jocelyn!

Ten years ago, when I accepted a job at Blue Sky eLearn (well, Blue Sky Broadcast back then!), I was an eLearning newbie. But I dove in feet-first to learn all that I could about this amazing industry, and it’s been nothing short of an interesting, evolving, sometimes crazy ride. As I reflect on the last 10 years, I’m sharing what’s stood out to me the most:

Technology has evolved, and we’ve evolved with it

At Blue Sky, while we’ve always focused on learning, we’ve also been dedicated to meetings and events that revolve around education. When I started working at Blue Sky, we were already running webinars and hybrid events. We had an online portal where we’d store on-demand content from these events, as well as content recorded from conferences. But the portal wasn’t all—we were also putting that on-demand content onto DVD-ROMs and mailing them out to purchasers! I still remember so many folks wanting to purchase the DVD because that allowed them to hold on to the content forever, whereas content stored online could disappear at any moment.

Fast forward a few years, and suddenly it was hard to buy a laptop that even had a spot for a DVD-ROM. DVDs quickly started becoming a thing of the past, and more and more of our clients began embracing eLearning—and not just on-demand content from live events, but content specifically created for online courses, as well. Our flagship product, Path LMS™, was born, and the exciting world of eLearning evolved around us.

Since then, we’ve built and grown Path LMS, adapting and innovating based on what’s going on in the industry and feedback from our clients. Virtual events have become more important than ever (although, we always knew how important they were!).

Buyers have gotten smarter…and that’s a good thing

Technology isn’t the only thing that’s evolved: our buyers have, too! And eLearning software isn’t the only technology that has come a long way in the past 10 years. Can you believe products like Slack, Instagram, and Venmo were in the early stages of launching or didn’t even exist 10 years ago?

Using new technology that has developed in the last ten years has forced each of our buyers to become more tech savvy. As a result, their expectations have changed for the products and services they are using, which translates into more sophisticated sales processes, impressive launches, and use of Path LMS.

The whirlwind of 2020: Who saw that coming?!

Okay, I know there are plenty of people out there who knew another pandemic was inevitable. Even if we had all known what was coming, I don’t think many were prepared for March 2020. But, Blue Sky was ready to help the world adapt.

Being a company that focuses on eLearning, Zoom meetings and virtual events weren’t new to us. But they were unknown to so many of our prospective customers. Those professional organizations who had always done everything in person were now looking at online options and relying heavily on Blue Sky to help them find the best solutions.

The number of inquiries was overwhelming as we all tried to navigate this new normal personally and professionally. Blue Sky doubled in size to handle the demand. And while 2021 has seen some conferences and meetings go back to being in-person, one thing is for sure—virtual is here to stay. There may be certain aspects of in-person conferences that can’t be replaced, but it’s truly up to the individual attendee if those things matter to them. Virtual conferences and eLearning have allowed people to save time, money, or both. They also enable people to feel safer and stay healthy while there are still so many unknowns.

The future—exciting even with the unknowns!

When I talk about the future, there are a lot of unknowns. Should or shouldn’t we hold in-person meetings and events? Will the pandemic worsen, or will things start to get better? While I can’t predict those things or provide advice on whether to hold your event in-person or not, I can say this (again): virtual is here to stay—and that should be exciting!

After 18 months of virtual events and conferences, no matter what happens, a virtual component will now be expected. With ongoing travel bans and varying comfort levels, even if you can have an in-person event, there will be plenty of people who may choose not to attend. From a planning perspective, things like diminished room capacity restrictions that limit the size of an in-person audience will need to be considered.

Hosting virtual events over the past year and a half has allowed organizations to expand their reach to those who may not have attended an in-person conference regardless of the pandemic. No one wants to lose these new learners by no longer offering a virtual component.

Along with expanding reach, having a 100% virtual event allows for organizations to be more flexible. For example, an in-person event could be up to five full days. On the other hand, a virtual event could be a series of shorter days or sessions over an entire month or quarter, expanding potential touchpoints and value to the learners.

For organizations planning to stay 100% virtual in 2021 (or even 2022!), there is no need to worry about changing restrictions, shutdowns, or travel bans affecting conferences. Having a virtual component be at least part of the plan allows organizations to be in a good spot to transition to a 100% virtual event if necessary.

What will the next 10 years at Blue Sky eLearn hold? I don’t know for sure. And while there are so many unknowns about the future, organizations are finding great success with virtual events, and that is so exciting to see! I’m ready for the next 10 years with Blue Sky eLearn, and I hope you are too!


Jocelyn Taylor, Director of Sales Operations at Blue Sky eLearn

About the Author

Jocelyn Taylor is the Senior Director of Sales Operations at Blue Sky eLearn. She has over decade of experience in sales and marketing, specializing in associations, corporations, and pharmaceutical companies. When Jocelyn isn’t working, she enjoys being outside—whether hiking or heading to the beach. She’s also an avid traveler, has been to six of the seven continents, and is always planning her next trip (or two!).


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The Small but Mighty Micro-Credential

The Small but Mighty Micro-Credential


Micro-credentials can be an outstanding way for organizations to support all aspects of professional development and lifelong learning for their stakeholders. But, what are micro-credentials, and why should you consider using them in your association or organization? We had an informative conversation with Dr. Ginger Malin, CEO at BadgeCert, which answered these very questions.

Our VP of Client Experience, Amanda Davis, guided the discussion during our webinar: A Fireside Chat with BadgeCert & Blue Sky eLearn: Innovations in Learning: The Small but Mighty Micro-Credential. Watch the entire webinar here, and read on for some key insights.

What are micro-credentials and digital badges?

A micro-credential is a short competency and learning-based recognition. Completing a micro-credential provides evidence to potential employers that individuals have mastered the skills necessary to succeed.

Digital badges often represent a collection or “stack” of micro-credentials. They are great visual ways to show a commitment to learning and acknowledge achievements on resumes, social media, and more.

Stackable credentials are an opportunity to start small and then stack one credential upon another to build a mastery of a specific competency or skill. It’s like a “choose your own adventure” for your professional career advancement.

How can micro-credentials address an organization’s goals?

Micro-credentials provide numerous valuable opportunities to organizations and can include:

Content Utilization: Many organizations have vast, yet often scattered, libraries of content. Micro-credentials offer a new way to present and package content for members while recognizing credential holders’ achievements. The goal isn’t necessarily to create new content; rather, it’s an opportunity to recenter what you’re already doing and repackage it in a different way to support members.

Providing “Value Adds” to Members: Professionals need ways to individualize their learning and differentiate themselves in the competitive employment marketplace. Micro-credentialing is a fun and fulfilling way to help members advance their careers and engage them on more levels within your organization.

Can micro-credentials help fill gaps of learning, needed skills, and expertise?

In a word, yes! The best way to assess how micro-credentials can help fill gaps of learning is through a content audit. Using the audit as a roadmap, you can easily identify gaps that will create a guide for future content development needs, show repurposing opportunities, and, most importantly, show you all the progress you have made thus far. Once you have audited the content and created a content curation plan, you can determine where to develop micro-credentials.

Other areas micro-credentials can help address:

Pre-Credential: In what ways do you help people who are new to an industry or organization? How can you help them get prepared to sit for a credential? Micro-credentials are a great way to help new folks dip their toes into the water and determine if they are working toward something they are truly passionate about.

Post-Credential: Learners have earned their credentials; now what? Micro-credentials are a great way to continue adding to their accomplishment, build upon their experience, and keep them invested in the credential.

Adaptation: As we’ve seen in the last few years, change can happen fast. Organizations need to adapt to changes in their respective industries and a constantly changing environment. Micro-credentials are a great way to fill in the gaps during times of change and transition.

Additional Recognition: Micro-credentials are rich opportunities to recognize more nuanced achievements. These recognitions go beyond course completion to identify something skill-based and unique to the learner and organization.

How can micro-credentials be used to differentiate offerings?

Micro-credentials help answer the common question of “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM). Associations that provide more opportunities for formal recognition have an advantage over associations that don’t. A member will feel like they have more “skin in the game” and want to continue their membership if they have more chances to demonstrate their learning, be formally acknowledged by an industry authority, and thus be supported in their career.

Want additional ideas on how to implement micro-credentials into your learning program? We discussed so much more during our webinar, including:

  • How to use micro-credentials to recognize and reward success
  • Ideas to freshen up your content
  • How micro-credentials can support onboarding
  • Micro-credential and digital badging branding ideas
  • Using micro-credentialing to generate revenue

Watch the full webinar on-demand now for more information about this engaging innovation in learning and skill recognition.

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Thoughts from a Think Tank: The Shifting Work Culture


I recently moderated a Think Tank event for the Association Executives of North Carolina Young Professionals group, FUEL. This event brought association executives and their partner organizations together to discuss the problems they see facing the world and innovate new solutions to fix them.

Think Tanks do not create policy, but they do bring new ideas and solutions to the table to enable change. The format for this event was a moderated discussion where attendees submitted questions ahead of the event and then answered each other’s questions by providing ideas and feedback during the live session. It was an amazing experience watching peers help peers—especially during our ongoing global pandemic. The energy in this session was unmatched. It was exciting, scary (at times), enlightening, and ultimately gratifying. I know no greater success than being able to assist my peers in their pursuit for positive change!

This was my second opportunity to moderate this type of session, and I had an absolute blast doing so! The discussion revolved around three main topics: 1. The Shifting Work Culture, 2. The Work We Do, and 3. How Will the Work We Do Be Affected Post-Pandemic?

Because these topics are top of mind for many association professionals we engage with at Blue Sky eLearn, I’ll be sharing highlights from each in a series of blog posts titled “Thoughts from a Think Tank”. Read on for part one of this three-part series.

The Shifting Work Culture

The Office: Who is going back to the office full time? Who works in a hybrid environment? Who is now fully remote?

  • The answer? A mix of all three! Association teams primarily work in the hybrid space; however, they also represent the fully remote crowd. Industry, technology, and facility partners were a mix between remote and in-person.
  • Board meetings are now all virtual, which has led to higher engagement.
  • Some professionals are currently working in a hybrid office environment, but they are trying to figure out how to convince decision makers of the need to stay remote. In 2020, work was remote for safety concerns, but now there is a cultural shift with many desiring the flexibility of a remote office.
  • Pay attention to your teams! There is a higher risk of turnover if you aren’t listening to employees’ office preferences. “Why don’t you trust me now? I was able to perform my job well remotely DURING A PANDEMIC. Why can’t I continue?”

With business producing more demand, how do others handle feeling overworked due to lack of staffing? What creative ways are people attempting to find staffing?

  • Many employees are leaving their jobs because of a lack of ongoing flexibility. Turnover is an issue all around, which can impact client/member relationships.
  • One of the hotel members mentioned they are struggling to hire; and when they do hire, they sometimes find that new employees won’t show up for their shifts or will work two shifts and then disappear.
  • They are trying to incentivize employee referrals with things like pizza and ice cream parties. They’re doing anything they can to show they care.
  • Who you are hiring is so important—now more than ever! You must get the right people in the door. And when you don’t, how do you “get them off the bus”? Evaluate team members immediately through onboarding. Try a 90-day hiring period, and write the evaluation period into the offer letter. It saves time and allows space to let them go if they aren’t working out.
  • Talk openly with your team. You should be able to identify who is at risk and who is dedicated to being there through the tough times as well as the good.
  • At the end of the day, the work is never done. But, the thing people love most about Association careers is contributing to something vitally important while maintaining the ever-important work-life balance.

How do you keep young leaders in your organizations engaged?

  • Look at your perks and benefits. Are they enough to retain great people? If they aren’t, NOW IS THE TIME TO PIVOT!
    • Try upping the ante on insurance offerings.
    • Consider increasing your 401(k) contribution…or starting one.
    • Offer continuing education opportunities or funds. Professional development and/or training programs show you are willing to invest in your employees.
    • Extend time off. There are lots of options here! Do what’s right for your business and your membership.
  • Member Engagement: Some are seeing opportunities within their membership in trade associations, increasing the seats at the table to give more access to young professionals.
  • Mission/Vision/Values: If you don’t have them, get them. If you have them, are you living up to them? Young leaders MUST see action on your mission, vision, and values.

Should you try taking a “sabbatical” at work?

  • The idea is to look at your calendar and block out an entire day once a month. You aren’t taking the day off from work, but you are taking the day off in the office. You’re instituting a no-meeting, no-interruptions day to get s**t done! This is such a great idea! So many professionals struggle with meeting mania and have a hard time moving the big rocks. A “sabbatical” day will allow you to do more of those things uninterrupted.
  • Another idea was to make Fridays a no-meeting zone for all team members.

Does your company have travel restrictions or new office policies due to COVID-19?

  • At present, no one in the group had travel restrictions; however, this is a significant consideration with teams who must travel for membership work, events, meetings, etc. Setting some basic policies and procedures will help you navigate when situations arise.

How do you reconnect with colleagues after being out of the office? Within the office hierarchy, how do you manage being in a lower rank and feeling appreciated and heard?

  • Some are super excited to be heading back into the office, while others are apprehensive about their safety and wellbeing. Yet another group would love it if they never had to go back again. Whichever group you fall into, remember that your feelings are important. My advice is to be empathetic to those who may feel differently when you return to the office. Look for visual cues of discomfort in groups, and try to make those people feel comfortable, too. And to the last group, you may not want to be in the office, but make the best of it until you can either get comfortable or find another job.
  • Office hierarchy is such an interesting struggle. I was interested in digging more into the idea of whether hierarchy subsided or increased while remote. Either way, you will always have hierarchy as well as people who misuse power, or conversely, those who don’t use it enough. When you are a lower-ranking team member, you must make your voice heard. Not by power, but by actively adding value to your interactions. Don’t speak to fill space. Be intentional about your contributions and make an impact.
  • Lastly, being appreciated and heard is all about who you are engaging with, and it is something that you CAN’T control. Practice being articulate, especially when standing your ground on an issue, but don’t bulldoze either. It’s a delicate balance to convey your message without drowning people with it. All you can control is your voice. Private conversations seem to work well and can become “coaching moments.” You will see what those with more “power” have to say, and you may find out that you were being heard all along. If possible, offer guidance to those in power. I know that isn’t always an easy place to be and that giving guidance to a leader isn’t always taken well. Leave if you don’t feel heard. Find a place where your contributions will be appreciated and where you can make an impact! Do it safely, but do it.



WOW! Such great stuff. It was so insightful to hear how people are navigating office culture in this uncertain landscape. As the world changes, so does our office dynamic. This conversation demonstrated that now, more than ever, paying attention to people is vital. “People” can take so many different forms: team members, constituents (those you serve), clients, partners, and others.

The time spent nurturing will pay off in your business outcomes. Take the time now to set yourself up for success in the future. The “loud and clear” message was to make sure you are appreciated for your contributions. There is opportunity out there, and if an organization is unwilling to show you how important you are, other places will.

Be sure to look out for the next blog where I’ll share highlights from our next topic, The Work We Do.


Headshot of Amanda Davis, Vice President of Client Experience

About the Author

Amanda Davis, CMP is our Vice President of Client Experience and has nearly ten years of experience in the association world, strategically focused on learning products. With multiple association roles as Director of Learning & Development and Online Learning Manager, Amanda has a deep understanding of the adult learning landscape and what keeps association executives up at night. Amanda recognizes the importance of strong learning technologies for today’s nimble associations and hopes through her role with Blue Sky eLearn, she’ll be able to contribute to the success of our growing mix of association clients.

Amanda graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, with a degree in Communications Studies with a concentration in Interpersonal Communications. She and her husband are parents of a four-year old, Leo. Amanda enjoys playing competitive tennis, completing DIY projects for their very own “Fixer Upper”, and community outreach activities. Seemingly she stays very busy but is always sure to make time for family fun.



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Event Email Marketing for Associations: 3 Essentials

Event Email Marketing for Associations: 3 Essentials


The first pitfall into member attrition is the assumption that members are committed to sticking with an organization simply because they’ve signed up to pay regular dues. That financial pledge is far from a binding agreement, and their continued membership is contingent on your upkeep of further incentives to stick with the program.

Just think about the difference between the expectations of a one-time donor and those of a longtime member. When a regular supporter pledges a gift, they’re investing in your ability to forward the cause. When a member pledges their dues, they’re also investing in your organization’s ability to provide value through development and training opportunities.

Never forget that their continued support is conditional on the exchange of extra resources, events, and opportunities. Fail to provide these engaging opportunities, and your membership rate is sure to drop.

Funny enough, one of the most important steps in the event lifecycle is often one of the most overlooked. Keep in mind that not even the best events can succeed without strong attendance. That’s why marketing is such a crucial step to the success of your association events.

Promoting these special membership events is a multi-step process that could include written invitations, videos, and social media posts. Far and away one of the most effective channels for association event marketing is email. This reach of this medium is unrivaled, with 99% of consumers checking their email daily.

However, you can only maximize the benefits of email marketing to your event when you employ specific engagement strategies. In this guide, you’ll find out how and why you should:

  • Optimize your email content
  • Curate personalized membership outreach
  • Gather important data from your email campaigns

With an intuitive and comprehensive email marketing strategy, you’ll work to increase your member engagement and retention, giving your associates an invaluable return on their investment.

Optimize Your Content

The poorer your email content, the more difficult it will be to market effectively. After all, even the most engaging messaging template will feel empty or uninspired with a dull message. Once members read through too many poor messages, they might very well become non-openers.

Your top priority should be to optimize your content. By taking the time to create appealing, informative, and specific content, your email marketing immediately becomes far more likely to digitally engage your members and thereby increase actual event registration.

Many marketing emails are in danger of falling through the cracks and getting ignored, whether that’s due to generalized messaging or other poor content practices. A badly curated message will bore and alienate readers from the attraction of the event being promoted. A great message will encourage indecisive members to take a chance and enjoy the opportunity.

Here are a few tips to optimize your own email marketing content:

  • Keep your focus specific and purposeful. Limit individual emails to highlight one particular topic, such as promoting an event or reminders for due renewals. Keep to this chosen subject, otherwise readers may become disinterested.
  • Make a strong, personalized subject line and header. Consider that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Hooking readers with an engaging header will encourage them to explore the whole message.
  • Break up text-heavy content. Spare readers’ limited attention with quick, direct messages. Images and graphics are a great tool to give a breather between long paragraphs. Just remember that many readers will access your emails on their phones—images are important for breaking up the text but shouldn’t take too long to load.
  • Address readers by name. Members are naturally drawn to content that is personalized to them. This shows that you care and that the event is made with them in mind. According to this Experian report on customized messaging, personalized emails are six times more likely to deliver higher transaction rates.

These content best practices can also be more easily streamlined with an effective membership management software—integrations between your member database and your email tools make it easy to automate the process of personalizing subject lines with members’ names. This is especially helpful if your team is short on time or if your membership base has recently grown, when creating truly specific, personalized content can be a logistically difficult task.

Curate Personalized Member Outreach

However, your personalization strategies should go far beyond simply calling your members by name. While this is a good first step, the best way to give them a stronger sense of connection with your organization is to personalize all of your member outreach.

As mentioned above, our recommended strategy is to integrate your email marketing tools to work in conjunction with your existing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and/or Association Management System (AMS). This will allow you to track and apply important member data in all of your email communications.

For example, your AMS and CRM systems are capable of gathering and organizing data such as member age ranges, shared interests, and other segmented similarities that go beyond the initial courtesy of remembering your associates’ names. You can use this information to personalize marketing campaigns to the members receiving them, such as sending more virtual event opportunities to members outside of your local base of operations.

You might consider focusing on a few of the following strategies when deciding how to make use of precious CRM data:

  • Include personal details. As discussed, referring to members by name is a simple and effective way to grab their attention and make them feel more appreciated by the organization.
  • Target communications to segmented member groups. Whether they be segmented by shared hobbies, location, or age, members will be more apt to engage with communications they find the most personally relevant. Minimize general messaging and instead engage members on a more intimate level.
  • Track engagement metrics and curate messaging accordingly. For example, the next time you announce an event, send an email to members who attend events frequently and offer them early registration or a discount.This gets the member interested in the event and helps you continue to foster a positive connection with them.

Fonteva’s buyer’s guide to event management software may also be of some use to take full advantage of these event strategy methods.

These techniques will not only improve your relationship with members, but can also increase the registration rates of future events and build life-long support for your association. After all, the more personally connected that a member feels to your organization and other members, the more likely they are to see value in your programming.

Gather and Report Data to Improve Future Event Marketing Strategies

Now that your event marketing tool is working closely with your AMS and CRM software, you are free to analyze and implement this data in ways that might not have been previously possible.

One of the key tools available to you is the ability to create comprehensive data reports on your marketing efforts. After all, how can the success or failure of your association events and marketing be measured without having that data organized in the first place?

By compiling reports on member engagement statistics, your team can review the strengths and weaknesses of your email marketing strategy and course-correct in a more informed manner. This helps you to foster successful practices, and suss out what operations could be improved.

For instance, your team can make note of which emails have been read and which tend to be left unopened. Then you find a common trend among the non-openers, such as certain style, content, or subject choices, and adjust that unfavorable trait in your future messaging. Finally, you could use this information to increase event registration rates, as you minimize the possibility of important event emails ending up as dead non-openers in your members’ inboxes.

Try experimenting with this strategy for yourself. Let your software run an email marketing and data report for your team to review and see how you can implement tangible, specific changes to your next marketing campaign.

Even the most capable development professionals can struggle to market their member events, and great opportunities can still tally an attendance rate far lower than expected. Unfortunately, these events are only as successful as the number of participants there (virtually or in-person) to enjoy what you’ve created. Especially considering the current pandemic, many association events are in crisis with the struggle to increase their attendance rates and overall success.

Thankfully, with a more engaging, personalized, and informed email marketing strategy, your team can break down the roadblocks that keep your members from engaging with your event emails and with the events themselves. For more tools to help manage your membership operations, Fonteva’s listing of top management software options includes detailed descriptions of various association services and features that may suit your individual needs.


Headshot of Jake Fabbri, Chief Marketing Officer at Fonteva

About the Author

With over two decades of experience marketing association technology, Fonteva CMO Jake Fabbri has developed a deep understanding of the unique needs of associations and the challenges technology can solve. Jake’s marketing expertise has been honed by demonstrated excellence in the areas of lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.    


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Webinar Re-cap: Beyond the Basics of Instructional Design


Recently, Dan Streeter, Blue Sky eLearn’s VP of Learning Strategy and Development, hosted the webinar Beyond the Basics of Instructional Design: 3D Modeling, Microlearning, and Gamification. You can watch the 30-minute on-demand program here at any time, but in the meantime, you can also check out a brief summary below:

Dan first starts off with a framework, which he calls “The Learning Equation.” The Learning Equation is: Emotion + Experience = Learning.

Walk in feeling or acting one way… and walk out changed/feeling or acting another way. As instructional designers, our job is to allow for that behavior change to happen. Emotion is the thing that gets the person to be engaged in learning. Once you have a lot of experience you will get to the learning part!

3D Modeling

What is 3D Modeling? It’s taking a 3D object and displaying it in a 2D space.


  • Creates “The Wow”
  • Gives a “hands-on” effect – it makes things more real!


  • Need specialized skill
  • Limited use case

3D Modeling Tools can include things like:

  • CAD (Computer Aided Design)
  • Screen Record Software
  • Video Editing Software
  • Storyline 360
  • Some serious know-how

Dan then dives into real-life examples – tune into the on-demand webinar to check it out!


Microlearning means providing learning in small learning units (think anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes in length).


  • Great for repeatable, skill-based learning
  • Easy to re-use/repackage for larger modules and marketing
  • Easy to edit and manage (bite-sized pieces)


  • “Sound bites” do now always allow for nuance and getting the “big picture”

Dan then talks about the Forgetting Curve. With the Forgetting Curve, day number one is the best day to learn something and hold onto it. There is then a slow deterioration every day after that. Microlearning allows for learning to be reinforced instead of just deteriorating.

Microlearning Tools include things like:

  • Screen Record Software
  • Video Editing Software
  • Animation Software
  • Photo Editing Software
  • Subject Matter Expert
  • A long-term plan

Dan then dives into real-life examples – tune into the on-demand webinar to check it out!


How does gamification work?

  • Points
  • Leveling up
  • Leaderboard

Games use each of the above items to motivate and train at the same time.

Gamification approaches include:

  • Competition: against ourselves, the game, or others
  • Game mechanics: learners are given a problem to solve
  • Story: the user is embedded into the plot

When it comes back to the Learning Equation, gamification is creating emotion and tension and because you are IN the game and you are getting an experience. Gamification can certainly increase the likelihood that learning will happen. But what tools will you need?

  • Storyboards
  • Storyline 360
  • Elucidat
  • Path LMS

Dan then dives into real life examples.

Secret Tool

Wait…we can’t give it ALL away here! Tune in to Dan’s 30-minute on-demand webinar to learn about our secret tool as well as dive in deeper to items 1-3 above!


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