8 ways to use an LMS to boost your Association’s revenue
You expect an LMS to manage certain tasks for your association. Your learning management system must make delivering Continuing Professional Development to your members easy, most obviously. But that’s only the start of how hard a good LMS should work for you. If managing training is all you expect from your learning management system, your association could be missing out. The most important task for any LMS is to drive non-dues revenue for your association. Check out 8 top ways you can use your LMS to drive more revenue for your association or professional body.
Bonus takeaway: Download a free PDF of the associations revenue checklist
1. Understand the potential of your LMS
Not all LMSs are created equal. Some are more equipped to drive non-dues revenue than others. If you’re assessing how your learning management system can drive growth, start with the LMS itself. First check that your LMS offers ecommerce functionality. Ecommerce features are essential to using your learning management system to drive non-dues revenue for your association. By integrating with online stores like Shopify, you can use your LMS to sell courses online, opening up your catalog to new customer audiences, member and non-member. Your LMS should also be able to offer multiple price points depending on factors like membership status and discounts, coupons and other shopping cart rules.
2. Know the value of your course catalog
Your course catalog is an asset. As an association, there is a delicate balance to strike between providing value and undermining the worth of your training offerings. Investing in an LMS provides the perfect opportunity to analyze the return on investment of all course components. When assessing the worth of training content, many associations make the mistake of working from the perspective of cost. A more effective strategy starts from the perspective of the member. Calculate the professional value of course components to each member segment. Assess which pieces of collateral and events you can afford to provide for free and which are best served by charging a fee. Advertise the CEU, CPD and formal credit relevance of your courses upfront. Many members will be most interested in the professional recognition a course offers. Be clear about the immediate and long-term value of each course to the learner’s career. The best LMSs allow you to brand your training portals so learners experience it as an extension of their membership.
3. Work your learning content
A good LMS will do more than manage your courses, it will multiply their value. Above all, using an online learning management system should free you from the practical constraints your training was previously limited by. Using your LMS to make offline assets available online can expand the usefulness of previously once-off events and seminars. Once your core courses can be accessed by members, think about other pieces and components you can repurpose in new ways. Many LearnUpon associations and professional bodies offer access to recordings of annual conference sessions at a reduced fee, for example.
4. Get the price right
Pricing is one of the most important course elements to get right but all too often it’s treated as an afterthought. Price will be one of the most critical elements in determining your courses’ success. The most effective strategy we encounter makes pricing part of the planning process from the beginning. Calculate pricing from the perspective of the value your courses deliver to members. Member-centric pricing escapes a mistaken focus on cost that risks undervaluing the true worth of your courses. Although the cost of delivering courses online can be lower, for example, the true value to members is often higher. Many learners place greater value on the convenience and flexibility of blended offerings. Guide your decision-making with regular assessments of pricing models. Remember to factor in hidden costs associated with content development and distribution. Anything that requires the investment of time and resources should be reflected in your association’s learning and training pricing. Learn more about building an eLearning business model with this guide from the ASAE.
5. Scale your reach
One of the main benefits of using an LMS is the freedom to move beyond current practices to realize the full potential courses have for your association. Time previously spent on admin can be invested in expanding the reach of courses to the widest possible audience. Your members are only the most immediate audience your course content can target. Features included with the best learning management systems can help your content to travel far beyond old practical limits. Begin by brainstorming additional audiences your courses are relevant to and list the most effective ways to reach them. Consider previous professional partners, from complementary associations or professional bodies, to past conference attendees. Reach out to affiliates in complementary domains and regions. Most LMSs include bulk messaging tools that can manage these communications for you.
6. Promotion, promotion, promotion
Like price, promotion is often overlooked in supporting successful course offerings. Best practice dictates that you should spend almost as much time promoting courses as you spend creating them. Make a list of all channels you can use to build awareness about your courses. Adoption rates can shape decisions on how much promotion is required. If adoption is slow to begin with, offer an early-bird discount or create a refer-a-friend scheme. A good LMS supports promotional tactics like discounts and coupons you can use strategically. First check that your LMS includes ecommerce features with multiple pricing tiers and shopping cart rules. Use your LMS to reward actions that have additional value for you. Bundle complementary courses together and offer a bulk discount. Consider offering courses to non-members at higher price points. Make sure your calendar includes time to promote courses to maximize participation rates and revenue.
7. Read all about it
Purchasing an LMS is a great time to evaluate how you communicate with members. Use your LMS’s bulk messaging features to flag upcoming courses in advance in any existing communications. Consider making sneak previews of course content available to boost participation rates. Samples and screenshots can help your learners to visualize the relevance of your courses for themselves. Include information about all upcoming courses in regular member communications.
8. Always be measuring
How do you know if your learning and strategy is working? Measure everything. A good LMS will include robust reporting features that help you understand exactly how your members are using your LMS and areas for improvement. Tweak course offerings and promotion strategies slightly and monitor the impact on participation rates. Test the effects of small price increases at strategic intervals. Integrate all insights and learnings into future planning phases.