Everyone’s getting a taste of online learning these days because it’s the only option during the pandemic. This virtual transformation has given associations the opportunity to rethink their educational offerings and the technology that supports those programs.
Associations that integrate their learning management system (LMS) with their CRM, such as Salesforce, are coming out ahead. By capitalizing on the benefits of each system, they’re providing a more effective educational experience to learners and a better set of tools to staff.
Members and customers are discovering the benefits of online learning
When in-person meetings return, many members and customers will still prefer online or virtual learning because it is:
- More affordable with travel expenses taken out of the equation.
- An easier sell to the boss because it doesn’t require as much money or time out of the office.
- Accessible to people who can’t or won’t travel because of cost, parental or caregiving duties, work schedules, physical limitations, or social anxiety.
- Adaptable to learner preferences—learners can choose a synchronous (live) experience shared with their peers, or an asynchronous (on-demand) experience done at their own pace.
Advantages of online learning for associations
Associations that have converted in-person courses into online courses are witnessing the virtual advantages.
- Expanded market: online learning is more affordable and accessible to learners (and their employers).
- More revenue-generating and year-round sponsorship opportunities, such as sponsored programming, scholarships, and advertising.
- Access to a wider range of talented speakers and instructors.
- Consistency in delivery and instruction.
- Learner participation and completion can be tracked.
- Content can be updated easily, making it more timely and relevant.
- As members and customers become more familiar with your LMS, they become warm leads for other online education programs.
- Availability of real-time metrics about participation, progress, and completion.
Benefits of CRM-LMS integration
These advantages are reason enough to offer online learning programs, but the benefits become even more enticing when you integrate your LMS with your association’s CRM.
Improved learner experience
Members and customers see the appropriate programs and pricing in the catalog. For example, only current members get the discount on courses, certificate programs, certification applications, and exam fees. They alone get access to members-only study groups or discounts for those groups.
Because user information and permissions are shared between the CRM and LMS, learners benefit from Single Sign-On. They don’t have to re-enter login information—the LMS “knows” them because their CRM profile is shared.
When you integrate an LMS with Salesforce Communities, users benefit from a social learning experience. An online community gives learners the opportunity to recall and apply new information in discussions with their peers. They also get to know their classmates better—an additional networking benefit of online learning. Your association can also offer an online community experience to certification candidates or test question developers.
Members and customers can see what’s next in their learning journey because Salesforce’s artificial intelligence (AI) suggests programs based on previously completed coursework.
Staff time savings
CRM-LMS integration eliminates redundant data entry and manual updates—as well as the risk of data entry errors.
With Salesforce, members can be auto-enrolled or assigned to certain programs. For example, new members can be automatically enrolled in an onboarding program, and new committee chairs and board directors can be enrolled in governance and DEI training.
You can track learner progress through programs, which is particularly useful for tracking participation in mandatory leadership and governance training. Set up notifications so staff can be alerted about members who are falling behind in training and might need a little nudge.
Staff can keep an eye on soon-to-lapse certifications or other requirements by setting up automatic trigger emails and reminders.
Data analytics capabilities
With integration, the LMS writes data back to the CRM when a program is completed or when credits, certificates, or credentials are earned. Member and customer profiles are kept up to date with educational accomplishments, giving a more accurate engagement picture.
Integration makes it easy to run reports inside Salesforce using data from your LMS. For example, you can quickly see course analytics such as registrations and completions, abandonment and engagement patterns, learner performance, and program evaluation ratings.
You can measure the impact of program participation on membership status and engagement.
- Do members who participate in online learning programs renew at a higher rate?
- Do non-member learners join at a higher rate?
- Do learners participate in other association activities at a higher rate? Which ones?
With enough data, you can use Salesforce’s Einstein AI to predict enrollment and revenue.
Integration makes valuable data available for market research and decision-making. For example, you can assess program popularity, learner satisfaction, speaker/instructor reviews, marketing campaign success, and financial performance.
Other departments also appreciate data gained from integration. The membership team can use LMS data to measure member engagement by individual and company. The conferences/meetings team can use LMS data to spot trends in topics of interest.
Learner and customer engagement
When data from your LMS is available for CRM reports, you can identify likely leads for related programs, or let Salesforce do this work for you. Salesforce triggers can drive automatic recommendations and marketing promotions, helping you nurture the learner’s continued enrollment and engagement.
For example, when a learner completes an online course, that action (completion) can trigger another, such as an email campaign promoting a related course, certificate program, or digital badge program. You can use the Pardot Engagement Studio to set up triggers that look for changes in a Salesforce or LMS field status and automatically start an email campaign.
An email nurturing campaign promoting a related program can also be triggered when someone downloads a free report, registers (or attends) a webinar, visits a specific webpage, or clicks on a specific email link.
90 days out from a certification renewal deadline, you can set up a campaign reminding certificants about the credits they need to renew and relevant educational programs offered by your association.
CRM-LMS integration puts more information into the hands of those who need it—members, customers, prospects, staff, and leadership. It also allows you to take full advantage of your technology by using it to nurture and engage your members and customers.