Memberize Central

Memberize CentralThe Memberize Central Blog is the place to find our dedicated efforts to provide you with the latest information about our technology, focused industry articles of information, and shared research that can help you and your organization succeed with Memberize as your membership website technology provider.

Memberize and RSS

A typical RSS feed icon

A typical RSS icon identifying a feed

It seems to me that a few of you are not picking up on an opportunity available to you in your Memberize toolbox.  In this article we’ll focus on the RSS tools available in Memberize websites.  I’ve personally be asked a number of times if there is any way to keep up to date on what events or meetings are coming up with out having to visit the website to do so.  RSS is a common technology standard that has been around for sometime and it’s available in Memberize.

RSS – Rich Site Summary OR Real Simple Syndication
Wikipedia – RSS

I don’t know this for sure but, I’d guess that RSS is probably still most associated with Blogs.  It provides a way for all of us to plug a blog’s RSS feed into a computer or mobile device application we access often so we can read headlines and summaries of things that might be interesting to read with out having to visit the Blog itself.  Then, if you want to read further you typically click the title (or more info link) and you’re taken to that article at the source itself -The Blog’s Website.

Well, this is great for Blogs but it is equally useful for any other dynamic or often updated information on websites.  For example your Event/Meetings Calendar!  Memberize has RSS baked into the Calendar feature.  You just have to turn it on via [Admin > Communications > Communication Options].  Once you have RSS enabled in communication options you’ll see it listed in your Admin menu as RSS Feeds (See image – Accessing your RSS Options).  Go there and see the options you have.  Choose the types of Calendar Feeds you want to offer your members or website visitors (See image – Choose your RSS Options).

 (Accessing your RSS Options)

(Choose your RSS Options)

Once you have your Calendar RSS options set correctly you will see a little RSS image displayed on the upper right hand side of your Calendar display.  When somebody clicks on that they will see all the Calendar RSS options available to them (See Calendar RSS List image.)

(Calendar RSS List)

By clicking on the RSS or XML images you will be taken straight to the Feed.  If you’re browser is set to display RSS feeds natively they should open up with in the browser.  If you have a default RSS reader setup on your computer or device THAT application should ask you what you’d like to do with this information.  You can also copy the Feed URL that is offered in the listing and paste that into your reader of choice.  As of this writing, Safari in OS X Mountain Lion does not to handle RSS natively and may ask you to provide a reader (I personally miss that feature).  I use NetNewsWire to handle all of my RSS subscriptions now on my Mac but I like to use Flipboard on my iPad and iPhone.  Windows users have variety of options too.  I hear SharpReader is a top pick but I haven’t tried it.  Outlook can be your RSS feed reader as well as Internet Explorer.  As of this writing Firefox handles Feeds natively.  Chrome will ask you what service you’d like to use to display your Feeds if you try to access via it’s URL/Address.  (Again, all this information is true as of the date of this article.) Oh yes…don’t forget to check into Google Reader

Job Bank RSS Feeds

We also offer RSS feeds of your Job Bank, although you’ll have to be using the Memberize 2012 system configuration.  If you have an active Job Bank / Job Board people can subscribe via RSS to better keep up to date on what the latest postings are.  To enable your Job Bank RSS Feeds first make sure RSS is enabled in Communication Options as I mentioned earlier then, see your Job Bank Display Options.  You have a choice of Detailed or Summary Listings.

Give it a try.  I’m guessing you, your fellow administrators, your members, and visitors will enjoy this new accessibility you provide them.

TIP:  Do a search on Google for “Best RSS Reader”.  You’ll see an abundance of options for you.  Many Free Options and some Paid.

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Resizing Your Images without Buying Expensive Software

I’ve been asked about how to resize images before uploading them to a website many of times.  What I want to do here is provide you with some resources for learning how to resize your images with out having to purchase expensive image editing software.  Whether it’s Windows or Mac, there are free ways to do this.  Both of the latest versions of Windows and Mac have ways of doing this.  Below are some links to videos I’ve found that are instructional for both operating systems.  You may not be using Windows XP any longer so the Windows XP video resource might not be of interest to you but, the beginning of the video has a nice little explanation of image resolution and screen resolution.  If this concept is new to you I would suggest watching that video.

Resizing Images in:

Windows 7
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/Resize-a-picture-using-Paint

Windows XP
PowerToys Video
(Starts with brief explanation of resolution and why you should resize for your website)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUr9wuIp_Bk

PowerToys Download
(See PowerToys on this page and find Image Resizer)
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/downloads/windows-xp

Mac
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWqXD-Fvk0Y

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The First Wave for 2012!

The First Wave of New Things To Come Is Here!

Click to visit Memberize 2012 AnnouncementTechnology is constantly changing. Memberize looks a lot different today than it did six years ago when the brand was born. Since 2004 we’ve added over 250 key features to our product and our customer base has grown steadily year after year.

But here’s the thing, technology is going to continue to change and so is Memberize. It is with this commitment to continuous evolution that Memberize is excited to present the faster, easier, more powerful Memberize 2012.

When it comes to technology, change can be good. Change can mean a more streamlined organization with less wasted energy and hassle. At Memberize, our mission is to stay on the forefront of new developments to provide our customers the most advanced software available so they get their jobs done quickly, reliably and easily. See the list of what you’ll find in this First Wave from Memberize 2012 below.

As always it must be made clear that we appreciate your loyal business and we sincerely hope you find these updates as exciting as we do!

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Golf course finds help with Memberize

Dos Lagos golf course has had a rough year.  The southern New Mexico and El Paso, Texas area didn’t see the cold snap coming but it came alright.  Some reported the area experienced the longest and coldest stretch in over 50 years.  One of the victims of this weather was Dos Lagos.  A family owned golf course in Anthony, NM.

What eventually happened was the loss of over half of their putting greens.  During normal economic environments (and when Tiger Woods is at the top of his game) this would be a sizable repair but relatively affordable.  But…sense Dos Lagos and the golf industry has been down over the last few years this became a serious situation fast.  According to Dos Lagos owners, if you have decent greens then you’re players/customers can be happy.  A big concern was the thought of people spreading the word about the condition of the greens. 

Dos Lagos, with the use of their communication tools within their Memberize website and certain social media outlets (Facebook and Twitter), decided to keep people closely informed on the matters at hand with pictures and short messages of what progress was being made on their favorite affordable public golf course.

Thankfully Dos Lagos had built and promoted their bulk email lists to date so there was a quick way to get any important news in front the eyeballs of their subscribing golfers.  Also, during this period of rebuilding they were able to promote the idea of following Dos Lagos on Twitter to get quicker snippets of information rather than the more comprehensive email updates.  With the linkage and interface to Facebook many of those people began to follow Dos Lagos on Facebook.  All of these vehicles provided ways to direct interested people back to their website where the message was perfectly clear.

The idea of staying in front of the problem and offering up to date information to current/potential golfers was very valuable to the business.  The audience felt connected and rather than jumping ship to another option of golf course they’ve feel like some if not many have hung in there with ‘their club’.

The golf club has been promoting their annual tournaments online more than they have in the past because they’ve noticed the growth in their email and social lists.  This has had a measurable impact on event participation.  “I had completely forgot about the club championship this month”, replied one golfer.

So now that they finally have their greens in better shape they can happily provide this information to their golfers to come back and enjoy their club just as they did before.

They have a long way to go as does Tiger Woods but I personally think they’re going to make it.  We here at Memberize are happy to offer the tools to help!!

Dos Lagos doesn’t even use the Membership Management part of the Memberize feature set.  That tells you something doesn’t it?  We’re pulling for the Dos Lagos Golf Course family and hope we can continue to work with them to support their come back!!

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Linking to Library Documents

Linking to your Document LibraryIf you have a critical presentation or meeting minutes you need to disseminate to select Members or helpful documents or files you need to make available for your entire membership you can use the Memberize Document Library to quickly and easily upload files such as PDF, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, HTML, etc.

In the upload form you determine the access rules for that file, whether it is going to be available to all members or select members in the Library or hidden from all users, in the latter case this will limit access to that file in links you publish.  And any file uploaded to the Document Library will appear in the Select A Link tool on the HTML editor.  So as soon as you upload your file you can quickly and easily create a link that loads that file in any message or page you make inside Memberize.

Determine who can see the document
Determine who can see the document

Select A Link tool lists Your Documents to link to
Select A Link tool lists Your Documents to link to

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The Old Parent Menu Tip

Good morning.  I’ve been asked, more than once now, about how to make a “Parent” menu item a mouseover event to see the sub menu items underneath but NOT be a link to anything itself.  Well, here is a simple little trick for you.

Blog Illustration Memberize Flyout Menu

If you have the New CMS setup follow these steps (If not please see the note below).  In your “Web Pages” area find the Parent menu item that you wish to edit or change and click the Edit icon.

The key here is the “Menu Item Type” field.  It’s important that you select “External URL”.  That will show the “External URL” field below it.  When that appears simply enter a pound sign.  “#” as the illustration suggests.  Click “Post Your Work” and then preview your changes.  The Parent menu item, when clicked, shouldn’t go anywhere but you will see the sub menu items when you mouse over the parent.

Blog Illustration Memberize External Link Setup

This may or may not be the best way to work with this situation as it generally exploits the name attribute for the <a> tag – scheduled to be deprecated.  If you have any comments please feel free to share.

Note:  If you do not see these choices when editing your page you most likely need to have CMS updated for your account.  I would recommend reading this document first so you know what, exactly, this means for you and your members.  New Webpages and Menu Adminstration.

 

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How often should you redesign your website?

Image source: istockphoto.comProbably more than you think.  Websites are not a product. They are a process.  A process of updating information that you are serving to your membership as well as the general public in most cases.

So often we hear from people who are actually in charge of managing their websites that their board or boss is fine with the old “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.  If it’s working than don’t mess with it.  Well, that’s not going to do you any good on multiple levels.

Considering a design treatment/effort is good form every so often.  Some say it’s good to consider this every 3 months or so.  If it’s been a year or more then you should definitely take a good hard look.  Yes it can be as simple as changing colors, headings and navigation.  Changing your header information is a great practice.  It’s right there in front of you and who ever is visiting your website. Change keeps things fresh for you, your members, your prospective members, and search engines!

If you are a little resource poor in the creative department Memberize offers it’s Professional Services.  We can help you realize your vision with these valuable services and then next time you may be able to take care of things on your own.

Image source: istockphoto.com

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Last 12 Months Good for Membership Growth

According to Marketing General, the last 12 months show membership organizations reporting membership growth.  “Major indicators of membership health – total membership, new members acquired, and membership renewals – all showed substantial improvements from the previous year’s benchmarking report.”

Apparently new membership seems to play a big part in these measurements.  Read more by the numbers here.  I take this as a positive!  Is this a reflection of what you’re seeing with your memberships? Let us know.  Leave a comment.

Get a copy of the Membership Marketing Benchmarketing Report.

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Google’s New Social

I read an article this morning that made me a little excited.  Excited because I’m starting to get this weird feeling about Facebook these days.  Weird only because I still like the idea of privacy and I’m trying desperately to hold on to some of that.  I’m not one to just throw any personal thing out there for my “friends” to take or leave.  Sometimes, if I think I’ve found a remarkable thing on the innerweb, I’ll share it.  I’ll post it on my wall.  Yeah… I’ll do that but I do think about it for a little while before doing so.  I do like to help promote things I’m interested in anyway.

I’m not sure I spend enough time looking at my privacy settings though.  I have in recent past but as I write this post I’m starting to think I better get over to Facebook just for a thorough review after I’m done here. Just because.  Well… because they may have changed something on me while I wasn’t looking!

I also again felt a little weird because I saw a friend of mine post about a nasty virus that is floating around on Facebook and that got me thinking about exposure.  There’s a whole bunch of people out there on Facebook.  They’re on Facebook a lot!  I am.  What a place to really take a shot at the complacent masses with a nasty worm to really screw things up!  Be careful!

So back to my excitement.  Google release what seems to be a very viable alternative to Facebook.  It really does!  It’s being tagged as the Google + Project.  I’ve taken the tour.  I read this article from PCWORLD called 9 Reasons to Switch from Facebook to Google+ and it really brought it all together for me.  I began to see the possibilities.  Speaking of bringing it all together… well… that’s exactly how the Google people are seeing this working.  As a central point to all of their services that are so widely adopted.  The level of integration (especially if you’re an Android user) is “Exciting” to me.  Look out iPhone/Apple.  I can’t wait to see how this all unfolds.

This is something to pay close attention to.  It appears this will become another social tool for all of us to leverage for our own causes.

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Annual Recurring Billing for Memberships. Really? Are You Sure??

I cringe whenever I hear “Our membership dues are $195 and we want to auto-bill our members’ credit cards every year.”    Don’t get me wrong, auto-billing (aka “recurring billing”, aka “automated recurring billing”) is an extremely efficient and profitable tool when used in the appropriate situations such as a monthly fee for access to website content or a monthly gym fee.  It’s when the automated billing cycle gets extended beyond a 3 month interval that the efficiency and rewards tend to break down.  Here are three primary reasons NOT to auto-bill membership fees on an annual basis:

Risk

Customers (your members) HATE to look at a credit card statement and see some unexpected charge.  I don’t care how many emails you may send reminding them that he/she had agreed to the charge, that the charge would be on this date, and that now you have assessed the charge and here is your receipt.  When you auto-bill, the duty to prove the validity of the charge rests completely upon you, the merchant.  The customer only has to call the card issuer and deny the charge.  No questions asked.   There’s your RISK.  Chargeback.  They just took money from your bank account and charged you a nice fee.  You now have a chargeback history…your discount fees won’t be decreasing any time soon.  The merchant (you) must provide documentation as to the validity of the charge.  Do you have a signed authorization?  Can you produce it?  When was the last time the customer used your service?  That’s a tough one to show when we’re talking membership dues.  If you have the right software and database structure in place, you’ll be able to figure out when and if they have been logging into your website or attending meetings or events, but will that be enough to reverse the chargeback?  How long will it take to submit all that as an appeal?

Retention

Customers (your members) HATE to look at a credit card statement and see some unexpected charge.  They’d much rather be politely reminded.  Better yet, they’d like to think they’re getting a deal.  Marketers know this.  So do smart membership chairmen.  Approach an annual membership anniversary as an opportunity to contact your members on an individual level.   Re-energize them.  Remind them of the benefits their membership brings.   Start early and nudge them along.  Utilize automated tools to send personalized emails on a predetermined schedule.  In the long run, your membership will grow much more quickly.

Practicality

Take a look in your personal and company credit cards.  How many of the cards in your possession will expire within the next twelve months?  The next 24 months?  When is the last time you had to call a card in lost or stolen?  A recent study found that one in five credit cards is called in lost or stolen each year.   When setting up annual auto-billing, you’ll be lucky if one in five make a complete cycle anyway.  The over four of five have just been declined.  Your member now gets an email saying their credit card has been declined.  Trust me, that email they do NOT LIKE.  Are you going to get your membership fees?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  If you do, it’s certainly won’t be as soon.

 

Image Source Tradebit

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