Building an MLS and Association Membership Technology Foundation

Blog / Planning​​​​​​​

Consolidating your membership roster for Association and MLS is a key strategy in developing the most successful CRM system for driving membership engagement and enhancing your customer value.

So let’s scope the process.

  1. What Association Membership Management (AMS) solution are you running?

  2. Identify the data tables that a relevant to your needs.

  3. Develop the data transfer process

  4. *Merge AMS and MLS member profiles*


Rapattoni and RAMCO dominate the space. Each comes with its inherent pros and cons. But in my opinion, both are built with a core focus on accounting systems for which they perform well. Then there is MMSI that pairs a strong accounting system but places special emphasizes on member interface.
Now to be clear, we are not getting into the conversation about changing your AMS. The entire point of this program is that it can work with any AMS. While specific capabilities will be exclusive to each, vast improvement is possible with each.
Without addressing the technical specification involved (though reAltitude can offer you detailed documentation), instead, let's concentrate on the overall concept.

Identify the Data Tables

The bare minimum is all of the member's profile and contact record. Next up is their associated billing and status data. Then if you are using the AMS for event/education registration, committees and PAC campaigns, grab that too. All of this information needs to be consolidated into a single record to provide your staff with a 360-degree view of who your customer is.

There are many more moving pieces here, but for simplicity's sake, we can demonstrate a campaign now.

Dues billing is done one of two ways.

First, with the transactional blast out of the AMS. The member can't unsubscribe, but there are no nurture or tracking capabilities. 
Second, a flat file is generated of open invoices and dropped into a mailing system (Constant Contact, Mobile Storm, etc.)

Even if we assume the first email is delivered, opened, clicked, and dues are paid without any nurtures there is still a huge disconnect. At some point, someone has to go back into the AMS manually, recreate the flat file less the closed invoices, pull the old data out of the mailing system, scrub the two, and upload back to the mailing system. Two or three days’ pass and we do it all over again. This is a monumental waste of time and we haven't even considered walk-ins, mail-ins, and phone payments yet. 

A real closed loop is demonstrated when you can identify the properties for list generation, choose your delivery channels, track all the way through conversion (dues paid), and that profile is automatically scrubbed off the next round.

Side Note: The channel the member engaged in, the date/time they did so, and the action completed all become new profile properties of that member used for list generation.
e.g. I want to generate a list of every broker and agent that paid their dues via a text link, two or more consecutive times, attended the Expo, has been a member 5+ years, with 10 or more agents, all in compliance in these 3 zip codes so we can send them Starbucks gift cards.

Develop the Data Transfer Process

Accomplishing this occurs in multiple ways, and the optimal will depend on the AMS you're running, the version, and what other goals you have for the data. For now, we can focus on two.

  1. Via dynamic Application Programing Interface (API)

  2. Install a data lake

Different systems have different API capabilities that detail what data is included, how often it can be called etc. In some cases, a custom API may be a necessity.

If you foresee wanting to do custom development with the data, then you may want to consider a data lake. In this scenario, you would send your data to the storage to normalize for your CRM (and any other platform you want) for consumption. 
A use case would be that your AMS doesn't allow real-time calls, you want data in your CRM, to build an intranet for your dept. heads and a custom event registration because you don't like to use the one your AMS provides.

Merge AMS and MLS Member Profiles

While not necessary, if you want to make a drastic leap in how you service your members and improve operational efficiency then you will want to merge profiles.

The best way will vary case by case but here are some of the ways it can be done.

  1. Your AMS allows you to write to the database

  2. Your Clareity Dash consumes the AMS data as it is already absorbing the MLS data

  3. Your MLS consumes your AMS data and sends back to the association

An elementary example of what this would offer would be to surface MLS data in real time as a member benefit for the brokers. e.g., When a broker logs into the member interface (member portal or SSO), brokerage data could be displayed in aggregate. Year to date transactions by unit volume/dollar amount, # of current listings, # in escrow, number of pending are all categorized by the agent.
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