The Massachusetts Society of CPAs is using online community to grow non-dues revenue through advertising and provide increased value to members.
The Massachusetts Society of CPA’s (MassCPAs) established their online community in 2016 with another provider. They didn’t believe that they were getting value for money. They evaluated a number of Community Software providers and decided that Sengii would be the best option because they needed a vendor who had the flexibility, customer service and commitment to state CPA societies that their previous vendor did not.
MassCPAs wanted to find a way to deliver exceptional benefits without passing the cost onto their members. It is one of the goals of MassCPAs to provide news and information, and offer training and events at a price that is affordable to all members.
Kristin Wells, Senior Director of Events & Business Development, developed comprehensive sponsorship and advertising packages. Advertising funds the community, with ads appearing on the homepage and on email digests sent to the 11,000 members.
More importantly, they were careful not to overwhelm their members with advertising and sponsorship or disrupt their experiences within the community or at an event.
In order to support the advertising campaign it was important to have statistics to show the potential advertisers. MassCPAs, together with Sengii, ensured that the metrics were easily available to tell the advertisers how many times their ad was clicked, when and by whom.
Kristin Wells, CMP
Senior Director of Events & Business Development at Massachusetts Society of CPAs, Inc.
MassCPAs’ ad space is always fully booked generating revenue that pays for their community service in full.
“The success with advertising has been huge for us,” said Kristin. “It allows us to continue to offer this popular benefit at no cost to our members.”
The community has been especially popular with small and sole practitioners, traditionally among its at-risk membership groups. Since they’re not part of a large firm, these members are more isolated than other accounting professionals and lack the resources of their peers. With the community, they can connect to other experts in the same way they would with direct colleagues to ask questions and get advice.
Kara Kieran, MassCPAs’ COO found that engagement ramps up during tax season, especially between February and June. Members use the online community to ask questions about their practice and how to handle tax or software issues.
MassCPAs actively listens to the discussions so that they can identify opportunities to enhance member benefits. For example, community discussions about tax software problems caught the attention of MassCPAs Senior Director of Advocacy, Zach Donah. The conversations highlighted issues between CPAs and the Department of Revenue (DOR), including technical issues and software glitches that MassCPAs wasn’t aware of, so it stepped in to help.
“We saw people asking things like ‘Is this normal?’ or ‘Are you experiencing this too?’ when talking about software. Our Senior Director of Advocacy saw the discussion and stepped in as liaison between our members and the DOR,” said Kara.
Zach took the issues to the DOR and worked with them to find resolutions. MassCPAs then posted updates and information in the community to keep members in the loop and let them know that a solution was on the way. “People didn’t realize we could help them in these ways until they were posting on the community and actively saw that we were responding and assisting them,” said Kara. “Advocacy is a great benefit we often can’t get members to appreciate until they’re in a position where they need it, and we can show them.”
MassCPAs now consistently hears from members that the community is the “number one member benefit.”
Kara Kieran, CAE
COO at Massachusetts Society of CPAs, Inc.
For more than 100 years, The Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants (MassCPAs), has helped more than 11,000 members in public accounting, industry and business, government and education. Through its advocacy, continuing professional education, peer review, membership, communications and academic and career development departments, the Society provides services that allow its members to learn, connect and prosper in the accounting profession. Learn more at Masscpas.org
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