iModules Insider Has Moved!

We’ve moved to a new home at

Our fearless leader, Fred Weiss is kicking off the new blog today with a post about branding and taking risks. See you there!


5 Links to Get Your Week Off to a Good Start

It’s Monday. You’re having a hard time getting started. You’re reading blog posts instead of tackling your lengthy “To Do” list.  I understand. Here are a few ideas to boot up your brain and boost your productivity.

1. Chronicle of Higher Ed: Who Does Your College Think Its Peers Are?

2. Alumni Futures: 21 Examples of Crowdsourced Fundraising Platforms

3. What Successful People Do With The First Hour of Their Day

4. EDU Universe: Taking the Time To Do It Right

5. LifeHacker: Why We Procrastinate and How to Stop It

It’s gonna be a great September

Link-up with LinkedIn

If you haven’t noticed yet, we’re pretty excited over here about our new integration with LinkedIn. And I have to say, there’s plenty of reasons for our enthusiasm. We know that anything which helps our clients keep their constituent database up to date is a plus. Our integration with LinkedIn not only makes it easier for you to collect updated data, it also allows your members to get more out of their relationship with your institution.

It’s no secret that career networking and alumni mentoring are huge trends in alumni relations these days. In this difficult job market, alums and students are looking to their alma mater to provide them with career networking opportunities and employment assistance. Incorporating LinkedIn into your online community is one way you can begin to meet this growing demand.  If you missed our LinkedIn webinar this week, you can watch it now on the client community. It’s well worth your time and full of great tips for making LinkedIn an effective and integral part of your outreach to both alumni and students.

And Now For Something Completely Different…

Are you sick and tired of dealing with non-member records? You are not alone. Those pesky little non-members tend to make a mess of things. Clients have told us that although Identity Checkpoint certainly helps, it doesn’t fully solve the problem of duplicate member records. So in the September product release we’re rolling out our new non-member merge capability to help manage the non-member record conundrum.

More details about this great new tool can be found in the September Product Release notes. We’ve also put together a short video tutorial for a quick peek at how it works.

Another fantastic update coming with the September release is event registration update. If you aren’t jumping for joy, you will be soon when you see it in action. Not only can you give members the ability to edit their registrations by using a link in their confirmation e-mails but the changes they make WON’T MESS UP YOUR EVENT REPORTING. Now are you jumping? Check out the details in the September Product Release notes. It’ll put a big smile on your face

Are You Making an Impact?

Go To An Impact Group This Year!

It’s time again to register for the fall Impact Group sessions. If you’ve never attended one of these peer networking meetings, I highly recommend that you consider checking it out. The Impact Group meetings are a kind of Sizzler roadshow. You have an opportunity to meet your peers in the industry, learn new ideas for using the Encompass tools, hear about upcoming releases, and consult directly with iModules staff. All packed into one very productive day. The best part is these sessions are FREE. The agenda will cover key areas such as e-mail marketing, event management, data management, as well as product development and client idea exchanges. As an iModules client, I always found these meetings to be a valuable source of new ideas and networking opportunities, so I’m really excited about co-hosting sessions this year at Le Moyne College on October 9 and Pratt Institute on October 23. Visit the Impact Group information page for the full schedule and registration links.

The Impact of Usability

I’ve been working on site audits this week and thinking a great deal about the importance of web usability. I find that this is an area of site management that often gets lost in the towering list of priorities that the average web manager faces on a daily basis. But it’s one of the single most important things you can do to drive (and keep) traffic on your site. In his book, “Don’t Make Me Think”, Steve Krug does an excellent job of explaining how to quickly assess the usability of your site and gives some straightforward advice about how to make improvements. Some of his advice is what most site managers already know, such as:

  • web users don’t read, they scan. And therefore…
  • most of the words on your site are just taking up space
  • everything important on your site should be obvious at a glance, but…
  • your site shouldn’t look like Las Vegas

Even though we all know this, it can be difficult to get a handle on it. Krug’s book does a great job of explaining where to start and provides some easy to remember tricks for improving usability when designing or redesigning your site. The best thing of all about “Don’t Make Me Think” is it’s a quick and enjoyable read.

Three Tools To Make Your Life Easier

Three great new tools for site managers…

“Can you reset my password? It’s not working for me.”

“Why can’t I login?”

“The site isn’t working!”

“What is this, Fort Knox??”

Sound familiar? If you’re a site manager, you probably see these messages many, many times a day (or even many times an hour). The fact is that no matter how often you explain the login process, whether it be by phone, e-mail, postcards, FAQ pages, webinars, or sky writing, you probably still get those messages. Often, the user hasn’t authenticated her account yet and just needs to go through First Time Login to set up a password. You’ll be happy to know that iModules is doing its part to help. With the August Product Release, we are updating the Reset Password message for members who attempt to reset their password by entering an e-mail address, but enter an e-mail address that isn’t recognized by the system. The new message will better explain why the system isn’t recognizing the user’s e-mail address and will prompt them to try First Time Login, hopefully before firing off an angry e-mail to you.

Also in the August Release, you’ll find a new functionality we’re calling Member Sessions. This enhancement solves some tricky problems associated with “partial logouts” on your site. A user’s login will now be tied to a unique session and that session will be tracked across your site. If the same user logs in using a different browser or computer, a new session is created that doesn’t conflict. Also, a new auto-logout checkbox will be available when you’re building direct access to events and forms. Checking the box will make sure that non-members are logged out when they complete the registration or form.  You can learn more about this enhancement and many other great things coming next week by checking out the August Release video.

Interested to know how your online engagement data compares to your peers? Take a look at the recently released iModules 2011 Annual Report. A grid on page 2 of the report shows average open rates, event registrations, donations, and overall connections. It’s a good starting point for setting your 2012/2013 web communications goals. We’re always looking for ways to help our clients measure their success. Did you find the information in the Annual Report helpful? What criteria is your institution using to measure engagement?

Meet the Millennials

A hot topic in alumni relations is determining the most effective ways to build lasting relationships with Millennials (generally defined as the 20-35 year age group).  The Millennial Impact Report 2012 provides some very interesting insights about how this segment of the population prefers to engage with nonprofit institutions. Covering giving, social media, volunteerism, and overall preferences for connecting, this comprehensive paper is well worth reading in its entirety.

I was particularly struck by how important a well thought out website presence continues to be as a communications tool, despite the wealth of social media channels used by this age group.

So while it’s important to put serious consideration into your social media strategy, according to this report, it’s equally or even more important to maintain an up to date website “with a unique, purposeful, and concise mission” and “clear calls to action.” I find a lot of institutions are struggling to find this balance, especially in departments where time and resources are stretched.

Another interesting takeaway from the report: Millennials like to have hands-on involvement at an organization, and are more likely to give (and give more) to an institution where they have volunteered and have a strong relationship. Notably, peer involvement is the top source of information for future volunteers.

With this in mind, I think iModules clients are going to be very excited to see the new Volunteer Fundraising tools coming in October. This powerful set of tools allows you to give volunteer fundraisers varying degrees of involvement, and it lets volunteers involve their peers in their passion for your institution. It also provides your fundraising staff efficient management tools for harnessing the enthusiasm of your volunteers. You can read more details about Volunteer Fundraising in this recently published white paper.

I was also interested to read the insights about e-mail marketing to this group. Page 8 of the report provides a summary which begins with “Email, Yes it Still Matters.” Forty-seven percent of respondents say they prefer to receive updates about organizations through e-newsletters. E-mail matters and can be a very effective engagement tool, but the content and delivery is worthy of some careful planning.

Despite being 35 pages long, the report is a surprisingly quick read and packed with useful food for thought. The perfect cure for a lazy Friday. Check it out and let me know what you think.

The Hidden Power of Hidden Values

If you’re a site manager, you’re constantly looking for ways to track how your audience is using the site. iModules recently added a new functionality which will allow you to quickly see the effectiveness of links to forms that you’ve placed on content pages and in e-mail messages.

Let’s say you have a non-commerce form on your site. Perhaps its pretty darn important, like a form for recruiting alumni career mentors.  You start by linking to this form in a myriad of ways: e-mail, homepage link, career services landing page — but you want to get the most bang for your buck when you’re reaching out to your constituents and focus your time and energy where it gets the most traction. You see some responses trickling in, but how do you know where the traffic is originating? Behold the magic of tokenized hidden values!

It’s now possible to create a special kind of hidden field on your non-commerce forms and events which will allow you to track how respondents navigated to the form. You can pull this information into a report and even see it on your admin confirmation e-mails.

Here’s how it works:

First, create a hidden value field on your form and assign it a permanent value name with ## before and after the name:

So far so good. Now you just have to make some URL adjustments to track your forms on the source pages (like the homepage or a volunteer resources page). Add a little extra code to your URL string and hit enter.  Do this for each source page link that you create.

Use these unique URLs on your hyperlinks to the form.  Pull a report and the Source field shows where traffic to the form originated.

Next time you’re building a form on your site, give this little trick a try. With just a few extra steps in the set-up, you can get a lot of valuable information about how your constituents are using your site and where you should focus your energy and messaging. If you need a little help getting started, just let your account manager know.

Have a great weekend, folks!