The ASCII Group is a trusted network of individuals, all dedicated to growth through partnership. The ASCII community has been a staple in the channel for over 30 years and continues to thrive with the support of over 1,300 IT providers across the world.
How the ASCII Group built an engaging (and future-proof) community and increased customer satisfaction and retention
The ASCII Group’s community was slowly withering away due to old-fashioned tech, and to make matters worse, their yearly revenue from in-person events was set to evaporate in the wake of COVID-19.
Using Mobilize’s fully customizable, inclusive community platform, the ASCII group was not only able to more than double their community engagement but also help sell out 6 virtual events and generated $90K in event revenue as a result
The ASCII group is the world’s oldest (and largest) independent Information Technology community: active for 30+ years with the support of over 1,300 IT providers around the globe.
Many of ASCII’s proud members have belonged to the organization for decades, attending their in-person events for which ASCII was famous, and supporting each other via their online community from marketing advice to business development and beyond.
But ASCII’s leadership saw that member engagement was slowly withering. Instead of their members feeling informed and engaged (and ultimately, driving value), they were feeling overwhelmed, confused, and worst of all — bored.
They quickly realized this was directly related to the tech they were using to support their community: listserv technology.
Listserv technologies are fraught with friction. Members are often shown multiple, never-ending email threads, with no context or search options to help them sift through the messages and find the ones that are meaningful to them.
This is because individuals want to choose what information they pay attention to. And they expect guidance from membership organizations as to what information is being shared, and what is more relevant to them. This contextual relevance is a key factor in increasing member retention and continuing to provide value for members — but ASCII’s listserv was struggling to deliver it.
In the case of ASCII, with thousands of members posting multiple times a day, the listserv was only getting more and more confusing for the community’s loyal members. And as engagement was slowly dropping, the number of complaints resulting from confusion and issues with the listserv’s reliability were rising. Making it clear that ASCII needed to make a move to a better, more user-friendly platform, or risk losing their extremely loyal membership base.
But that wasn’t everything that 2020 had in store for ASCII. The next crucial pillar of their community engagement was about to come crumbling down.
As COVID-19 spread rapidly throughout the world, this put the brakes on all of ASCII’s planned in-person events for 2020. Events were ASCII’s largest money-maker, but due to unprecedented shutdowns caused by the coronavirus, ASCII was forced to cancel all in-person events.
With ticket sales gone, ASCII had to cancel its partner contracts and high-value sponsorship packages, wiping out their revenue plan for the entire year.
The ASCII Group needed a solution, and fast, or it ran the risk of shutting down completely after 30+ years as a cornerstone of the global IT community.
members to easily filter content based on their personal tastes and interests, serve relevant content that would encourage action, connection, learning, and belonging across all channels (web, mobile, email) while supporting professional networking under the ASCII umbrella.
The Mobilize platform would also give ASCII ample room to promote upcoming virtual events, as well as continue to support attendees and members after them, of which the likes of their previous listserv technology struggled to deliver.
Fancy new technology alone won’t go far in reviving a disengaged member base and driving adoption. There’s a need for a process, a well-planned strategy to support it. And this is where the Mobilize strategy team stepped in to help.
Working with the team at ASCII, Mobilize helped them build a fully customized onboarding and launch strategy to ensure successful re-engagement of members and quick adoption of the new platform.
And the launch? Was a success, and set the foundation for ASCII to generate revenue otherwise lost in the wake of COVID-19.
The next step was to develop a plan to recreate their in-person events online. The ASCII Group took time to put together a calculated plan to best preserve the revenue they used to generate from events in the best way possible.
By this point, their Mobilize platform was working well and engagement was increasing. But to further increase member engagement, ASCII needed a virtual event experience that delivered close-to-the-real-thing, which would delight their members while supporting professional networking in the most authentic way possible.
The ASCII team chose Remo.co to power their virtual event experience and layered this in with their Mobilize community. They conducted a series of test events in strategic markets that would prove to pay off immediately.
During the event:
In the future, ASCII plans to leverage the Mobilize sponsorship offerings by allowing important partners to sponsor their community all year long. Which creates long-term sponsorship revenue streams, and delivers even more value to their partners by opening up their member engagement beyond typical calendar event cycles.
Once the listserv technology was retired, the ASCII team moved to engaging its member base with a modern Mobilize community. And to their delight, engagement more than doubled from 15% to 35% engagement — significantly better than industry standards compared to other leading community platforms.
This success is attributed to the strong engagement plan developed by Mobilize’s strategy team, as well as the new platform providing members with preferred methods to engage across channels, with the ability to organize by relevant topics, interests or personal interactions that matter most. As members had significantly more freedom and choice in their interactions and content, they kept them coming back for more and more (and more).
Once ASCII had tested and validated a plan for their virtual events strategy, they quickly saw tremendous success.
Selling out their first six virtual events, ASCII revived important partner sponsorships and earned a monthly average of $90,000 in event revenue. And the best part is, this is just the beginning.
ASCII is now using Mobilize’s data to gather important insights to further improve their member experience and to develop new products and services to retain their loyal member base and keep engagement strong.
The new member experience solution from Mobilize and the hybrid approach to virtual events with Remo provides the ASCII Group with a foundation to serve its fiercely loyal members in the years to come, meaning they’ll also be able to weather any challenges the market may face in the future.
Mobilize is made up of community experts who have launched communities for the likes of Dropbox, United Nations’ SDSN, Dermalogica, and more. We work with you to align your business goals with a tailored community strategy to ensure its success.
Whether you’re just getting started or are looking to improve outcomes with your existing community — we have strategies and industry-tailored programs to help you get things done. Schedule a demo for a personalized walk-through of our technology and learn about our expert-led strategy services.