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Grow. Retain. Engage.

What is Machine Learning and how can it benefit Associations?

posted on Feb 14, 2018

Machine Learning

Machine learning is one of the biggest growth leaders in technology, giving computer systems greater ability to understand and interact with the world and with society. Machine learning has traditionally been used for things like identifying faces or other objects in photographs, automatic translation, transcribing handwriting, and data forecasting. But now it is being applied in an ever-greater range of applications and businesses.

Machine learning is a technology in which a computer system is fed large amounts of data to analyze, as well as the outcomes or goals it is expected to achieve from that data. It builds an internal model of how to process the data, usually random and meaningless at first, and then applies that model to the data repeatedly. It adjusts the model as it goes, and gradually improves its performance over time. Such systems can learn to disregard irrelevant information, and find patterns that more traditional methods can miss. In some cases, the systems can match or even exceed the abilities of a highly-trained human, or deal with volumes of information too great for a person to process.

Benefits of machine learning are increasingly finding their ways into our day-to-day lives. Our phones have better voice recognition and predictive text, services like Netflix, Amazon, and Google are giving us recommendations that better match our wants and needs, while the latest automobiles come with driving assist features to make our roads safer.

In the future, member associations will be able to use tools like these to better understand and meet their member's needs, plan and organize better events, improve marketing and member retention, reduce spam in their inbox, and benefit from better website security.

What’s this mean to Exware clients?

At Exware, our research team is actively investigating machine learning tools to find ways they can improve our AMS system and benefit our clients. Stay tuned for updates.

Tagged as: Technology

Exware Improves Email Deliverability - Free for all Supported Clients

posted on Jan 19, 2018

cpanel_iconsAs part of client support, Exware continually updates modules and servers. One of our most recent updates is adding DKIM support to the Email Distribution module. DKIM improves overall deliverability of emails sent via the Email Distribution module. It reduces the chance of these emails getting blocked, spam-filtered, or tagged as possible fraud by the receiving mail system.

DKIM stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail. It works through a system of cryptographic signatures which verify the authenticity of the emails being sent. The way it works is a bit complicated, but below is a quick rundown.

When DKIM is enabled, each email sent contains a unique encrypted signing block embedded in its mail headers. This digital signature is generated using public key cryptography, which is the same technology that keeps websites secure using SSL. When setting up DKIM for a website, a special Email Distribution DKIM public encryption key is added to the domain’s DNS. Only the Exware mail server has the matching private key, which means only the Exware server can generate the correct cryptographic signature for each email. The receiving mail server can look up the public key in the DNS and use it to verify the validity of the DKIM signature block in the email. That way it knows the received email is legitimate, as its signature matches what’s in the domain’s public DNS records.

Since spammers don’t have access to the server’s private key, and have no ability to mess with another domain’s DNS records, they are unable to generate DKIM-signed email. This is why DKIM-signed email is more likely to get past modern spam-filters.

To have this added to your Exware AMS, please contact us as we must set up the system on our servers and update your DNS records to match.

Another recent email change applies to clients whose email is hosted by Exware using Connex Email Manager. This improves deliverability for addresses that forward to a third-party email account. It’s done using a technology called Sender Rewriting Scheme (SRS), which modifies some of the mail headers in a way that make it easier for the third-party system to understand that the email has been forwarded. Without SRS in place, some receiving mail systems might reject the forwarded email as possible spam. This improvement has been added automatically to clients whose email is hosted by Exware.

Tagged as: Exware News

A New Year -- Time for Associations to Take Stock

posted on Jan 2, 2018

hny2018As we enter into a new year, it's a good time for Associations to do a quick audit of 'what is' and make a plan for 2018. Here are some specific things to review:

1) Go through your website to:

  • double check that all content is still relevant. Make sure links to third party sites and/or documents still work. Use this link checker tool:
  • make sure you can easily find content that the public and your members are trying to find.
  • review your Google Analytics to see what is your most popular content and what was least popular. This can give you ideas on how to changes things on your homepage or the navigation of your site. Hide or delete obsolete content - this can also speed up your site.

2) Review your membership:

  • create a report of recently lapsed members and personally follow-up with them. Try to bring them back onboard or at least understand why they left
  • review your Renewal Reminders to ensure they are up-to date.
  • total up the number of new applications and renewals for the year and see how that compares to prior years - Exware clients can do this by exporting the sales summary in the Membership module.
  • create and email a member satisfaction survey - keep it short and quick for best results.
  • review your accounts receivable to ensure it's up to date -- Exware clients can do this in the Payments module.

3) Review your site security:

  • have you added SSL to your site yet?
    • if your site does have SSL, you can see if its configuration gets a passing grade by going to
    • review your list of admins to ensure it's current. Archive admins no longer with you.
  • make sure you have strong email passwords, particularly for generic account like info@ and hr@. Malicious password-guessing bots work around the clock trying to break into email accounts, so weak passwords will eventually fail.

The final step is to make a Plan for 2018:

  • what are your membership retention goals?
  • what are your membership acquisition goals?
  • what are your membership engagement goals?

What's this mean to Exware clients?

Contact Exware to find out ways that we can you achieve your goals or how to do any of the above items.

Tagged as: Association Tips

Can Canadian Associations now reap the benefits of cloud computing?

posted on Dec 5, 2017

With cloud computing becoming common-place, many Canadian Associations have not been able to take advantage of it due to The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) which is a Canadian federal law that applies to the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information in the course of commercial activities in all Canadian provinces. It requires that all personal data is stored and hosted in Canada.

This goes against the nature of cloud computing where the specifications and the location of your servers is immaterial. The benefits of the cloud computing approach is that you do not need to concern yourself with low-level IT details like server hardware and hosting facilities, and related issues like hardware maintenance and server migrations. But the very abstraction that makes cloud computing attractive also makes it problematic when you do need to state with some specificity where your data is located.

Cloud vendors are starting to allow some flexibility in their services. Starting a year ago, Amazon has allowed their cloud customers to confine their instances to their Canada (Central) Region, which means that stored data and cloud servers will be located in the Toronto-Montreal region, and will be geographically isolated from other Amazon facilities in the U.S. and abroad. Amazon claims to have two availability zones in Canada, meaning that even if one of their facilities suffers a serious problem, the other can pick up the slack and ensure continuity of service.

What does this mean for Exware clients?

Exware is researching cloud hosting options to determine the specific pros/cons for our clients before introducing new packages. For those not ready for cloud hosting, Exware will continue to offer its traditional physical server options.

Understanding the Pros and Cons of Cloud Hosting

Tagged as: Technology

What is your Membership Retention? Five Ideas for How to Improve it.

posted on Nov 21, 2017

Almost all organizations would like to increase their membership, and according to the 2017 Marketing General benchmark report, far more are seeing increases than decreases - 46% compared with 25%. This has been the case for nine consecutive years. Membership retention is an important part of that, with the report showing a median retention rate of 84%. Challenges most frequently cited by organizations trying to retain and grow their membership include insufficient staff, an inadequate member database, difficulty maintaining younger members, and providing sufficient value to members. 

Here are ideas that can improve membership retention by providing greater convenience and value to members:

  1. implement auto-renewal
  2. introduce multi-year renewal plans - 1 year, 2 year and 3 year rates
  3. personally follow-up with recently lapsed members and try to win them back. If you can't, find out why. This is valuable information that can be used to refine your retention and member engagement strategies.
  4. offer members an incentive to renew by a specific date. This can be done by offering an 'early bird' rate or a discount towards a future event or course offering.
  5. offer a discount to archived members to get them back -- CAUTION: you don't want people to "archive" because they know you'll offer an incentive. This may be a good 'one-time' promotion to clean-up your archived member list.

How easy does your association make it for members to stay current?!

Tagged as: Association Tips