I spent last weekend cleaning out the closets and going through what can only be described as “stuff.”
I didn’t know what I’d find, I was hoping to unearth some unexpected gems, and I ended up learning valuable info about the people who generated the mess (mostly that my son is a bigger clean freak than I am and that my husband hoards grocery store receipts).
The process of collecting anything over time (yes, even the receipts) can teach you a lot of information about who generated it, how quickly it piles up, and, if left untracked, how out of control it can get.
The same goes for data collection—whether you’re monitoring it or not, your AMS software is generating a ton of data. Are you using that data to help you make better decisions? Do you even know what to look for and where to find it?
Even if you’re analyzing your member data regularly, there’s a good chance you could be doing more by finding juicy nuggets that you can take action on. Depending on your membership management software and settings, every page view, click, and form submission can be very telling about your member base.
Membership management software generates a lot of great data for us to analyze and report on. In this blog post, we’ll examine five useful data points that you didn’t realize your members are actually generating for you.
Before we start, it’s worth noting that there is some setup involved to ensure the data you’re getting is clean and useful. Check out our free guide “Answers to the Data Management Questions on Every IT Director’s Mind” to learn the business rules you can implement to ensure the data in your membership database is accurate, accessible, and actionable.
Now, (and this is not the first time I’ve said this recently) let’s get sorting…
Member engagement is possibly the most important measurement of an association’s activity. It can drive widespread initiatives across your organization—from cause advocacy to event attendance to revenue creation, just to name a few.
Yet despite the importance of engagement, it’s a tricky concept to wrap your head around. Is there a threshold for what constitutes an “engaged” and a “disengaged” member? Do different actions represent different levels of engagement?
While there’s no clear-cut answer that would fit every organization to the answers above, there are some things you can look for to point you in the right direction. Take a look at a few of the examples below.
Email open/click rates: For most associations, email is the primary communication vehicle. If your emails are not getting read or worse, people are trying to opt out, you need to take a look at why that’s happening. Are you sending too frequently or not frequently enough? Could your subject lines use a little creativity? And of course, if users aren’t clicking on the information contained within the email, you have to ask yourself if what you’re sending is relevant. An engaged membership should be opening your emails at a rate of 50% or higher—anything lower than 20% should be examined carefully.
Incremental revenue: Are your members buying any of your upsell items? If so, this is a sign of a healthy membership—this signals that what you’re doing is relevant enough to your audience for them to spend their discretionary income on your organization. If nothing is selling, it may mean that your membership is merely viewed as a mandate—not exactly where you want to be.
These are just a couple data points that can be gleaned that demonstrate the level of engagement members have with the value your organization provides them. As I mentioned in the introduction, every member click, video play, and form submission is being recorded and stored as a data point in your membership management software. It’s time to go dig into what that can tell you.
While similar, the interests of your members are slightly different than pure engagement. In fact, interests are more of a subset of engagement.
Let’s consider the open email rates again. Take that same data source and segment by the type of email you sent—do emails regarding event info have a significantly higher/lower open rates than emails with industry news? This is a good indication of the type of things your members are interested in. If you see a statistically significant difference, you might want to consider opting members out of certain email sequences and topics so they only get what they want.
Another great place to look for insight into what your member base is interested in is your blog. What are the most popular posts in terms of page views? Are those the same as the posts with the most amount of comments? If you find that certain topics seem to resonate more, perhaps create a blog series or spin off a different angle of the same topic.
You’d be surprised at the amount of insight there is to be gained from simply looking at your most popular (and least popular) pieces of content.
In order to find the true interests of your members, measure the data to segment and tailor communication with them based on what they actually care about.
You can use data to better meet (and exceed!) the needs of your members.
As data geeks, we firmly believe that you should never have to wait around for an unhappy member to tell you that they need something—the data should show that weeks before there is actually an issue. But of course, you need to be 1) collecting the data, 2) reviewing the data, and 3) taking action based on that data.
Let’s use the real-world example of member onboarding.
When a new member signs up, what’s the first action she takes? If the onboarding process isn’t clear, you might see a lot of people gravitating toward your FAQ or support pages. If this is the case, it means you need to do a better job spelling out their next steps.
Or, if you find that most of your new members don’t complete their profile to 100 percent, you might want to look at where they tend to drop off. For example, let’s say you notice a lot of people discontinue filling out their profile when they get to the “home address” write-in field. Do you really need that piece of info? Is it worth not have a complete profile? Or, perhaps it’s not the type of info you’re asking for, but possibly the length.
You can extrapolate this line of thinking from everything from membership renewals to post-event communications. Mine that data to solve the needs of your members before they become problems elevated to your membership retention team.
Gathering data, parsing it, and examining it in reports…we’re not doing it all for fun! Growth is the whole reason we track data points.
We’re looking for info that can be gleaned to measure the potential for growing the relationship with a member. Building on your organization’s relationship with your membership base is the key to retention, renewal, and revenue.
In addition to engagement, which we discussed in detail earlier, you can also build on the relationship with your members through advocacy. Are there any causes that everyone in your base shares? By looking at what types of content they engage with, you may be able to spot opportunities for shared ideals, hopefully using your existing relationship to spur your base into action.
Of course, there’s always the chance that you can build a successful relationship with your members into a profitable one. This is where membership management software can really help you in terms of data—being able to visually see engagement data compared with financial data will give you a better idea of what activities are related to financial growth.
For example, if you notice that members who have attended an in-person event spend 40% more on average with your organization than those who have never attended an event, you’ll probably want to do everything in your power to get more event attendance!
Again, you can’t focus only growth without a solid foundation of data.
Speaking of growth—you know one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to grow your membership base? By having your organization referred by a current member, other colleagues, people in their network, or other organizations.
Quick—which cohort of your membership base refers the most new leads? If you don’t have this info at your fingertips, you’re not tracking one of your strongest opportunities for new membership. Depending on your software, this can easily be accomplished through special tracking links, or even more sophisticated referral programs.
In the same vein of thought, marketing programs that actively try to grow referrals, although they have an indirect connection to the bottom line, can still be incredibly valuable. But if you’re not measuring the data generated by your referral programs, it might look like a waste of money at first glance.
Enjoying the conversation around data? Read more by downloading our free guide: Data Management Questions on Every IT Director’s Mind