October 23, 2018

6 Principles of Member Data Collection

6 Principles of Member Data Collection

Profit-driven businesses, like Facebook and Google, use our data to boost their bottom line. On the other hand, associations and nonprofits are mission-driven organizations that use the data in their care to deliver value to their members and industry.

With data comes knowledge about your members. However, that data has a short shelf life, which is why every association should have a data governance team that follows a clear strategy for collecting, maintaining, and using data. Here are six principles to keep in mind while making plans to collect and update member data.

#1. Only collect what you plan to use.

The more data you have, the more data you must keep clean, update regularly, and migrate to a new AMS when the time comes. Review your forms to make sure you’re not requesting needless data.

#2 . Regularly collect data.

Associations ask members for information when they join, but are you updating that information? Members’ jobs, needs, and interests change over time so their data should too. As data ages, it becomes more inaccurate. Find opportunities throughout the membership journey to ask for new information.

#3. Describe the positive impact their data makes.

People are more willing to provide data when they understand how you will use it. Emphasize how up-to-date data helps you understand their needs and interests, and provide more membership value.

Explain how you can develop and deliver relevant content and programs if, for example, you know their specialty, type of business, and year they entered the profession. Having better member data helps your association speak about your membership or industry to the media, legislators and policy-makers, and people considering a career in your profession. If members understand the full impact of your data request, their privacy concerns should be alleviated.

#4. Talk about data security.

Let members know you don’t take the security of their data lightly. Become an industry leader on cybersecurity. Talk about your association’s security prevention and awareness practices. Teach members how to implement similar practices in their homes and businesses.

#5. Widen your data collection methods.

You don’t have to rely on infrequent surveys to understand your audiences—members, prospects, customers, and attendees. Learn about their interests and preferences by tracking and analyzing their engagement data. For example, review email clicks or webinar registrations to discover the interests of different membership segments.

#6. Measure your progress.

Decide upon a data integrity metric—a percentage of records with accurate and complete (enough) data. Identify the fields to include in that formula. For example, a record is complete if it contains a name, valid mailing and email addresses, firm, specialty or position, and the year the member entered the profession. Run data integrity reports regularly and share your progress with colleagues.

In our next post, we’ll share tactics for updating data throughout the member journey.