November 2, 2016
Ah, the age old question that associations have been asking since their inception. You want to provide value to your members, but to do that you have to know what’s important to them. You may use surveys or needs assessments to find the answers to these questions, getting direct feedback from your members. But what about the things your members aren’t telling you? Where do you find that? The answer: your data.
Technology has come a long way in recent years. Relying on your intuition or the opinions of executives are no longer reliable ways to make decisions that affect your members, not when empirical data is available to you. Analyzing your data and identifying trends will allow you to make quantitative decisions. Having true organizational insight will allow you to do things like:
But first, you have to look at your data.
In order to make data-driven decisions, you kind of have to have the data. Where does your data live?
If you said "yes" to any of the above, we have a small problem. The filing cabinet situation doesn’t even let you visualize anything. Spreadsheets are a step up, but they are prone to human error. If you’re using several platforms, at least you’re taking advantage of technology, but if they don’t integrate you will be stuck manually entering duplicate data just to have it all in one place.
Start with investing in Association Management Software. Its primary function is to serve as a database, providing a home to all of your membership records. Typically, an AMS will have a variety of features (like event management, e-marketing, and dues billing), so you are able to consolidate a few of your disparate systems. For the specialized platforms that you want to keep, an AMS with a robust API will be able to integrate with them pulling their data into the centralized database.
Once your data is all in the same place, the opportunities are endless. Here are some examples of how you can put your data to work once it's all in the same place.
Personalize the member experience like never before. Through querying capabilities, you are able to segment members based off of demographics, membership types, tenure, and level of engagement allowing you and your team to cater directly to specific membership needs. With this information, you can segment your newsletter, delivering specialized content to certain types of members. You can host events for a particular group. Offer special membership pricing based on predetermined criteria. Solicit donations from individuals that are most likely to donate. One size doesn’t always fit all - segmenting allows you to fit the experience to the member.
The beautiful thing about having all of your data in an AMS is that you can now report on it. Instead of just looking at Excel sheets, you can visualize your data with graphical reports and dashboards. It becomes easier to grasp high-level concepts when they are presented visually, allowing you and your team to truly gain organizational insight. With extensive reporting capabilities, you can now deliver accurate information to your board, communicating the story more effectively to them.
Without data, you’re probably making decisions based on intuition or opinions. “This is the way we’ve always done things.” Now, with technology, we’re able to collect and analyze data to validate our decisions. Let’s say you’re thinking about cancelling a program, but you’re not sure if that’s the right call. Well, now your data can tell you how many members the program generated. It can tell you if it attracts members that are typically unengaged. It can show you the return on investment. These mathematical results are more reliable than soft attributes, giving you the information you need to make crucial decisions. Key metrics that are relevant to your decisions are now available.
Data tells you all of the things that your members aren’t. What programs are valuable, preferred communication methods, desired session topics for events, what qualities your champion members share, what courses to develop…..the list goes on. Put your data to work to deliver a better experience to your members.
If you’re looking for modern software that can help you achieve all of the above, check out our web demo for a sneak peak of MemberSuite’s platform.