MemberTrends uses your member data to develop a step-by-step plan to increasing both retention and new-member acquisitions.
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Not long ago, using data to super- charge your marketing efforts was seen as the next big thing.
Today, most association marketing professionals are using data to help shape and judge marketing
efforts. That leads us to the next big question: HOW are you using data?
Let’s start with the basics: your member data contains a vast array of insights that can tell you a lot about your operation. You will of course learn a lot about current members. But you should be able to glean a lot about past and potential future members, too. All of this can help you prioritize your marketing programs and create effective campaigns.
Breaking down how current members interact with your organization can help uncover useful trends. As they progress in their careers, are they consuming more of your educational content? If so, then this could point to outreach opportunities to members in similar places in their careers that have not been exposed to what you have to offer. By contrast, if you notice a decline in engagement, perhaps this is a sign that more needs to be done to keep these members connected.
These insights can help you add members, too. By developing a demographic and psychographic profile of an ideal member— one that is exhibiting maximum engagement with the association— you can target prospective new members. If you know when along the member journey your members are disengaging, you can adjust your new-member marketing away from similar prospects while you make appropriate adjustments.
Adding and keeping members is just one part of keeping an association thriving. Understating the value that those members generate is also key. A deep data dive can show you, on a member-by-member basis, the events they attend, supplemental services they pay for, and anything else they purchase that helps drive top-line revenue.
Understanding these trends will help you identify low-hanging fruit, such as up-selling and cross- selling opportunities, that can be targeted immediately. Gaining insight on how your programs are performing also has the added benefit of providing insight on what’s working and what’s not from a programmatic standpoint, giving you evidence that helps determine where best to invest resources to gain the most return from members.
Once you have a solid handle on member and prospective-member data, a logical extension is monitoring how your audiences interact with your content. Tracking direct actions, such as clicking on a link to sign up for a conference, is a no-brainer. But the analysis should go deeper, evaluating trends such as whether members are reading your marketing emails, or if prospects are responding to social media posts. Understanding how audiences are interacting with your content and marketing outreach, and how that interaction differs within audiences, will help you tailor marketing and communications efforts. For more on using content to engage with members, see our January 2019 issue of Member Centric.
Sold on the value of using data to drive your marketing outreach? Good! The first step is to understand where things stand right now—and if you have data, you can have that insight. Many of our clients are using a new service we’ve rolled out: MemberTrends.
Simply put, we take your data and run it through predictive models that generate insight on your member and prospective members’ activities. The results include basic metrics such as renewal rates and lifetime values, as well as more nuanced insights such as up-selling opportunities.
All of the information is delivered in a confidential report that provides high-level breakdowns, detailed analysis and a customized action plan that you can begin immediately.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get started.
What Does Your Future Member or Donor Look Like? An Early Look At Generation Z
Successful membership and donor-supported organizations usually depend on a variety of supporters. Various generations, education levels, and even political persuasions usually are found within an association’s membership, and may even find common ground on many causes–think Red Cross or United Way.
With this in mind, it’s never too early to pay attention to what the future holds. New research from the Pew Research Center offers an early, and very detailed look at so-called Generation Z.
For starters, who is in Generation Z, or Gen Z? Pew defines them as people born from 1997 onward. With the oldest turning 22 this year, there are few Gen Zers that are making donations or joining membership organizations. That said, there are plenty of them who are through high school and even college, or have started professional careers. They are politically engaged and are paying attention to social issues.
In short, they matter.
What do they think?
In short, Gen Z leans more progressive politically, even among those that identify as Republicans. They believe government should do more to help people, not less–again, even among those that identify themselves as being more conservative.
Gen Zers also believe that increased racial and ethnic diversity is good for the U.S. overall, with about six in 10 holding this viewpoint. This ratio is about even with Millennials (born 1981-1996), but higher than Generation X (1965-1980) and previous generations.
The current generation is also the most likely to agree that same-sex marriage and inter-racial marriage are positives for society. Millennials are a close second, and then the disapproval gap grows starting with Generation X.
Members of Gen Z are also the most open-minded on gender identification. One out of three Gen Zers surveyed by Pew say they know at least one person who identifies using a gender-neutral pronoun. Six in 10 Gen Zers believe online forms or other methods of recording personal information should have gender-related options beyond “man” and “woman.”
The Pew survey includes more information and is worth examining.
The primary takeaways? Gen Zers are, in general, very similar to Millennials–no surprise, considering they are back-to-back generations. But the new generation is broadening its views in several key areas–notably politics, where they appear to be more progressive than their predecessors (again, even among those that identify themselves as conservative), and they are clearly engaged on the expanding discussion related to gender identification.
Keeping an eye on your future donors and members is always a smart move. It may be too early to make wholesale changes based on Gen Z’s tendencies, but it’s never too early to be engaged with your future stakeholders.
These days, developing your membership-building strategies around data is paramount. Knowing who your members are, how they interact with your organization and its offerings, and why they stay (and go) is key to developing effective and cost-efficient campaigns.
Before you launch a successful campaign, however, you must have solid data. Collecting the right data–and in ways that do not put barriers in front of members or prospective members–is where the entire process starts.
By the time a prospect becomes a member, you probably have at least some information about her. She subscribed to an e-mail list or is on a prospects-campaign list. This is your foundation–a solid start. The goal from here should be to build on it carefully and consistently as you interact with her.
The first major opportunity to collect data is during the sign-up process, when your prospective member is making the transition to active member. It’s the ideal time to grab most of the data you need, right?
Not so fast.
Your new member is excited to be joining your community, and something you offer–likely a few things–is what pulled her over the line. One thing you can bet on: the sign-up process is not one of them. Sign-up and on-boarding should be as painless as possible. This is the time to stoke that enthusiasm by fast-tracking the process, so she gets to what she wants, as quickly as possible.
Once your new member is in, she should be experiencing a different level of engagement. This is an ideal time to build on your data foundation. Among the tactics we’ve seen work: ask simple questions in email newsletters and ask the members to respond directly, or by updating a profile. For example, you can customize the question using your member’s profile information, such as her employer’s name. Cross-reference this information with something relevant about the member’s employer–such as the number of employees it has–and you can ask, “We have that your company has X-XX employees. Is this still correct?” An accompanying link takes her to her profile, and that helps update your database. Similar questions can be linked to different fields in the member profile. Before long, you have a robust data set.
Some other ideas to consider: website pop-ups, self-service member directories, and, of course, the time-tested survey. Take care to not overwhelm your members with too many queries to complete these, however. Pop-ups should not be on every website page, and preferably not the home page. Again, think about why people are visiting that page of your site. Odds are experienced members have bookmarked internal pages and are going directly to them, while prospects are starting at your virtual front-door.
As for survey frequencies, annual member survey, or perhaps two shorter surveys spread out every six months, is not too much to ask.
Don’t forget about the renewal process, too. This is an ideal time to have your members confirm basic details.
Regardless of which tactics you use, remember to remind the members how collecting (and verifying) data will help their membership experience. Nobody likes to input data, but everyone will welcome the outcome: a more valuable experience for them, and a better association overall.
The takeaway: Yes, collecting data from your members is the foundation of a successful, sustainable membership-development plan. But it doesn’t have to happen all at once. Every department thinks its data is what moves the needle. Establish a consensus among internal stakeholders about what needs collecting as well as a steady plan to get it done. Your members will welcome the more subtle approach, and you’ll still get what you need to succeed.
Another long-time client of ours—a performing-arts venue—faced an interesting challenge. Its primary venue was undergoing a major renovation, but the shows had to go on! A temporary venue would host events while the main complex was being improved.
The situation created two immediate needs. First, patrons had to know what was going on—how long would the temporary venue be used, what were the changes coming in the new venue, and the like. Basically, expectations had to be set and managed.
The second need was more subtle but no less important: The organization wanted to make it as easy and convenient as as possible for customers to use the temporary venue.
Working closely with the client’s marketing and outreach teams, we developed a multi-channel strategy designed to get customers excited about the new venue and keep them engaged during the transition.
A direct-mail campaign used personalized URLs—or PURLs—on postcards that gave each recipient a customized web page that had directions from their address to the temporary venue and back. It also included recommendations on where to eat in the area.
The site also gave customers a customized view of the new theatre from their future seats.
All of it was backed with reminder emails to keep the information handy—and provided easy access to the PURLs.
“The idea was to turn an inconvenience into a chance to elevate member service, while getting members excited about the big picture,” Rapoport says. “The client was happy, and most importantly, so were the customers.”
If you’ve spent any time in association marketing or membership-recruitment, you’ve no doubt heard about the advantages of using data. Whether you’re looking to build your membership, retain members, or simply serve them better, data can help. Or so you’ve been told.
We’re not going to disagree. As our strategies have evolved over more than two decades, data’s importance as a marketing tool has steadily grown. One thing we’ve found, however, is that while our clients understand that they can be using data more productively, they’re not always sure how to go about it.
While there are myriad ways to leverage datasets, we wanted to present two recent real-world examples in which, working with association marketing executives, we helped develop data-driven campaigns with very specific goals.
Our first example is a large professional organization with more than 100 regional chapters underneath a national governing body. Their goal: increase membership through a coordinated campaign that also worked in targeted messaging on, in many cases, a chapter-specific basis.
The task was a challenge, but well worth the effort. Coming up with chapter-specific messaging helped prospects feel more connected to the organization—a simple yet effective example of personalization. Delivering chapter-specific messaging also allowed letters to come from chapter presidents, rather than the national leadership.
Execution required driving messaging based on ZIP codes, which were grouped based on the chapters they are in. The effort was coordinated through the national organization—this ensured that messaging, while customized, had common content that was relevant to the organization as a whole.
“By having the national organization drive the campaign but programming it by demographics, a unified message could be sent out that appeared to be coming from the local chapter,” Grassroot VP-Sales and Marketing Sherene Rapoport explains. “There was enough customized content to make the messaging unique, yet the underlying theme supported the national organization’s goals.”
The campaign was a success, driving membership numbers up from across the country
Have you ever come across appealing content only to find that you can’t actually access it?
When this happens, you probably spend the next minute or two troubleshooting potential ways to bypass the block, only to confirm that this content is indeed “member-only”.
To the outsider, this can be extremely frustrating; but to the insider, member-only content is an exclusive benefit. As an executive, leader, or marketer within your association, you may have trialed member-only content in the past, and those results may have landed anywhere on the spectrum spanning from “enormous success” to “utter failure”.
But if you’re new to the idea of member-only content, it presents a decision that you and your team will likely need to make at some point. Member-only content or public content? It’s a seemingly binary decision, but there are greater implications that come with the choice you make. So, let’s weigh the pros and cons of member-only and public content so that you can make the right decision for your organization’s content moving forward.
Let’s start with member-only content. If you’re on the fence about producing content that only members are able to access, you should ask a few questions. The very first of these questions is: what is the purpose of my content? Are you looking to inform your readers of a particular issue? Are you trying to drive more traffic to your site? Are you simply issuing content as an incentive for membership? Are you trying to monetize your content by teaming up with other influencers, sponsors, or brands?
Depending on how you use your content, you can start to determine whether your content should be made available to the masses, or to a handful of devoted members. If you’re using content to drive traffic, it would make sense for your content to be published publically; but if your content is a membership benefit, however, then perhaps your association should place restrictions that hide your content from non-members.
But that leads us to a second question: How effective is my member-only content? As a leader of an organization, you know that people give, donate, or sign up for membership for a number of different reasons. Some are actually incentivized by your membership benefits. Others care primarily about your organization’s cause and aren’t as interested in your membership benefits. As you’d imagine, this plays a huge role in whether or not your content should be exclusive. Are you staying current on your content’s data? Most website hosts can provide you with real-time analysis of your content. How many of your members read your emails and announcements? How many click through to your content? Think about it – if your members aren’t paying much attention to your content, is it really a valuable benefit? So, if you’re not finding success with your members, it may be time to open your content up to the public – or better yet, improve your content.
A third basic question to ask is: how relevant is my content? And this is when you have to take a good look in the mirror. If not even your members are clicking through to read what you have to say, you might have to consider whether there’s a greater issue with the content itself . . .
Are you covering subjects that are helpful to people, or are you producing content for the sake of producing content? Does it feel stale? Bland? Uninspired? Gather some feedback by doing any of the following:
• Ask your members what topics they would like to see covered.
• Poll your members on which content type they prefer to consume (i.e. video, graphics, blog posts, etc).
• Issue a survey with a list of potential topics and use that information to plan out future content.
With a little homework, planning, and communication between your organizations and its members, you can prime your content weeks – perhaps even months – in advance. And the best part? You’ll have valuable, relevant content that you can use however you wish. There’s still a market for member-only content, and of course, there will always be room for content that is made public as well. But when you identify your content’s purpose, its effectiveness, and its relevancy, you’ll be able to make adjustments that will improve its influence.
A well designed mobile app can be an invaluable tool for your annual meeting. It can simplify everything for attendees, get rid of the need for loads of paper, and turns your 3-day event into a year-long conversation. Wow.
The key phrase there is “well designed”. A poor app (and there are too many of them) is a waste of money because it won’t be used. Here’s what the right app will give you:
You can use your app as a platform for attendees to tailor their own experience of your event, according to what is most interesting and relevant to them. They can create a personalized schedule with built-in reminders, register for sessions and make changes on-the-fly, network with like-minded attendees, and more. As organizer, it also gives you the ability to communicate with them throughout the event by text messages and push notifications. Have to change the venue for a breakout session? Let the people registered for it know instantly.
One of the great benefits of attending an event is to meet peers. In-app messaging allows individuals and small groups to chat before, during and after the event, and arrange meet-ups.
It can be intimidating to raise your hand and ask a speaker a question, and, depending on the session format, it may not even be appropriate. But using the event app they can ask their questions at any time, and also participate with features like live polling and on-the-spot surveys. These abilities alone have the potential to transform an impersonal event into an experience that your attendees will never forget.
The right app will integrate seamlessly with your attendees’ preferred social networks. This makes it simple and quick to post quotes, images and video (a lot of which you can provide for them), spreading your message to a much larger audience around the world.
Apps don’t have to be just digital manuals of event information and session content. “Gamification” is a buzzword today, and we are learning that building some fun features into your app adds another level of excitement to your event experience. Attendees can compete against each other for prizes, discounts or even just the top spot on your leaderboard.
Your app developer can work with you on all of the above. Spend a little more money to get the right expertise, and when you sit down to brief them have a clear idea in mind of exactly what you want to achieve.
We get it – the influx of new members can be thrilling; but it’s not a true indication of growth or stability. Are you pouring your resources into a brilliant acquisition strategy – but still not moving forward? Maybe your churn rate exceeds the number of people you’re bringing in! Read more ›