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Always be nurturing: Using data to keep association members engaged

Feb 23, 2022

Associations can never rest when it comes to nurturing their existing members. The more you help your members get value from their membership, the more likely they are to renew.

One way to nurture your membership is by using data to your advantage — and to theirs. Technology and data tools don’t just make it easier for you to connect to your members. They make it easier for your members to get the return they need out of their membership.

Gathering data

Every touchpoint you have with your members is a chance to gather data. When you capture, analyze and respond to this data, you increase your ability to connect with members and drive engagement.

Your organization may use a variety of systems to serve and communicate with members. It’s likely your association has some combination of customer relationship management (CRM) system, email, social media, event ticketing, donation tools, learning management and a website. Now the question is, do they all talk to each other?

Some organizations find their ability to capture data is complicated by the use of third-party tools like ticketing, donation or virtual event platforms. These niche tools can be a wonderful way to streamline services and provide a best-in-class experience for your members. They’re even better, however, when you build in integration so these platforms can talk to your own database and provide valuable membership insight.

Member engagement scoring

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a club or association email that was just … off?

All member email: “We need you to get involved!”

You: I’m already on two committees. How about a little recognition instead?

With a data-led engagement strategy, you can send more personalized messages that are relevant and appropriate for different member groups. One way to get started is through member engagement scoring. Engagement scoring is a way to quantify how much an individual member or organization engages with your association.

Member engagement scores can show you who your outliers are — your least or most engaged members — so you can nurture them accordingly. These scores can also help you understand what drives engagement and identify opportunities for further growth or services.

Engagement scoring systems are similar to lead scoring systems used by sales teams. You would typically assign point values for different interactions. Reading an article online might merit a +1, attending an event might merit a +20, but unsubscribing from your emails might be a -20.

Start with a simple scoring process and add complexity as your tools allow. Once you know your members’ engagement scores, you can communicate with them in a more meaningful way.

For example, once a quarter, you might send a thank you message or exclusive invite to your most involved members. Or you might target those “middle active” members to present at an upcoming event or volunteer on a committee

Meanwhile, you might reach out to your inactive members directly, via email or phone call. “I noticed you haven’t logged into the portal ….”  “I noticed you haven’t used any of our online resources ….” Find out what specifically they were hoping to gain out of membership and then facilitate access.

Audience segmenting

Audience segmenting is a variation on membership scoring. It’s a way of capturing those members who are interested in specific issues, events or services you offer.

Audience segmenting supports “If you liked this, then you might like …” touchpoints. These tools allow you to offer up targeted content during the user’s web browsing experience. But you can also cascade that information further through your marketing to your email messages, push notifications and even the ads they see when they land on your homepage.

Let’s say you’re an association that serves libraries. You might have members interested in staff development and HR issues, while others are interested in facilities, patron services, collections, fundraising or volunteer engagement. With audience segmenting, you can direct each user to the content, events and services that best fit their needs.

Or, let’s say you’re an arts association whose members are individual public patrons. With content scoring, you could determine which members are more likely to attend in-person or virtual events, who attends children’s programming and which members prefer lectures over social events. When you can see which activities a member generally engages in, you can help them find more of what they’re interested in.

Conversational engagement

Beyond segmenting and scoring, new tools are providing ways to talk with your members, at scale. Texting and chat bots make it easier to initiate conversation and identify those members who have a specific need — but aren’t necessarily motivated enough to pick up the phone or send an email. The exchange may initiate in an automation tool, but once someone puts their hand up and says, “Yes, I want to talk,” they’re transferred to a real human being.

Hotel chains, for example, have been adopting text messaging as a way to touch base with patrons shortly after check in. “Is everything in order in your room? Please let us know if you need anything.” Likewise, some airlines have adopted sophisticated systems that text people throughout their journey: “You’re arriving at Gate B6. Your connecting flight leaves from E7, approximately an 18-minute walk away.”

Imagine how you could use text to nurture your members by reaching out during events or at pivotal points in the membership calendar. Let members know they can text you directly with membership and customer service issues, too.

Wipfli can help you leverage your membership data

As technology continues to evolve, so too do member expectations. Wipfli can help your association integrate your digital platforms and capture valuable member insight. With the right tools and information, you can enhance the member experience, realize higher retention rates and grow revenue.

Contact us to learn how we’re helping membership associations do more with their data.

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Andrew J. Potasek
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