In the highly competitive association world, member data is a vital asset that you should be putting to work. Far too often, we underestimate the value of data we have at our finger tips, and overlook some key reports that make our ROI soar.
If you are using a Membership Management Software (MMS) system, you have tools at your disposal that can help turn the tide in your membership efforts, and it can really come down to something as simple as running the correct reports.
Member Acquisition vs. Member Retention
One of the easiest ways to grow your membership is to not lose your current members. Pretty logical statement, right? However, it is easy to sometimes lose track on just how much it costs to recruit one new member as opposed to retaining one when renewal time comes around.
Before your next ROI presentation, make sure you have a solid focus on how much it costs to acquire new members vs. keep your current members. In most cases, it is typically less expensive to retain members than it is to acquire new one, and this provides a strong argument for why it is so important to have a compelling online presence and interaction with every person that visits and joins your online community.
New Member Activity
It is commonly known that a new member is most at risk of not renewing during their first year with the organization. Why? Member engagement. Does a new member feel connected to, and valued by, their association? It is an important question you should strive to answer.
Data on member activity can reveal important information about the health of your organization’s recruitment and retention efforts, and prove to your board why an investment in your technology strategy is critical to the success of your organization.
A new member’s first year of membership is a critical point for your association to provide an experience beyond what they were expecting. Tracking new member activity is a way of determining what value they are getting from their membership and gaining foresight into how long they will stay.
Here are a few things to consider as you watch their engagement.
Has the new member:
- Signed up to attended your association’s key events?
- Participated in the networking opportunities offered?
- Volunteered for committees or other leadership opportunities?
- Interacted with leaders, members, or staff?
- Made financial contributions to your foundation or PAC?
- Enrolled in CE/Professional Development courses?
- Contributed content through your online community, forums or blogs?
These all represent key data points that ultimately reveal if a new member is fully engaged and is receiving tangible value for the dollars they have invested with your association. Reporting on this data can help you in design an experience plan to foster your relationship with them and ensure they are engaged for the long run.
What About Your Other Members?
The strategy above for retaining new members can easily be extended to your established membership as well. Tracking the same data can reveal trends within your member ranks, and help you to be proactive with your interactions.
Our data shows that members who are engaged bring in 50% more revenue than those that are not. So how do you take advantage of this big opportunity? According to a recent whitepaper authored by Pete Houstle and Elizabeth Engel, M.A., CAE, you start by answering three key questions:
- 1. “What’s my baseline? What is my association trying to achieve? Where and how large is the gap between the two?” These are your main strategic goals, for instance, that you want to grow to having 80% of your potential universe as members.
- 2. “What actually drives success for my association?” These are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), the process-related metrics that determine how well you’re doing. So a KPI related to membership growth might be your retention rate.
- 3. “Who are my customers and what do they need from my association?” This is where you consider the question: “What do our members need to make association membership so valuable, there’s no question they’ll renew?”
Ultimately this means knowing your audience. Going deeper instead of wider in your data collection and reporting can strengthen your recruitment and retention efforts. The data you collect, analyze and report on should always have a clear path to the strategic goals and initiatives put forth by your association.