Making the Most of Engagement Data
A new survey suggests there’s a great divide in how much engagement data some nonprofits measure compared to others. Find out how two associations are collecting such data and using it to better serve their members and improve their bottom lines.
Apparently there is not a lot of gray area when it comes to nonprofits tracking and using engagement data.
According to the “2013 Nonprofit Engagement Data Management Study,” nonprofit organizations are tracking either a lot or very little of this kind of data, which was defined as actions, interactions, and conversations related to an organization that are not necessarily financial or transactional.
Conducted by NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network and social CRM software provider Avectra, the study surveyed about 250 nonprofit professionals and also found that few of the organizations who are tracking engagement data are using it strategically.
The most common metric used to measure strategic outcomes was attendance at free events, with 23 percent of respondents reporting they analyzed this type of data.
Other engagement methods used to measure strategic outcomes included:
- email open rates (20 percent)
- e-newsletter subscriptions (16 percent)
- Facebook page activity (16 percent)
- mentions on Twitter (14 percent)
- reach of social networks (14 percent)
Slightly more respondents reported using engagement metrics to measure organizational health:
- attendance at free events (27 percent)
- email open rates (24 percent)
- e-newsletter subscriptions (23 percent)
- Facebook page activity (18 percent)
- mentions on Twitter (17 percent)
- reach of social networks (17 percent)
Social media metrics are used by the Medical Group Management Association as part of a “balanced scorecard” approach to help assess the organization’s health beyond the financial bottomline.
“We looked at things like how many people updated their profile, how many unique subscribers there were in our discussion groups, and how many people downloaded resources from the libraries where members share documents,” Heather McNair, former senior manager of member engagement at MGMA and current director of client services at Higher Logic, told Associations Now. “At MGMA, we used data to inform our next business moves. We recognized that the more engaged members are, the more likely they are to renew. We used that premise to fuel the business process, looking at the cycle of getting more people involved.”
McNair said an added benefit to this tactic was that it helped raise awareness, across the association, for the importance of social media.
At the National Defense Industrial Association, staff discovered an underserved segment of potential members after implementing a member-engagement-scoring program.
“We created an entire website that gets updated in real time so management can see the trends,” Thomas Nordby, AVP of business operations, told Associations Now [paywall]. “We can also see who’s really engaged and participating and learn why one company is engaging while another isn’t.”
NDIA’s website, or “business intelligence portal,” is fed by its association management system, collecting data on significant engagement categories and creating reports and graphics so the association’s management can see the trends, such as the group of potential members.
“We built a campaign geared to that segment; we changed a low-fee membership program to a no-fee program,” Nordby said. “We were happy to get them in the door; now we can get them engaged in more programs.”
How are you tracking or using engagement data at your association? Let us know in the comments.