A new survey by Advanced Solutions International shows that increasing member engagement is a key goal for membership executives. Adopting a strategy for measuring engagement is one way for associations to thrive.
More members, satisfied members, better engaged members: Three objectives that all associations have every year. So, it’s no surprise that each was on the list of goals that matter most to 734 membership executives, according to new survey results from industry consultant Advanced Solutions International.
The “2016 Global Benchmark Reports on Membership Performance and Fundraising Performance” survey shows that engagement is one of respondents’ top goals. This focus, according to ASI’s Global Director of Marketing Edward Wendling, is causing more associations to adopt engagement-measurement techniques, responsive web design, and mobile self-service, as well as increased integration between company databases and websites.
Associations already using these strategies are also seeing better membership growth and retention rates, namely because they are effectively using technology to gather and use data to improve their work, he explained.
“Organizations who have well-thought out, key performance indicators that are driven by solid, real-time data can start to get to a point where many aspects of their operations are improving incrementally over time,” Wendling said.
While ASI says that engagement measurement is one of the newest metrics associations are using, the survey shows only 31 percent of respondents currently have a strategy behind doing so.
Wendling says that percentage must grow if associations want to retain high levels of member satisfaction. He said the engagement measuring process starts with identifying how the organization connects with its members and the degree of importance of each of those ways. These touchpoints could include face-to-face conferences, website resources, social media accounts, and volunteering, among others. Knowing those touchpoints and their importance allows organizations to then put a value on engagement.
“[W]hat we see really everybody doing is taking those ways of engagement, counting them, and then scoring that engagement … for an individual and then comparing individuals to one another in their membership base,” Wendling said.
Once an association can measure each individual member’s involvement and compare them, it can either group the members based on this number and use specialized engagement tactics for different members or calculate an overall average engagement and set a base from where to improve.
But there is some good news: Even though only a small percentage of associations have a strategy behind measuring member engagement, 41 percent of respondents still reported an overall growth in engagement. “More associations are not just thinking about engagement or planning on doing something about engagement, but are actually implementing engagement-measurement strategies,” Wendling said.