Membership

Use Fast Data You Gathered This Year to Improve the Member Experience

By / Dec 15, 2020 (Natee127/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

The upside of the shift to virtual platforms in the past several months is that members are interacting more with associations digitally. This is providing a quick roadmap of member preferences. Speakers at the ASAE Technology Exploration Conference explained why that’s key.

Members are engaging now more than ever through online channels like virtual events, online community discussions, social media posts, surveys, and online education platforms—which is creating an abundance of data to mine to improve the member experience.

A session on maximizing fast data at the ASAE TEC Virtual conference last week covered the benefits of collecting fast data and how to implement it to help with member recruitment, retention, and renewal.

“Now more than ever there is an uptick in people using data. We’re in a new, changing environment, and we can’t rely on history because the landscape has changed,” said Julie Sciullo, CEO of Association Analytics. “Fast data is real-time data that allows data to stream together to make rapid business decisions.”

Association-specific information from Acumen shows that since March of this year, there has been a 42 percent increase in overall use of data and a 70 percent increase in executive usage. The rapid shift to an all-virtual environment has amped up the use of data, which is providing an opportunity to engage with members more effectively than ever before.

In other words, the data tells the story.

The Next Wave of Data

Associations have long relied on traditional ways of determining member engagement by longevity, volunteering, meeting attendance, and publishing articles, said session co-presenter Tom Lyons, director of IT at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). The increased use of data in recent months has allowed associations to “look outside the sandbox at the next wave of data.”

Social media streams are incredibly fast. “We get a snapshot of people engaging with us in the moment,” Lyons said. But it’s essential to use that data and not just have it, he advised. And applications are maturing to include more data insights, which makes reporting more accessible to all staff members, not just IT professionals.

Serve Members Better

The ASM team challenged themselves to serve members better by looking at behavioral and demographic data that members share as they interact with the organization through online communities, social media, virtual meetings, and more. This lets ASM staff observe what members are engaging with and what they are specifically interested in, providing better, more relevant information for making business decisions, Lyons said. For example, a member profile is only as up to date as when it was filled out. Priorities and interests change, which is why the behavioral interaction becomes even more important.

Sciullo recommends online communities as a great starting point to gather fast data. “It’s certainly one of the most dynamic and forward-thinking” ways to find out what members are thinking, she said. The chat function in virtual meetings is another way to collect data on what is important to members, as well as voice calls and messages. All that data can be used to drive value back to members, Sciullo said.

Members are providing a customized data trail of what their preferences are through their digital interactions with associations. This is giving associations the chance to respond better—and faster—to their needs.

“We really want to deliver what our members want, when they want it, and on the channels they want it,” Sciullo said. “Now is a better time than ever to move forward in this capacity.”

 

Lisa Boylan

Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now. More »

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