Associations are in a unique position to use analytics to enhance the value they offer to members, as well as to use it to grow their membership base.
The association analytics path forward varies between trade or industry associations and professional associations. Our experience has taught us that a well-designed, carefully-analyzed benchmarking service can be enormously valuable for trade associations and their members. For professional associations, analytics using member surveys and other sources of data should be a central focus, supplemented by benchmarking services when appropriate. These two different perspectives are discussed in additional detail below.
Analytics for Trade and Industry Associations
Trade associations are well-positioned to provide a cost-effective, insightful benchmarking service to their members that will greatly enhance membership value. This form of association analytics yields significant benefits to the association as well as its separate members.
- The most important goal of benchmarking is to provide new insight to members about how they stack up with others in key areas – and where they should look to make improvements.
- Therefore, your association’s benchmarking service should be designed carefully. It should provide participating members with measures of how they compare (anonymously) on key financial and operating statistics. Comparisons with companies of similar size are particularly important. You should also highlight those measures where the company is significantly above or below the industry benchmark.
- The method you use for collecting benchmarking data should be designed to minimize the burden of responding as much as possible. Its first focus should be on gathering data on those metrics that are most important to your association members.
- In addition, you’ll want to be sure to capture information on metrics your association can use in its educational and/or lobbying efforts. This will enhance your credibility and authority when your association speaks on behalf of your industry.
- Benchmarking participants should each receive a customized report that provides them with highly-visual, easy-to-understand comparisons, analytics, and insights. They should be able to use its information in their budgeting and planning processes.
- Major tasks associated with any benchmarking initiative should include the following:
- Determine key benchmarking metrics and design the data collection method/tool
- Create online interactive form/survey for collecting data efficiently
- Design template of customized benchmarking reports, with emphasis on easy communication of key findings and analytics
- Host webinars or other face-to-face meetings to help your association’s members get the maximum value from benchmarking results
- Create an annual “State of the Industry” report (if you don’t have one already), based on the data collected
Professional Association Analytics
Professional membership associations can use a membership/readership survey – along with other in-house sources of data – to create actionable insights that can be used to grow membership and improve membership retention and profitability. Benchmarking services, as described in detail in the section above, are also an important tool for creating membership value for some professional associations.
- Your association membership (or readership) survey should be designed – and then analyzed – to provide two categories of information:
- Descriptive statistics on your members – who are they, where are they, what’s important to them, etc., etc.
- Predictive statistics – other information that can help you better target and optimize your membership drives and to increase both renewal rates and profitability per member
- Existing in-house sources of data are often invaluable. They can be used ways that include the following:
- Renewal analytics – identify the demographic and buying patterns that predict member turnover, members at risk of non-renewal, and which targeted efforts would most significantly improve the likelihood of renewal from at-risk members
- Profit analytics – compare high-margin versus low-margin members, and use the information to provide better targeting in membership or sales campaigns
- Executive scorecard – succinctly summarize trends in your association’s most important financial and operating statistics, combined with highlighting key analytics results