Your members should be your highest priority. With more members, your association gathers more support as well as opportunities to network and share knowledge. People join associations to interact with others in the same professional field or with similar interests, so you should be actively engaging as many members as you can.
However, the more members your association attracts, the harder it is to organize, manage, and juggle all of your member data. From recording basic personal details, to having accurate contact information, to compiling event metrics, your association team needs an effective association management solution (AMS) to best make sense of all this data.
Additionally, with the right AMS, you can compile reports on certain trends and engagements. This saves your team time from manually organizing member data, so they can instead focus on creating educational programs and hosting engaging events. Learn how to organize your member data with these tips:
- Store member data in one place.
- Provide members with a dedicated place to interact.
- Track member engagement.
- Consistently review your association data.
- Don’t forget about events!
Don’t let your team become overwhelmed with your growing membership — it should be a cause of celebration, not anxiety!
Store member data in one place
A common mistake associations make is tracking and storing member data in different places. Your association’s member data should be centralized in your member database, or customer relationship management (CRM) system. From there, add on other tools and build out your membership management plan.
Some of the most popular CRMs have specific association management tools available. We recommend doing some supplemental research on membership tools that are native to your CRM — here’s a quick guide to help you get started.
With your data centralized in your CRM, you can easily oversee and manage members, and you can automate manual and tedious tasks, freeing up more time for you to work on strategic initiatives. As members continue to engage with your organization and each other, the data will flow effortlessly to your CRM system, ensuring your information is always accurate and up-to-date.
Provide members with a dedicated place to interact
In addition to maintaining an effective, centralized database for your staff to reference, your association should offer an easily accessible directory that members can access.
Providing an association member directory helps you ensure that:
- Member details are correct. Allow members to log in to the directory themselves and update their own profiles. This is valuable because it gives your members autonomy and reduces the risk of mistakes in each profile. Members can conveniently edit their profiles as their lives change.
- Members can showcase what they’ve accomplished. Your association most likely already offers educational opportunities, classes, and events that lead to official accreditation. Make sure badges, awards, and certifications are publicly displayed in member profiles.
- Member profiles reflect your association and mission. Using fields that your association team can configure, customize your member directory to your specific association. For example, if your association is for teachers and other educational figures, you can include a field describing what grade the member teaches.
To create an online member directory that works with your website and fits your organization, look into content management systems that are made for associations.
Track relevant member engagement
As you’re figuring out how to manage your member data, don’t forget about member engagement. You can’t predict when someone might change professions or move to a location your association doesn’t reach, but there's a lot you can do to keep existing members interested and fulfilled — and keeping track of these types of engagement should be integral to your member management strategy.
- Dues payment history
- Content downloads or subscriptions
- Website engagement
- Event attendance
Your members join your association because they want to take advantage of the incredible opportunities and events that you offer. Make sure you are constantly working to engage your members and that you possess the tools to track these efforts.
Consistently review your member data
When comparing management solutions, be sure to look for a system that offers easy reporting on relevant metrics and trends.
From member engagement to event data, your team can carefully review what you're doing right and where you can improve. For example, it can be helpful to know if most of your members registered for an event through a specific channel, so you can adjust your next event marketing strategy accordingly.
Take a look at your member database and consider what type of reporting would be the best fit:
- Built-in reports. These allow your team to view essential metrics and trends whenever they need to, without having to rely on a third-party reporting service.
- Customizable reports. Depending on which part of your association’s team is trying to compile a report, you can customize each staff department to see different statistics. Event planners can access event reports, while marketing specialists might be more interested in promotional reports.
- Intuitive drag-and-drop reports. With drag-and-drop report building, your team members can easily build their own reports without IT assistance.
Effective reporting gives you tons of insights to develop smarter marketing strategies, host more successful events, and offer more compelling educational opportunities.
Don't forget about events!
One of the biggest and most important tasks your association team pursues is hosting events. Whether it’s a conference bringing your members together or a presentation with a professional speaker to inspire attendees, your events should work to engage members as well as enrich them.
Event data goes hand in hand with member data, because it’s your members who attend the event, and effectively tracking and organizing this data can give you deeper insight into your members' preferences. If your event is open to non-members, you can store data on people who might be interested in joining in the future, and then target them with much more personalized marketing campaigns.
You likely have some sort of event management tool to facilitate planning and follow up, but it can also be used to track specific data points. Consider the following metrics to supplement your member profiles and offer a more comprehensive understanding of your member base:
- Fields in event registration form. The fields in your registration form are going to record the data that ends up in your CRM system. Make sure you ask for the attendee information you need, as well as offer multiple registration options and provide the necessary forms. For example, you might require certain waivers if your event includes physical activity, travel, or equipment use.
- Payment preferences. Make sure you provide a secure payment processor. Don’t force registrants to go to a third-party website when they’re inputting their card information — it’ll make your association look unprofessional and risk making your members worry about information security.
Make sure your event data can easily flow to your member database, whether with an integration process or with a native event tool. Monitoring event metrics like these give you ideas on how to improve future events, making your staff's lives easier and helping you grow attendance.
The more member data you compile, the more overwhelmed you might feel — but an expanding membership shouldn’t stress out your team. It's all about organizing your data with the right software solutions, so you can use that data to create enhanced experiences for your members.
Jake Fabbri is the chief marketing officer at Fonteva. He has over 18 years of expertise in marketing management, lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.
Fonteva is committed to building personalized and strategic solutions to help associations succeed with their members and clients. Fonteva delivers highly configurable membership, events, and eCommerce applications on an innovative platform that can easily scale and quickly integrate with other business solutions.
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