Mountain of Big Data

Your membership association can strike gold in the that ‘mountain of data’ you have

If you didn’t know, now you do:  data can be one of your association’s greatest assets. Why? According to Association Analytics, it provides insights on your members and prospects, their interests and purchases, and specific insights into events, speakers, content, social media, press, staff, etc. Data should be carefully cultivated and managed, so that your organization can stay relevant in today’s competitive landscape. Data helps you take a look at everything that makes your association unique, and provides a holistic look at your organization, to see where improvements can be made, and allows you to take action. Read up on how big data and analytics will enable new revenue sources for some associations, below:

Your data is talking to you, but are you listening? Hidden within your data are stories of your members who are at risk of not renewing, your prospects’ spending habits – stories of who is most likely to join, and who could be a great speaker, etc. It can also provide information such as the best location for your next event, how high you can increase dues without experiencing a decrease in membership, or the best strategy for expansion, etc. Identify the areas that require the most attention, and focus on that. If you’re looking to create specific persona groups – determine key demographics, habits, and qualities and refine from there.

Netflix, for example, invests a lot of time and energy into collecting and analyzing data on their subscribers’ viewing behavior. As mentioned on informz blog, the company uses their data to identify its most-watched programs, decide what to renew next, and determine what original programming to develop that will keep members engaged with their platform. By selecting and providing content it knows people want, Netflix is able to not only retain members, but also grow its membership base.

In the same way, associations should look at data from across their membership, to see how members interact with their organization, and what facets of the membership they find most valuable. This could allow your association to leverage data in order to create non-dues revenue and new product offerings. Tracking member activities and spending will provide a clear picture of the products, services, and resources that they use most, which in turn, will show you where they see the most value in your association. Did they download a white paper, or have they been joining your online webinars consistently? Learn what information and topics are important to them, and continue to expand on those subjects, in order to retain their interest.

Here are few ideas where big data analytics can assist in designing traditional and non-traditional revenue streams:

  •      Events (conferences, lunch and learns, workshops, etc.)
  •      Continued Education (certifications or trainings)
  •      Grants
  •      Fundraising or donations
  •      Merchandise sales
  •      Subscription fees (to industry statistics or access to password protected areas of your website)
  •      Retail outlets
  •      Sales (of member directories, industry-specific books, etc.)
  •      Rental of office space

Every association is unique. A revenue stream that may work for one, may not work for all. However, the easiest way to figure out which one works best for your association is to ask your members and examine the data. Know that if the input is flawed, the output will be misleading. Create a process for obtaining and analyzing high quality member data, and if used properly – it will provide insights into attracting and retaining members. Maintain focus on data quality and start small to determine which options work best for your association.

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