6 Ways to Create New Revenue Streams for Associations

Your organization has a wealth of data at this very moment. Why not monetize it to create non-dues revenue products for your association?

Digital information is truly a key money-making asset today. Many successful tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have diversified their revenue streams by thinking creatively about how to monetize data. Most associations and nonprofits have similar kinds of digital assets that you can leverage as well.

Member dues and events have traditionally been the primary way many organizations have survived. But today, we’re building products on top of existing data assets to create new revenue streams for associations.

Here’s how you can do it too.

How do you diversify association revenue streams?

You can diversify your revenue streams through data monetization and thinking creatively about how to optimize your products using data. There are two broad categories of ways you can generate new data revenues: directly monetizing your behavioral data and evolving your business model either externally or internally.

6 New Revenue Streams for Associations

Here, we’ll outline six ways your association or nonprofit can leverage data to drive non-dues revenue products - whether it’s creating new data-driven products or tuning up existing products and processes based on good data.

1. Directly Monetizing Data

One way to directly monetize data is to sell research about member behaviors, demographics, and transactions.

You can aggregate and anonymize the information you have about the behaviors and engagements of certain populations in your community so you’re not giving away personal information.

2. Monetizing Your Metadata

Metadata is truly the key ingredient to revenue diversification.

Beyond the rows and columns of data that we collect every day, there’s “digital exhaust everywhere” and that’s your metadata (data about your data). When you leverage this metadata, anything is possible.

For example, many associations and nonprofits have information about what members and customers are doing, where they’re going online, how they’re engaging with your emails, what they’re buying, and what they’re doing on social media.

This metadata and the content your members consume online give you clues about what they’re interested in and willing to pay for. By investing in data analytics, you can use this metadata internally to inform your current products so they perform even better and generate more revenue year after year.

Here are some ways you can indirectly generate revenue from your metadata:

  • Building more personalized membership offerings.
  • Aligning your product portfolio and campaigns with individual interests.
  • Creating greater lifetime member value.
  • Building brand-new products to support your industry.

3. Selling Standards

You can also monetize your existing standards products through digital interfaces today to generate new revenue streams for associations. The quality and compliance standards that touch just about every industry sector today are fundamentally monetizable data assets.

For example, the Construction Specifications Institute, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, National Electrical Manufacturers Association, and thousands of other organizations around the world have a whole body of guidelines and standards governing how to organize projects and achieve compliance

Today, we’re building Application Programming Interfaces (API) that allow associations to generate revenue from these data products. Contractors, for example, can plug into an API to specify how your standards should integrate into their software programs or whatever technology they’re using for their projects.

4. Monetizing Intellectual Properties

Beyond selling standards data, you can also build other non-dues revenue products using your data. For example, you can sell contract documents or turn your bodies of knowledge into behavioral research publications or information-based products.

Selling these data-oriented products or sets of products allows you to diversify revenue streams by monetizing data externally.

Related Article: 3 Out-of-The-Box Ideas to Generate Non-Dues Revenue

5. Monetizing Content

Content monetization is the idea of driving revenue through a content strategy. Email is a key focus here.

Email marketing performs better than most other channels in terms of ROI when it’s done right. The average email subscriber is worth $48.87 and the average ROI for email is 42:1.

Today, we have access to AI powered email newsletter platforms that automate your email content based on prior engagement data to drive revenue directly and generate more money in your other revenue streams as well.

Best part is, these auto-personalized newsletters require little to no effort to drive eyeballs, engagements, and ROI conversions. Kind of like a passive revenue generator for your association that can direct traffic to your owned channels, promote products and events, nurture audiences into paid members, and leverage paid advertising and sponsorships.

6. Scaling Lifetime Member Value

Plugging your current data into a predictive model is critical to maximizing lifetime member value and creating new revenue streams for associations.

Your members are certainly worth much more than the membership dues they pay in terms of their lifetime member value. Throughout the lifetime of their membership, they contribute time, word-of-mouth marketing, and creative insight. Plus, it’s much easier and more profitable to keep members in the long term than to gain new ones.

However, most organizations today aren’t investing enough in building that lifetime member value. Instead, associations are famous for what we call “sacred cows” or products and campaigns that are past their prime.

Why? Because we’re not measuring or analyzing the metadata to respond to what people are doing online, how products are used, and what people are interested in.

With predictive analytics, you can use your data to evolve your products, dig out opportunities for new products and solutions hidden in your data, and take a more holistic and personalized approach to member engagement.

You can also plug your data into a predictive model to find out which members are likely to respond positively to outreach campaigns, who to leave alone, and the types of campaigns that will prompt a member to renew, make a purchase, or attend an event.

Knowing this information ahead of time allows you to indirectly monetize data by:

  • Increasing ROI on marketing.
  • Reducing costs and resources.
  • Creating member-specific outreach plans.

Disclose how you’re using data to create new revenue streams for your association

Regardless of how you’re using data, you need to put it in your acceptable use policy or privacy policy.

A lot of associations today share event registrant and member data with select partners who may present offers or send communications to these individuals. But if this isn’t mentioned in your policy, then you may be violating your own rules.

You have to disclose how you’re using or may use data, or at least give people an opportunity to view this information. How you use data should be a function of how you are regulated.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mandated that we share information about how and where we use personal data. Then California and New York followed suit. And within the next 24 - 46 months, we’ll likely see many more laws in place.

Point is: you need to disclose how you’re using data.

How can YOU Diversify Revenue?

Ask yourself, how can I monetize my data? Is my data good enough? Or do I have a body of knowledge that I can turn into a data product? Or can I generate new revenue opportunities with analytics?

Diversifying your revenue streams by leveraging your goldmine of information will allow you to more easily adapt to changes and continually monetize your association data assets.

If you want to chat about creative revenue streams for your organization’s digital assets, get in touch with me. I always say that “data is our most durable and fungible asset”.  -rb

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