Every association wants engaged members. They’re the mission-driven advocates of the association and the industry. They’re your top spenders, and they recommend your association to everyone they meet.
Yet aside from the people doing highly visible activities like volunteering, joining the board and so on, how do you know what your member engagement really looks like? Without tracking it, you can’t know for sure how many of your members are genuinely engaged and how many are just keeping up their membership and certifications out of professional necessity.
That raises the question: How can associations measure engagement?
What Is Member Engagement Scoring?
Member engagement scoring is a way to use data analytics to measure engagement of individuals and groups of members. It can both reveal trends in overall engagement with your association and give you a sign of where people are in the member commitment curve.
Engagement scoring is a complex topic, but when done well, it can help you make better and smarter decisions at every step of the engagement journey.
How Do You Use Engagement Scoring?
Data analytics tell the story of what’s really going on so that you can make decisions and design strategies. Engagement scores can allow you to make better decisions about what value you offer to members and how you market to them. To use engagement scores effectively, you need to look at them at both individual and aggregate levels.
Individual Engagement Scores
At the individual level, engagement scores can help you identify where members are in the engagement journey and find:
- event attendees
- speakers, experts and thought leaders
- award nominees
- leaders and volunteers
- promoters and influencers
For example, let’s say you need volunteers for an event. Your go-to solution may be asking the people who have volunteered before. But with engagement scoring, you can go a step further. You can determine who’s ready by viewing the engagement journeys of all your volunteers, looking for members who are on the same path and primed to advance to the next stage.
Organizational Engagement Scores
Digging into aggregate scores across the organization allows you to measure your ability to deliver value and make more strategic decisions. For example, you can:
Confirm your value proposition: Examining trends in engagement scores over time reveals whether your activities and offerings are meeting your value proposition and having the effects you’d planned. When you launched a hybrid version of your annual conference, did your engagement go up or down, or did it remain stable? What about when you launched a new platform or membership model? Measuring what affects engagement scores tells you whether your members are getting the value you’ve promised.
Define personas and inflection points: Using engagement scores to pinpoint personas and pivotal engagement points in the member journey enables you to target the specific needs of each person at just the right time.
- Engagement scores for nonmembers tell you when people join. This allows you to avoid bombarding them with big asks too soon or to avoid missing opportunities to draw them in right when they’re ready to become members.
- Engagement scores for different demographics tell you what your members are looking for and when. For example, if you figure out that professional members at a specific career stage want to earn credits but don’t want to attend events with their local chapters, you can target your emails to them accordingly.
- Engagement scores among members on various learning paths help you predict the content they’ll want next and understand where they are in their member journey.
This information shapes the story of how you can make better strategy and marketing decisions.
Mapping Engagement Journeys
Once you have those personas and inflection points, you can build an accurate map of the member engagement journeys at your association. Individual engagement scores tell you where a person is on their engagement commitment curve, while organizational engagement scores tell you what that person is likely to do next based on their persona.
These insights allow you to improve your marketing efforts to present the right offerings at exactly the moments when they’re most welcomed and valued by members. You may be able to, for example, send fewer emails because the ones you do send will be more precisely targeted. This kind of strategic timing, which involves not missing an opportunity to offer value at key inflection points, can not only help move members along the journey but also keep them.
How to Build an Engagement Scoring Model
Engagement scoring models are unique to each association. They need to be built using the data you have access to and be based on the activities that are important for your members. To learn more about engagement scoring for your association, join me for D2L’s Association Executive Symposium on November 29.
Greg is a seasoned professional, having worked both for and with associations for more than 15 years. He started his career working for a not-for-profit, learning all about membership, recruiting and training volunteers; running fundraising campaigns; and the overall structure of the industry. From there, he moved to an association selling exhibit space, magazine advertisements and sponsorships. Wanting to use his technical skills, Greg moved to a technology provider, working first as an implementation project manager supporting associations, then as a lead product manager prior to moving into direct sales and ultimately sales management. Greg moved on to the next challenge of working for a small (at the time) start-up company, Higher Logic, where he again started as an individual contributor, but quickly moved into sales management and ultimately went on to build out the sales enablement and sales engineering teams. As VP of sales at Association Analytics, Greg leads the sales team and helps spread the company’s values and offerings to the association community. He regularly attends and speaks at industry conferences, including ASAE, Association Forum and technology partner user groups. He’s also one of the regular contributors to the Association Analytics biweekly webinar series and blog. In his personal time, Greg loves cars and racing them. You can often find him under a Miata working on the suspension or in the driver’s seat competing for the win.
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