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How Can Associations Measure Engagement?

  • 4 MIN READ

Learn how to validate your association's value proposition with member engagement scoring.

Greg Pollack Vice President of Sales, Association Analytics
topics

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.

A bar graph with "engagement score" on the y axis and "commitment" on the x axis. The first bar, "interested," is when a member is first learning about the association before they decide to join. The second bar, "active," is when members start to become more engaged parts of the community and participating in more activities. The third bar, "connected," is when they really feel part of the work the association is doing and may get more involved by volunteering, presenting at conferences, and even joining boards.

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:

  • buyers
  • event attendees
  • speakers, experts and thought leaders
  • donors
  • 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.

Save your seat for the in-person event in Washington, D.C., or the virtual event online.