This post was contributed by Korrin Bishop.
Recruiting and retaining members is easier when you can offer them a membership experience tailored to their needs and interests. That’s where membership data comes in.
Membership data captures information on your association’s members to help you learn their favorite event types, scheduling preferences, professional backgrounds, and more. As a result, you can appeal to their preferences and engage them more effectively! And when they attend more of your targeted offerings, they’ll be more likely to keep their membership updated year after year.
But before you can incorporate membership data into your plans, you need to ensure your database is secure, accurate, and organized.
There are four best practices for organizing and leveraging your membership data:
- Keep member data secure.
- Use data hygiene practices to keep your database clean.
- Use data to inform your member engagement and marketing strategies.
- Incorporate data into your annual reports.
We’ll dive into the details of each of these below to help you make the most out of your membership data.
1. Keep member data secure.
Data privacy and security are a growing concern for members across industries. If members learn that you’re not keeping their information safe, or if you suffer a data breach due to not updating your systems, that can drastically shift members’ opinions of your organization.
Maintaining member data securely builds trust and shows that your organization is keeping pace with the times.
It’s worth working with an information technology (IT) expert to get an assessment of your data security systems. Additionally, you’ll want to:
- Ensure your data-capture forms on your website, such as your membership registration page, are updated and secure.
- Verify your members-only pages are hidden from the general public.
- Use a secure payment processor for any transactions.
Using comprehensive membership database software will also offer additional, built-in security features.
2. Use data hygiene practices to keep your database clean.
Without the right protocols in place, a database can quickly go from a tool for organization to a digital junk drawer. Data hygiene practices are documented policies and procedures for your team to follow to keep your association database well-organized with up-to-date information.
In general, to keep your membership database clean, you’ll want to follow these steps:
- Train staff members on data entry best practices. Make sure staff enter their data in a timely manner, use standardized labels and formats, and keep a data entry log. It also helps to automate any elements of your data entry process that you can.
- Audit your database regularly. Weekly, monthly, or quarterly, ensure you’re reviewing your database to identify any: missing data, data entry errors, or suspicious activity. Routine maintenance is much easier than combing through years of data mistakes.
- Remove any errors or duplicate data. As you perform your audits, make needed updates as you go. Correct errors, search for and delete duplicate data, and fix any wonky formatting.
- Back up your data. If a technology glitch occurs, you don’t want that to wipe out all of your membership data. Similarly, if you make some changes that you need to reverse, you’ll want to have access to a previous version of your database. Always back up your data for safety and peace of mind.
Many membership database software options will offer automated data backup and data alerts to help with your hygiene. In addition, database marketing companies offer tools and solutions to keep your members’ addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses as up-to-date as possible, often with the help of services like National Change of Address (NCOA) and email validation.
3. Use data to inform your member engagement and marketing strategies.
Your data is only useful if you, well, put it to use! Make time to analyze your data to help strategize how you’ll engage your members and market your organization. Robust membership database software can offer reporting templates and tools to assist with this process.
Better member engagement
Member data from things such as event attendance and engagement or membership satisfaction survey results can provide important insight into what your members want.
Determine how you can better engage with current members by reviewing these data points and planning your benefits, events, and resources accordingly.
More targeted marketing strategies
Some members prefer email communications, while others like text messages. Some may only be available in the mornings, while others can respond to outreach in the evenings.
Having data on your members’ preferred communication channels and frequencies can lead to more effective marketing initiatives. Use membership data to segment and target your marketing strategies for maximum engagement.
4. Incorporate data into your annual reports.
One of the best parts of collecting clean, organized data is that you can use it to tell the story of your organization. Help your members see the impact you have by highlighting key stats from the year in your annual report.
You can showcase your successes, accomplishments, and growth, like:
- How many new members joined the organization
- Number of volunteer hours members gave back to the community
- Overview of the year’s learning opportunities
- Figures on any fundraising efforts for specific initiatives
Using data can elevate your annual report, encouraging current members to stay involved when they see how your organization is growing and thriving. Plus, you can entice new members to join for the same reasons!
Make the Most of Your Membership Data
Membership data is critical for learning about how your members interact with your organization, why, and what will keep them engaged.
To make the most of your data, keep it secure and maintain good data hygiene practices. And remember to think creatively about how you can incorporate it into your annual report or inform other member engagement and marketing strategies.
Using a robust membership database makes this process simple. Consider investing in a database that can automate your data entry, directly incorporate information from member surveys into your files, and offer ready-to-go reports and templates to share and analyze your data. It will make each best practice for leveraging your membership data a breeze!