Association Management: How to Manage Member Data

As an association membership manager, you continuously seek ways to improve your organization’s membership experience and provide more benefits to members. After all, your members are what give your organization meaning and purpose. 

The more you can get to know your members and connect with them in meaningful ways, the more likely you are to have high member retention. One of the keys to building stronger relationships with your association members is better data management and targeted data marketing efforts

Your member data can reveal valuable information about who your members are, what motivates them, and what they’re interested in. These insights can help you craft better member experiences and communications that suit members’ needs. 

In this guide, we’ll review how to improve your member data management practices and the benefits of doing so. We’ll explore the ins and outs of: 

Taking a strategic approach to member database management can help your organization serve your members’ needs more effectively. It can also lead to less stress on your organization’s staff and leaders when it comes to member engagement and marketing efforts. With these benefits in mind, let’s dive in!

The Benefits of Better Member Data Management

Strategic data management pays off in the long run, enabling your organization to stay organized and grow its membership base. 

Better data management can: 

  • Provide a 360 view of your membership base. You can get to know your members on a more personal level and communicate with them based on their specific engagement history, interests, and preferences. 
  • Allow you to craft more relevant events and experiences for members. Using what you’ve learned through membership and event reports, you can tailor your events, conferences, workshops, and educational courses to align with member preferences and feedback. This can lead to better membership satisfaction and ultimately, a higher retention rate. 
  • Allow you to base your marketing strategy on hard facts. When reaching out to prospective new members, you can use your member profiles and predictive analytics to design marketing campaigns that resonate with your target audience. This can lead to a higher marketing return on investment.

As you can see, when it comes to membership management, your member data is as good as gold. Advanced data management practices allow you to glean more insights from your member data, ensuring the information you gather doesn’t go to waste. 

Managing Current Member Data

Your organization’s members provide your association with ongoing support in the form of membership dues, ticket sales, and other monetary transactions. In exchange, these individuals benefit from all your organization has to offer, whether it’s opportunities for continuing education, conference attendance, mentorship, networking, or all of the above. 

Effective membership data management allows your organization to learn more about its members so you can continue providing them with the experiences and benefits they desire. For instance, by tracking event attendance, you can understand the types of experiences your members are most interested in. 

Depending on the size of your organization and the speed at which you’re growing, maintaining proper data management techniques can become a challenge. If your organization is growing rapidly, you likely add new supporter information to your database regularly. Without data strategies in place, you risk letting members fall through the cracks or disregarding members’ preferences. 

Whether you’re looking to enhance your member data management processes or create a new strategy from scratch, there are several best practices to keep in mind: 

Store member data in a central location. 

Perhaps you’ve found yourself managing member data using a disparate system of spreadsheets and documents. This system might have been feasible when your organization was first starting out, but it’s become increasingly unsustainable as you grow. 

If you relate to this, it’s time to invest in a system that can store all your member data under one roof and allow you to carry out membership management processes with ease. You’ll want to look into association management software (AMS) options that can help keep your member data organized.

These systems allow membership managers to:

  • Access and manage member profiles to assess members’ demographic information.
  • Track member engagement to determine the successes and shortcomings of various initiatives.
  • Craft workflows for team members to adhere to and follow data management best practices. 

According to MemberClicks’ AMS guide, these systems benefit association membership managers because they allow for “seamless and swift data transfer between platforms.” This means that different software tools such as your membership database, online member community, marketing software, and other solutions are all integrated into a unified platform. 

Frequently assess data reports. 

Another benefit of using an AMS to store and track membership data is the ability to create comprehensive reports on all aspects of your membership base. 

Use your association management solution to generate reports such as:

  • Membership reports displaying membership trends and changes over time. 
  • Event reports assessing the success of your events with information like the number of registrants vs. actual attendees. 
  • Financial reports analyzing where your association stands regarding membership dues, ticket sales, merchandise sales, and other financial aspects. 

By generating reports and assessing your progress regularly, you’ll have a more accurate idea of how you should adjust your practices or offerings to achieve greater results in the future. 

Adopt proper data hygiene practices. 

You won’t be able to accurately assess member data or reports if your membership database is disorganized or missing information. 

You can ensure your database is clean and accurate by adopting proper data hygiene strategies. Data hygiene is the process of guaranteeing that your membership data is error-free. 

Re:Charity recommends several data hygiene best practices to ensure data cleanliness, such as:

  • Auditing your database to access a big-picture analysis of the overall state of its health.
  • Alleviating any irregularities such as duplicate, non-standard, inaccurate, and non-verifiable entries.
  • Creating processes for ongoing data management to preemptively prevent mistakes going forward. 

Ensure your team is trained on your new data hygiene practices so that everyone’s on the same page when it comes time to add new member information to your database.  

With these data management best practices in your association’s toolbox, you’ll be in a better position to manage data about your existing membership base. This ensures that your database solutions and strategies will scale up to meet your needs as your organization expands. 

Managing Prospective Member Data

Most associations continuously keep an eye out for ways to grow and expand their membership. 

Acquiring new members consistently benefits both your organization and its current members. Your organization earns greater influence and monetary support from member dues, while existing members gain access to more networking opportunities and professional connections. 

You can grow your membership base by assessing constituent profiles and predictive analytics. Let’s take a look at each of these data marketing aspects: 

Constituent profiling

Constituent profiling is the process of identifying the ideal target audience for your association based on the characteristics of your current membership base. 

You may be familiar with customer profiling, a practice often used in the for-profit business realm to gain new customers. Constituent profiling uses the same methods, but instead of seeking to acquire new customers, you’re marketing to prospective new association members. 

To create a constituent profile, parse through your membership database to identify common characteristics shared by your members. You might find commonalities in demographics, geographic location, levels of engagement, or interests. Then, construct a semi-fictionalized profile based on this information. Use this profile to help make marketing decisions and craft an outreach strategy that would appeal to your target audience. 

For instance, let’s say your organization is a regional baking association. You create a constituent profile for Brenda, a 32-year-old baker with a small cake business living within your geographic range. You also create a profile for Matthew, a 45-year old pastry chef who runs a cafe in the major city in your area. Then, you construct marketing messages that appeal to the motivations, goals, and preferences of individuals like Brenda and Matthew.

This practice helps you get in the habit of exploring your audience’s interests and desires and thinking about how you can align your messaging to best suit their needs. 

Predictive analytics 

Take your constituent profiling efforts a step further with predictive analytics. Predictive analytics is the process of using historical data to predict the likelihood of future events. 

This process allows you to extrapolate the information gathered from your customer profiling efforts to predict how the customers within each of your profiles will respond to your outreach materials. 

Using predictive analytics to guide your marketing decisions allows you to save money and time since you can avoid marketing to those who aren’t likely to engage with your messages. 

To fully dive into the process of using predictive analytics, you’ll likely need to partner with a database marketing service, such as AccuData. This will give your organization access to the guidance and advice you need to make the most of your marketing research. 

Remember, if your organization is just starting with advanced data management processes, you can partner with experts in the field to help you. Investing in a quality membership database, along with data marketing services, can get your organization where you want to be in terms of membership management and growth.

Andrew McWhaw

Andrew leads the Inbound Marketing team for Personify’s MemberClicks and Wild Apricot products, helping non-profits, associations, and clubs discover the software they need to empower their missions. A veteran of the SaaS space, Andrew focuses on the use of data and analytics to create demand generation campaigns and content assets that speak to the most pressing needs of Personify’s audience. When he’s not overseeing the marketing activities of MemberClicks and Wild Apricot, you can find him volunteering with his local residents association.

Written by AccuData Integrated Marketing