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Association Management: How to Manage Member Data

by Aug 16, 2021Data for Nonprofits, Data Quality0 comments

As an association membership manager, you know that your members are what give your organization meaning and purpose. With this in mind, you’ll likely find yourself among the 54% of associations that have expanded their marketing efforts in the past year to boost member recruitment and retention. 

So how can your organization build stronger relationships with your association members? The key 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. 

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 explore how to improve your member data management practices so you can stay connected to your members. Let’s dive in!

The Benefits of Better Member Data Management

Getting to know your members so you can best communicate with them is at the heart of member retention. That’s where strategic data management comes in.

Better data management enables your organization to stay organized and grow its membership base by:

  • Providing 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. 
  • Helping you segment your members: Segmenting your audience across different demographics or other shared qualities allows for more tailored and relevant communications.
  • Allowing 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. 
  • Allowing 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.

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 members continually support your association through membership dues, ticket sales, and more. In exchange, they benefit from all your organization has to offer, whether that’s continuing education in their industry or networking opportunities.

Member data management helps your organization learn more about its members so you can continue providing them with the experiences and benefits they need.

But if your organization is large or growing quickly, maintaining proper data management techniques can be challenging. 

Without effective data strategies, you risk letting your relationships with your members fall through the cracks. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind to stay on top of your data management:

1. Store member data in a central location.

Perhaps you manage 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. 

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 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.

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.

2. 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.

3. 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. 

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. 

Here are some data hygiene best practices to ensure data cleanliness:

  • 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 is 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. These commonalities might include:

  • Demographics
  • Geographic location
  • Levels of engagement
  • Interests

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 a 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 explore your audience’s interests and desires and think 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 data provider, such as Deep Sync. This will give your organization access to the guidance and advice you need to make the most of your marketing research.

Membership data management is vital for your organization to make data-driven marketing decisions that will impact member renewal, recruitment, and retention.

To make the most of your members’ experience, also consider sending out a member satisfaction survey. That way, you can learn what resonates with your members and where your association could improve–straight from your members themselves.

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.


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People in an office managing their member data