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By: Ron McGrath on November 14th, 2018

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How to Create a Better Member Engagement Scoring Model For Your Association

member engagement | Member experience

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Ever since associations were first formed over a century ago, their executives have had a problem:

They have a large group of people they need to take action – join, renew, purchase products, attend events, advocate at the capitol, etc. While their membership may seem homogeneous, even small associations have a great deal of diversity among their members.

Man people collage faces double exposureIt can feel difficult to engage diverse members in your association in ways that are meaningful to them. Each member is in a different stage of their membership life cycle. They have different interests and engage at different levels. They joined your association for different reasons. Some may be new to your organization or to the industry; some are veterans.

In the era of Google, pixels, and online behavioral tracking, individuals have come to expect a more customized online experience. Serving up content that feels irrelevant or over-generalized can alienate your association’s members.

Segmenting members into groups and communicating to each group with specific messages, content, and calls to action is the only way to make sure you are serving diverse interests, and experiences.

As associations’ ability to track more data about members has grown, so has the complexity of categorizing their members. Association marketers, membership professionals, and communication teams can no longer segment based on membership and event data alone.

Simply grouping members by location, join date, and which meetings they signed up for puts your association at a big disadvantage when competing for members’ attention against companies, websites, and apps that use a broad range of data points to present relevant information.

Association executives had to develop more sophisticated models for segmenting members, while making sure the output was easy for their staff to analyze and use in their marketing, membership, and communication tactics.

Why Associations Turned To Member Engagement Scoring

Association executives needed to combine traditional segmentation based on association management software (AMS) data with as much other information as possible to create more rich member profiles that could be used to discern interests, priorities, and needs.

Scoring member engagement provides your association with predictive data on who is likely to renew, who your advocates are for volunteer recruiting, who is likely to buy a specific product or sign up for a specific event or program, and who may be responsive to a re-targeting or re-engagement campaign.

In a trend that has been increasing over the last few years, 37% of associations now list lack of engagement as the most commonly cited reason for membership non-renewals. Having a strategic plan that utilizes your member engagement scoring data to improve member engagement helps associations increase member retention and deepen their relationships with your organization.

The Old Way Of Scoring Members

When engagement scores first appeared on the scene 10 years ago, most associations still focus primarily on using the member data stored in their AMS – event registration, purchases, committee and volunteer participation, certifications, and other transactional data – to score engagement.

In this traditional scoring model, associations assign a positive or negative point value to each of these types of interactions to measure each member’s depth of engagement, and then set goals to move their less engaged members to a higher tier of engagement.

While this approach is functional, it leaves out several important data points your association could be utilizing to better engage and re-engage your members.

Association Became Smarter With Comprehensive Member Scoring

With basic member scoring, association executives had more visibility into the nuances of their membership. However, association marketers and communication teams were realizing the limits of analyzing member engagement strictly using membership and event data from their AMS.

Members were increasingly consuming online content and video, participating on social networks, and engaging in private online communities. That behavioral data gave associations much stronger engagement signals to incorporate into their member engagement scoring models.

These comprehensive member scoring models combine AMS data – such as membership level, purchases and donations, events or meetings attended, volunteer participation, and new member referrals – with online behavioral data.

Tracking and analyzing online behavioral data as part of your association’s member scoring model is transformational as executives gain deeper insights into what drives member engagement and influences market share and brand awareness.

There are several metrics your association should consider including in a comprehensive member scoring model:

Metric Set #1) Email Metrics –Opens, Clicks, Bounces

Members’ email open rates for your association’s emails should be factored into your comprehensive member scoring model, as should clicking on links that lead them to a desired result (visiting your website or a landing page and registering for an event, for example).

Likewise, if a member has an email address that generate bounces – either hard bounces for email addresses that don’t exist or soft bounces that could be the result of signing up using a “junk” or disposable email – their score should reflect this lack of engagement (and the email address should be updated or pruned from your list).

Metric Set #2) Web Page Visits And Interactions

Tracking time on site (the average duration of a session or visit) can help you determine whether the member is finding your content engaging and relevant.

Including embedded videos on your website improves site visitors’ experience and leads to higher conversion rates; tracking video views can help you determine whether members’ engagement levels improve when video content is provided.

Metric Set #3) Social Media Engagement

Social media isn’t just a place for your association to connect with current members; tracking engagement actions such as likes, shares, and comments can also help you gauge members’ willingness to promote brand awareness for your association and participate in outreach to prospective members.

Metric Set #4) Online Community Participation

Private online member communities are an excellent way to increase member engagement and can provide your association with data about how frequently members participate in the online community and whether their interactions are positive.

Metric Set #5) Ad Engagement

Do your members engage with your association’s ads? It may be useful to track whether – and how – members are responding to calls-to-action in your comprehensive member scoring model.

Metric Set #6) Landing Page Conversions

Are your members taking you up on your digital offers and opt-in opportunities? Understanding how well your pages convert can help you make improvements to increase member engagement with your website and your association. Tracking conversion behaviors for individual members can also help you gauge their interest in deeper engagement with your association.

Impact Your Association’s Core Goals By Making Your Member Scoring Model Actionable

It is no longer enough to use your member engagement scoring model in reports and segmentation for internal reference. Your association needs a strategic plan to utilize your member engagement data to take action.

Follow these four steps to make the most from your member engagement score data without overburdening your association’s staff.

Build Your Member Scoring Model Around The Right Questions

A key component in your strategic plan for member engagement is setting clear and easily measurable goals. This starts with beginning with the end in mind.

  • What actions are you trying to get members to take?
  • Which groups of members are most likely to take that action?
  • Once you can group members in a more granular way, what messages and calls to action will people respond to?

After you have a concrete understanding of what your desired end results are, you can begin analyzing your membership to find the segments for which that offer will appeal.

Move Your Scoring Model To Your Marketing Automation Platform

In order to implement your strategic member engagement plan, your association will need to shift its member scoring mindset and approach from being centered in your AMS to being centered around your association’s marketing automation platform.

Because your association's marketing automation software captures so much more digital behavior information than your AMS, and can leverage capabilities like content hosting, social media scheduling and analytics, and custom redirects for robust tracking, it is important for your scoring model to live and be calculated there. (You can always feed your score back into your AMS for reporting and segmentation.)

Promote Engagement Opportunities

Work with your association’s marketing department to coordinate your messages to members and increase the likelihood that your content will reach your members.

Use Your Member Engagement Score To Customize Member Engagement Experiences

Members at different stages in their relationship with your association respond to different engagement efforts. Ways to use your scoring data to segment your member engagement efforts could include:

  • Trigger email messages to people who hit a certain threshold, such as at-risk members, advocates, or members who are likely to register for your conference.
  • Personalize the content in your emails to members with a specific level of engagement.
  • Customize the messaging people see when they interact with your association via online platforms such as social media, your association’s website, landing pages, emails, and offers.
  • Recruit highly engaged members to participate in your association’s re-engagement efforts.

Member Engagement Scoring Takeaway

With constant demands on members’ time and attention, it can feel difficult to engage diverse groups of members in meaningful ways. However, transitioning your association from a traditional engagement scoring method to a comprehensive member engagement scoring model can help your association recruit, retain, and nurture engaged members.

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