Digging into your membership engagement data in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to uncover growth opportunities
If you are familiar with the association world, then you know that there really is an association for just about anything. That also means that there are a lot of associations working very hard for your attention and for you to be included as a member – and to stay a member.
Finding out what motivates a member to join and continue to rejoin can be different from member to member and certainly vary from association to association. Associations have a good idea what drives their membership and their unique value to their members but sometimes find it difficult to continue to attract and retain members year after year.
Increasingly associations are leveraging data that they are sitting on in their CRM to help spur new membership growth opportunities.
Here are 6 areas to consider:
1. Identify True Networkers – One common practice to membership growth relies on your members’ own network of connections. Each of your association members probably knows a person or company who would make a good addition to the association. Many associations often use some type of “Member-Get-A-Member” campaign which provides existing members an incentive (gift card, dues discount or written public recognition) to help recruit and grow the membership. These tried and true methods can be very effective. An important aspect to any campaign is continuing to be creative and adding variety to the campaign (using different promotions/incentives, etc.). An often overlooked aspect is to use your data in CRM to help identify your highly engaged members – they are often the “true networkers”. Leveraging this group helps with continual year over year membership growth.
2. Looking outside the box. Some associations grow the membership by opening up new membership types and tiers – some with success – some not so much. The key is to have the data in your CRM to back up these important new ventures. For instance, if you don’t currently allow international memberships but have reliable data that supports changing the policy, you suddenly have a whole new avenue for spurring membership growth.
3. Reconsider Failed Attempts. Consider taking a second look at membership growth ideas that may not have worked out so well in the past. Maybe now you have the right data in your CRM to support your new membership idea, type, or tier.
4. Strategic Tiers. Be careful not to offer too many new memberships all at once as your association may leave some money on the table. Continue to offer your base membership package with the valuable benefits that everyone seems to be happy to pay. The key is having reliable data to help plan any paid extra options or tiers (i.e. premium content on your website, an executives only tier, etc.) that may cater to members who want access to premium services.
5. Using your CRM to maximize growth. Review your current CRM to make sure you have the technology in place to support your membership growth goals. Some CRM systems built for associations as well as older systems called “association management software” may only support a few membership features and options, leaving you out of luck if you want to expand your membership offerings. Having easy to get to data at your fingertips helps drive good business decisions. Having online membership self-service features that make joining easy and renewing easy also greatly helps. Even features such as automated membership progression (i.e. automatically changing a 4th year student to full member) saves your staff from doing that manually. Don’t let the limitations of your technology burden your membership growth. The less time staff has to fiddle with older technology, the better. Find the CRM that lets you grow.
6. Using data to set smart goals. When it comes to setting realistic membership growth goals, it’s up to the association to decide the best strategic plan. It may be unrealistic for a long-standing association in an established industry to expect to achieve big increases in membership every year. But a newer association in a dynamic field might easily meet aggressive goals. Good data in your CRM helps create good realistic goals. As with any goal setting activity, remember to take the necessary time to create strategic action plans on how exactly the association plans to achieve those goals. Then leverage technology and data to monitor goals over time. Good reporting can help to adjust goals as needed throughout the year.
Using the engagement data you have in your CRM about your current, past, and prospective members, can help align the right association benefits to the right members (i.e. your certification helps make certain members more money at their job, educational webinars that increase their knowledge, events that help them connect and grow, etc.) Good alignment can help increase membership value – the value you can report back to the member come renewal time.