by James Young
It’s no easy task. 78% of organisations admit they’ve experienced challenges in effectively measuring member engagement*. Add to that a digital landscape that has seen dramatic changes over the last few years, and it’s of little surprise many UK membership organisations are struggling to find their footing in what can feel like an almost unrecognisable new world.
These challenges, coupled with the fact that some membership organisations have a legacy of membership information stored on systems of varying age – or simply ones that aren’t linked to their website (or each other!) – mean it’s even more difficult to make the technological advancements needed to stay ahead in today’s market.
At Castrum, we strongly believe that if you don’t take advantage of evolving technology, you’re missing a trick. The thing is, new developments may seem a little daunting but, once embraced, they present great ways of becoming more efficient as well as maintaining relationships, connecting and communicating.
So, what are the challenges?
The membership sector, as much as any sector in the UK, needs to embrace efficient and effective ways to manage the flow of information inside and outside their organisation. If you overlay considerations relating to security and data protection, then member organisations and associations have a lot on their plate moving into 2017.
For example, the Memberwise report also identified key challenges with silo’d data and a lack of integration between an organisation’s website and their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Member Management System. Typically, this has been constrained by cost, compatibility issues, time and in-house IT skills. But integration can be hugely beneficial, bringing the website in line with other marketing channels to drive the same goals.
Equally, capturing and collating information on your members and external stakeholders is a core function. Whether this is a legislative requirement or in order to understand your base more positively, either way, doing so securely is becoming a growing concern. High profile data breaches and changes to data protection laws means Associations (and their members) need to feel confident that the platform their using to capture member data is robust.
So what can you do to improve the way you manage membership information?
First of all, embrace it. Data is a fantastic source of information and intelligence. It can also be used to provide insights into your membership audience and how best to engage with them to ensure both their satisfaction and retention**. But coupled with this is the need to protect and secure data in line with impending data protection legislation.
Recognise that successful membership management is hugely beneficial to your brand. According to Adobe’s Trend Report, 44% of companies see customer service/experience as the primary way to differentiate themselves***.
In terms of distinct practices, here are four we recommend to achieve continuous performance and improvement:
1. Ensure that your business strategy drives technology decision making.
2. Continuously study and learn from your organisation.
3. Keep data accurate, up-to-date, secure and easily accessible.
4. Recognise that your website is part of your business system and vice versa.
Times are changing. In just a year, the number of organisations looking to replace their legacy systems and processes has increased from three in ten to four in ten (the highest record to date). By focusing on these priorities, you can expect to see significant improvements in member recruitment, retention, value, engagement and growth.
For more information about how you can embrace technology to truly engage your members, get in touch today.
*Memberwise Research Summary Report
**Pedalo Digital Agency, 2016
***Adobe Trends Report