At their most basic, Association Management Systems (AMS) help associations keep track of member activity and transactions. While the original, primary intention of an AMS was to conduct financial transactions, associations have found a wealth of information about their members within the massive amounts of data collected by the software.
The problem is that most associations either ignore some of the key data within their AMS and related business systems that could transform the entire association for the better, or don’t collect sufficient information on a consistent enough basis to fully trust the data.
For example, some organizations track when they send a member some of the information they requested but fail to capture when they don’t actually have a particular program or product to offer matching a member need
The best way for an association to understand its members is to look at the data that’s been collected, sometimes for years, through the AMS.
Data Points An AMS Can Track
Here are examples of critical data points that can be pulled from the AMS if the organization is tracking them:
- Topics that generate the most revenue across multiple product channels
- Member lifespan and lifetime value of each member
- Member engagement, the actual consumption of value offered by the association
- Topics that are stale or are not generating any particular interest (despite the association still producing content around them)
- Members who buy more than others, and their personas
- Items put into shopping carts, but not actually purchased
- Requests for information, and linkage to subsequent transactions
- Customers who used to do things in the past, but activity has declined or stopped altogether
- Volunteer activities
- Member referrals
- Attendance at individual sessions at conferences
With information around even just a few of the above data points, association leaders can start to formulate a strategy that can set the organization up for future success.
Use AMS Data To Support Executive Decision Making
The thing about data is it’s only useful if the organization is willing to use it to support decision-making.
As an example, there are no discussions at Amazon about what gets featured on the front page – it’s simply math. They have analytics, and they trust their data. What if an association customized content and offerings to its members the same way that online retailers do to their customers? Just like a retailer can analyze online browsing and buying trends, an association can analyze its member behavior and leverage that for a chance at increased revenue and higher overall member engagement.
However, associations can be very reluctant to ask questions where they may not like the answer. Hard data can challenge the way something has “always be done” and change, though important, is rarely comfortable.
Consider the annual conference. For many associations, this is the most visible, but also most expensive and time-consuming activity of the entire year. But what if AMS data suggested that the annual conference was no longer of interest to members? What if it was found out that the people who did want to attend were going for the networking rather than the content? That would force leadership to have some difficult conversations.
Data That Makes You Take Action
Hartman worked with an association that struggled with a common problem – webinar attendance. When we looked at the data from their website and AMS, we noticed something interesting. Based on the time they had the most web traffic (in the evenings, which was contrary to what staff believed – lunchtime), we found that the sole webinar that had been held in the evening was the most well attended of the entire year.
Did that mean that the association should hold all their webinars after traditional work hours? Not necessarily. However, it did mean that it was time for a discussion about what their members were looking for and when they were able to engage with the content.
In this case, the organization was reluctant to hold evening webinars because staff didn’t want to work late, meaning they produced content that was comfortable for them, but not necessarily at times the members would consume it. A better marketing automation system won’t solve this issue.
The bottom line is that there is a treasure trove of valuable data hidden in plain sight in an association’s AMS and other business systems. Leaders need to recognize the significance of this data and develop plans to access it and incorporate it into the way the association does business with its members and constituents.
Contact Hartman Today
Hartman’s team of C-level IT leaders specialize in the association industry and work alongside executives to align technology with organizational goals. Contact Hartman today to start a conversation and learn how to get the most out of your AMS and other business software.