Turning Data into Marketing Intelligence

I do not have an easy answer to this situation. But I believe that turning data into actionable knowledge remains one of the most substantial marketing challenges for associations.

From my interactions with associations, it seems that large amounts of data are now available from web trends, member and customer purchases, and email statistics. But moving the data to information and then into actionable knowledge continues to be out of reach for many.

That’s why I found an article Wes Trochlil’s just wrote and shared with me of interest. The article is “What's Plaguing Associations 2008” and is based on interviews with over 100 association executives on the biggest data management challenges that they face. He highlighted three top challenges in his article:
  • “System integration: integrating third-party systems and/or data to the primary database.
  • Data integrity: Ensuring that the data in the database is up to date and accurate.
  • System selection and implementation: selecting and implementing new association management systems.”

I encounter the first two problems regularly. As far as data integration, some organizations would benefit by appending third party data to their members and prospects, but have trouble adding this information to their CRM system. Some also end up maintaining multiple specialized databases in the organizations, but the knowledge is not linked from one to the other.

Data integrity is also a common challenge. Issues like entering marketing codes, keeping contact information up to date -- especially for former members, and consistent data standards are ongoing problems.

How have we dealt with this challenge? For the most part, we have found it necessary to extract data from clients’ databases in order to do clean up and analysis. The longer term solution may be to build data marts with the focus of gathering member and prospect behavior and slicing and dicing this into real marketing intelligence.

What do you think is the solution?

Membership Satisfaction Compared to Membership Loyalty: A Real Life Example


Many traditional surveys evaluate member satisfaction with an organization. But does satisfaction give a clear picture of what members really feel and want?

We wanted to find out! So in a recent membership survey, we asked both satisfaction and loyalty questions. These questions measure members’ feelings about the organization, their likelihood to renew membership and their willingness to recommend membership to others.

The findings comparing these two techniques were enlightening.

The good news is that we found that membership satisfaction ran at 90.8%.

However, we saw a much more diverse picture using our loyalty questions. Based on these questions we found:

  • 57% of members could be categorized as “Advocates”: They express positive relationship feelings toward the organization, indicating an intention to remain a member and a willingness to recommend membership to others.

  • 2% of members could be categorized as “Reluctant”: They express positive feelings toward the organization, but are hesitant to commit to future membership or recommending others.

  • 18% of members could be categorized as “At Risk”: They express negative feelings toward the organization, but plan to remain a member. This segment often feels trapped in a membership with few or no alternatives.

  • 23% of member could be categorized as “Detractors”: They express negative feelings toward the organization, indicating little intention to renew or refer others.

By measuring loyalty instead of satisfaction with this organization, a membership picture comes into focus that lends itself to action. This is especially true as each loyalty category is cross tabulated by job titles, membership tenure, company type, and other key demographics.

Do you have a meaningful measure of membership loyalty for your organization?

Just Published Article on Global Marketing Now Available

If your organization is U.S. based and looking to do membership marketing beyond the borders, you are facing some challenges including postal costs, prospect list availability, and language barriers.

In a just released article I wrote, you will find some guidance on how other organizations have handled some of these challenges. The article is Global Direct-Mail Membership Marketing: Challenges and Opportunities and appears in ASAE and the Center’s ASAE’s Global Links newsletter.

You will need an ASAE password to access it. However, I will check on getting permission to distribute copies if there are non-members who want to see it.

10 Tips for Selling at Trade Shows


Booth duty at trade shows is a part of many of our jobs. So how is it done in a professional and helpful way? And, no it should not be a re-enactment of the movie Jaws.

Here is what I have learned from my experience and from my colleagues.
  1. Schedule Appointments Pre-Show: Before you go to the show be sure to call or email your friends, prospects, and members and invite them to come by the booth. Provide them with your booth number.
  2. Arrange Booth Traffic Pattern: Once the show starts, position yourself at the corner of the booth leaving a clear view of your booth message. Have your give-away (candy, gift, brochure) in the center of your booth, welcoming the entrance of your visitor.
  3. Initiate Interaction: Reach out to people who pass by the booth and connect to them by asking an openning question like, “Do you do engineering (fill in with your profession or field) work for your company?"
  4. Qualify Contact: Everyone is short on time at a trade show. There are many booths your visitor wants to see. So maximize everyone’s time with qualifying questions to see if your visitor is a decision maker for your product or service.
  5. Identify Problems or Pain: Go deeper with qualified decision makers. Ask questions to see what particular issues or challenges are present.
  6. Present Value Proposition: Provide a short, crisp outline of how you help with the particular problems that have been discussed. Your value proposition might sound something like, “We have members with that same challenge and they find that we help them by. . .”
  7. Obtain Contact Information: Most trade show sales take place well after the show. To get back in touch for a sale, you need to collect follow up information. A business card is the easiest way to get contact information.
  8. Agree on Next Steps: Get permission and agreement from your qualified prospect to follow up with them. This may be as simple as agreeing to send additional information. Write a note on the back of their business card with the action you need to take.
  9. Ask for Referral: Before a qualified prospect leaves you, be sure to ask them to send other attendees your way who might have similar needs. Ask them, “Who else do you know that might be helped by our services?”
  10. Prepare Follow Up Materials: Before you leave for the show, you should have your follow up materials assembled and ready to go. When you return, personalize your response with the agreed upon next steps and fulfill the request within days of your return.

Feel free to add any tips you have in the comments section. Also, I am curious to hear what you have seen done poorly at trade shows. We could come up with a top 10 list of what not to do.

Don’t Lose Your Postal Discounts


If you are getting ready to send out mailings later this fall, you need to be aware of upcoming new requirements from the United States Postal Service (USPS).

By November 23, 2008, the USPS will require all presorted Standard mail (including Non-Profit) to have addresses updated and verified against the National Change of Address (NCOA) database within 95 days of the mail date. If the update has not been done, you lose your money-saving discounts and are charged the non-automated, single-piece rates. This can mean hundreds if not thousands of dollars in added costs for mailers that fail to comply.

The NCOA system was put into place in 1986 in order to help the USPS reduce UAA (Undeliverable as Addressed) mail and also to help save mailers money that would otherwise be wasted on materials and postage for mail that could not be properly delivered. Over 40 million Americans change their address annually and the current NCOA database contains over 160,000 records of people who have moved over the past 48 months.

For someone to get into the database, at work or at home, they simply need to complete a USPS Change of Address card or go to the USPS Change Of Address web page. This creates a new record in the NCOA master database and updates the system.

A number of companies are providing services to NCOA mailing lists including my firm. If you are doing large quantities of mail, this is something that you should be sure to check on soon.

Insert Your Name Here

For awhile now I have been writing about the integration of the membership marketing concept into the world of retailing, insurance, and fundraising.

The press release that I came across today is another example: “Sep 01, 2008 -- Sam's Club, the wholesale division of Wal-Mart Stores, has promoted Cindy Davis to executive vice president of membership, marketing and e-commerce. . . Most recently, Ms Davis was responsible for membership and marketing and has led the organization to achieve several successes, said Wal-Mart.”

Many of us could drop our name in here as it relates to responsibilities and achievements. It has been interesting for me to note that of the hundreds of subscribers to this blog, an increasing number are from for-profit organizations.

I am convinced that there are important lessons to be learned and shared by both the for-profit and the non-profit practitioners of membership marketing. Do you have any thoughts on this?