In the blink of an eye, another summer has passed along with ASAE Annual. Last month, the Association Analytics team made their way to Toronto, Canada and as always, it was filled with informative sessions, incredible speakers, and fun conversations. This year’s overarching conference theme, "What Inspires", can be easy to answer for some. For others though, it can be challenging to explain. If you’re an association professional, then chances are your organization’s mission inspires you each day. And your members are the lifeline that keeps your association alive. However, before you can effectively reach your members, you need to examine the data (through analytics projects) to better understand their needs. Then, you can find ways to inspire them to stay engaged with your organization.
This year, Ric Camacho, Chief Technology & Digital Officer, Specialty Food Association Inc. and the team at Association Analytics had the opportunity to present a pre-conference masterclass session, "Kickstart Business Analytics Projects and Initiatives". If you were unable to attend this year’s conference or just want a refresher, we have you covered. Here are 5 key takeaways from the Kickstart Business Analytics Projects and Initiatives Session from ASAE 2017.
1) Data Is an Asset.
Data is an integral part of your association because it’s one of the elements that makes your organization unique. The data living in your software systems can tell you a lot of about what your members needs are and how you can keep them engaged or even re-engage with them. However, if your data is not managed, then it’s not a viable asset to your organization. Data management is essential in order for you to make informed decisions that guide your association's strategy.
Here are just a few of the ways an association can use data to better understand their members:
- Profile optimal customer by segment
- Determine who is “at risk” (for not renewing, not attending, not donating, etc.)
- Identify new audiences
- Cross Sell/Up Sell/Next Sell
- Create new products and services
- Measure performance
Like I said, just a handful. Data can even help you tell your association's story (aka mission) which will resonate with prospective and current members. But how do you let data drive your mission? You can achieve that by creating an analytics strategy.
2) How to Create an Analytics Strategy and Roadmap
An analytics strategy should be rooted within the overall association strategy. However, the process of creating an analytics strategy and roadmap can seem daunting. It doesn't have to be though. There are some key steps that your team can take to get started. Once you've completed this strategy and roadmap, you can present it to the leadership team and show the importance of embracing a culture of analytics. Ultimately, if everyone can adopt the data-guided mindset, then the leadership team is more likely to see the benefits of it and will also treat data as an asset.
3) A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Numbers
Wait, why does this sound familiar? Yes, we’ve all heard the old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and the same can be said for numbers. For many people, data is more likely to resonate with your team if you showcase it in a visually appealing way. Now, you might be thinking how can data be “pretty” and still be valuable. Well, guess what it’s possible to have both. There are programs, such as Power BI, that can provide dynamic reporting in an attractive and useful way so you can present your data story to executives. Ideally, if data is provided in a visual way that’s easy to decipher and process, then it will be easier to convince your team to embrace it as a way to better engage with your members.
4) Five Actionable Steps to Begin Using Data Analytics
Let’s say your team is on board with using the data to make decisions. Here’s an all too familiar example. Your association team is planning their next Annual Meeting. You want to find out what the registration numbers have been for the past few years, the retention rates at each meeting, and how many first-timers have been attending. Once you’ve determined the scope, you’ll need to collect this data from your registration reports. Next, you’ll have to clean it and extract what is relevant to you. From there, you can analyze it, and determine KPIs and goals for your upcoming Annual Meeting. Keep these 5 steps in mind as you begin using data analytics: Scope, Collect, Clean, Analyze, and Act.
5) Culture Change and the Analytical Mindset
When your team is accustomed to doing things a certain way, and a proposal to change the existing process is made, it’s likely you’ll receive push back from some people. As humans, we are naturally inclined to be distrustful of change, but it’s important to reinforce the reasoning behind doing something different. If your organization isn’t used to treating data as an asset in order to make strategic decisions, then it can be a major adjustment. That’s when it’s imperative to build a case for it and to turn to team members, such as your CIO and IT Directors at your organization. Chances are people in these specific roles understand the power of data being a single source of truth. Another way to instill a culture change at your association is by incorporating data literacy into your on-boarding process. By establishing that analytical mindset from the get-go, team members are more likely to use data to make informed decisions. Don't get discouraged if you don't get immediate buy-in to this idea though. Sometimes it just takes persistence on your part and even showcasing the loss in ROI to demonstrate the need for data.
If you can successfully get your entire team to adopt an analytical mindset, then you'll will be able to truly see if your organization is truly moving in the right direction of achieving their mission.