Marketing & Communications

Your Data Tells You What Members Want—Now Use It (Part 2)

By • November 5, 2012

Last month, we discussed the importance of using data the right way to gain a deeper understanding of your members’ needs, wants and delivery preferences. Here, we’ll take a look at some widely used tools that you can use to collect meaningful data about your members and specifically tailor your offerings to them.

  • Collecting data about your members’ association-related reading habits, event attendance and attitudes toward your
    association can yield powerful ways to improve your membership offerings.
  • There are many free tools available, such as Google, HootSuite and SurveyMonkey, to help you monitor online membership activity.
  • The easiest way to start organizing and analyzing your membership data is with a simple spreadsheet. As you settle into
    a routine of data collection and brainstorm new information you want to collect, add sheets and charts to detect activity trends.

Try these data collection tools

You can use a fancy integrated software system to monitor your membership activity, but many are expensive and come with a learning curve. If you want to ease into active data collection and analysis before investing in a slicker system, try these free tools:

  • Google Analytics: One of the most popular website tracking systems available, it is also one of the most extensive and user-friendly. Google helps you track standard metrics like visitors and page views, and also allows you to set up custom reports
    that link your social media and AdWords campaigns to visitor goals.
  • HootSuite: This program can help you monitor all your social media accounts in one place. HootSuite is a Web-based
    analytics and social media management platform. This program can tell you how many people have “liked” your Facebook posts, retweeted your tweets or joined your circles on Google+. HootSuite also can help you keep tabs on your WordPress blog or Foursquare campaign. Broadcast messages across all or some of your accounts from HootSuite, and schedule posts ahead of time if you’re going to be out of the office. Free and premium plans are available.
  • Facebook Insights: Standard with every Facebook page, Facebook’s proprietary tracking program helps you see trends in fan acquisitions, “like” activity, comments and audience demographics. Though more limited than other third-party Facebook analytic programs, it’s a good place to start for those intimidated by tracking Web stats.
  • SurveyMonkey: When you can create an unlimited number of online surveys up to 10 questions long and collect up to 100 responses for free, you have the ability to create event registrations easily, poll your members about past events and future ideas, and ask how your association can better meet their expectations any time you want. (Online surveys are one of the
    easiest ways to efficiently collect qualitative anecdotes). SurveyMonkey offers basic reports about the responses you collect in its free model and more complex, automated analysis in its premium models.
  • Spreadsheet: A blank spreadsheet (electronic or, for those of you who like it old school, paper) is still the most versatile, customizable and cost-effective data tracking tool out there. Start here if the only information you have right now is member contact information or the number of people who attended your last meeting. As you settle into a routine of data collection and brainstorm new information you want to collect, add sheets and charts to detect activity trends.

Data collection can be time-consuming, but with the right tools and a well-thought-out information goal in mind, it is well worth the effort.

Kelly Donovan is an online marketing specialist with Naylor, LLC.