It’s no secret associations are making best efforts to customize their communications to appeal to different member subgroups. But research shows that technology limitations — not lack of marketing savvy — often get in the way. According to our annual association communication benchmarking study, more than one-third of respondents (33.7 percent) said “technology solutions we have in place make it difficult to customize communications” for members. This challenge eclipsed even “staffing shortages” (30.8 percent) as a key barrier to better customization.
Drilling down further into the data, we find that mid-career association professionals are the cohort most likely to lament their organizations’ technology limitations. For instance, nearly two in five respondents in their 30s and 40s cited inadequate tech, compared to just 30 percent of 50-something respondents, 29 percent of 60-something respondents, and 27 percent of 20-somethings.
“We have the technology, but the data organization needs improvement,” noted one mid-career respondent to our annual study. “We struggle to come up with ideas of what each member segment may want, and staff time available is always an issue in all areas of the organization,” said another respondent.
Margaret Rahayem, senior director of strategic initiatives and communications for the Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH), said online forums and community groups are helping MBGH get around the member customization challenge. See Hank Berkowitz’s column in today’s issue for more membership insights from Rahayem and other association leaders.