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Capturing and Evaluating Key Member Engagement Metrics

Capturing and Evaluating Key Member Engagement Metrics

Ask most association leaders and they'll tell you that one of their greatest challenges is understanding member engagement and, even more importantly, how to enhance it. The recent Membership Monday event, hosted by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), explored this topic by posing two critical questions at the heart of most membership strategies:

1) What exactly are we looking for when we talk about member engagement?

2) Which tools have proven effective (or ineffective) in capturing this elusive metric?

The path toward understanding, defining, and improving member engagement metrics is a difficult one, but there is wisdom to be gained from the struggles and successes of others. When combined with the capabilities of modern community and learning technology that wisdom can be transformative. 

The Challenging Quest for Comprehensive Touchpoint Management

One of the standout desires among membership leaders is the ability to manage and monitor all member touchpoints effectively. Doing so can be difficult when you're working with legacy, siloed technology. It isn't just about tracking interactions, but understanding the quality and impact of each engagement. The goal is to paint a holistic picture of a member's journey, identifying highly engaged members and, even more crucially, those at risk of disengaging or churning.

To effectively manage and monitor all member touchpoints, you may want to set your sights on more modern technology. Transitioning away from siloed technology to a unified platform can help you streamline data collection and analysis across various touchpoints. This allows for a more comprehensive and cohesive understanding of the frequency, quality, and impact of member interactions.

Innovative Approaches to Engagement

Eliciting participation and sustained engagement from members at the outset is often a challenge for membership leaders and community managers. Capturing members' attention and involving them amidst busy schedules and competing interests requires innovative approaches that prioritize continuous interaction.

One intriguing strategy comes from the leader of an education-focused association whose core strategy involves automatically enrolling members in a variety of newsletters during their onboarding process. Email engagement metrics, along with data on subscriptions and unsubscriptions, are then used to predict member behavior and monitor member health. It's a practical example of how organizations can keep their fingers on the pulse of member engagement, identifying both the most interested and those drifting away.

The Importance of Milestones and Benchmarks

Many membership leaders have had trouble setting benchmarks against the industry and against their own historical data. While data on member engagement is often plentiful, the lack of clear, actionable benchmarks means organizations struggle to differentiate between the signal and the noise. This ambiguity makes it challenging to strategically direct efforts and resources.

However, one thing that membership leaders unanimously agree on is the importance of recognizing and celebrating milestones in a member's journey. The milestones that are the most relevant when it comes to understanding the health of a community and the engagement level of its members include reaching certain participation thresholds, achieving specific goals within the community, or demonstrating consistent engagement over time. This "moving up the ladder" philosophy fosters a sense of progression and belonging among members.

Take Action and Start Optimizing

Understanding and enhancing member engagement is both an art and a science. While there are challenges, it's clear that with the right tools, strategies, and community insights, organizations can engage their members and drive both growth and satisfaction. So what can you do right now to get started creating a more engaged, vibrant community? 

1. Decide how to measure success by settling on the metrics most important to you. Define the key performance indicators that align with your community goals, considering both quantitative and qualitative metrics that can help you gain an understanding of member engagement and satisfaction. Metrics are a reflection of the activity within your community, so focusing on the metrics that support the behaviors you'd like to promote and encourage is a great strategy for shaping your community in a positive way. 

2. Determine if you have data blind spots and where you need more information to make decisions. Analyze your current data collection methods and systems to identify any gaps or limitations. Evaluate whether you're capturing data from all the relevant touchpoints with members, like email engagement, social media interactions, event attendance, and member feedback, and identify where you could use additional data for a more complete picture of member engagement.

3. Fill the gaps and make sure you're capturing the right data. Take steps to enhance your data collection by deploying new tools or technologies, improving data tracking processes, and regularly reviewing your methods and metrics. This will ensure your measurement remains relevant and aligned with your organization's goals and your community's evolving needs. 

By following these steps, you can gain valuable insights into member engagement levels, identify areas for improvement, and take proactive steps to create a more engaged and vibrant community.

Want to learn more about measuring community engagement? Click here to download our free e-book, Building Vibrant Communities: How to Break Free from the Traditional Definition of Engagement

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