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Measuring Member Engagement – The AMS Vendors Are Starting to Get It

In a few weeks I’ll be speaking at ASAE’s Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference. My session will be on leveraging your organization’s AMS to improve marketing and communications efforts.

One of the points I’m going to touch on is the need for associations to measure member engagement by tracking all the different channels that members can engage with the association (e.g., membership, committee service, speaking, etc.) and “weighting” those activities in order to identify your strongest (and weakest) members and customers. I’ll discuss how some associations are doing this and how more associations should be doing it.

So I was very pleased to learn this week (during demos with one of my clients) that at least two association management software vendors (ACGI and Avectra) have now “baked” this type of weighting directly into their respective AMS products. In similar manner, both are tracking all the transactions that occur within the database and then “scoring” those transactions based on weighting provided by the association.

This is very cool and VERY powerful functionality. Every smart marketer knows that your best customers are the ones you need to market to the most. And defining “best customer” is different for different associations. These kinds of scoring tools will go a long way toward identifying best customers and helping us to communicate and market more effectively.

Full disclosure: EDM is an independent third-party consulting firm. This means we have no financial relationship with any of the vendors mentioned in this blog. We provide unbiased opinions on what we see.

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7 Comments on "Measuring Member Engagement – The AMS Vendors Are Starting to Get It"

David Sieg - 1 April 2011 Reply

Thanks for touching on such an timely topic. Today, it's so important to address two key sides to the complete association management system: delivering value to members (via social networking) and gaining enhanced operational efficiencies (AMS). And these two are more intricately linked than ever before. Social networking/online communities are most beneficial when they feed KPIs like member profile data, social networking activities, financial transaction histories, event attendance data, etc. directly and seamlessly into a centralize AMS database. This, in turn, allows users/admins to view the overall health of their private social networks, conduct email marketing to targeted member segments, run customized reports and more. We call it 'social networking with a purpose!' (PROMO WARNING!) YourMembership.com created a 1-minute video that addresses this very concept: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI2Q19xctGw Thanks again for highlighting the importance of social networking plus membership management solutions.

Wes Trochlil - 1 April 2011 Reply

David, thanks for the comment. I believe an AMS can deliver value to members withOUT a social networking element, but having said that, including the social piece as part of the overall KPIs makes a lot of sense.

Tom Morrison - 1 April 2011 Reply

Social networking is very important in the engagement assessment and equation because it gives the smallest member in the most remote location the same chance to participate as those members who have the budgets to travel and seem involved because they are seen at meetings. I find there are many members who are more active online in industry discussions and connecting with others than those at live meetings. Without social networking, you are really only providing the greatest value to those who can spend the money to attend meetings. The power of social networking is it provides for 100% of your membership to participate and get involved.

Wes Trochlil - 2 April 2011 Reply

No argument, Tom. But if an assn's only option for engagement is face-to-face meetings, that assn needs to rethink their engagement channels. For example, writing for an assn should not require any travel or budget. And very often committee service can be done via teleconference. My point is that social networking isn't the only way to address those "hard to reach" members.

Ken Johnson - 2 April 2011 Reply

Social media is now mandatory for AMS vendors who are selling into the 1-10 staff size. Avectra, Memberclicks, and Your Membership have offer both an AMS, CMS, and Social Media all in one.

Megan Drendrea - 3 April 2011 Reply

Great blog Wes, Ken I agree with you regarding one vendor one and one datbase for 1-10 staff size. You might want to consider Timberlake and Computility to. They are an all in one solution as well.

Shelly Giordano - 3 April 2011 Reply

Wild Apricot is a viable option for 1-6 staff. One database/ one vendor is what I recommend for this staff size. We were in an environment where one vendor was blaming another and we were happy to get out of that environment.The less than 10 staff is the most over served market in the association space so it takes time to select the right vendor. I guess that's a good problem to have.

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
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“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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