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April 30, 2018

Keeping the Pulse on Membership with Data-Driven Decisions

The world around us is pushing deeper into data-driven initiatives for strategic development, product development, marketing and customer experience. Relying on trending data helps associations understand the expectations of their members to an extent, but these expectations are constantly changing and require ongoing attention. Creating the informational infrastructure to consistently monitor member needs and adapt to them accordingly is the most meaningful way associations will continue to thrive in their industries.

Recently, the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) decided it was time to take the leap to a more holistically data-driven approach. They wanted to know more about their members, including opinions about their overall purpose, how their products were meeting needs across time and whether they were providing the maximum value possible as an association.

Many associations still use informal data collection – usually through anecdotal responses from their most engaged members. And while that does provide a level of workable insight, it doesn’t paint an accurate or big enough picture of how you are performing for your entire population of members—or how you can best evolve to meet each of their individual needs.

With this in mind, our research team worked directly with IAAO using longitudinal research to determine key performance metrics, develop instruments to measure them across time, benchmark them against the association industry at large and helped generate a simple way for IAAO to stay in step with their members while making strategic, data-informed decisions about how to move forward.

Tapping into Member Mindsets

Every sound strategy begins with a solid understanding of an association’s members. And because of that, the first step IAAO needed to take to transform their member research process was developing a scalable method for collecting and analyzing feedback.

We focused on understanding four areas of member sentiment:

  • Why are they members of IAAO?
  • How satisfied are they as members?
  • How do they perceive IAAO?
  • What can IAAO do to improve?

Rather than focusing solely on who IAAO members are today, we worked with them to build a foundation of data from new, current and former members, giving us strategic insight into what was and was not currently working and where the future of member expectation was headed.

Then, by repeating those surveys consistently across time to stay on top of member population’s needs, we were able to identify trends and, to some degree, anticipate and plan for member needs as they shifted.

Seeing the Bigger Picture

Like many associations, member data was only one piece of the puzzle for IAAO. Before putting our findings into action, IAAO needed to decipher how those findings stacked up against the association industry at large. Was IAAO serving its members well compared to other associations? Were they driving industry-leading value, or merely settling for ‘good enough’?

We took IAAO’s benchmarking data and compared it with other related associations from around the world. The result didn’t just reveal IAAO’s position in the landscape—it identified smart places for strategic investment and development based on sound, holistic data.

The Bottom Line

We know that every organization does their best to collect data and insights to make decisions.  But too often, organizations rely on incomplete, unreliable data that alone doesn’t inspire the decisions that make the most sense for their members and products. To be truly successful, it’s important to follow a scientifically sound, holistic approach to data collection and benchmarking that allows you to fully understand your members and your association’s performance.

When working with IAAO, we followed a longitudinal research process that was specifically designed to systematically collect quality data and benchmark it against the performance of associations industry-wide.

To learn more about IAAO’s journey and our partnership, download and read the article from their journal, Fair & Equitable.

Learn more about our research and insight services, data collection, analysis and strategy development – contact McKinley Advisors today.


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