I really enjoyed reading the latest insights and predictions on digital trends for the membership sector in Digital Excellence 2017, the free annual research summary report from MemberWise.
275 association and membership professionals took part so it helpfully covers a broad range of organisation types and sizes. The findings are particularly helpful if you are looking to benchmark or write proposals/business cases for digital change/transformation and need to back them up with statistics from across the sector.
Here are my top 10 insights from the report.
- 2017 remains all about member engagement, operational efficiency and revenue growth. In particular, organisations feel that increasing member engagement, their number one priority, remains key to improving levels of member satisfaction, increasing advocacy and retaining members.
- Although more than half of organisations feel that member engagement has risen over the last year, perceptions of member value haven’t. I believe there’s an opportunity here to communicate better the benefits and value of membership, and to involve (and engage) members by asking them what they want from their organisation.
- Measuring member engagement remains a significant challenge for many. As a consequence, the report predicts that this will attract further investment in 2017/18 as organisations seek to strengthen their connections with members. There’s a helpful engagement model and a 7-step Member Engagement Toolkit in the report that I recommend taking a look at.
- Email marketing is well ingrained in 93% of membership organisations and associations with 70% creating email content that can be displayed on multiple devices.
- Social media engagement figures remain low with organisations believing that only up to 10% of members engage via the social media platforms they use (Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and YouTube). What can your organisation do to improve how it engages on social media with its members?
- Multiple databases, data silos, and poor integration of membership management systems (CRM databases) with website content management systems (CMS) are a huge challenge for 40% of membership organisations – creating inefficiencies, an inability to understand members’ interests well and tailor offerings, plus potential data protection issues.
- CRM systems themselves are an issue for just under two thirds of organisations who have integrated their website and membership database/CRM system – only to find they have been underwhelmed by the result and the system’s inability to meet their requirements, despite customisations. 40% are likely to invest in replacing their CRM system over the next 12 months. If you’re considering investing, it’s worth noting that the most popular systems are Microsoft Dynamics, Integra and iMIS.
- Inadequate online member self-service options are a major challenge for 30% of organisations – an increase on 2016.
- Personalising web content is key to ensuring a more engaging online experience so it’s an area membership organisations should continue to invest in. Connected to this experience, many membership websites are still designed by internal function, rather than considering members need, what they’re looking for and their personal navigation journey.
- The most commonly used web analytics tools for measuring online member engagement are open rates, clickthroughs and website views – though organisations recognise they need to expand on this and these alone do not tell the full story on how engaged members actually are.
What are your priorities for 2017? You can download the report for free.