Community Brands’ “8 Strategies to Modernize your Association in 2020” study – our 3 Takeaways

Community Brands recently published a large-scale study that detailed 8 strategies association executives can use to modernize their organizations for 2020. In recent years, “Modernize” has become a buzzword for associations looking to make the most out of available technology in the same way that “superfood” has become a buzzword used to sell kale and blueberries. While navigating the world of quinoa and chia seeds can be frustrating, difficult, and often tasteless, it is almost undeniably good for you – as is properly-executed “Modernization.”

Gravitate lives on the front lines of data analytics for associations and sees how member-based organizations of all kinds modernize themselves to better understand their audiences and improve business results. In this blog we distill Community Brands’ 1500 surveys and 8 strategies all the way down to 3 actionable takeaways:

Community Brands Strategy #3, “Modernize Your Member Engagement: Focus on Personalization”

This element, #3 in their list of 8 recommended strategies, explains that to maximize and modernize your member engagement, you need to use your data to understand your members and offer them something they truly need or want from your organization. But how do you do that?  Gravitate has developed an engagement scoring model that identifies and tracks member engagement activities, which can be used to determine what interests your members.  For example, you can determine the critical differences between your moderately-engaged and highly-engaged members.  Perhaps these are the members that avail themselves of certifications, your career center or a mentor/mentee program.  By being able to identify which programs these highly-engaged members prefer and then identifying the demographics they have in common (such as generation, professional interest, tenure, etc.), you have the insight to market to similar groups in the “less engaged” category. By using member data to personalize your marketing messages and offerings, you are strengthening your chances for driving higher member engagement.

Community Brands Strategy #6, “Modernize Your Decisions: Let Data Be Your Guide”

This strategy reinforces the earlier point about turning your data into the recipe for your entire revenue cake rather than just the icing. Community Brands agrees: “Data Analytics drives your association. Without it, your decisions are guesses and you lack visibility into how your membership is trending.”  However, according to the Community Brands’ Guide, 42% of association professionals say, “the ability to interpret data is a major concern, yet 32% trust their member data and use it to make important decisions.” This might be the time to ask yourself if data has been an obstacle for you.  We generally find that associations don’t use or don’t trust their data because they either have what is perceived to be inaccurate data or limited access to it. Both challenges can be solved with a modern data analytics solution like Nucleus.  When we implement the solution, we validate the data and build Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you and your team can trust.  We also pull important data from subsystems, such as critical email and website activity, and make it available to the business operators and decision makers so they can use it to uncover insights and make important decisions.

Community Brands Strategy #7, “Modernize your Technology: Move Toward Integrated Solutions”

This strategy expands upon strategy six by explaining how you can maximize your data and move it from disparate sources, the new data silos, to an integrated solution.  Integrated and blended data enables your team to work more efficiently because they have access to all the data from all the systems in one place – allowing for insights not possible before. In addition, since all the data from each department system is being evaluated and inspected in one place, it helps enhance overall trust in the data and makes it easier to identify deficiencies and maintain accuracy.

While we agree with Community Brands that pulling your data together and blending it into one source is the right strategy, moving it into a transactional database (such as an AMS) is not the ideal approach – as detailed in this blog.  Transactional databases, which are the foundation of all the major AMS systems, were not architected to store a complete picture of history.  Yes, they are typically integrated to many of your 3rd party systems, but the data is arrayed to support transaction processing and not reporting or data analysis.  For example, transactional systems cannot store any of your unstructured (text) data from your growing survey and community data.  Without this data, you are not analyzing all your members activity.

Modernizing your association can seem an intimidating prospect because it sounds both complex and vague. One simple and impactful step is to implement a state-of-the-art data analytics solution like Nucleus. It is difficult to argue against knowledge, or against a better understanding of your members. Nucleus’ purpose is to bring all your data together and use it to provide you with the critical insights you need to help you achieve your revenue, engagement and retention goals.  Modernization can be challenging, and (depending on whether it’s being used effectively or not), data can either be part of the solution or part of the problem. At the end of the day, Modernization doesn’t have to be difficult. Nucleus was built to illuminate your way down the path of success in 2020 and into the next decade.

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