3 Digital Trends Associations Should Start, Stop & Continue

Excerpted from 6/12/19 webinar by Sandy Marsico and Rob Miller, CAE

Sandstorm and Gravitate discussed the tried and true methodology of “Start, Stop & Continue” to identify strategies to focus technology initiatives.

Thinking about the digital transformations we’ve seen with associations lately, below are some retrospectives on what we see trending with membership organizations.


START Creating a culture of data. Using data to inform your decisions and weaving that into everything you do is critical to success. We are working with an association today where we’re collecting and analyzing data to identify educational gaps and drive new products (and revenue). We’re also utilizing data to drive content and functional requirements on new website builds to improve the member experience. By taking a fresh look at member data for a global membership organization, we were able to re-interpret the data and create new marketing campaign messaging to increase membership and product sales. The combination of qualitative and quantitative data helps associations turn subjective decisions into objective ones. Even when we’re talking creative and UX – data science for us plays a huge role.

Something we strongly recommend for associations is to bring together relevant data from all your different sources – your AMS, your events tool, online community, etc.



A data analytics tool like Nucleus is capable of storing these large quantities of data and also delivering insights to every member of your staff.


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STOP Outdated, Unprofitable Programs. Something that can be difficult at associations is stopping things that are entrenched but no longer helpful. These can be age-old business processes, ways of doing things, that either create inefficiencies within your organization or, potentially much worse, leading your members to question whether you really understand them and their needs.

An example is to stop offering education that people don’t want – and one way to dramatically improve your understanding of the topics that different member segments are interested in is to use techniques such as Semantic Analysis.

The word map below shows what millennial members were discussing most in an association’s online community. Bringing together data from the AMS (to identify members in the millennial age range) and an online community (to see the topics and frequency) provided insights not possible without blending data.

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CONTINUE focusing on member engagement, member value and the overall member experience. This is what we love most about associations. It doesn’t matter if you’re a trade association or professional society, large or niche, everyone shares a common mission to help members achieve their best.

One way to improve the member experience is to provide content to your members in the way they prefer to consume it – what kinds of content do they like to consume on mobile, what kinds of content on a laptop, what do they consume at home and what in the office.


One of the most common challenges and motivations we’ve seen for launching into a new website overhaul was to improve their members’ online experience and increase online member engagement. And we get it – we, too, are all about the user. When you look into the member journey, continue at all touchpoints to remember we’re all just people trying to be the best version of ourselves. Keep the humanity alive in your organization that you have already mastered.

Conclusion: Yours is not the only association that sees the importance of using data to drive better business decisions, to turn data into actionable insights, and to remove subjectivity from the work we are doing. Think about what your association should start, stop, and continue doing – and how data could support this.


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