I was enjoying a listserv thread about membership analytics. One person posted some pretty interesting stuff about their methodology to define and measure member engagement. It seemed like a robust process. I was intrigued.

But I was concerned that it relied heavily on manual input/activities. Were they really investing this kind of effort on a regular basis to keep measuring engagement of their membership? Well, I thought, if they were, it must be worth it for them – and I would like to learn more about what they are doing with the data. Because any data that hard won has got to be connected with some serious roi. So, I asked…

Q: Do you measure the website behavioral patterns (E.g., consumption of content) from one type of engaged member all the way to “buy” (attendee, join, renewal, etc.).

The reply surprised me.

A: We do not take things to that level. I feel digging deeper than what we currently do would take way too much human labor and the ROI is in the negative.

Wow, stopping before connecting your marketing to people buying?

The assumption is that this can’t be automated, but it most certainly can. Maybe for other reasons, it is not appropriate for this association. But, this can be done with far less labor than they are suggesting.

Here are the secrets to how we do it:

  1. Clearly identify the profile of the different types of “buyers” within the organization’s audience
  2. Map out the journey to purchasing of each “buyer”
  3. Create content for each “buyer” at each journey stage
  4. Use dynamic content to show the right content to the right “buyer” at the right time
  5. Segment people by their activities into High, Medium, Low engagement
  6. Measure results, iterate.

Through this process, simply as a side effect, we are automatically measuring engagement as demonstrated by how many “buyers” get to the end of the goals. Meaning, how many were engaged enough to get to the end of the bread crumbs that were laid out just for them. And we created smart lists that define differing levels of engagement – we set them up once and they keep working, continuously adding people (by name) who meet the criteria.

Automated, all of it.

More importantly, you can use this data for the only thing that matters: connecting engagement to the bottom line so you can figure out how to influence the bottom line. Oh, and that is automated too.

So, do I think there is value in defining engagement criteria and measuring your audience. Oh yes. We are working on that very thing this week for a nonprofit organization. But we will, of course, use that data to inform as to how we can move the needle.

If we show the highly engaged members an offer sooner, will some of them buy without needing a discount to prompt them to action? Thereby shortening the sales cycle and increasing revenue.

If we provide compelling, case study-based arguments for attendance, can we get more repeat attendees in the middle engagement group? And do so at a lower cost of acquisition?

By now you likely see why measuring engagement data is so wonderful, and kudos to the association for investing in it. I just wish they would put up a finger to see which way the wind is blowing; there’s a better process/solution out there that will get better results for them. If only they would ask a simple checks and balances question: “we are on to something, but is there a better way to connect the dots?”

By Monica Bussolati