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Overcome the Challenges of Gathering Member-Data

There are unquestionably massive challenges involved in gathering data about your members such as work information and contact details. All these pieces of information are crucial for effective management of an organization.

Two common data challenges involve timing and determining how much data to collect.  

Timing

One consideration in gathering information relates to timing: while some organizations collect data during the membership application stage, other organizations collect more information daily, which accumulates over time.

How Much Data to Collect

Beyond timing, another issue to consider is the scope of information to collect.

On one hand, collecting too much information can be inundating and prevent a prospective member from joining the chapter. Think about a membership application form with 50 fields or more. Now compare this with a simplified 10-field registration form.

Which one will you most likely complete?

On the other hand, asking for too little might hamper your efforts in properly serving members.

If you don’t know their likings or interests, you might not be able to match them with the proper email communication for example.

The correct balance usually depends on the type of association, long term strategy, and tools used to collect data.

The natural question, then, is how does an organization go about collecting this important data?

How to Collect Member Data

Organizations using the StarChapter technology, for example, have tools that allow them to collect data during and after the membership application stage, making it easy to leverage the built-in features to achieve the strategy and not vice-versa.

If you focus more on the post-registration stage, here are some useful methods to ramp up member-data collection on a daily or periodical basis.

Post-Registration Data Collection Methods

  1. Design a member profile – create a password protected account for each profile, allowing members to actively update their data, such as employment information, picture, interests, etc.
  2. Email communication – send members email reminders to complete their online profile and link profile completeness to member interests. Perfectly designed emails or plain text emails can be as effective, with emphases on call-to-action buttons to update profiles.
  3. Renewal messages – as auto-renewals may have a negative effect on member experience, send out email remainders three, two and one month prior to membership end-date and a few times after expiration.
  4. Newsletters – take advantage of your already scheduled monthly or quarterly newsletters to remind members and prospects to update their profiles. Our StarChapter newsletters always include an announcements section. 
  5. Forums – start off the conversation on your organization website, visible to all members. This is a good way to harness the power of your online community to encourage users to update their accounts.
  6. Website announcements – post online announcement that are readily visible on the organization’s site.
  7. Letter from the President – have the president encourage members to update their profiles.
  8. Event table – set up a designated table with volunteers to help members to directly update their information using the StarChapter system.

 

Remember, members move around. They change jobs, interests, and most importantly, what was true a year ago, might not be true anymore such as the reason for joining the chapter.

If they joined a year ago wanting to network in hopes of finding a new job, now they might have shifted gears and are interested in development programs. Once you know their needs, you can even use the data collected for targeted marketing, such as creating emails based upon specific interests.

Keeping data updated will allow for you to provide better services for members, ultimately strengthening the value of your organization.

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