4 Ways to Use Data to Personalize Member Communications

Using data to personalize member communications has come a long way. It’s no longer just dropping someone’s name in the salutation of an email; true personalization is about showing members that you know and understand them. Here are four ways you can gather member data and use it to provide a personal touch.

Why Use Data to Personalize Member Communications?

According to McKinsey research, 72% of consumers expect the businesses they buy from to recognize them as individuals and know their interests. This number has ratcheted up since the COVID-19 pandemic, as more and more people have been making digital transactions. This percentage no doubt correlates to members of associations; in fact, members may have higher expectations of their association to understand their needs and values. Proving this can lead to higher engagement and increase the value of membership, which is good for renewals.

72% of consumers expect the businesses they buy from to recognize them as individuals

Fortunately, technology is making personalization easier. Online surveys and polls can help you gather member feedback; Google analytics and social listening tools can help you learn more about your audience; and private online communities where members engage with each other can help you analyze their interests, concerns and more.

Where to Find Data for Personalization

In addition to the above, you can find and use data to personalize member communications with various management systems and tools:

Your CRM or AMS

A customer relationship management tool (CRM) or other association management system (AMS) allows you to store member contact and personal information (e.g., name, location, job title, company, age, past purchases, membership status), identify sales opportunities, record service issues and manage marketing campaigns, all in one central location.

Your LMS

A learning management system (LMS) is a software platform designed to manage, distribute and track training and educational courses. With an LMS, you can store information about members’ degrees, certifications, credentials and subject matter interests.

You can also gather data about member purchases or registrations through other avenues, such as chapter affiliations, special interest group involvement, volunteerism and event attendance.

Your Email or Marketing Automation Tool

If you’re using an email or marketing automation tool, you probably have a record of the content that your audience has engaged with. You can glean their interests by the emails they’ve opened and the links they clicked on and even understand what type of device they tend use to read your communications.

4 Ways to Use Data to Personalize Member Communications

Once you determine how you’ll collect and store member data, you can use it to personalize your interactions. Here are some examples:

1.     Personalize Email

Personalizing the subject line of an email or addressing the member by name is a good start, but this isn’t where customization should end. You can use location, job title and other data points to make your email feel more relevant to specific members. For example, if you have an email planned for a networking event, consider a subject line like, “Connect with your [job title] peers in [city] next week.”

If segmenting members sounds like a lot of work, you might look into using artificial intelligence (AI) to lighten the load. AI can dictate the messages your audience receives based on their behavior and interests and can even determine the best time of day to send an email. Some tools create custom curated emails based on your subscribers’ interests and past behaviors.

2.     Customize Education Offerings

While some continuing education or professional development products may appeal to all of your members, you can increase uptake if you segment your communications and highlight the unique benefits for specific people. Consider segments such as new graduates and mid-level professionals who may be looking to advance their careers, as well as members who need to meet requirements for recertification or to remain in good standing. Positioning courses and credentials to meet these specific goals helps members see the unique benefit for their personal situation.

And if you have a new course or credit in a subject matter that is relevant to a segment of your membership, communicate it to them as an exclusive opportunity.

3.     Curate Recommended Products and Services

Netflix set the standard of curation, and companies of all industries have been following suit ever since. Member data on past articles read, courses completed, events attended or groups joined is fodder for your recommendation engine. Some software automates curated newsletters or website experiences, but you can accomplish the same thing with a little manual setup using tags or groups in your CRM to create lists and then developing campaigns for those members.

4.     Segment Your Member Magazine

Mailing data can tell you a lot about a member. If regional events or offerings are relevant to your audience, consider versioning your magazine to highlight local experiences. Using some of the same segments you created for education offerings, you can also have different versions of your magazine for members at different career stages, featuring different house ads for relevant courses, events and job listings.

Where to Start with Personalized Member Communications

Before you dive into personalization, conduct a content audit to understand what assets you have at your disposal and how they can be categorized in ways relevant to your member segments. Then, you can create a content strategy to fill any content gaps that may be preventing you from customizing the experience for any members.

Your members’ time is valuable, so personalizing and sharing information that is useful to them is a key way to improve their membership experience and keep them engaged with your association.

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