"In this age of the customer, the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers."
A quote from a Forrester report, this phrase is as true for associations as it is for companies. Your members are your customers and understanding their concerns, priorities, and interests in order to keep them engaged is crucial.
Fortunately, most organizations already know that. According to research from Convero, up to 80% of organizations plan to increase spending on customer engagement programs this year. Smart organizations are also monitoring their programs' progress, collecting information on their members' individual activities and overall engagement levels.
That engagement information can be incredibly valuable. It helps organizations in a variety of ways, most commonly with retention and satisfaction levels. While we've already shown you how you can use member engagement analytics to address member retention and other membership related priorities, you may be leaving money on the table if you stop there.
Another, less common, use for member engagement data is to bring more money in to your association. Here are three of the best ways to use your member engagement metrics to help increase revenue.
3 Ways to Use Engagement Metrics to Increase Revenue
Method #1) Convince Organizations to Sponsor Your Association
Sponsors are often an important source of non-dues revenue for associations. You could sell sponsorships for your association as a whole, your private member community, or an event. Regardless of the exact area, potential sponsors want to know that they are going to be seen by interested prospective customers before they sign the check.
Consider your engagement metrics as an essential part of your product's (the sponsorship opportunity) value proposition. They clearly demonstrate how active members of your association are, showing your potential sponsors just how many people they could reach. Engagement metrics are, essentially, an illustration of what sponsors are getting for their money.
Engagement metrics don't have to stand alone, however. They're just one tool in your sales arsenal. Combine engagement information with testimonials and other association or member data to fully explain why sponsors should work with your association.
Method #2) Identify Your Best Upsell and Upgrade Opportunities
Sales should not be a dirty word in associations. When done well, sales can improve the member experience by providing valuable products and services to the right people at the right time. And, for your association, upselling and upgrading existing members increases revenue per member at a relatively low cost.
According to Gallup, members that are engaged with your association are prime upsell and upgrade opportunities. Fully engaged customers or member exhibit a 23% premium in terms of wallet, profitability, and revenue. You can tap into that pool of extra revenue by using your engagement metrics to identify the most active members in your association. These members are your best opportunities for upsells and membership upgrades.
Use your data to proactively reach out to your most engaged members to offer them additional products or higher membership tiers that they may be interested in.
Don't make them just any offer, however. You have the best chance of making a successful sale or membership upgrade if your offer solves a problem for your member or meets one of their needs, so use activity data to tailor the conversation.
Your activity data, which consists of all the individual participation data with your organization, events, and other members, could be anything from files downloaded to blogs read and past purchases. If your engaged members regularly read your professional development blogs, you could offer them a professional development course. Focus on your prospect's priorities and present products or upgrades that fulfill their needs.
Method #3) Find New Referral Program Participants
The 2016 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report found that associations' top source of new members was word-of-mouth referrals. Combine that with research from Influitive showing that engaged customers and members are more likely to spread word-of-mouth referrals and you've identified a key opportunity for your association.
Your engaged members are more likely to help you recruit new members, increasing revenue from membership dues. Engaged members are also more likely to join your referral program, so use your engagement metrics to identify the members who are interacting with your association the most and reach out to them.
Have a conversation about your association's referral program, explaining its importance and how the program could benefit your member. Often, this is done through incentives. Referral programs motivate members to referral prospects by giving them extra benefits or product credits for each new member they refer. Make sure your members understand how the referral program benefits them so they're more likely to join, refer prospects, and help increase your association's revenue.
Using Engagement to Increase Revenue Takeaway
The key to using any of these three methods to increase revenue is to be proactive. Don't just identify upsell and referral program opportunities, act on that information. Reach out to the members that you identify and recruit them into your programs or offer them additional products and benefits.
You can create an even more positive experience by making your offers exclusive. Special prices and offers only for your most active, valuable members will make them feel special while illustrating how important they are to you.
Throughout every conversation you have, whether it's with sponsors or members, make sure that you tailor your offer. Speaking directly to your members' or sponsors' needs will help you select the right offer and convince them to make a purchase.