Membership associations are working tirelessly to “go digital” to engage their audiences now and into a digital-first future

In fact, developing digital strategies to engage and grow membership isn’t really an option, it’s a necessity. According to a 2021 report, 78% of associations adapted to pandemic pressures by creating new products and services. Yet almost half of all associations world-wide report declines in membership, and 50% say “lack of engagement” is the primary reason for member churn.


Associations Must Go Digital to Survive

It’s no surprise that over 75% of associations plan to undergo digital transformation by 2023. 

Easier said than done right? This digital transformation process can take time and resources you may not have. So how are associations doing this efficiently? The key is understanding the data you already have and using that data to your advantage.

In 2021, Mckinley Advisors reported associations are using data to accomplish top growth goals like: 

  • Generating non-dues revenue
  • Informing diversity and inclusion initiatives
  • Improving member retention
  • Optimizing strategic planning
  • Developing new methods of member engagement 

All associations already have the data they need to accomplish initiatives like these. That data is collected from sources like emails, websites, learning management systems, events platforms, and more. But it’s scattered throughout technology systems, making it very difficult to generate one clear view of how members are engaging with the organization.  


Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) Help Associations Leverage Data

Associations are supercharging their digital transformation strategy by using CDP’s like Hum that are specifically built for membership organizations

Customer Data Platforms organize your previously scattered association data into one streamlined system. Good CDPs will go one step further - they will help you activate that data into marketing activity to engage your membership. 

Let’s dive into what that can look like for your organization. There are two initial steps to begin utilizing a customer data platform. 

Step 1: Unifying Association Data

The data you already have is the key to understanding how members, subscribers, and anonymous website visitors interact with your association. CDP’s create 360-degree views of the people you serve. Once unified, your teams can use that intelligence to move your mission forward. 

This can include intel on donations, demographics, geolocation, and their digital footprint across all of your channels to create a sophisticated and insightful “data story”. By having each member’s data story, you can create a smart plan for engaging the right people with the right messages. 

Step 2: Activating Association Data

These data stories are activated in your CDP so you can start building audience segments, or groups of members and subscribers with common interests, demographics, or behaviors. 

Your CDP will also show you which articles, webinars, modules, newsletters, events and more are most interesting to various segments of your audience. Armed with this data-powered knowledge, you’ll be able to develop the experiences your members desire. 

A CDP will integrate with existing marketing platforms.  You’ll be able to mobilize segments into unified campaigns to match people with the experiences they want and need.

Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), Hum marries data insight with human expertise. Alongside their one of a kind CDP technology, Hum offers digital marketing services to make fast progress towards top association and society growth goals.

Now that we know how a CDP works, let’s explore a few common use cases for associations using customer data platforms. 


Top Customer Data Platform Use Cases for Associations

There are endless  CDP use cases for nonprofits and associations. These are the three we see most often. 

Use Case 1: Boosting Member Engagement & Retention by Matching Individuals with The Content They Need. 

Did you know that over 45% of associations saw a downturn in member renewal last year? According to Marketing General's 2021 Member benchmarking Report, most association leaders view low engagement as their greatest enemy. In fact, 50% of MGI respondents  cited “lack of engagement” as the #1 reason for member churn. 

CDP’s can help solve this problem by uncovering which people are most engaged with content that specifically resonates with them. If you’re matching people with the content experiences they want and need, your members will be happy and engaged. It’s no secret that engaged members renew their membership year after year.

Hum’s solution uses a proprietary algorithm to understand how to delight members across all stages of their customer journey. This process yields targeted communication, better programs, and an engaged membership.

Dig deeper: Explore a step-by-step Hum use case for boosting engagement with an under-performing webinar

Use Case 2: Amplifying your Programs and Events with “Smart” Communication Funnels

Associations already have great content, products and events. To compete with professional development alternatives, they  need to improve the way they deliver those programs. Experiences must be meaningful and relevant given individual preferences and behavior.  

Associations can boost event engagement and signups through targeted marketing. CDPs arm associations with the intel they need to get more and more to get strategic about what their audiences need at each stage of their member journey. This can mean creating mini marketing funnels for multiple segments in your audience to drive them towards event signups.

For example, You might start with an email campaign designed for young members, to highlight early-career professional programming at your upcoming event. Then, you might serve that audience with a set of paid ads around the same topics. 

Dig deeper: Explore a step-by-step Hum use case for creating a targeted marketing funnel for an event. 

Use Case 3: Growing your Membership via Targeted Marketing and Personalization

A go-to strategy for most associations is to spend hours drafting surveys and blasting communications to try and reach the right people. But there’s a more efficient way to grow your audience. 

You can use the data you already have to understand how your members, website visitors, and subscribers interact with your association. Use this intelligence to get the right message to the right people at the right time. 

One way to  grow your membership is by creating audience segments based on common interests uncovered from your CDP. You can segment lists of members and create funnels on your email marketing platform to nurture users with drip campaigns (for example, Mailchimp’s “Customer Journeys” feature). Over time you can further nurture could-be members with retargeting campaigns on social media and craft on-site personalizations with these member journeys in mind. 

Dig deeper: Explore a step-by-step Hum use case for recruiting new international members to your association. 


Kickstart Digital Transformation at Your Association

Ready to “go digital”? We’re here to help! Get our free guide to kickstarting digital transformation at your association. 

This guide will help you understand how to make fast progress towards growth goals like growing your membership, selling out events, and boosting member engagement. We share some of our top digital marketing tips and data strategy best practices to help you grow - with or without a CDP.