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Category Archive: MegaTrends & Research

Aug 04 2017

Benchmarking Member & Customer Relationship Strength -Keys to Sustaining Engagement ROI

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the latest CESSE Annual Meeting in Quebec City. Kudos to organizers for a very good educational event and to the supplier community of Quebec and Canada for an excellent immersive customer experience. If you haven’t had a chance to go to Quebec City – you are missing something special.

I was invited to moderate a panel discussion on the results from MCI’s Engagement Index Collaborative which includes data from the global (non-US) 2016 and domestic US 2017 study. Joining me on the program was Michael Gips from ASIS International and Patrick Gouhin, CAE, from the International Society of Automation. Sadly, we missed having Marc Beebe from IEEE (who the airline gods didn’t spare).

Our session was also about engagement but of a different kind, namely the interconnection between member and non-member relationship strength and its impact on retention and product sales. Results from this year’s American Engagement Index (AEI) focused for the first time on the US domestic market for ten large professional societies.

This Engagement Index community is a collaboration between MCI and its research partner FairControl and these US associations as we seek to address fundamental challenges facing sustainable growth today both globally and domestically through better data driven decision making. Both the global (GEI) and US (AEI) indexes seek answers from association members and customers on the underlying causes of stagnating/decreasing membership, flight to competitors, and higher member expectations & unmet needs.

Pat, Michael and I shared the following highlights from the AEI data released only in the last two weeks.

  1. Member and customer relationship strength is borderline weak in the US market. Compared to data from outside the US in 2016, this trend is actually consistent in that “mature markets” like Europe, Australia/NZ, Hong Kong, Japan or South Korea were only slightly higher scores (75 versus 78).
  2. Another trend that mirrors results from GEI was the impact of the “member only” segment or those who are members but do not use or buy products. Members who do not buy or use products have a significantly lower relationship strength and are a primary “detractor” among the membership whose likelihood to renew is very poor. They score the worst across all driver measures: brand awareness, benefits/value, offering, customer service, products and services, and communications and information. Conversely, we learned that the more products a member or non member customer uses or buys, the stronger the relationship and engagement level.
  3. Among US members, the older and more educated the member the less engaged they are. Their interests become less intense for core product offerings, but as they gain tenure, they are more interested in becoming involved in the association’s community.
  4. Products that are the most popular in the US are magazines, standards/codes/good practices, and peer review journals. When looking at a segmentation of the audience, newer US members act like non member customers – they want certification and practical training. Globally, the leader by a magnitude order of difference is certification/accreditation.
  5. In 2016, we introduced a customer relationship typology that groups members and customers by relationship strength to understand engagement fundamentals to improve activation strategies. In 2017, we learned that among US members, the highest concentration of the very weakest and the very strongest relationships are among longer tenured members.

To view the entire deck of charts go here.

Aug 04 2017

Strategically Evaluating Your Association’s Global Readiness and Effectiveness

ASAE Education Session on Monday, August 14, from 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM.

Join Greta Kotler of ASAE and Nikki Walker of MCI Group for the unveiling of an exciting new global management diagnostic tool that associations will be able to use to improve strategy and operational planning.  

International expansion is an increasingly important issue to associations, the needs of members for their associations to help them embrace globalization, and opportunities to reach new markets and revenue sources outside the U.S.   International success requires global maturity in strategy and operational execution to expand and thrive.

To address this reality, ASAE Foundation and MCI, along with technical support from Rockbridge Associates, developed a scientific Global Maturity Assessment Tool that associations can use to assess their own level of maturity, diagnose areas for improvement, and in the process, garner insights on how to succeed when deploying in international markets.

This effort builds on earlier data gathered by the Foundation and MCI, and relies on a robust survey of 90 senior leaders from associations in various stages of international growth.

One outcome of this effort is the assessment tool, available to ASAE members, that includes a comprehensive list of 47 attributes on which leaders can rate their associations.  These attributes are found from seven critical areas of focus:

  • Strategic and Business Planning

  • Management and Organizational Culture

  • Leadership Engagement

  • Market Insight

  • Product Relevance: Value Proposition and Engagement Model

  • Global Organization, Roles and Support

  • Local Operations and Service Delivery Capacity

Another outcome consists of the findings of the benchmark survey, which tells a story about the state of U.S. associations in their international efforts.

  • The average level of association global maturity is 44 out of 100, which equates to being in the early stage of Developing/Functional.  As shown in the figure above, slightly more than a fourth (27%) of associations are Fully Mature/Effective and another quarter (24%) are Developing/Functional.  Only 14 percent are classified as having “No Readiness,” indicating they are at the onset of international expansion or have failed to take the steps necessary to succeed.

  • The maturity level matters because it correlates closely with other measures of success.  More mature associations (based on the assessment questions in the survey) have:  more satisfied international members/customers, higher satisfaction among leadership with their success in operating/entering international markets, growth rates that are more likely to meet or exceed expectations, and fewer problems.

Learn behaviors and processes that lead to global success and advance association goals, and gain access and insights into the self-diagnostic tool that rates overall global maturity and shows areas for improvement.

Work with colleagues in an interactive exercise to generate fresh thinking toward improving global strategy and operational planning.

This is a project from the continuing Global Management Series by the ASAE Foundation and MCI Group dedicated to helping associations grow globally and operate effectively outside of the U.S.

Receive information on the Global Maturity Assessment by stopping by the MCI booth #724 during the Toronto convention.  

 

Dec 16 2016

Reflections Member & Customer Relationships & Engagement – ASQ and ASIS International

In this recorded podcast from December 7th, Renata Lerch, Deputy Managing Director of the American Society for Quality and Elisa Pratt, Chief Global Member Engagement Officer of ASIS International, offered their insights on their own benchmark data from the Global Engagement Index (GEI 2016) and how it is impacting current thinking on strategy and operational planning in their associations.  

What is GEI?

The GEI 2016 was a first of its kind global index developed from a recent survey of 15 global associations [PDF].  Respondents were 8500+ members and customers from all over the world.   GEI found that non US member and customer relationships with their associations collectively was average at best.  Although the Global Engagement Index focused on international members, its conclusion that an association’s relationship strength, not membership status, is often the biggest factor for increased engagement rings true for domestic organizations as well.

The report measured engagement scores for 15 associations from a pool of 122,000 members and customers in markets around the world. Next year, MCI will commission a similar Index to study association relationships with U.S.-based members and customers.

The Index showed that people in global markets, particularly those in emerging and developing markets, are hungry for practical information. The data shows that those with the strongest relationship and recall of an association were most often nonmember customers, followed by members who have experience using a product or service in the last 18 months.

The study found that people who join an association but do not purchase products are significantly more likely to drop their membership, whereas customers who buy at least one product have a stronger relationship. They are more likely to become members and more likely to renew.

In other words, some of your strongest relationships may not be with your members; instead they may be with customers attending an event or seeking an accreditation.

The whole notion of a membership-first strategy could be dangerous, because members who are only interested in becoming a member often times have weaker engagement and relationship scores.

Power of Relationships

GEI introduced five member/customer segments based on relationship strength.  The most desirous segment was labeled “multipliers,” because this segment is not only loyal and highly likely to renew membership or purchase products but also they are highly motivated to support the mission of the association. If you knew who these people were, you could begin to accelerate the growth of your organization.

Organizations experiencing global growth tend to think about membership engagement as a one-on-one relationship. Put the right opportunity in front of the right individual. Be relevant in-terms of your product perspective, as well as your marketing and communications.

It’s also important to think of engagement as a spectrum or scale. A passive member can grow into an active member, and a loyal member can become a multiplier who connects you to new members or new opportunities.

For More on GEI 2016

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