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.
As MCI's Senior Advisor, Global Development Strategy, I help associations build and execute global growth strategies. Over the past 30 years I have served three associations (ASAE, MPI and IEEE Computer Society) as a leader of business, product and partnership development.