If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times – big data is a big deal and can be a game changer for your association if you learn how to harness its power properly. At this week’s Abila’s User and Developer Conference in Nashville, Kirsten Ahlen and Tim Ward from Gravitate Solutions partnered with Jena Coffie, Senior Membership Manager at the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB), to present how they tackled implementing engagement scoring.

As you grapple for the attention of your members, you’re probably finding the competition growing increasingly stiff. The good news is members continue to look to the association to which they belong as the go-to source (more than 60 percent) for training, education, and professional development. The value you’re providing to your members is practical and applicable. The key lies in figuring out exactly what benefits are of the most valuable to your members and communicating them in a clear and meaningful way.

Engagement scoring through detailed analysis of your membership data is a great way to find out what benefits do matter, but doing it right can be difficult. AACSB faced a unique challenge. As Coffie explained, her association is extremely fortunate to have a very high retention rate due to accreditations only AACSB can provide. They were, however, seeing a 10 to 15 percent churn rate of members who weren’t seeking certification, and they wanted to figure out why.

Using the A-Score™ functionality in netFORUM Enterprise™ and the professional expertise of Gravitate Solutions, AACSB was able to test its hypotheses about why the churn existed and what preventative actions the team could take to keep them around. AACSB looked at both macro and micro trends in its analyses and drew direct correlative relationships between members with low engagement scores and their likelihood not to renew membership.

Data analysis did a lot more than just reveal gaps in member engagement – it also showed where gaps existed in data collection across teams. Gravitate’s team of experts identified what departments were lacking in consistency over the years and helped develop a plan to make data collection more systematic across the organization for more accurate scoring in the future. AACSB also is armed with hard data to back up its budget and strategy to the Board of Directors.

Here are Gravitate’s and AACSB’s tips for successful implementation of an engagement scoring model:

  1. Start small and focused. There are hundreds of variables you can test. Start with key performance indicators for your organization’s membership base.
  2. Set and document clear definitions. Bring together members of your team across departments and agree upon what an engagement score will mean, the metrics and values associated, and data processes. Be sure to compare apples to apples and figure out exactly how you’re accounting for the value of historical data and decay.
  3. Update scoring values. Don’t just set and forget your engagement scoring post-implementation. Adjust scores over time and add and remove fields as relevance to your business model and engagement strategy shifts.
  4. Determine how to use scoring. Engagement scoring is not worth any investment of time or money if you’re not going to put it to work. Be sure to enable your staff with talking points for members at “high risk” and make the score visible. Use what you’ve learned to not only help increase retention, but consider using it as a prospecting tool for new member acquisition as you collect data and interact with potential members at events, through communications, and more.

If you’re not sure where to start with implementing an engagement scoring plan, check out this tip sheet with 4 Steps to Measure Member Engagement. Further along in your planning? Watch this webinar, “Predictive Analytics for Proactive Engagement and Retention,” for advanced data analytics methodology.