Member engagement is the holy grail of association success. A highly engaged member base leads to greater member satisfaction which in turn leads to higher retention rates. Unfortunately, creating opportunities for positive and relevant member engagement is not always easy, even when it comes to clearly valuable member benefits like benchmarking. Convincing busy professionals to set aside time to collect and submit data has long been a challenge for associations. Even once that hurdle has been cleared, finding ways to share that data in a way that encourages members to engage with each other can still be difficult. Dynamic Benchmarking Chief Operating Officer, Betsy Delfosse, shares some tips for overcoming these challenges.
Use a Deadline-Driven Incentive
As the old adage says, ‘you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.’ Attaching an incentive to your study is a sure-fire way of increasing participation; the first step to creating strong member engagement with your study. Without strong participation numbers, your study lacks the foundation to providing any value to your members. The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) ties eligibility for its Chamber of the Year Award with participation in its annual benchmarking study. Only members who submit data to the study are eligible to win. This creates both a natural deadline and incentive for participation. Consider what incentives might work for your members. Tying study participation to professional certifications and access to study results are other incentives that we have seen used by organizations to increase member engagement.
Create a Sense of Comfort
One of the biggest obstacles associations face in study participation is understandably the unwillingness to share data. No company wants to give its competition access to its proprietary processes or visibility into its detailed financial performance. Providing a venue that makes sharing this information comfortable, while preserving privacy is essential to building strong member engagement with your study from the very beginning. By collecting information using a platform that ensures anonymity, one creates a sense of security. Follow that up by presenting data in ratios and percentiles rather than hard numbers and you create a place where members can feel comfortable discussing their performance without feeling as if they’re giving away trade secrets.
Start a Conversation
The results of nearly any benchmarking study open up a myriad of opportunities for member engagement. Using collected data to create educational sessions and reports are some of the more traditional ways associations have used benchmarking studies to deliver value to members. But what about engaging members with each other? Roundtable discussions, either live or virtual, are a great way to get members talking with one another about current industry trends. Social media also offers opportunities to pose questions to your members that can start engaging discussions about best practices and ways to address shared obstacles. Using benchmarking to start a conversation with and among your members is an excellent way to create engagement and foster community while elevating the perceived value of membership.
Engaging members from the start with a comfortable platform and language driven by positive motivators to participate sets the stage for a successful benchmarking study. Using the collected data and business intelligence to create valuable programming and spark conversations among your members, creates member value that can’t be found anywhere else, giving your association an untouchable competitive advantage. Take some time today to look for ways you can provide better incentives for participation, create a safe space and find conversation starters within your benchmarking results.