What do you need to attract and engage more members? A better brand? A more compelling marketing story? Great marketing strategies? And perhaps some innovation in new product offerings? To help you do any or all of these things right you need to accurately and completely understand your member’s problems, goals, needs, options and emotional drivers. Your data, the data that you capture and store right now will not answer these questions for you.
The data you have signals problems but does not offer solutions
The data you have is the digital trail your member leaves behind. Perhaps this is somewhat like the scent trail for a police dog. The German Shepard is most commonly trained as a police dog in large part for it’s exquisite sense of smell. Dogs can have 200 – 300 million smell receptors verses a person’s 5 – 6 million smell receptors. Dog’s sense of smell is so keen that they can smell your own unique smell that seeps through your shoes to the ground hours after you traveled that way. The dog may be able to tell how fast you were going and whether you were scared or not but mostly, he can just find the trail.
The same with your member’s data. You can just follow their trail. You can not tell what problem they are trying to solve. You can not tell what they are trying to do. You can not tell how they feel. And you can not tell what they have made the choices they’ve made along the way. You can just see their trail.
Combine the data from all your members (their trails) and you can see if revenue or use or visits are declining but, you won’t know why. Look at Google Analytics and you can see which articles don’t get much attention but, you won’t know why. Look at your renewal data and you may see a problem but, the data won’t tell you why members are renewing with less frequency.
The data you have measures what is not what will be
The data you have shows you what members are doing with what you already provide. Of the 20 or so subjects we cover which are the most popular? Which contributors are the most followed? How many members are participating in our online community and of those how many do this often? What percent of our members attend our events and how has that changed in recent years?
Your data won’t help you solve a problem you don’t aleardy know about. It won’t help your members reach goals that you already haven’t tried to help with. Data can’t reveal your member’s fears and emotions.
The data you have gets misinterpreted
Take Google Analytics for example. It is easy to do a first level pull to find out of all of your content published in the last three months what are the most popular article? A look at the list may tell us that there are 3 article with the most visits by far and they are all about the same subject. Therefore we decide to write even more articles about this subject because it must be a subject our members are interested in…. right? Maybe. And maybe not. Many of us only get this far in our analysis.
Looking deeper we many find that the top 3 articles were the most visited but those visitors spent only a few seconds on the page. They were all new visitors (not members) and these visitors immediately left the site. Perhaps the headline was compelling but the article wasn’t what they thought it would be. Better, then, to dig deeper. Look at the articles that visitors took the most time with and that prompted traffic to other parts of the site. We sometimes look at the data quickly and in passing and misinterpret what it has to tell us.
What your data is great for
So why do we capture, store and analyze all of this data? It is good for helping you optimize what you are already doing.
- Flagging potential problems – fast!
- Finding and further amplifying an already popular topic, piece of content, product or service
- Determine who your most engaged members are and what they currently do with your resources
- Understanding what you can stop doing
- Optimizing what you are doing
- Help you refine your message, i.e. A/B testing
Yes, go ahead and collect data. But, know that your data will only get you so far. In order to move forward on marketing strategies like branding, storytelling and innovation you will need a different kind of member insights.