Hammers hit nails.
Rakes pile fall leaves.
Hiking boots are best for muddy trails and slick rocks.
We pick the right tool for the job. But choosing the right tool becomes harder with intellectual jobs.
Improve new member retention.
Grow member engagement.
Increase non-dues revenue.
Attract more members.
Extend member value.
Change the association.
These are some of the goals we have but, what tool do we start with? Because of my Crayola marketing training, I always turn to member research first. Understand members well, and the path to the goal will emerge.
When starting a member research project, there are two possible methodologies to select. Quantitative, statistically significant results, often in the form of data and surveys. And Qualitative, story-based, deeply contextual insights, generally gathered from in-depth interviews or focus groups. Make the insights more powerful by thinking of quantitative as the first step and qualitative as the second phase.
Quantitative data explains to us what the problem is in the association and what our members are doing. This kind of data shows us what web pages they use the most, what products they buy the most and what emails they open with the most frequency. Quantitative data can also point to weaknesses in revenue, or retention, or engagement. Gathering, combing through, and analyzing quantitative data is the first line of defense. These insights give us focus on what to fix or what can be improved.
But just understanding what is going on is not enough. We do not yet have sufficient information to take action successfully. We now need to take the second step. The second step builds the momentum to take action.
Gathering qualitative details is the second phase. Qualitative insights show us the why behind every what scenario we have gathered in step one. We can only reliably move forward once we understand why it is happening.
For example, analyzing AMS data, we might find that new members renew half as frequently as all other members. Based on this insight we set the goal to improve new member retention. Through qualitative research, we could learn that the chapter experience is variable for new members, for some it is great, for most it is poor. We also could learn that new members do not perceive enough value from their membership for their time and attention. We could additionally learn that members’ first chapter experience is awkward because all the other members know each other and no one takes the time to welcome new members. We could also learn that new members tend to be new to the industry and because they are new to the industry they are overwhelmed by the steep learning curve since this industry is full of acronyms, special procedures, and new concepts.
Access your data to help prioritize the next big goals. Use qualitative insights to show you how to meet your goals. Or think of it this way, quantitative shows you to the correct trailhead. Qualitative illuminates that whole trail.