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Best Practices to Maximize Your Digital Metrics
Some associations are finding great success leveraging digital channels to communicate more quickly and frequently with their audiences than ever before. However, it is not all about speed. One benefit to digital approaches that is often overlooked: The insight gained from regular analysis of the data these platforms capture.

To gain the most from analytics, said Pam Long, senior digital strategist at True Digital Communications, associations must move beyond simply looking at measurement as a gauge of past performance and use it as a tool to guide future efforts. A consistent, ongoing plan for data analysis reveals larger trends and opportunities for member and prospect engagement.

Below are several tips for associations hoping to better leverage easily accessible metrics:
  • Provide thought leadership on trending industry topics and concerns. Professionals often turn to peers as a trusted source of information, whether the need is to resolve a minor technical issue, select a partner or vendor to provide services to their organization, or decide on a course of action to address a major shift within the industry. An ongoing analytics program aimed at monitoring an audience’s preferred channels can allow an association to stay abreast of and offer insight on changes and challenges within the industry.
  • Use earned, owned and paid communications more effectively. Earned communications, such as articles written about an association or media quoting board members or paid staff, will greatly benefit an organization over the long term. Owned communications – including the association’s website, member forums and social media groups – provide complete control over messaging but may be less effective at reaching prospective members. And paid communications, including search advertising, social advertising and sponsorships, can effectively target new audiences. By closely monitoring analytics for all communications efforts, an association can quickly adjust and even add tactics to optimize communications.
  • Identify the most effective combination of message and social media platforms to target subsets of the existing member audience. Demographic and behavioral data can be mined to create a user persona for each communication channel and determine which is most frequently used (or not used) by young industry professionals, experienced managers and C-level decision makers.
  • Fine-tune delivery of communications. Analyzing historical data can provide insight into when and how to communicate. While industry best practices and benchmarks provide a starting point, data from an association’s own communications program is the best indicator of success. Reach and engagement metrics from multiple communications channels can determine everything from the best day and time to send emails to the most effective schedule for releasing a series of announcements leading up to a major event.
  • Craft a communications strategy for unserved and under-served industry professionals. Third-party tools, such as Majestic SEO, SEM Rush, SM2 and Radian6, enable associations to access data on social media and other online communications channels used by direct and indirect competitors. Analysis of paid and organic search efforts, audiences by channel and platform usage can help identify new tactics and platforms for engaging with an association’s own potential members.
With the help of analytics sources and third-party data-mining tools, associations can identify powerful new opportunities to reach beyond their memberships and engage prospective members and industry leaders. By doing so, associations can become more valuable, engaged and relevant to their targeted audiences than ever before.

 

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 EDITION
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Board Forward is published 10 times a year by SmithBucklin, the association management and services company more organizations turn to than any other. SmithBucklin has served volunteer board members for more than 60 years.

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