Proving your association marketing team’s effort’s worth to upper management and a board can be challenging. But it doesn’t have to be!
Solid data analysis and reporting are some of the best ways to show the value of the work you do and prove that your organization is getting a great return on their investment. (Now you’re saying, “but Marisa…reporting is the hard part.”)
Well, have no fear, I’ve got seven tips to help you learn how to track the right thing and understand your numbers.
Take Your Marketing Reporting to the Next Level
1. Be Consistent
Be sure to be consistent across all your reporting efforts.
- If you are using filters or filter logic, be consistent.
- If you are reporting at a certain cadence, be consistent.
- If you usually share certain metrics with upper management, be consistent.
This can’t be emphasized enough. You want the basis of all your reporting to be coming from the same data house, so that you’re comparing apples to apples.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to go back and redo all my reports because I realized at the end that the metrics weren’t aligned, and my filtering logic didn’t match up from report to report. Moral of the story? Save yourself time and frustration by making sure you’re consistent.
Pro tip: Determine what your logic should look like at the beginning, clone it, and then change the filters on your software to see different views.
2. Watch Your Membership Over Time
It’s important to understand trends in your membership and act before you get any surprises. Decide how often you want to track and report on this metric. It could be yearly, quarterly, or monthly. Or even all three!
My recommendation? Track membership trends at all three levels.
Understanding what your trends are over one year, month-to-month, and quarter-to-quarter will help you plan realistic goals for your membership growth in the upcoming year. You might find that you gain a quarter of your membership in May and September but lose members in December. You never know what’s hiding in your data until you look at it from a more strategic place.
3. Keep Track of Your Community Data
If you have community software, you probably have built-in reports available to you. These reports can help you to see data like automation rule performance, engagement over time, top ten blog reports, etc. This data is already available to you, so you might as well take advantage of the opportunity to get a deeper look into your community’s health and find actionable insights to drive decision-making. (Here’s more on how to use community data effectively.)
For example, you may uncover that what you thought were the top ten blogs are much different on paper. This data shows you what kind of content your members like and can help you decide what content strategy to pursue.
Digging into your community data can provide you with valuable member insights, which you can use to improve your member experience.
Bonus: As an example of this, Association Analytics and ASAE looked into ASAE’s community data to drive decisions. Read more about it.
4. Evaluate Retention Over Time
Are you losing more and more members every year and supplementing with brand new members? How long are your members staying on board? These are questions you should be asking and data you should be examining.
If your answer to these questions shows you that members are only sticking around for a couple of years, you may want to dig into this more.
Pro tip: You should be tracking new members added each month and members lost each month to find out your retention rate. Of all your current members, how many are you likely to lose before the end of the year? How many did you lose this year compared to last year or even the year before?
Answering these kinds of questions will only help you plan better and keep those revenue numbers up!
5. Keep an Eye on Volunteers
Another great statistic to keep an eye on is your volunteers. Ask these questions:
- Are people more interested in volunteering for one opportunity over another?
- Are you over or under-staffing your events?
- Do they register two days before, or a month before?
- Are you recruiting new volunteers or is it the same people every time?
Knowing these key details about your volunteer program will guide your planning efforts moving forward. You don’t want to be caught off guard when something goes wrong or the three volunteers you always use somehow come down with the flu and now you have no one to help.
Strategically making back-up plans and knowing how to staff your events is critical.
6. Examine Event Registrant Data
You’re probably already tracking event registrants and revenue, but have you looked at these data points?
- Session attendance
- Attendee retention (new attendees vs. previous attendees)
- Times of day or types of campaigns influencing event registration: Was there one specific campaign that brought in 50% of your registrations? What did you do differently that time?
It’s important to have these kinds of insights to back up your campaign strategy for next year.
7. Decide on a Reporting Cadence
When deciding what to report on, the most important consideration might be how often you want to track what you are reporting on.
For example, you could report on how many members you gained, how many you lost, and how many stayed month-to-month, quarter-to-quarter, or year-to-year. Then be sure to keep that cadence consistent across all your reports.
My rule of thumb is to report on all of these and make sure your numbers roll up correctly. All four quarters should add up to your annual number and the first three months of the year should roll up into your first quarter number. If something isn’t adding up, it might be time to go back and look at your reporting logic again.
By the way, if you’re looking for reporting tools, you’ll find some of our suggestions here: 48 No-Brainer Tools Every Marketer Needs.
Good Reporting Is Critical for Your Success
No matter how you decide to do your reporting, having reports that can give you actionable insights are key to deciding the strategic direction of your campaigns. These reports can make or break your meetings with key leaders in your business.
It’s well worth your time to take a couple hours or even a day out of your busy schedule to look over numbers and know exactly where you stand at all times. Good luck, marketers!
Marketing Operations Manager, The Knot Worldwide
Marisa is the Marketing Operations Manager at The Knot Worldwide, with a background in journalism, business analytics, and marketing. She currently manages reporting, data projects and technical operations for the marketing team. She loves digging deep into (clean) data and finding actionable insights to make strategic decisions. When she’s not knee-deep in data, you can find her snuggling with her cat Samantha Marie or in a dance studio teaching Irish dance with Walker Academy of Irish Dance.
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