September 16, 2014

Are you Sending Mixed Messages to your Members?

Imagine this scenario: A supporter clicks the “donate” link in one of your emails and gives to your organization through the website. Afterward, the supporter tweets her support and gets an enthusiastic re-tweet from your organization’s Twitter handle. She also receives an automated gift acknowledgement email from your donation system, as well as a mailed “Thank You” letter from your development department the following month.  Through this seemingly simple interaction, the donor has touched your communications, IT, and development departments.

Even though members engage with your organization through multiple channels and interact with different departments, they desire the same level of communication and customer service across the board. If one of the three separate “thank yous” to your donor addresses her by the wrong first name (It’s Katherine not Katie, thank you very much), the donor will not assign blame to the communications coordinator who proofread the text; the whole organization may take a hit in her eyes for this lack of attention to her personal details.

Have you heard these comments before?

“I know I already changed my address in your system!”

“No, I haven’t had that job title for three years.”

“Our company categorization is wrong on your website.”

“Why are you sending me information on conference X—it’s nowhere close to my field?”

While you may view your organization as a collection of distinct, perhaps even siloed, departments, your member sees you as one entity and expects consistency and efficiency. For this reason, the member or supporter experience must be consistent organization-wide.

Understanding how your organization’s member data is collected and stored is the first step to achieving this aim.

For example, if someone updates their mailing address with your membership department and the membership team updates their record in the AMS, does this information ever make its way to the lists run by your marketing team? What about any of the demographic data you collect when people register for your events?

In a perfect world, departments throughout your organization would join forces in kumbaya fashion to provide a consistent member experience that recognizes the member’s entire identity, not just discrete interactions with one department. In reality, this task is often fraught with technical difficulties—how often have you requested a seemingly simple transfer of business intelligence only to be told, “But the systems don’t talk to each other.”

If there is no one-click solution to updating the organization’s marketing lists or sharing demographic information collected elsewhere by the organization, disparate departments should work to find “out of the box” ways to pass this enhanced member intelligence onto other teams. While this may be a laborious process that requires some skill in data manipulation, it’s worth the effort to ensure that you make a consistently good impression with the organization’s members and supporters.

Using this data to tailor member engagement leads to a better member experience.

No matter which team engages with a member, a personalized interaction wins every time. Personalization is achieved when an organization utilizes the available information to make service efficient and to make members feel valued.

Once an organization commits to tearing down its informational siloes, all sorts of member insights emerge. By examining information and patterns of behavior on an organization-wide scale, you will get a fuller picture of your members by connecting the data dots you likely already have on hand. These insights can feed into the delivery of a more customized member experience.

Say that a supporter subscribes to your advocacy-focused digital publication and is a member of several committees focused on areas of legislation that are overseen by different departments in your organization.  Combining all of this engagement data yields a clear picture of a member who is very interested in advocacy. Instead of sending him general emails about every organizational webinar and event, you can tailor your offerings and messages to align with his values. Would he appreciate an invitation to your D.C. fly-in day? Absolutely. Does he want to know Five Tips For Landing a Job in Field X? Eh, maybe not.

This tailored messaging and engagement sends positive signals to members and supporters. Not only are you addressing your member by the correct first name and title, you are tailoring the content your member receives to his past behaviors and preferences. Instead of appearing like an unfeeling robot monolith, your organization is sending signals that say, “We remember you,” “You matter.”

Breaking down data siloes results in a staff that is more in touch with member profiles and member needs. By making member data-sharing an organization-wide priority, you will retain satisfied members and supporters. Additionally, as this approach pushes organizational goals to the forefront, you might just discover opportunities for growth and revenue that you never even knew existed!

Like what you're reading?
Sign up to receive the latest articles and updates on nonprofit tech from NTEN and its community of experts.

Subscribe

Marissa Maybee
Marissa Maybee is the Director of Insights and Analytics at Bear Analytics, a start-up that helps nonprofits, associations, and event producers unlock the power of their data. Marissa is the team’s consummate storyteller and is driven by the belief that data can tell a story—and it’s her job to make the story as insightful and engaging as possible. She possesses experience in marketing and communications in both the association and nonprofit spaces.
Interest Categories: Data
Tags: Data, engagement