Benchmarking Your Membership Marketing Program

As I mentioned on Friday, ASAE & the Center for Association Leadership in the book 7 Measures of Success documented that remarkable associations collect and use data to build success. One measurement tool that I believe is fundamental, but not fully utilized in the membership area, is benchmarking.

There are five key benchmarks for a membership program that should be captured each month and they can be presented on a single sheet of paper in what is called a “Membership Dashboard.”

Just like a car dashboard gives the driver the key data that’s needed to keep the car on the road moving forward in a safe manner, a membership dashboard highlights key statistics for an association.

The membership dashboard includes the key items that drive the growth or possible decline of an association’s membership. These will include:
  • Total Membership
    Current Membership
    Membership the same month in the previous year
    Percentage increase or decrease in year-to-year membership
  • New Members by MonthCurrent New Members
    New Members the same month in the previous year
  • Membership Conversion (Renewal of First Year Members) by MonthFirst year members eligible to renew
    First year members who actually do renew
    Conversion renewal rates (renewing new members / eligible to renew new members)
  • Year Two and Subsequent Renewals (Y2+) by MonthY2+ members eligible to renew
    Y2+ members who actually do renew
    Y2+ renewal rates (renewing members / members eligible to renew)
  • Total Renewals by Month
    Total members eligible to renew
    Total members who actually do renew
    Total renewal rates (see post from July 5th for assistance with calculating renewal rates)
If an association has different levels or types of membership, the top level of the dashboard can show the aggregate membership of the association. However, the dashboard also can include additional spreadsheet tabs for other categories of membership.

Once a dashboard is in place, a wealth of information will jump off the page of each month’s report. For example, the dashboard will identify where membership is “leaking” members. Is it first-year members or multiyear members? And why is membership growing? Is it because new members’ input is up or because of increased renewal rates?

I have put together a sample dashboard that you can access with the link below or you can e-mail me for a clean Excel spreadsheet of the dashboard.

(Click here for a sample membership dashboard.)


Wes Trochlil said...

Tony, nice post, but I must take exception to the use of "dashboard" with the example you provide. A dashboard, at a glance, provides instant information to the reader. For example, when I glance (not study) my car's dashboard, I can instantly tell if I'm going 60mph vs. 20mph by the direction of the speedometer dial.

The charts you provide are just that: charts. Dashboards give you an instant reading; charts require studying.

Tony Rossell said...

Wes, thanks for the comments. I agree that a graphic interface would be much better instead of a table. What I have found is that data points gathered in the "dashboard" provide the keys to diagnosing most membership ailments. When I get this information from an association, I can figure out why they are having problems very quickly. So yes, it is more of a diagnostic tool than a true dashboard. I used the term dashbaord because if it is maintained it does tell us the speed of membership and the warning lights that are flashing. Tony

Aline said...

Hi Tony,
I have a couple of questions on the dashboard.
Conversion Candidates: if this is to represent first year members who are eligible to renew, in the case of an association that has a single renewal, like January 1, this number would essentially be the same throughout the year and would equal the total number of first time members at the end of the previous memberhsip year correct? Against this we would track new (first time) members coming in each month. This logic obviously also applies to the other renewals for Y2 or Renewals.
When you refer to Y2+ what year range are you looking at and exactly what is the purpose of this particular metric?

Tony Rossell said...

Aline -- Thanks for your question. You are correct. When you have an annual renewal program, compared to an anniversary renewal, members all have the same expiration date. So all members receiving the chance to renew for the first time as a new member will be considered "conversion" candidates. Likewise "Y2" is the group of members who have renewed one time and are now renewing for their second year. I hope that his explanation helps. Tony