For the past three years, Marketing General Incorporated and Higher Logic have produced the Community Benchmarking Study. The latest edition is now available as a download.
Here is your link to get a copy of the study.
Clearly, for many people, connecting is moving from face to face to online interactions whether it be with Facebook or some other platform. And association members are no exception to this trend.
So the Community Benchmarking Study highlights important insights on the impact that an online community can have on overall membership growth and member engagement. The Study examines the ratios of members who are discussion creators, contributors, passive (viewers), and inactive. It also includes a case study using real data from ASAE, with their permission, on the reach and engagement scores for their association.
The Community Benchmarking Study is a great resource for associations to use to measure and improve their member engagement and networking in the online world.
The most expensive task in marketing is new customer, member, or donor acquisition. But many associations are trying to fight the marketing wars on multiple fronts because they have not identified their introductory or missionary product. Instead they reach out to the marketplace with many products like membership, certification, conference, or publications.
An association that defines the product with the best level of response and return on investment and focuses its marketing resources on it to bring prospects into relationship with the association will achieve the most success. The strategy is then to upgrade or cross-sell additional products and services to buyers of the introductory product. However, when acquisition marketing efforts are spread over many products lines the marketing impact is diluted and the costs increase.
For associations, the most successful missionary product is membership. This makes sense when you think about it. As a member, a prospect is signing on to stay in touch with you for the next twelve months allowing for regular upgrade and cross-selling opportunities for secondary products and services. Additionally, the average member stays with an association for five years, so there is a long-term income stream tied to a new member that supports the initial marketing investment.
On the other hand, a book buyer may only be interested in a specific topic and perhaps make their next purchase through an online bookstore. And a conference registrant or certification candidate has to make a much bigger financial and time investment compared to the price of purchasing a membership.
But whatever product or service an association chooses to use for new customer acquisition, it makes sense to support it with adequate budgets and push. Growth comes through focused efforts targeted at a specific market segment.