Encouraging, Measuring, & Improving Member Engagement

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This is a podcast episode titled, Encouraging, Measuring, & Improving Member Engagement. The summary for this episode is: <p>This week on The Member Engagement Show, we discuss the intersection of member engagement and value propositions. What drives member engagement? How do you measure it? How do you make your member engagement better over time? Engagement experts Beth Arritt, Dave Will, and Tom Morrison are joining the discussion today to help us answer these very questions. Listen now to elevate your member engagement strategy!</p>
Developing the 13 touch point model for member engagement
01:38 MIN
Measuring engagement tactics
02:53 MIN
Weighing in on the weighting issue
04:26 MIN
Conversational Marketing Approach - Creating 2-way conversations
05:44 MIN
Measuring conversational engagement
02:22 MIN

Alex Mastrianni: Welcome to the Member Engagement Show with Higher Logic, the podcast for association professionals looking to boost retention, gain new members and deepen member involvement.

Heather McNair: Throughout our show, we'll bring on some experts, talk shop about engagement, and you'll walk away with strategies proven to transform your organization. I'm Heather McNair.

Alex Mastrianni: I'm Alex Mastrianni, and we're happy you're here. Hi everybody, welcome back to another episode of the Member Engagement Show. I'm really excited to bring on three amazing guests today, and we are going to be talking about the intersection of member engagement and value proposition. We're going to look at three different aspects: what drives member engagement, how to measure it, and how to make your member engagement better over time. Let's bring our three guests in today, to introduce themselves, we have Tom Morrison, Beth Arritt and Dave Will. I'm going to have you all each give a little shout out and overview about yourself. Can you tell us each a little bit about your organization, your role there? And then just so we can all get to know you a little bit better, and how you're coming into this conversation, one sentence on what you think the connection between member engagement and an association's value proposition is. So let's start with you, Tom. Welcome to the show.

Tom Morrison: I am glad to be here. So, Tom Morrison, I am the CEO of The Metal Treating Institute. Been an association executive for 25 plus years, and it was a big mantra mine of since 2009, that engagement solves everything. And how it's connected to the value proposition, is that member engagement is focused on what people care about, and what their largest pain points are. If they care about it, they engage. If it's a pain point that you have a solution, they engage in it. So very excited to be here today to discuss that. Our organization is an international organization with members in 40 states and eight countries, and so engagement and communities is very big for us, as a communication platform to bring our members together.

Alex Mastrianni: Awesome, thank you. We're excited to have you here. Dave, how about you? Welcome to the show.

Dave Will: Thanks, Alex. Really, I love talking about this stuff, so thanks so much for the invitation. I'm the co- founder and CEO of Propfuel. I've been working with associations on the technology side for somewhere around 20 years, a hair under actually. And it started with Peach New Media was my last company, which was Freestone, the learning management system. And now, Propfuel is my current business, which is a communications platform focused on conversational engagement. Now, the connection of an association, or what was the question? The connection of associations to value proposition?

Alex Mastrianni: Their value proposition and member engagement.

Dave Will: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, I bring it back to the importance of connecting at the individual level, not at the segment level, but the individual level is where engagement truly becomes valuable for the individual. Everybody's, the value I get out of something is uniquely different than the value Tom might get out of something. So, I'm going to take it down to the individual connection level, and that's where engagement really blossoms.

Alex Mastrianni: Cool. Looking forward to diving more into that in a bit. And Beth, how about you? I know you've been on the show many times, but for those listeners who are new, can you give a quick intro?

Beth Arritt: I would say longtime listener, first time caller, but I think it's kind of the other way around. So yeah, I'm Beth Arritt, I'm the Association Evangelist at Higher Logic. But in my previous life, I spent more than 25 years doing marketing from a lot of different aspects for- profit nonprofit, teaching at Marymount University. And most recently, spent almost seven years as the VP of marketing at the American Association of Airport Executives, before I came over here. And I would say that the connection between member engagement and an association's value proposition is, if you've got the right value proposition and you're following it, then your members should be engaged. If they're not engaged, then either you're not following it or you need to rethink your entire proposition.

Alex Mastrianni: Cool, all good stuff.

Dave Will: That's a bold statement, Beth. That is, that's a bold statement. Because I would ask the question, if 80% of your members are engaged, is that good?

Tom Morrison: I would say so.

Dave Will: What about 60%?

Beth Arritt: That starts to depend on how you define engagement though.

Dave Will: And actually we're going to talk about that a little bit. We're going to about how you define it, and how you measure it, right?

Alex Mastrianni: Yes.

Dave Will: Oh my God. I can't wait to hear what I learn.

Alex Mastrianni: All on the agenda.

Dave Will: I'm going to learn so much from you people.

Tom Morrison: Anticipation Dave, anticipation.

Alex Mastrianni: Yeah. Well, let's get right into it, lots to talk about. Tom, let's start with you. You've been working on member engagement at Metal Treating Institute for a while, and you created this concept of the 13 touch points of member engagement, as-

Dave Will: Tom, will you take us through each one of those 13 touch points in as much detail as possible?

Tom Morrison: Get ready to get on the ride, buddy.

Dave Will: Sorry, did I just take over the podcast?

Beth Arritt: Maybe, I think Alex was asking for just an overview, to give us an idea.

Dave Will: Go on, Alex. You can ask the question.

Alex Mastrianni: Thirteen may be a little much for this venue right now today. But tell us a little bit about the model, how you developed it, how you use it at a high level. And if you want to give us an example of what some of those touch points might be, that would be helpful.

Tom Morrison: So in 2006, my association, the Metal Treating Institute and I, sat down and really tried to dissect how do we get more members engaged? It's one of the passions I have, because I really believe that when members are engaged it solves everything. It solves financials, it solves volunteerism, it solves meeting attendance, it solves everything when people are engaged. And so, it goes back to having a value proposition of what people care about, and what's their biggest pain point for solutions? And so we did a couple things. One, I sat down and dissected our membership into three categories of benefit. And this is really true for any association, that's what I've taught for 12 years now, but there's three types of members in every association. There's the informational member, that's the member that pays their dues and reads your newsletter, and gets any free stuff that you have. And then transactional, that's going to actually give you money to actually buy something. And the emotional member, are the members that are emotionally invested through coming to meetings and or volunteerism. And so we really, we track, our 13 touch points are each of the benefits that we have that flow into those three... I'll give you an example. So our informational members, we do an annual agent benefit study, which a lot of associations do. We have a semi- annual ops cost program for the operational cost, a monthly sales and forecasting program. So those are all in our informational, we don't charge a dime for our benchmarking financial stuff, which people love. That drives great value, because our members would pay at least 10 grand to get our forecasting model done by themselves, and then get it from us for paying$ 1, 800 a year in dues, and they gladly pay that. We have about 50% of our members in that one program, which any benchmarking program, you're lucky to get 15 to 20%.

Alex Mastrianni: Yeah, that's exceptional.

Tom Morrison: So, that's the informational members. Then we have our transactional members. And the transactional, some of those things are our online academy purchases ads in our quarterly magazine to advertise our company, our energy procurement program, and then purchasing any kind of training materials in a print version from us. So, that's our transactional members. And then our emotional members are anybody that attends our national meetings, regional meetings, our young executive training program, which by the way in my opinion, anybody wants to connect with me, it is the best executive management training program in all of manufacturing. I would put it up against anybody, many have told us that. And then board member or volunteer capacity, so those are emotional members that are... So, that's the connection point, that's really our 13 points. And what I really love about doing this is we actually track, so if we look at our measurements, 64% of our members are informational only members. They only get those things, and nothing else. 43% are transactional members, and 49% are emotional members. Now, here's our model. We want to get informational members to go to be a transactional members, and actually purchase something, because that invests them one step further. And then from there, we want them to become an emotional member and attend a meeting, and or volunteer or get on the board. And so, by tracking that though, you can't know it unless you have the data. But here's the reason for me, for doing all this measurement of engagement, what it boils down to, is this messaging. You don't want to send somebody who's in nine of your 10 programs, you need to be more engaged, a letter or email. And I've gotten those from organizations. You want to send that person," Hey man, we are so thankful that you are so engaged in the association. Because of you, we get to be world class." And somebody that's only in one program or maybe that's only come to a meeting in the last five years, they get different messaging to help them get engaged. So when we measure ours, ours is very simple. We download a spreadsheet with the 13 engagement points and give everybody one point for each item. Because I don't get bogged down in process with analysis of, should they get 50 points? I don't think a board member should be given any more points than a regular member for being engaged. It's just, you get one point. And then when we got our point totals, we put people in the level of engagement. So if you're in no programs, you're not engaged. If you're one to five programs, you're actively engaged. And if you're in six or more of our programs, you're highly engaged. And we look at those to give us some direction as to what kind of messaging do we want to send people? So it really helps us just really keep ourselves on the guided path, and maximizing. Here's the key to engagement, and I'll end on this, in my opinion when you're sending messaging, you want members to have FOMO. So, whenever we go to market a program, or a meeting or something, the key to getting people engaged mentally, is you say," Hey Dave, our records show that you are not involved in our management program. Our records show you are not registered the meeting, our records show you're not," blank. Just enter the program. What happens, I've learned this over 12 years of doing this, what happens when you say not, so many members think they're actually engaged in something or registered for a meeting. And when you say," Our records show, you're not," it hits the subconscious, oh my gosh, I'm missing out on something because I'm not. And so, we've used that one phrase remarkably well the last 12 years, to get our members engaged. And we have, marketing general studies show that 64% is about the average member engagement in programs, and we've got 83%. Plus, our members are involved in at least one program that gives them some satisfaction to being a member of MTI. So, we got about 17% that aren't engaged, but I've talked to many of them and they're like," Tom, we just love y'all are doing such a great job." But I really feel like that," Our records show you're not," is a key phrase.

Beth Arritt: What worked really effectively for stuff like that at AAAE, was have it come from a person, usually from the membership department, even though it was a mass thing and say," Hey, we noticed that you're missing, that you're not attending," such and such. Or," We noticed that you don't have this information." And then it really looks like, oh, this person actually looked at my account and reached out to me and was like," Oh, hey, I noticed they're not coming. I noticed they're not here."

Dave Will: I love that, Beth. And when you say a person, you don't mean the membership team, you mean a person on the membership team.

Beth Arritt: crosstalk membership.

Dave Will: You throw in a little headshot and a signature too, and now all of a sudden it's really a person. ASAE did that, Amy Hemple over at ASAE sent out a bunch of new member onboarding and renewal messages. When somebody joined or renewed their membership, Amy would send a note to them with a question in it, checking in with them. And people actually respond saying," Is this a real person?" There was actually debate whether or not Amy Hemple was a bot or real. And she's like," No, I'm real." So anyway, yeah it's unusual.

Alex Mastrianni: That's why those automation roles in communities, from the community managers that look they're coming from an individual person at the association saying," Hey Dave, I noticed you created your profile, but you haven't joined any communities yet. Why don't you... I wanted to introduce you to these three things," or something like that. It sounds like someone took the time to understand you, and get you reengaged somehow.

Beth Arritt: Yeah. And I think that's what makes the difference, is that it's coming from a person and it looks like that person... You've still got that fear of missing out, the FOMO that you're talking about, but it's coming from a person and it's," Hey, I noticed you weren't doing," such and such. They were actually cared enough to look at your record as one individual and say," Hey, they're not doing this. I think they should be."

Dave Will: I think that is such a great point. It's not just email either, like the community, you could do that within the actual community. I was at a hotel, and hotels are doing this really, really well right now via SMS. I went to a hotel in Park City like two weeks ago. And shortly after I checked in, I got a text message and it said," Hey, just want to make sure everything went well with check in. Is there anything we can do for you?" And it said Alicia or whatever her name was. I responded back immediately saying," Is this a real person?" I did, and she responds back saying," Yeah, this is Alicia. Let me know what I can do to help, anytime during your stay here." I was like, God damn, that's awesome. And then later she sent me a couple more, like the next morning she said," I hope your first night was good, how would you rate your first night on a scale of one to five?"

Beth Arritt: I'm betting I know which chain that was too, because that happened to me two weeks ago in Austin. I was in Austin two weekends in a row, two different hotels. It happened to me at one of them, but not the other one.

Dave Will: It was fantastic though. And what made it fantastic is the human, the actual person that was asking me a question. I thought that was brilliant. Fantastic.

Beth Arritt: Yep, makes all the difference?

Tom Morrison: Are you real?

Dave Will: Am I real? Depends who you ask.

Beth Arritt: Well, and the other thing too, is you need to make sure that when they reply, it goes back to that person too. Because if you send that like that, and then the reply is to the membership team or something like that, or membership or whatever, it's like, oh okay, they don't want to talk to me. All of the onboarding and renewal emails at AAAE come from a person, and the return email address is that person. And if they write back to that person, thinking that person actually emailed them, then that person is the one who gets it and who answers.

Tom Morrison: Well, I can tell you, I kind of ended on this. Beth, you make a great point, and all of our emails never go to attention members, it's always," Dear Dave," whatever," Our records show you're not engaged in whatever, signed Tom Morrison." I agree with you, you have to have the personal aspect of it, because that's what makes it human, and it gives that relationship. Because our goal is to not have a relationship with you where you would want to delete it. We want to have a close knit relationship, so you don't ever want to delete that. But like you said, every membership is different and you got to know your members

Alex Mastrianni: And Tom, it sounds like you and your team really, when you're examining where your members are falling within these different categories, these different touch points, you're taking this as feedback for you as well, to not just have your direction in terms of messaging, but what else can we do to reengage these people and strategize around it?

Tom Morrison: Absolutely. It's a moving target for us at all times, just because change is happening so fast, that your value proposition's changing because your members' pain points and what they care about are also changing in real time.

Alex Mastrianni: And Beth, I want to talk a little bit about how you did member scoring at your former association. Similar to Tom, It sounds like you had a little bit of a model as well that you worked on. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you were measuring engagement at that association?

Beth Arritt: Yeah. So, we did a couple of different things with member engagement. One of the ones that we did, was we took all of the things that a member could do, and there were a lot of them at AAAE. And we started with the basic, you exist in the database and you are a member, you have a member. And the ones that Tom's talking about, where they might read the stuff. I wanted to add another member type to that, there's the resume member who only joins to put it on their resume.

Alex Mastrianni: I haven't heard that one before, that's interesting.

Beth Arritt: Yeah, to put it on their resume, whether it's the membership itself or whether they have to be a member to have whatever certification accreditation on their resume.

Tom Morrison: They make great volunteers, don't they Beth?

Beth Arritt: Yeah, they make great volunteers if it's a requirement in order to keep their accreditation.

Tom Morrison: Right, exactly.

Beth Arritt: So, we basically took the people who just existed, and then everything from there all the way up to an AAE, an accredited airport executive, which is the highest level of engagement basically, you could get at AAAE. And it's not an easy accreditation to get either. There are some people who have been in the program for five or more years and they haven't finished their AAE yet, so it's not an easy one to get. And what we did is we figured out, okay, we took them an did it level by level. And then we looked at everybody in the bottom level and said," Okay, how do we get these people to the next step of engagement? And then we started looking at which ones were the most crucial, once we've figured out how to get them to that next step. And then we created automations that would take those people, automated campaigns that would take those people to the next level. For example, a fairly easy win- win would be anyone who is a CM, a certified member, the CM exam is one part of the AAE process. So four weeks after they got their CM, they started getting emails reminding them that," Hey, you've got your CM, you've done that part of it. Why not go for your AAE?" And then the campaign went on for six to eight weeks, and every so often it would just send them a reminder, but it would check each time to make sure that they hadn't done it. So to Tom's point, it wasn't asking them to do something that they were already involved in. It was making very sure that this was not someone who had already bought it, and we were looking like we didn't know what we were doing. And again, they were all-

Alex Mastrianni: crosstalk. Because I feel like we've all seen automation gone wrong at times.

Beth Arritt: Yes.

Alex Mastrianni: Like,"No, that's not right. I did that." So, good second check.

Beth Arritt: Yep. And you always get the problem where you might have somebody with two different email addresses, and they sign up with a different email address. You're going to have the occasional issue, but for the most part you're going to make as sure as you can. So we just basically started coming up with automations, and then prioritizing which ones were the most important, and going to have the best return on the investment too at the time of setting it up. And also, that prioritization allowed us to decide which ones were important enough, that people would go into those over other ones. So if they were in the middle of that campaign, they were locked out of the other ones until they finished that campaign too. So, it was pretty complex in terms of figuring out how to move people forward. And then the other way that we actually measured engagement, was we actually measured engagement based on subject, which is subject engagement scoring. And we had 12 different subjects that we decided were the main things that we covered. And we had all of these different things that we knew from the database itself, and then from what people had looked at in the community, posted on, searched for, things like that, and then web tracking information, what pages they'd visited, and then email information, landing page information. So we took all of these things and weighted each one with a particular subject. So for example, if you were in, the subject was security and you had an ACE security certification. Well, that got a certain amount of points. If you had gone to a security summit three times, you got that points times three.

Alex Mastrianni: How did you decide how all of these things were weighted?

Beth Arritt: It was a lot of trial and error. We did a lot of playing around with it, and it's still I think, constantly being tweaked. But we did it, and then we tested a few, we spot checked and we're like," Oh no, that person should not be in that subject. We need to revamp that a little bit," And then we did some more spot checking. And it's one of those things that as more meetings get added, because it's done by a code of overall types of meetings. As more meetings get added, as webinars change, as emails change, web pages get added, it's always going to have to be tweaked a little bit.

Alex Mastrianni: Work in progress.

Beth Arritt: Yeah. But the great thing about it is, we didn't have to wait just for people to come and tell us what they were interested in. Although we did actually weigh those things in there as well, if they specifically came and told us they were interested. But we could actually look at it and go," Okay, we can tell from your behavior," we're having this artificial intelligence conversation right here, we can tell from your behavior, we're looking at what you're doing and we're reacting to it and going," Okay, you're definitely showing us that you're interested in this. You've told us you're interested in it, but you're also showing us that you're interested in it. You told us you're interested in one thing, but that was five years ago, so now you seem to have shifted to this." So, we can go along their career with them and say," Okay, we're going to show you more things that are related to security, because it's clearly the area you're shifting into." Airports being so vast, and so many different things that people can get into, and people move around a lot for different jobs, different types of jobs. So yeah, it also drove in addition to being used for email targeting, it drove the advertising that you see on the website once you're logged in, it drove the news, resources and events that you saw on the homepage when you logged in. So, a lot of stuff was done based on your subject score.

Alex Mastrianni: I love that.

Beth Arritt: Yeah. It's just a different way of looking at engagement, and trying to make sure that you're giving the members what they need to see.

Tom Morrison: I have a question, Beth.

Beth Arritt: Yeah.

Tom Morrison: Just kind of, because we spent a lot of time talking about the weighting issue. And I came to the conclusion, this is why we only give one point for everything instead of weighting, is that if your members don't care on some leaderboard, through their activities of getting to a certain destination of leading, and being active in a gamification or something, does weighting even matter? Because I think weighting sometimes, we're weighting it to where we want to put the members instead of what the members, where they really are from their activities. I'm just interested in your thoughts behind the whole weighting issue.

Beth Arritt: Well in this case, the weighting was important because if you just went to a webpage that had the word security in it, that was not going to be nearly worth as many points as actually going and getting a certification in airport security.

Tom Morrison: Gotcha, okay.

Beth Arritt: And going through the trouble of getting the certification in airport security, a little bit higher actually than say, going to the security summit.

Alex Mastrianni: Yeah. So it sounds like it wasn't necessarily all what AAAE wanted them to do, but more of a blend of their interest level, based on how much time they're willing to commit to something. Like, if someone's going to go attend this event, they obviously are more invested than someone maybe just visiting the website.

Dave Will: Here's one thing I want to comment on, because I think it's a sophisticated approach relative to how most associations are segmenting their audience, their membership. But it's an imperfect approach too, in and of itself, by itself I should say. And the reason for that, is the same reason when I go to Amazon and I'm searching for a pair of, I don't know, a new microphone or something. And if I choose to buy my new Blue Snowball microphone, for the next two months, I'm seeing ads pop up about Blue Microphone, or about microphones. And I'm getting emails about microphones. And if I get a newsletter or some more emails about microphones, all I can think is I already bought a microphone. It's something I was interested in last month.

Tom Morrison: I wanted one.

Dave Will: I'm not interested in that right now anymore. So, that's the hiccup I think with this approach.

Beth Arritt: But here's the thing: when I first got there and we first brought in the database that we did, our CEO was like," I want our customers to have the Amazon experience." And my point was," Well, okay. I go on Amazon, every time Susan Boyle puts out a new CD, Amazon wants me to buy it, because 10 years ago I bought one Susan Boyle CD for my grandfather for Christmas."

Alex Mastrianni: I was going to say, Ben, I didn't peg you as a Susan Boyle fan.

Beth Arritt: Yeah, no, this isn't the Amazon. This is the Amazon plus experience, because we should absolutely know our members better. And that's why we pulled in so much more information and why we weighted certain things heavier than other. Like if you went to one page on security, you might be there to register somebody else, or you might be there because you were just looking to send something to someone else on your airport staff. And so, that thing alone is not going to tell me you're interested in security. And that's why the webpage visits are weighted so low. And it goes up based on, the more something displays your interest in that particular subject area, the higher that scores, so that you're more likely to be in the right area. And it's also subtle too, there's definitely, it's not showing you a ton of stuff. It's saying, okay, the advertising you're seeing would be air vendors who serve airports in terms of security. If you're in human resources, you might be seeing stuff for career recruitment software. And title also weighs heavily into it as well, and as your title changes obviously that score is going to change. So yeah, that's the thing. It should be Amazon plus, we should know our members better than Amazon knows its customers.

Tom Morrison: I think that's on a purchasing side though, but the reason I asked the question on the tangible side, was I've seen discussions where they're just going over, does a board member get more weight than a regular member? So the board member's in three programs and sits on the board, but they consider him more engaged than someone that's in six of your programs and is not volunteering. And I personally don't think that that person's, I think the person that's in six programs, taking the action steps, is more involved than the board member that's in three programs. I guess that's where I was weighting things. I hear a lot of discussion on that weighting, yours makes total sense on the online purchasing stuff.

Beth Arritt: Yeah, and that's the thing. Weighting it makes sense when you're talking about depth of interest in subject areas. You want the things that are going to show the most likely... That they're most likely interested in that particular subject, to be weighted heavier. In terms of activity, again, talking about your engagement, I would say that going to a webpage, clicking on an email or going to a webpage I would say, probably rate lower than doing an actual activity. But the number of activities definitely shows engagement, and the number per year would show engagement and things like that. So yeah, the weighting's a little bit different there.

Alex Mastrianni: Yeah. But all in all, different ways to really get to understand your members a little bit better. And how you can not just communicate with them, but serve up programs to them, make sure that they're seeing all the right things that they need. Dave-

Beth Arritt: I wanted-

Alex Mastrianni: Oh, go ahead.

Beth Arritt: Sorry. To bring it back to the value proposition, that whole idea of the subject scoring too, allows us to say," Okay, let's see what mix we've got of subject experts, and what people are interested in." And that gives us a solid basis in terms of subject areas and content, where of our members lie and are engaged, which then helps inform the value proposition.

Alex Mastrianni: Yeah, it's all intertwined. Dave, I want to talk a little bit about something that you mentioned at the beginning of the episode, which was taking things a step further into creating more of a two- way conversation with members, and hitting on that human to human element a little bit. Can you talk about this conversational marketing approach and how associations can start to create those two- way conversations?

Dave Will: Yeah. It's interesting you say conversational marketing. If you were to Google conversational marketing, you're going to come up with Drift and Intercom, which Drift actually invented the term conversational marketing. David Cancel is the founder of Drift, brilliant entrepreneur. And the idea behind conversational marketing is to catch people on your website with a chat bot, and sell them more. What I've been focused on for the past four years is a variation of that, but that's why we call it conversational engagement. Because it's really, really specific to associations. And associations, although sure, that might be interesting to catch people on your website and upsell them, really the interest with conversational engagement is to start conversations, two- way engagements with your members. So, I look at communications as being, there's not one method of communication that you're going to use all the time with your members. However, that's kind of what we're doing today. We really are using one method of communications with our members, and that's broadcast. We take emails and we broadcast stuff out, so we're talking at our members all the time. With the exception of the community, I love the community for peer to peer engagement, but I'm talking about association to member communications, it's all broadcast for the most part. Sometimes we might send surveys out, but it's really a dissection of your entire membership, that's not communication, that's a dissection. That's the kind of taking your members to a lab and studying them, that's what a survey is. So one of the arrows, I think that we've been focused on at Propfuel is conversational engagement. The idea behind conversational engagement is creating a two- way exchange, and the reason we're doing that is because if you were to look at actually how humans communicate, like actually how humans, we've been doing it here the entire time. You make a comment, a quick comment followed by a question. You listen, and then you act on it. So, the process broken down very simply is ask a question, capture input, take action. Ask, capture, act. So, the example I give oftentimes is if I'm walking down the street and I see somebody walking their dog, my goal is to pet the dog. I love dogs, I'm a dog lover, my goal here is I want to pet the dog. In association, their goal with seeing a member might be to get them to renew their membership. So you have an objective oftentimes with engagement, engagement's not random, engagement is actually you have an objective. You're trying to get somebody to do something, how do we get them to do that? And I'm proposing that if we treat them more like humans, and talk to them more like humans, we'll actually get better responses and engagement than if you broadcast all the time. So back to the dog, I walk up to somebody walking their dog and I say," Oh my gosh, what a beautiful dog. Is he friendly?" Now, based on the answer to that question, which is going to be some variation of a yes, or some variation of a no, my next action is going to be determined. So if they say yes, I'm going in for some love. And if they say no, I'm going to respectfully take a step back. And so, that's what a conversation is like, a brief introduction," What a beautiful dog." Followed by a question, you listen now, what are they going to say? And then based on that, you take action. So, let's take that to new member engagement. I'm sorry, the example I gave was a renewal., Let's take that to a lapsed member engagement. Very brief prompt text," Hey, we noticed your membership has lapsed."" What a beautiful dog."" We noticed your membership has lapsed, are you planning to renew?" And if you think about this, if somebody were to walk in your office... This is my soapbox, sorry for going on and on. If somebody were to walk in your office, how would you actually talk to that person if they wore a big sign that says," I let my membership lapse"?

Tom Morrison: I would ask them,"Our records show that you have not..."

Dave Will: And that would delete you.

Alex Mastrianni: They would just close the door.

Dave Will: crosstalk. But if somebody, actually if you think about how would I talk to this person if they were right in front of me, human to human? Well, what would my prompt be, what would my question be, what would I listen for, and how would I respond to it? And so, that's the human interaction that makes up what we call conversational engagement. Now you can do this any way you'd like, there's lots of ways you can do this. Of course, we built a platform to support it. But the concept is what matters more than anything else. And then if you take that one step further, you can automate that entire process based on certain triggers. But what matters more than anything else, is identifying the people that really need to talk to you, and want to talk to you, and continuing that conversation with them one- to- one, and let that tail go on. So, now you got a membership of let's just say, 15,000 members, you can take that 15, 000 person membership on a regular basis, and identify on a regular basis the 30 or 40 people that are actually asking to talk to you about something right now. Which is a pretty cool concept. That's what creates this two- way exchange, so that's conversational engagement in a nutshell.

Alex Mastrianni: Yeah. And then acting on it, right? Doing something with this information that you get back from-

Dave Will: Well, wait a minute. Hold on. So the acting on it, be careful, because what you just sounded like was, I just described a survey. That survey's, you got to remember to act on it. In a conversation, you don't have to remember to act on it because it's a freaking conversation, you're actually acting on it right now. So the workflow is the exchange that you create in this methodology, that is the action. If they say this, then do this. If they say that, then do that. Or even better, if you actually reply to somebody that had an open- ended response to something, and you talk to them, you're taking action at the individual level over, and over, and over again. And it's the automation that makes the ability to scale it. So, action is exactly what this is all centered on. That's the biggest problem I have with surveys. I remember going to a conference once wearing a shirt that said," Surveys suck." And the reason for that was because is everybody has surveys, they send these massive surveys out, they get like seven, eight, 10% response rates maybe. And then maybe they'll look at the survey. No, everybody looks at the results, but most of the time you look at the results and you're like," Yeah, that's what I thought." Or you get to know your membership as... You really triggered me on this one. You look at the membership, and you see this pie chart of what 42% of your members want and need, what 36% of your members want and need, but you don't know what Tom needs, you just know what 36%... And now you're talking to segments of people. Well, what about that one person that wants a sticker for their car? It's not very popular, but you got that one person that wants that sticker. You going to give it to them? Anyway, so yeah, the action is-

Alex Mastrianni: That's the nice thing about the conversational engagement, is that it's just a natural part of it. There's there's no extra step there.

Dave Will: Amen, sister.

Tom Morrison: If I could share a pain point that I think that Dave has tapped into, the biggest pain point for any association and their members is lack of people, and the labor shortage that we're going to experience the next eight years. And what I love about what Dave has tapped into, is how to scale the operational process in an association for membership engagement. You don't need 10 people to reach all these members, he's been able to show how you can scale with technology, the opportunity to reach them all at the individual level to meet their needs. And if a lot of that stuff resides on the website, when it says," Go here, go there." You don't need people in that mix, so it really helps make an association vastly more efficient to reaching their members, in a time when you're just not going to find very many membership engagement people to hire in the next 10 years.

Alex Mastrianni: Mm- hmm(affirmative). And we talked a lot about measurement during this episode. How do you measure conversational engagement?

Dave Will: Oh my God, let me start with how you don't measure it, okay? Open rates. The worst, they're just the worst.

Alex Mastrianni: And it's just going to get harder, right?

Beth Arritt: Open rates are just, forget it. Just forget open rates entirely. Don't even think about them.

Dave Will: It's so hard to... Everybody here needs to get on their soapbox and educate the community that open rates are garbage now, they are. And one of the big reasons for that is first of all, they were garbage before September 15, or I don't know what the date was, but in mid- September Apple released iOS 15, which now has given the consumer the ability to say," Do not share my personal information with anyone I open up my email with." And by the way, a huge percentage of the population uses Apple mail to check their mail. I'm not talking like, I use Google, I still look at it on my iPhone. If I'm looking at it on my iPhone, now you cannot see whether I open something or not. Apple will tell you I did. But what they're doing now, is they're blocking those images. Without getting into too much detail, open rates are not the way to measure success. The best way I think, from a tactical perspective, and again I'm thinking about emails and email measurement, I'm not thinking about measuring engagement per se. What I'm talking about is, was this email effective? And the best way to measure whether or not an email is effective, is did somebody actually should click on something in it? It's the click through, that's the level, in an email at least that's the metric probably that matters more than anything else. Beth and Tom, and Alex, I'd be curious to hear your input.

Beth Arritt: I totally agree. I look at open rates at this point, are the equivalent of the resume members. They exist, we don't know that they actually looked at anything, they exist. We don't know that they actually opened it. Until you show engagement by actually clicking through on something on the email, actually actively engaging with it, then it's not a metric worth measuring. Now, the trick is how do you get those people from step one of hopefully having opened it, to step two of clicking through? That's a whole other kind of... Email engagement is another kind of engagement. What's that?

Dave Will: How about you ask them a question, actually start a conversation with them, engage them that way? That's the soapbox I'm on, and by the way I want to emphasize this is just one arrow in the quiver. There's not every email you send should have a question for them to answer, that would be exhausting.

Beth Arritt: Yeah. Some of it literally is just informational, and you shouldn't expect a high...

Dave Will: Yes, absolutely.

Alex Mastrianni: Yep, they all play a role.

Beth Arritt: I think we've sort of come full circle a little bit there, Alex. I know we're getting shorter on time.

Alex Mastrianni: I know. I was going to say that's the perfect bring it all together point. Because really, when you're thinking about the ways that you're communicating and engaging with members, having these conversations, it's a progress. It's this constant cycling of information of you learning about your members, what they care about, how they care about it, serving it up in the right channel, and the right method and the timing, it all plays a part. But this has been an incredibly rich conversation. Thank you all for your input about member engagement, and how it all ties to value prop. One thing before we wrap up and we share where our listeners can find you all on the internet after this, what's your favorite member engagement tactic? Again, in one quick 30 second overview, this is a question we ask all of our guests. Tom, you kick us off.

Tom Morrison: Quantify that question. How do we get members engaged?

Alex Mastrianni: Any quick, could be like a little tip, or could be some bigger idea. Favorite tactic to get members engaged.

Tom Morrison: To me, the first thing you do is measure. It was a rude awakening to us when we downloaded our 13 touch points in a spreadsheet, gave everybody a point and saw that wow, 82% of our members are actually engaged in something, 42 over here. The first thing for me is just measure, so you can be able to see where that is. And for me, the big thing is just being able to do that. Now, Beth has inspired me to go look at different semantic wording. I appreciate that, Beth. But talking specifically to the members that are not in specific programs, in a way that lets them know that. And thanking those that are in the program instead of a blanket email, so much more effective.

Alex Mastrianni: Love it, understanding where your members are so that you can figure out where to go next. Dave, how about you? Favorite member engagement tactic.

Dave Will: I mean, the easy answer is conversational engagement. But the more thoughtful answer is, oftentimes we look at behavior and transactional data to guess what it is our members are interested in. Wouldn't it be cooler if we just said," What are you interested in?" Ask them. So for me, the tactic is ask, ask them stuff. That's the tactic I encourage.

Alex Mastrianni: I love it. Beth, how about you? I think I've asked you this question every single time you've been on this podcast. Do you have one specific to the topic of this episode?

Beth Arritt: I think that, I like the ask one. However, since that's already been said, I also like this one as well. Be reactionary. Structure your emails in such a way that they could be reactionary, structure your campaigns so that they could be reactionary. When somebody gives you information by clicking on something, by answering a question, by clicking on something in an email, have something prepared to react to it so that they get something in return.

Dave Will: So you don't need to remember to act on it, right?

Beth Arritt: Oh, you should still remember to act on it later too, because it's still going to be relevant six months down the line, most likely. But definitely, be reactionary in the moment.

Dave Will: Good call.

Alex Mastrianni: Yeah, love it. Awesome. Well Tom, if our listeners want to reach out to you, if they have any questions, where can they find you?

Tom Morrison: They can go to my website at tommorrison. biz, and reach out to me at tom @ tommorrison. biz.

Alex Mastrianni: Awesome. Dave, how about you?

Dave Will: Www. propfuel. com. P- R- O- P- F- U- E- L, or dave @ propfuel. com.

Alex Mastrianni: Love it. And Beth, how about you?

Beth Arritt: I'm everywhere. You could find me on HUG, if you're a Higher Logic customer. You can reach me at B Arritt, it's two Rs, two Ts, A- R- R- I- T- T, at higherlogic. com. You can find me on Twitter @ betharritt, and on LinkedIn at Elizabeth Arritt.

Alex Mastrianni: Wonderful.

Beth Arritt: So, I'm everywhere.

Alex Mastrianni: Well, thank you everyone. That's going to do it for another episode of the Member Engagement Show, and we'll see you on the next episode. Bye.

Beth Arritt: Thanks, Alex. Bye.

Alex Mastrianni: Do you love the member engagement show? Leave us a review. We really appreciate our listeners, and all of the support you give us. Selfishly, we also want to hear what you have to say. So please, leave us a review and let us know what you think.


This week on The Member Engagement Show, we discuss the intersection of member engagement and value propositions. What drives member engagement? How do you measure it? How do you make your member engagement better over time? Engagement experts Beth Arritt, Dave Will, and Tom Morrison are joining the discussion today to help us answer these very questions. Listen now to elevate your member engagement strategy!

Today's Host

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Alex Mastrianni

|Sr. Manager of Product Marketing at Higher Logic
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Heather McNair

|Community Industry Expert

Today's Guests

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Beth Arritt

|Association Strategist and Marketing Automation Expert
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Dave Will

|Co-Founder and CEO, PropFuel
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Tom Morrison

|Association CEO, Metal Treating Institute