Tim Ebner is former senior editor of Associations Now in Washington, DC.
To anticipate needs and deliver high-quality benefits, one association tracks members' footprints as they move online.
Your association might provide a long list of member benefits, but do you know exactly how and when they are used?
The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses does. AACN gathers that information through a marketing technique called customer journey mapping, which can help an organization determine a member’s exact moment of need.
Instead of promoting every benefit to every member, AACN uses a consolidated team to follow in members’ footsteps, learning over time what benefits are likely to be used by different membership segments—and, therefore, what marketing messages should be directed to them. For instance, a new nurse who’s been in the critical-care field for three years or less is likely to apply for a certification, attend a professional networking event, and enroll in online learning.
“We’re trying to understand who our nurses are by looking at segments to understand where our products and services might intersect along a lifelong journey,” says Isabelle Bart, AACN marketing and communications director.
This shift in thinking resulted in a 5.3 percent increase in membership last year, as well as an all-time high for new member acquisition.
Bart says effective customer journey mapping requires three elements:
1. Teamwork. AACN takes a “nerve center” approach to membership, with staff from multiple departments working together. “Before, we were a siloed organization focused on our own internal goals. Now, we have a core team of marketing, communications, and IT professionals who work to problem-solve,” Bart says. “Having a strong team and knowledge base in-house helps you to know your audience better.”
2. Focus on data. Central to the team effort is reliable and clean data that can be used to make sense of member journeys. A data-driven approach enables tactics like marketing automation and content personalization, which can make a member experience feel more customized, Bart says.
“We’re putting a lot more emphasis on analytics that can connect dots for our members,” she says. “Once a user expresses an interest online—like buying a product or downloading a resource—we can then follow up and market directly to them with other related and useful products.”
3. Testing. Every individual has a different reason for becoming and remaining a member. To understand what interests and motivates members, AACN tests different messages with its member segments. When used across a variety of marketing channels, such testing can help to determine which message will resonate the most.
“Eventually, what we’ll know is how to show the right message to the right member,” she says. “We’re still not there yet, but the first step is to gauge how different audiences react.”
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Map Their Journey"]