The Executive - November/December 2016 - 28


Associations
Communicatio
A Study in Perception vs. Reality

R

eviewing metrics in the association world can mean anything from budget inspection to
Twitter followers. Data gives a straight, no-fluff account of performance, with year-over-year
improvement not just a goal, but a necessity.
Each year when Association Adviser and Naylor Association Solutions launch the Association
Communications Benchmarking Study, we certainly hope to see improvements in the ways
associations communicate with members. We want to learn what associations are doing
differently and better, what resources are being utilized to engage members, and whether
communication tools are being monetized to their fullest degree.

While the 2016 study uncovered
promising new trends, data revealed
that associations face the same primary
challenges, and the approach to tackling
those challenges has not necessarily
improved. Unfortunately, doing more
with less is a new reality, but with
appropriate planning and a written
strategy, associations of all sizes can
move toward an A+ communications
program.
Primary challenges
For the fifth consecutive year,
"combatting information overload/
cutting through the clutter" has been
the No. 1 association communications
challenge (cited by nearly 70 percent
of respondents, up 16 percent from
2010). The logical takeaway from that
statistic would be to reduce the amount
of information sent to members,
but associations reported they
communicate more frequently, touching
members four more times per month
(for a total of 30) than in 2015.
Granted, the prevalence of social
media factors into that statistic, but
with four in five associations believing
at least half of their communications
28

are ignored, and just 24 percent of
respondents reporting a click-to-open
rate of 20 percent or higher for their
most popular digital publication, it is
imperative that associations inspect
their current messaging.
One way to be more strategic about
the number of times your association
communicates with members? Make
sure every message counts, and create
a master calendar with dates and times
for all departments to have member
touchpoints, understanding diversions
may happen.
Associations still have difficulty
communicating member benefits
effectively (67 percent cited this issue),
yet 86 percent of respondents stated
they are good at creating relevant
content. An association's industry
knowledge and clout weave into its
content, and aside from valuable
education and peer collaboration, the
biggest member benefit associations
provide is their fight for members and
the industry. Relevant content alone is
an incredible member benefit - subtly
remind members of that.
Customizing for member
segments continues to be a top

Ca lSAE's T HE E XEC U T IV E - NO V E M B E R/ DE C E M BE R 2 0 1 6

communication challenge (more than
doubling in response, from 23 percent
to 55 percent during the past five years),
and only 28 percent of associations
think they are using member data
wisely enough to deliver a customized
member experience.
Software is one tool that makes
customizing messages for member
segments easier for associations.
Technology continues to evolve to serve
the needs of the association community,
and while cost may be a barrier, tech
products and services provide so much
more than database management.
When asked whether certain
technologies are being fully utilized to
create customized experiences, only
34 percent of respondents properly
utilize an email marketing system; 28
percent properly utilize their AMS; and
15 percent properly utilize their career
center. These tools help communication
staff learn more about member
preferences and provide a databased foundation for more targeted
communication. Associations should
consider the positive impact technology
can have on the entire organization and
make the necessary investments.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Executive - November/December 2016

President’s Message
At a Glance
Calendar of Events
Building a ‘Foresight First’ Board of Directors
10 Tips to Experience Unlimited Success When Communicating
Media Relations: Building a Strategic and Comprehensive Communications Strategy
Associations Communications a Study in Perception vs. Reality
Destination: Santa Barbara
Advancing Associations: 9 Tips for Concise Writing
New Members
Index to Advertisers
The Executive - November/December 2016 - cover1
The Executive - November/December 2016 - cover2
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 3
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 4
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 5
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 6
The Executive - November/December 2016 - President’s Message
The Executive - November/December 2016 - At a Glance
The Executive - November/December 2016 - Calendar of Events
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 10
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 11
The Executive - November/December 2016 - Building a ‘Foresight First’ Board of Directors
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 13
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 14
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 15
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 16
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 17
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 18
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 19
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 10 Tips to Experience Unlimited Success When Communicating
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 21
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 22
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 23
The Executive - November/December 2016 - Media Relations: Building a Strategic and Comprehensive Communications Strategy
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 25
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 26
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 27
The Executive - November/December 2016 - Associations Communications a Study in Perception vs. Reality
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 29
The Executive - November/December 2016 - Destination: Santa Barbara
The Executive - November/December 2016 - Advancing Associations: 9 Tips for Concise Writing
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 32
The Executive - November/December 2016 - Index to Advertisers
The Executive - November/December 2016 - 34
The Executive - November/December 2016 - cover3
The Executive - November/December 2016 - cover4
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