October 18, 2022   |   Vol. 21   |   Issue 10
By Jacqueline A. Zeranski, MGI Account Supervisor

Getting Your Data House in Order

Have there been times when your association has wanted, or needed, an answer to the question “where are we at and how did we do,” but you can’t access the information? Many associations struggle with that question because of the inability to effectively read and leverage their data.

Data is critical to association marketing and growth. If you are unable to use your data in real time, have incomplete membership data, or are not able to view your membership trends, you won’t be able to plan for growth or track results that power your decisions.

Good data management is critical. You likely have more data at your fingertips than ever before, which is why it is so important to take steps now to get your house in order so you can maximize the use of your membership data.

Here are three easy ways to get your data house in order:

  1. Clean up your mess. Dirty data is many times the primary reason associations have issues with accurate data review and usage. Bad information—including old records, incomplete records, or incorrect records—means that you can’t accurately read, pull, or use your data. Clean and valid data translates to clean and accurate information.
    • Check your data quality. Take the time to consistently remove and archive unused or old records.
    • Check for missing fields in your data and remove or update any records with missing information. Catching a simple mistake can save your organization embarrassment and provide a window into areas that may need clarification on how staff is entering data.
    • Update your data by running email and address verification and appends, annually if your budget allows. This should include NCOA/CASS certification and email appends on hard bounce email files.
  2. Make a plan. Have a plan for how to handle data, and who handles it. A good AMS is only part of your plan.
    • Set the right process and procedure for collecting and tracking your member data across departments. Consistency on how data fields are used across departments can vary and many times data is collected outside of the AMS because there are fields with a specific purpose that may not be needed in the AMS.
    • Set a plan to establish and define roles and responsibilities for data input, maintenance, and consistency, so when data is integrated it can be done without duplication or conflicting formats.
  3. Maintain your data. Know when, how, and where your data comes from. Knowing how to analyze your data to identify the right prospects sometimes means knowing where to look for it. Many association AMS systems are limited to the type, or timeline, of information they can provide.
    • Take a snapshot of your data routinely so you can track your membership information and be able to reference this information for future use.
    • Routinely review and collect data across departments. Many times, member engagement cannot be seen in one snapshot from your AMS. Knowing where to look to track and measure member engagement is important. Routinely reviewing and collecting this data across departments will give you a better idea of what member information and data looks like, and how it can help when looking at member engagement and marketing.
    • Consider building a simple data “warehouse” where cross-departmental data files can be consolidated and similarly formatted, allowing for siloed data to exist but bringing it all together for higher level analysis purposes.

Cleaning up your data for easier and more accurate use does not have to be overwhelming. Start small. Take one step at a time until each task is done. Putting the time and money into cleaning your data house will pay for itself in the future. Want to chat more? Feel free to contact Elisa Joseph, MGI Senior Account Director at EMJoseph@marketinggeneral.com.

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