The 21st-century American association faces a host of serious engagement challenges. Membership at many organisations has stagnated or decreased as professionals seek elsewhere products, services and experiences. Increasing competition from related nonprofits and corporations siphons off dollars that normally would have flowed to the association. Members look for personalised, high-touch relationships that associations aren’t well-equipped to deliver, and the variety of platforms that members use has only increased.
In short, the familiar association business model—membership dollars topped off with nondues revenue from education, networking, and publications—is becoming obsolete.
And yet, there is little research in the association community about the structure of an effective new engagement model for US American members and non-member customers. For example:
- How strong are US member relationships in different segments, and how well do they compare to non-US members?
- How do exposure and usage of actual products and services correlate with the quality of the relationship?
- How do member relationships evolve in the membership life-cycle?
- How can real membership advocates be identified?
- What are relevant drivers that most impact engagement?
- Which qualities and motives for membership need to be considered in order to implement more targeted activation and communication strategies?
The launch of the American Engagement Index report
The American Engagement Index is designed to answer those questions. In 2017, MCI partnered with FairControl and recently launched the American Engagement Index to measure the performance, relationship strength and outcome of engagement tactics as seen through the eyes of association members and non-member customers in the USA.
More than 87,000 members and customers of ten US associations were invited to share how they rated their association’s overall performance, its benefit and value, and preference for it over other comparable providers.
The Index gives participating associations deep insight into how members and non-member customers rate association performance, assess their relative relationship strength, identify critical value drivers that most impact relationships, view contrasting similarities or differences in member experience, and prefer different relevant product/services that can improve retention or increase loyalty.
The overall AEI engagement score across all associations averaged 75 (AEI scoring ranges from a high of 150 to a low of -50), signalling a borderline weak engagement. Such a score reveals two significant considerations:
- Something important is missing in the American member and customer experience (and similarly in other mature markets such as Europe)
- Experience and relationship quality is much better in emerging and developing markets.
For more information contact Peter Turner, MCI’s Senior Advisor, Global Development Strategy at firstname.lastname@example.org, or listen to the webinar ‘Getting More ROI from Engagement through Stronger Relationsips’. Participating associations IEEE and ASIS International share insights about the AEI and the thinking it has inspired them.