Stuart Palmer, Managing Director
‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it’
This simple quote, from author and management consultant Peter Drucker, applies as much to membership organisations as it does to any business.
While you are no doubt already measuring your basic financials such as monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and cost of acquisition, you are in a minority if you are also tracking how your membership website platform is performing – in a recent study only 44% of membership platform owners tracked key metrics (and 14% admit to not tracking performance at all).
It is never too late to start though and measuring website performance will enable you to set clear development goals. If these include a website redesign, having real performance data for comparison will be invaluable.
This article looks at which key metrics you should be interested in, where you can find the data you need and how you can use the information gathered to grow.
Choosing what to track
Given the variety of analytics tools and services available to membership website owners, the first challenge is to narrow your focus on what you really need to measure.
The membership model usually relies upon recurring income from members so you will definitely want to measure membership uplift, membership churn and customer lifetime value (LTV).
Since member engagement is correlated with renewal rates, it is also important to track metrics related to members’ on-site behaviour such as time on site and number of key actions taken (e.g. resource downloads).
A good membership platform should be intuitive to use so another useful metric to keep an eye on is the time your team is spending on site administration.
Gathering the data
The source of your data will depend upon the specific membership platform set up you have but there are some common places to look.
Most of the data related to member numbers and revenues will come from your CRM, so you should look there to gather information on uplift, churn and LTV.
An analytics tool is crucial for understanding how your members are interacting with your website content. Google Analytics is the most common (and best) and will provide both broad brush statistics, such as the number of pages your members are visiting, and customised data based on actions you have defined. For example, downloading a podcast can be set up as a ‘goal,’ enabling you to calculate a conversion rate based on the number of downloads per page visit.
If you have different types of member, you can customise Google Analytics to include data on member type so that you can analyse behaviour by member type.
Behavioural analytics tools such as HotJar and Crazy Egg can provide more qualitative information on member behaviour. Through the use of heat maps, scroll maps and other page-level tracking features, you can spot exactly where the user journey is breaking down.
It may also be necessary to manually record some data. For example, you could ask admin staff to report on admin time.
Bringing it all together
The optimal report format will depend on your organisation, but you should focus on making the process of reporting as easy as possible. Google Sheets are great because they allow you to build the data collaboratively and make it super-easy to create graphs.
Show your metrics as a graph wherever possible. This will highlight developing trends rather than simply providing a series of unrelated snapshots. It is the trends which should form the basis of your ongoing strategy.
Towards continuous improvement
Just as improvement is impossible without measurement, data on their own are of little use unless you apply the findings to grow your membership. Your monthly reports should lead to clear recommendations for action tied to specific goals. You should also evaluate the metrics you are recording periodically, and tweak them where necessary.
Or to modify Drucker’s quote: ‘Now you can measure it, you really should improve it!’
Eyes Down is a digital agency working in the charity, membership organisation and subscription sectors. They design and create beautiful, mobile friendly websites, intranets and CRM tools for professional associations, charities, sports clubs and other membership organisations.