In 2014 the key online challenge facing the membership sector is online personalisation. Richard Gott, explores how big data has an important role to play in part two of a three-part blog….

What BIG DATA can be used?

As membership bodies we tend to hold a ‘shed-load’ of information about our members but rarely actually use the majority of it to generate online member value and engagement. It is likely that most information is stored on your membership database/CRM, however this data can also be mined from a range of other sources outlined below (some realistic and some not so!):

What types of information can be used?

There are two key types of BIG DATA that can be used from an online member personalisation perspective:

1) Knowledge – What we know about our members – This information may include name, address, membership grade, length of membership, special interest, type of membership category, previous product/service purchases, historic data linked to the joining process (e.g. clicking on a tagged/unique URL when they first joined) or perhaps the length of time until their annual membership renewal date.

Fellowship Upgrade Campaign Example: If members are required to hold 10 years’ membership to apply for Fellowship you could render content in the form of a ‘call to action’ for all eligible members who have not upgraded to do so.

Local Annual Conference Campaign Example: If your annual conference is scheduled to take place in a specific location (e.g. London) content could be rendered linked to the geographical location (geocoding) of members. E.g. All members in the South East of England.

2) Behaviour – How our members behave on our websites – This information may include historic page visits, a particular series of page views (known as a click stream), log-files, a particular key word search, length of time spent within a particular section of your site or the number of repeat visits to a page/product or service.

New Product Launch Campaign Example: If you are launching a new product you could render content for all website users that have ever entered a key word search associated with the product title or linked/tagged words.

What other sources of BIG DATA are out there?

Further insight can be gained via a range of other online sources and these may include:

– Online social media profiles
– Publically available data (e.g. World Bank)
– Legacy documents (e.g. membership body archives/record management systems)
– Online footprints of social influencers and thought-leaders on leading sector websites

In the future other sources of BIG DATA could be mined. E.g. Satellite/cable television boxes or even home appliances.

This is where we need to be careful that we are not appearing too ‘BIG BROTHER’. Content needs to be timely, relevant and appropriate and used for the benefit of both the member and the association. The use of member information also needs to be lawful.

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