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Data Segmentation: Organizing Information to Better Serve Members

Data is increasingly at the center of how associations understand their audience, target their marketing, and most importantly, improve engagement. When segmented thoughtfully, data can inform how you interact with members and deliver a catered, valuable experience that, for you, can greatly boost retention.

What Is Data Segmentation?

Simply put, data segmentation is categorization. Think U.S. Census: Every 10 years, American citizens are posed a series of questions about age, ethnicity, household, income, etc. Those answers are then used to categorize people by those demographics.

The same idea applies to how you might survey your members about a benefit, event, or another facet of membership that garners actionable feedback. From member demographics to member priorities, you can use the data you get from member feedback to develop more focused marketing, communication, education, advocacy, and event-related initiatives. That, in turn, can make specific groups of members feel more valued and that they’re truly being heard.

How to Get Started

If you’re not already segmenting your data, you’re missing a huge opportunity to engage your members on a more granular level. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start now. The following are a few steps you can take to better gather data and organize it effectively.

  1. Storage and management. If you plan on collecting enough data that it can be usefully segmented, you’re going to need storage and a system that allows you to sort the data. One method is simply using a spreadsheet, but that likely involves manual entry and isn’t efficient. Fortunately, there are countless data and association management software tools out there that can store your data and help you organize it, put it into usable formats, and share it.
  2. Goals. As with any initiative, you should set a specific goal when segmenting your data. Ask yourself what data about your membership you really need to help your engagement strategy. Having a goal will also help clarify the effectiveness of your data collection methods—through surveying and focus groups, monitoring email engagement, measuring event and education session attendance; if you’re not getting responses through a particular method, your strategy may need to be adjusted.
  3. Collection methods. Piggybacking off of the last point, you’ll need to identify the most effective methods of collecting data. Hitting or missing your goals, and by how much, should inform how you can best collect data moving forward. Track your success rates for different segments of your membership and refine your collection strategy. The more information you have, the more time and resources you can save on future initiatives.
  4. Evaluation. In short, measure everything. Collect enough data that the outliers are true outliers and don’t affect your analysis in a way that’s misleading. Look for patterns and correlations based on factors such as age, industry experience, and certification status, and create concrete categories you can target with your initiatives. Then build your membership strategies around your findings.

Listen and Engage

Your members want to be heard, and collecting and segmenting your data can be a great step toward achieving that incentive. If done thoughtfully, your overarching membership strategies will not only prove effective, they will keep your members engaged, involved, and feeling valued for years to come.

YGS has the knowledge and experience to help your association achieve its membership goals. Visit to start the conversation.

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