Some Might Call It Association “Moneyball”

Or online association sabrmetrics.

We have designed, developed and managed a lot of web sites for associations over the years, and it is our largest client segment. One of the things that comes from web sites, and even more from association web sites, are numbers.  Statistics.  Data.

Just to start, an association can monitor the following kinds of data concerning their web presence, based on general category…

Web Site “Traffic”:

Page views

web site analyticsNow those are gross categories. There are levels of details – i.e., kinds of browsers used by visitors, breakdown by hour of time of day of a specific’s page view, etc., that can be measured. This can be broken down by day, week, month, quarter – you get the picture. Lots of data to manage. There are lots of good tools to use to measure and manage this data, such as Google Analytics.

Search engine results:

Keyword searches
Average ranking on keyword search

Again, gross categories. Google Webmaster Tools can get you started on this.

Your own site’s search engine results:

Most common search keywords/phrases
Most commonly used link for keywords/phrases
Not found keywords/phrases

Email List Statistics:

Email opens
Email adds/drops
Email links clicked

Shopping Cart Statistics:

Items sold
Average price per sale
“Backout of purchase” rates
Cart clickthru statistics

Social Media Statistics:

Number of Followers/Friends
Number of Messages
Rate of “repeating”

Associations can also have membership usage statistics if they provide member logins, such as:

% of member logins by time period
Membership breakdown on online transactions
Membership breakdown on access to membership data
Membership updates

Then there are the various statistics that can be generated from anything “plugged in”, as social media and email subscription forms can be. Webinars, online surveys, video feeds, etc., can and do generate statistics. And loose ends, such as Email Contacts from Web Site, and comments average for blog posts.

And then – there’s the combination of statistics from any and all of these areas.  As you can see, you can dive as deep as you want to into these numbers, and sometimes it’s critical to your organization’s online efforts.  And some data is not even close to important.

I’ll be talking more about all of this in the future. A lot of associations already monitor some of these statistics, and have been doing so for a long time. But it’s clear that a lot of associations do not. And that few associations actually devote much resources to trying to decipher what the numbers mean. And depending on the quality of the data that is being collected, that information means a lot: what works on the association’s web site, what does not work, possibilities on how to fix what’s not working, opportunities that may be available for future offerings, what your audience can do, what you may be able to lead your membership towards online, and what your membership wants you to do online – essentially, the future of your association on the web.

Step one for any association is to get measurement tools in place for the web site. If there are not measurement tools currently – analytics for the site, open and link measurement for email lists, etc., then it is time to get them.

Make sure your numbers are as close to apples to apples as you can get. Use the same analytics software if you can on any webhosted pages. Also, it can much more daunting to have to look at 4-5 sources of data each time period to make an assessment.

Make it a habit to look at the data regularly, at least once a month.

Don’t expect there to be any numbers that “hit home” in one way or another in the first month or two of data. Consider where you are as a baseline, and then you can work from the data to move forward.

As I said, I’ll write more about this in the upcoming months – specific tools, practices, etc.   In the meantime, if you’re not measuring – get started.