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Associations today are constantly challenged with demonstrating membership value to both current and prospective members. Communicating their value requires them to understand the unique needs of each member at scale. While this sounds like a difficult task, doing so is possible using the modern marketing data stack — a combination of tools and marketing strategies fueled by member data.

In Velir's experience deploying the modern marketing data stack for associations, we encounter a consistent set of barriers to activating member data:

  • Data siloed in individual systems. Of particular note is the Association Management Software (AMS) which doesn’t easily integrate with modern software as a service (SaaS) marketing tools.
  • Long turn-around times on data requests have a chilling effect on data-driven decision-making.
  • Conflicting signals from individual data silos breed mistrust in member data, further chilling data requests.

In this post, I'll define the modern marketing data stack and share some of the outcomes that associations can expect from implementation.

What is the Modern Marketing Data Stack?

Marketers created the modern marketing data stack in response to the explosion of MarTech vendors in the last decade. Working with lots of MarTech tools means that data gets siloed, results are hard to measure, and outbound communications cannot leverage data collected across these tools. Associations have the added challenge of determining where their AMS fits into their MarTech stack since these on-premises tools are not widely supported by SaaS vendors.

To address these issues, the modern marketing data stack uses a cloud data warehouse as the central repository for data. You can integrate this data warehouse with each tool including the AMS. The integration breaks down data siloes and provides marketing and membership teams with the data and tools they need to produce personalized communications and gain actionable insights.

A typical solution may look like the one in the following diagram. Source data feeds into the data warehouse using off-the-shelf extract, transform, and load (ETL) tools like Fivetran. Data blends within the warehouse to combine attributes and identifiers across systems. Marketers can then distribute this blended data downstream to email, ad, and other marketing platforms for activation. Business Intelligence tools like PowerBI can connect to the warehouse to make this blended data available for decision-making.

A graphic showing how data sources like web interactions, email interactions, social interactions, AMS profiles, eCommerce transactions, event registrations, and in-person touch points can be shared with destinations like email lists, ad platforms, website dashboards, member dashboards, SMS, business intelligence, and event applications.

This solution is also often referred to as a composable Customer Data Platform (CDP) because it pieces together the functionality of a CDP from many integrated tools. As pointed out by venture capital firm, a16z:

"The promise of the CDP is to unify, analyze, and activate customer data, and to break down traditional data, technology, and channel silos within an organization….the new (composable) CDP architecture is a lot more modular and adaptive to enterprises’ needs. Upon streamlining and consolidating several core data infrastructure blocks, each component is focused on what they are best at and serves a particular group or audience."

What Velir has found is that many associations have the core building blocks of a composable CDP already because they replicate their AMS data into a data warehouse. While this is commonly done for reporting purposes, there's nothing stopping these same associations from integrating additional tools for marketing and personalization.

Improve member experiences at scale for your association.

Our informative guide will help you understand how to overcome data challenges to improve the membership experience and deliver on the promise of activating your data for personalization.

What Can You Expect from the Modern Marketing Data Stack?

Deploying the modern marketing data stack is more than an exercise in configuring new tools — it's a foundational step for building a data culture. A data culture exists when staff feels confident enough in their organization's data to remain curious, ask questions about the data, and make data-driven decisions. They can automate these decisions to provide members and prospective members with personalized offers and messages at scale. As an example, one association we worked with saw an increase in engagement with their onboarding tutorials after personalizing the tutorials based on the behavior of the member.

Other outcomes include:

  • Better decision making made possible by a well-defined process for asking questions and receiving data-driven answers
  • Targeted communications that improve performance and reduce noise
  • Cross-channel, personalized experiences that better serve members
  • Happier members who feel as though their association knows them

Deploying the modern marketing data stack directly meets an urgent demand of associations: proving that they know and understand their members’ unique, individualized needs. The good news is that associations are already collecting the necessary data points. By leveraging this yet-untapped resource, associations can build a data culture and show value to members.

Is your association looking to create a data-driven culture that empowers better decision-making and offers personalized member experiences? Contact us to learn how we can help you implement the modern marketing data stack.


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