If you’ve been following this blog for the past five years (heck….even the past year), you know I’m a communications nut.
Seriously. It’s the center of everything I do – from my personal life to my professional life.
Without communication, both internally and externally, there’s no content, no strategy. Nothing.
But not everyone knows how to communicate, at least not effectively. That goes for businesses, too.
Last January, I wrote about Naylor’s 2015 Communication Benchmarking Study. Naylor has been conducting the survey for five years, and last year, the survey found most associations were continuing to struggle with communications. In fact, only 6 percent reported having a communications strategy.
Fast forward: Naylor recently released the results of its 2016 Communications Benchmarking Study. And….you guessed it. Associations are still struggling.
The top two communications challenges reported this year: communications clutter/overload and the inability to communicate membership benefits effectively. Both challenges have increased since 2011, with 69 percent and 67 percent of associations stating those are the largest obstacles.
At the same time, nearly 80 percent of associations said their members ignore their communications – up from 59 percent in 2015.
Also of note:
- More than half of respondents recognize a serious or significant problem with the lack of revenue generated from their communication vehicles.
- Most respondents believe they are good at creating relevant content, and more than half are conducting communication-specific surveys at least once every 12–24 months to stay on top of members’ needs. But, as stated above, those efforts are often being ignored.
- Although 57 percent believe they could improve member engagement by improving their ability to customize for different subgroups, not many are actually doing it.
While under staffing remains a top concern among associations, especially in the communications department, some positive trends emerged in the 2016 survey.
This year, more associations reported success in helping their members find desired information quickly and keeping them informed about education opportunities and events.
While e-newsletters and print magazines remain top communication vehicles, associations seem to be expanding their communication vehicles. For example, according to the results, Facebook, webinars and online career centers have gained traction.
Finally, again this year, associations reported difficulty with communicating to young professionals. While integrated communication is paramount to success, segmentation and customization of communications is key to enticing young members. As such, Naylor advises associations to develop specific events, communications and mentoring opportunities unique to this group.
“In general, associations are doing a better job at organizing information and making it accessible to their members, as well as keeping their members informed about new events and education,” Naylor says. “It’s more critical than ever to make every message count. And while associations appreciate the importance of segmenting member data to provide tailored communications to combat the ‘overload’ challenge, a relatively small percentage feel they are leveraging technology available to do this effectively.”