1) Email Often
Your members want to hear from you, so make sure you are fully communicating with your entire database at least once each year. Use these communications as an effective way to check for active emails; look for bounce backs, permanent out of offices and the occasional email from a new staff member who inherited the account. (Extra tip: add that new person to the account or add the name as a prospective member). Once you know who is no longer with an organization, you can either make those members/organizations inactive, or you can take the time to research where they are now or who took their place. This is a great way to find potential new members.
2) Ask for Updated Information
Ask your members to keep you informed when their contact information changes. People switch jobs, get married, and get promoted often. One great suggestion is to have a link to a contact information form on all email communications and on your website. Make sure to ask for current AND past information. Past information is extremely helpful when trying to locate a member in your database. A wonderful and free service for creating forms is Google. This can also be done by simply including a link to an email account in your message which encourages members to email you when their information needs to be updated. Make sure to check or download form results often.
3) Play with Your Data
Be an active participant with your database. Query the system for difficult searches to ensure it is pulling the expected results. Remember, no one knows your data like you do.
Always keep in mind that your database is your organization’s best tool for maintaining relationships with your members. Don’t lose contact due to poor management.
Allie Williams, IOM says
Great read Shelby,
…and your friends at WebLink can remind or teach you some best practices on all three and many more.
Colleen Evans, IOM says
Great article Shelby! I am a huge proponent here in our office of using the database! Your 3rd point, Play with the Data, is so important. If the data has been put in, it can be extracted in all kinds of ways!