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What is Intent Data?

Brianne Wheeler
February 11, 2021

For associations, one of the most frustrating and challenging aspects of member data is its static nature. And by static, I mean data without context. Who moved last month and needs to update his address? Who gained a new credential? Why did these members decide to wait until after the early bird deadline to register for the conference?

Transactional data and behavioral data types, both based on what members/prospects purchased or did, are gathered in a snapshot of time in the past. The information the member provided is factual and objective, given either by requirement during a transaction, or passively, as a result of visiting a page on a website, for example.

While an association might have some general idea of the answers to these questions (based, for example, on when someone joined and provided some information), it doesn't really know what’s current and what’s not. And beyond basic information, the organization also doesn't know what each member intends to do.

Intent data, in contrast, is a measure of a member’s intent at any given point in time captured directly from the Voice of the Member. This last part is key. There is subjectivity in intent data, because it’s coming from a human. And humans have a dozen or more reasons why they do or do not intend to make a purchase/ register for an event/ participate at any given point in time.

How do we know what they intend to do if we don’t ask them?

When I type “ask,” I am certainly not referring to survey distribution and results analysis. That type of information, while useful on an aggregate scale, has little to do with understanding what a particular member intends to do in the near future, and certainly makes it difficult to act on individual needs. To gather intent data, an association needs to:

  1. Ask the member a pertinent question. (For example: “Do you intend to renew your membership?”)
  2. Capture how the member answers: Yes or No.
  3. Act on this new information in real time.

If the answer is “No,” now the association has the opportunity to find out more and act from there. These actions might include asking them why they don’t intend to renew, a direct email or phone call from association staff, or offering the member a discount on renewal.

With intent data, associations have the opportunity to capture rich, individualized data from members, who are humans with everyday challenges, just like you and me. All associations have to do is give them an opportunity to voice it, and they'll be well on their way to a better relationship with members.

P.S. Our client, HSMAI, captures intent data brilliantly with a campaign to lapsed members. Download the case study if you’d like to see how they re-engaged lapsed members, what unique answers they uncovered and how they took action to win them back.

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