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What is Transactional Data?

May 3, 2024

Transactional data is one of the most essential data types gathered by organizations, recorded when an individual gives money in exchange for a product, service or donation. In the association space, these transactions include purchases of offerings such as membership dues, conference attendance payments and educational products. For most organizations, Association Management Systems (AMS) house the majority of this data.

Transactional data is essential to understanding members. Every day, members interact by joining, lapsing, purchasing products and experiences – which represent straightforward engagements with the organization. Until about the mid-2000s, association marketers primarily used transactional data to inform their communications strategy.

For example, if the previous year’s annual conference drew 1,500 attendees, those 1,500 individuals were the main targets of the current year’s conference marketing campaign. And most certainly, the entire membership of an organization was seen as a main target audience for conference attendance. If they paid money to join the organization, surely, they also wanted to attend an in-person event!

Over the past 15 years or so, the data landscape has changed significantly, with the growing popularity of marketing automation and the ability to track the digital activity of an individual. Marketers have the opportunity to access data based not only on what members have purchased or attended in the past. Now, we can see what their behavior is in real time and ask questions directly to gain insights into what they want and need.

In the same conference example, today we can combine transactional data (last year’s conference attendees list) with other data sets to engage members based on where they are at in the member journey. If we know that a past conference attendee has visited the conference education page on the organization’s website this month, and in their member welcome email they responded to share that education was the most important aspect of membership, we can now engage with the member about their unique educational interests (and how the annual conference matches up with their needs).

Transactional data remains important today; and, organizations know that their members are more than just a set of transactions. When we pair the “official” member activity (transactions) with behaviors and input directly from members, we gain rich insights into their individual needs and wants, ultimately engaging and serving them better.

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