• Association Analytics UK

How to Start Your Data Analytics Journey



The team at Association Analytics often hears questions like, What exactly is data analytics? Why is it important? What’s the difference between analytics and reporting? To help answer these questions, we’ve laid out some helpful tips on how to get started and where to go from there.


First: Reporting vs. Analytics

Reports share information on what has already happened in your business in an organised, straightforward format. You need reports to help run your business. For example, a report is the weekly number of new members who joined your association. Analytics are typically more concerned with why your business has performed this way, what will happen in the future, and what actions you can take to influence the results. With analytics, you try to aggregate data over time and across data sources for a 360-degree view of your members and their activities. You can use this combination of data to analyse trends, gauge what members value, predict their behaviours, and take action.


Step 1: Create a Plan

The first step in starting your analytics journey is to create a plan. If you have analytics without a plan, it won’t serve your goals. As you create your plan, remember to focus on outcomes, not outputs. What questions are you trying to answer with analytics? Some examples to consider:

  • What are the main drivers of member retention?

  • What do members value most about their relationship?

  • Which products and services should be bundled with member dues vs. sold separately?


Collect Your Data Even If Its Not Perfect

Your plan should start by collecting your data. As you look at your data, be sure to prioritise and consolidate it. To make this process more efficient, look at bringing all your systems into one repository. In this initial phase, don’t get hung up on data quality. Some people think that their data needs to be perfect to get started. That isn’t the case at all. Your data needs to be good enough, not perfect. Just get started and keep refining it. Find out more about overcoming your fear of dirty data in our previous blog post.


Create a Data Task Force & Data Definitions

lIt’s important to socialise your analytics plan and make it a part of your work culture. We suggest you create a data task force. Bring together people throughout your organisation that have different points of view but are curious about data and want to learn. Set up meetings, meet regularly, and leverage your task force’s expertise to build a data infrastructure with definitions and consistent terms that are a common language for everyone in your organisation to understand. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Data Governance for tips. You can also use this as a great onboarding tool to educate new employees on company data.