5 Tips to Drive Membership Growth in 2023

After facing several years of unprecedented global events, associations have begun to emerge from the heavy toll of the pandemic.  Associations are back to focusing on membership growth. We are now gathering  responses for the  2023 edition of the Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report. However, let’s look back at some of the top findings from our 2022 results to see the tactics that other associations used to achieve their recruitment goals. Here’s what we found:

1. Adding New Members is a Top Driver of Total Membership Growth

In 2022, we found that 43% of all associations reported new member growth (up from 29% in 2021). Associations reporting increases in their one-year and five-year membership numbers are significantly more likely to report increases in new member acquisition. There are tactics that you could be employing immediately to start driving your new member growth. Learn about tactics that could boost your results this year in a recent MGI Tipster.

2. Increasing Your Budget

As our research found in 2022, those associations who intentionally increased their budgets saw the greatest direct impact when it came to membership growth. In fact, 25% of associations increased their budgets for building awareness, up from 14% in 2021 and 29% of associations increased their budgets for recruitment (up from 23% in 2021). We also saw 29% of associations increase their funding for engagement. 

3. Innovation Leads to Membership Growth

Although there are many definitions and understandings of the word “innovation,” when we think of innovative associations, the two words that come to mind are creative and strategic. Our research over the past four years has found an increasing percentage of associations that have described themselves as “very” or “extremely innovative.” We know that the pandemic has taught us that those associations who learned to pivot and shift in times of uncertainty are the ones who fared the best. Innovation has helped associations make rapid changes in the products and services they provide to members. Nearly three-quarters of associations have increased virtual professional development opportunities during the past year (73%). Other ways associations are being innovative? Podcasts, interviews, webinars, reevaluating internal processes, developing new products, and expanding their marketing efforts. The truth is, innovation can be cultivated and can be a part of your association’s principles and mission statement. How are you cultivating innovation in your association?

4. Providing Value to Members is Key

As one of the key ways to increase member recruitment is by crafting and communicating a compelling value proposition, we wanted to know, “how compelling is your association’s value proposition?” Of those surveyed, 53% of associations believe their value proposition to be compelling or very compelling. Once new members have joined your association, providing them with consistent value is a great way to keep engagement levels up. Our survey asked participants where they have witnessed member engagement; the responses included webinar attendance, virtual professional development, and participating in the association’s public social networking. Members will refer other members if they see the value that your association provides. Other ways to provide value include providing them with helpful resources, such as webinars, podcasts, and e-books.

5. Using Data to Determine Which Tactics are Working

As new technology, AI, and digital marketing innovations shift the marketing world, now more than ever there is a need to measure metrics to determine and drive your marketing plan for membership growth. Associations are tapping into the power of social media with 50% reporting they had a strategic social media plan. But that does not mean that older communication channels do not still reign supreme with 98% of associations using email marketing for email renewals. No matter if you’re using email, text messages, social media, or paid digital ads, the key to your association’s strategic marketing success is analyzing the data you have. This is where MGI can help your association stand out from the crowd through research, data analytics, and the development of a clear membership marketing strategy.


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