Building a loyal member base takes a lot of time and effort. You’re constantly marketing your organization to get in front of potential members, hoping to acquire them. But what happens once a new member joins? Do you stop exerting energy on them? Hopefully not!
If you want your organization to grow, you need to engage members through a membership engagement strategy continuously. To increase participation, organizations must execute various tactics to keep members involved and active. Putting in place an engagement plan can powerfully impact your membership results. The most recent Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report highlighted that associations reporting increases in membership renewals are likely to have a tactical plan to increase member engagement. The majority of associations (70%) acknowledge they have a tactical plan to increase engagement among members, and this is up slightly from last year (67% in 2020). Similar to previous years, trade associations are slightly more likely to have an engagement plan compared to IMOs or combination associations. Associations reporting increases in their one-year and five-year membership numbers, as well as increases in new members and overall renewals, more often indicate having a tactical plan to increase engagement among members.
How do you know if a member is engaged?
An engaged member is someone who regularly interacts with your organization because they find significant value in the relationship; these are the kind of members you especially want to retain.
In this article, you’ll learn what a membership engagement strategy is and how to engage members in your organization using our list of member engagement ideas.
Engagement falls under the Member Retention phase of the membership lifecycle. Once you acquire a new member, you need to engage with them. A membership engagement strategy is a plan for how to employ ongoing, proactive tactics that connect members to your organization in meaningful ways.
The goal of a membership engagement strategy is to increase participation by sharing value and creating a connection with members, increasing the likelihood of member renewals.
The secret to a successful membership engagement strategy is to provide more value than the cost your members are paying. As they say in marketing, “surprise and delight” often.
Next, we’re listing eight member engagement ideas to consider implementing as part of your membership engagement strategy.
An association can engage members in a variety of ways. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to membership engagement strategies. However, there are a handful of tried and true membership event ideas that have worked for organizations of all sizes.
In this section, we’re giving away eight member engagement ideas for how to engage members in an organization.
Whether it’s a members-only Facebook Group, Slack channel, or custom platform, building an online community is one of the best tactics for boosting member engagement. But don’t waste time on platforms that your members don’t use.
Research your audience to determine which communication channel(s) is most popular, then show up on that network. Once you’ve built your online community, start initiating conversations, posting surveys, encouraging user-generated content (UGC), creating contests…the options are endless.
“Happy birthday, [Member Name]!” As simple as that sounds, it’s effective. When onboarding new members, capture their birth date and personal email so you can send an automated message when that day rolls around.
You may be one of the other 10 organizations sending a “Happy Birthday” email, but you could make yours the most memorable. It can be a meaningful gesture. Additionally, you can send emails celebrating membership anniversaries with member renewal reminders.
When members are loyal to your organization, they are naturally engaged and typically bring in new members through referrals. Your association can reinforce member loyalty by initiating a loyalty program. Loyalty programs encourage members to stay members because they get rewarded for doing so.
Organizations can take notes from loyalty programs like Amazon Prime. Prime members get access to free shipping, movies, shows, music, grocery delivery, etc. While associations can’t afford the scale of benefits offered by Amazon, member benefits can be simple yet effective, especially when personalized.
Many member organizations have tiers (i.e., if you pay more, you get more). Your association likely already has people who are paying more than others or have at least been a member longer. Identify those members who purchase more of your products and services and/or have been members the longest and give them a VIP experience.
Consider hosting a special event, giving them gifts, discounts, or exclusive access to new content. VIP benefits don’t have to be over the top expensive, or lavish. The recognition alone will be appreciated by most members.
You can’t go wrong with simple acts of kindness like donating to a charity.
According to Accenture, 37% of U.S. consumers are loyal to brands that actively support shared causes, such as charities. Collectively support a cause that aligns with your organization’s mission and is important to your members.
To determine which charity to support, survey your members by compiling a list of local charities they can choose from. Donating to a local charity, whether monetarily or through a service project, gives your organization the opportunity to both engage members and make a meaningful impact on your community.
Team up with another brand that can improve your organization’s member experience. What company or brand appeals to your members? Which of their interests can you capitalize on?
When you create a brand partnership, you can offer discounts to one another’s customer bases, combine offerings, or simply agree to promote each other’s services to their communities.
Ask yourself this question: “Our members would LOVE if we_________________.” Now fill in the blank. What are the answers? Can your brand fulfill that request on its own, or do you need to collaborate with another brand to surprise and delight your member base?
Communicating ROI isn’t easy but telling member stories is a great way to prove your value. Ask members for testimonials and share them as videos, posts, or host a live Q&A on social media for all to see.
Everyone loves a good story, especially when it’s about them.
People are more likely to believe peers than businesses; 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Stories are a powerful way to increase engagement organically, draw attention, and create an emotional connection with your audience.
We’ve talked about rewarding VIP and loyal members, but how about those who are actively engaged in the organization? Turn engagement into a game to surely increase participation. Reward behaviors that lead to desirable results:
The more a member engages in your community, the more rewards they will receive. Consider using a point system, so when certain thresholds are reached, members get rewarded.
Now you know how to engage members in your organization, but you may feel ill-equipped to implement one or more of these member engagement ideas. Or maybe you’re halfway through launching a member engagement initiative, but you’ve hit a roadblock.
At Marketing General Incorporated (MGI), we can help your membership organization increase engagement using data-backed strategies. Whether you have too little expertise, too few resources, or too much to do, our team is equipped to handle everything from branding to research strategy.
Request a membership consultation to see how MGI can support your organization today.