How to Improve Membership in Your Association

According to MGI’s 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, 38% of associations reported an increase in membership during 2021. So, what are some membership growth strategies that associations can use to recruit new members? In this blog, you’ll learn how to expand membership at your association using recruitment ideas that fall into two categories:

  • Digital marketing
  • Traditional marketing

At MGI, our five-step Membership Lifecycle has proven to be an effective model for designing customized association membership growth strategies and solutions. The first of two phases in the Membership Lifecycle is Acquisition. Within the Acquisition phase, there are two stages: Awareness and Recruitment. First, associations must build brand awareness. Once their audience knows they exist, they can begin recruiting them, which is the stage we’ll focus on today.

If you’re looking for new members, we have some recruitment ideas for you. Keep reading to learn how to improve membership counts.

Digital Marketing Recruitment Ideas

Digital marketing refers to promotions delivered through online media channels. Here are some ways to harness these powerful tools as part of your marketing strategy.

1. Advertise on Social, Google, and More

Digital ads allow you to reach your audience inexpensively and read your campaigns’ results quickly so you can build on winning tactics. You’ll first want to identify where your audience is online. This may require testing several platforms and campaign types to find the places that work best for you.

At MGI, we’ve found that running several types of campaigns helps achieve the best results. These tactics often include Retargeting, Custom Audiences, and Search Engine Marketing. MGI is always testing new platforms and campaigns in a shifting digital landscape.

We’ve worked with clients to advertise on digital channels like AdRoll, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat.

2. Improve Your Website’s SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a digital marketing strategy that involves selecting relevant keywords and phrases your audience may type into search engines and adding them to your website. The goal of SEO is to increase website traffic by showing up on the first page of Google Search results. You can increase the opportunity for people to find you by writing keyword-rich blog posts as part of a content marketing strategy.

3. Form a Content Marketing Strategy

Content is king” is often quoted in the marketing community. It’s king because content provides your audience with valuable perspectives they only receive by reading your unique publications. Content marketing includes social media posts, blogs, white papers, webinars, podcasts, downloadables, and more.

The best way to start forming a content marketing strategy is by creating content that answers your audience’s FAQs and shares valuable information, positioning you as a thought leader.

4. Create an Email Marketing Campaign

As part of your content marketing strategy, you can earn leads by gating valuable website content. “Gating” means that people must exchange their email addresses to access what they want (e.g., a downloadable guide). Once you have collected a list of prospective members, you can begin sending them targeted emails.

Use these emails to introduce your association and engage them by asking what they thought of your content. Be careful not to sell too soon; build rapport first. According to our 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, 48% of associations report that email is the marketing channel that gets organizations the most new members.

Traditional Marketing Recruitment Ideas

Digital marketing is powerful, but there is also great value in traditional marketing approaches. These methods are tried and true, and they work!

1. Send Direct Mail

Counter to popular opinion, direct mail is still a worthwhile investment, especially for associations. Don’t bore recipients with a long-winded letter. Use emotional storytelling and imagery that focuses on the positive impact you’re making in people’s lives. Remember that direct mail requires more than one piece. Follow up with supporting mailers that continue to communicate your message.

2. Attend and Sponsor Events

Event marketing is where you set up a booth with large print materials such as signs and banners that attract attendees to learn more about your association. Seminars, conferences, and conventions are all events that associations participate in to increase membership. In fact, 30% of associations report this as being the most effective for new member recruitment. You can also sponsor events to increase awareness of your association.

Remember not to silo these recruitment ideas. Use them together to execute holistic, multi-channel membership growth strategies.

3. Telemarketing and Telephone Sales

With Caller ID, getting through to a prospect or members on the phone has become a more challenging task. That said, telemarketing is still very effective for a highly qualified prospect, like a lapsed member. The former member may have long since stopped reading your email or opening your mailings, but a call from another human on the end of the phone to answer questions or encourage a decision can make a difference. A phone call from a peer or a staff person can be particularly effective.

Learn How to Expand Membership With MGI

Now that you’ve learned how to expand membership through digital and traditional marketing methods, it’s time to implement them. However, you may feel overwhelmed by all of the possibilities or ill-equipped to execute these membership growth strategies on your own. If you’re looking for new members, Marketing General Incorporated (MGI) can help you recruit them.

At MGI, we have been partnering with associations for 40 years. Our goal is to help our clients raise membership counts, increase dues revenue, and boost non-dues revenue streams. Since 1978, we have recruited over 4 million new members for hundreds of organizations resulting in billions of dollars in lifetime revenue.

As the largest association-focused direct marketing agency in North America, our experience is unparalleled. Request a membership consultation today to learn how to expand membership with MGI.

Request a Membership Consultation