How to Measure Member Engagement

According to our 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, 52% of executives believe lack of engagement is the primary reason members do not renew their membership–up from 50% in 2021.

The question becomes: Is measuring member engagement possible? The short answer is yes, but keep reading to learn how.

In this blog, we discuss:

  • The importance of membership engagement
  • How to increase member engagement
  • How to measure member engagement

First, let’s talk about the importance of membership engagement, so you know why we’re dedicating a whole blog to it.

The Importance of Membership Engagement

Member engagement is the accumulation of all interactions members have with your organization. Anytime a member likes a social post, attends a webinar, reads an email, etc., that counts as engagement. Some of these interactions are trackable while others are not, such as the number of times a member talks about your association to a friend.

The business quote, “What gets measured, gets managed; What gets managed, gets executed,” is often attributed to Peter Drucker. Regardless of who said it, the principle can be applied to association marketing strategies and engagement efforts. If your organization measures member engagement, you can use that information to develop, manage, and execute ongoing membership engagement strategies.

Measuring member engagement helps you understand what tactics are most effective so you can capitalize on them. Keep in mind that your members exist within different stages of the membership lifecycle. Engagement will look different for everyone, so it’s important to communicate with members using different channels and frequencies.

Referring back to our 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, associations that saw increases in renewals likely employed tactical member engagement strategies. In short, when members are engaged, they’re more likely to renew–that’s why membership engagement is essential.

How to Increase Member Engagement

Before you can begin measuring member engagement, you need to employ member engagement strategies.

Membership engagement isn’t a one-time initiative; it’s a continuous process to promote member participation. You can’t expect members to regularly engage with you if you don’t give them a reason. Membership engagement is about creating a meaningful, two-way relationship with your members through strategic communications.

Here are some effective membership engagement strategies to consider implementing in your association today:

  • Call new members to welcome them or leave a voicemail
  • Facilitate virtual professional development meetings
  • Survey members about their satisfaction
  • Host in-person networking events
  • Send a weekly newsletters
  • Post on social media
  • Promote webinars
  • Write white papers
  • Create infographics
  • Share blog content

One of the noteworthy member engagement strategies listed above is social media. Organizations reporting increases in new memberships and renewals in the past 1 to 5 years are more likely to have a strategic social media plan. If you can’t decide which strategy to execute first, social media is a great place to start.

Do some research to determine which social media platform(s) to optimize based on your existing member base. You can do this by sending out a survey asking members which social app they use most and for what purpose. Once armed with that information, you can begin sharing content aimed at your target audience and promote your new social presence to members.

How to Measure Member Engagement

How to measure member engagement can be an elusive topic. But, in the digital age, there are plenty of ways to collect data using online tools such as a CRM. In this section, we’re giving you concrete ways to begin measuring member engagement.

Before tracking member engagement, you need to select meaningful metrics. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What can we measure about our members?
  • What will the selected metrics tell us?
  • Will these metrics help guide future decisions?

Focus on measuring data points that are relevant, actionable, and tell a story–as in, they pinpoint a member’s journey within your organization. Use engagement scores to make sense of the metrics you select.

A member engagement scoring system assigns a positive or negative value to each member interaction. Use your existing members’ behaviors as the standard. For example, if your most loyal members regularly participate in your online community, put a high, positive value on this metric.

Below we’ve listed some data points you may already have readily available and others to begin tracking from now on.

1. Transactional data

Transactional data includes both free and paid transactions, including renewals, event attendance, purchases, downloads, etc. For instance, when hosting an in-person or virtual event, keep track of metrics such as:

  • Number of sign-ups
  • Number of attendees
  • Most popular sessions
2. Surveys

You can automatically track how many people attended your webinar, but you can take this a step further for more qualitative information. Post-webinar, request that participants take a one-question survey, asking a question such as, “How likely are you to apply what you learned in today’s webinar?”

You can also send out surveys periodically via email, asking questions like these to tenured members:

On a scale of 1 to 10…

  • How likely are you to refer this association to a friend or colleague?
  • How likely are you to reach out to fellow members when faced with a professional challenge?
  • How likely are you to use the resources available to members of this association?
  • How satisfied are you with your membership?

One respondent who participated in our 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report said, “We utilize member satisfaction surveys to determine what benefits to highlight to potential members, which benefits to remove, and other ways we can improve the membership experience.” Surveys are a powerful member engagement tool for associations, so don’t overlook them.

3. Digital marketing data

You can easily track your association’s marketing strategies online since most platforms do it for you:

  • Email marketing software. Track open rates and link clicks.
  • Website platforms. Track traffic, bounce rate, button clicks, and conversions.
  • Social media apps. Track likes, comments, shares, and even audience demographics.
  • Ad tools. Track interactions, clicks, cost, conversions, and more.

Hopefully, this section provided you with a good understanding of how to measure member engagement and where to start. Now, let’s talk about how you can begin implementing some of these member engagement strategies.

Member Engagement Strategies for Associations

Marketing General Incorporated (MGI) is asked to step in when membership organizations face three problems:

  1. Limited expertise. Membership growth is declining or stagnant, requiring an assessment of programs and recommendations to turn things around.
  2. Few resources. Organizations or their budgets may be too small to employ a marketing team capable of executing successful programs.
  3. No time. Staff may be too busy to give proper attention to the membership programs that deliver growth.

When associations work with MGI, we assign each client a team of experts equivalent to a full-time marketing department. We manage everything from branding to results analysis, so you can do what you do best while we handle your association’s marketing strategies and more.

Need help ideating member engagement strategies and measuring member engagement to see what’s working? Request a membership consultation to learn more about how MGI can help.

Request a Membership Consultation