Contact Us | 1-866-488-4474 |

How Many Memberships Do You Have?

Information overload
There may have been a time when associations could keep their members engaged by crafting a single message, dropping it into a monthly or quarterly newsletter, and getting the word out by some combination of mail, fax, or e-blast.

It’s worth pondering whether that was ever the ideal strategy, even in the days when it was accepted practice. Today, with some pundits going so far as to declare the death of push marketing, you can and must do better.

It’s easy to find the right technology and the right advice to open a varied, creative conversation that will thrill your members and keep them passionately engaged with their association. The first step is to ask yourself how many “memberships” you actually have.
  • Do veteran members, with many years in the organization and perhaps decades in your industry or sector, have the same needs and interests as new arrivals?
  • Do all your members have the same educational needs?
  • Are there specialist groups within the association who need careful attention to their own unique issues?
  • Do all your members prefer the same mix of printed and electronic publications, of live and virtual events?

These and other differences are the hallmark of a healthy, diverse association. And they point to the need—and the opportunity—to delight, engage, and retain different membership segments by giving them:
  • The information they want
  • In the formats they prefer
  • At the frequency they expect.

Your effectiveness in segmenting your market depends on the profile information you receive from your members and the insights you can gain by testing different messages with your various memberships. The most targeted approach, granular segmentation, is too expensive and sophisticated for most associations when it’s practiced at the level of an

But with the right stakeholder engagement program, you can create the same benefit for members who receive exactly what they need from their association. If you get this right, you won’t have to spend a lot of time telling your members how committed you are to engaging with them: They’ll be able to see and feel it, and the results will come back to you in their avid participation and continuing financial support.

Member Engagement: Keeping the Love Alive

Different Choices
With the economy just beginning to bounce back and everybody’s time at a premium, association members will only stay engaged and continue paying their dues if there’s something they love about their membership.

So finding that critical connection point and keeping the love alive has to be a top priority for your organization.

In the last edition of The Membership Engagement Blog, we listed the three questions you can ask to identify vulnerable members. The answers you receive will help you measure your success at two of the most important pursuits for any association:

  • Keeping members engaged from the moment they join
  • Pulling members back into the fold if their attention has begun to stray

Members might join the organization for any number of reasons—for professional development (whether it’s mandatory or self-directed), business networking, or career advancement. Their needs may also change as their relationship with the association evolves, or as they progress through your industry. That’s why it’s so important to segment your audience, to understand what information and resources each member needs and wants from the moment they join.

In Canada, the federal government has enacted a new set of privacy provisions that lay out a reasonably good roadmap for understanding your audience. Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) establishes different levels of consent for sending information to members, prospects, or other contacts. The rules may look heavy-handed at first, but there’s a payoff:

  • You can learn more about your members and why they joined by inviting them to choose the topics, formats, and frequency of communication they want to receive from you.
  • You’ll have better touch points with more satisfied members if you periodically remind them that they get to choose the information they receive from you, and decide how often they want to hear from you.

How effectively do you segment your audience, to make sure each member receives the specific communication that s/he finds most useful and compelling? Drop us a line to tell us about it, and let us know if you’d like us to tell your story (anonymously) in a future blog post.

Understanding Member Needs - Before the Breakup

Business Team Finishing Puzzle
On any given day, some proportion of your members are probably a bit less engaged with your association than they were the day before.

Those ups and downs are natural. But when the relationship becomes weak enough, you run the risk that some members will leave the organization. Do you know how to read the signs of an impending breakup and rekindle the relationship before it’s too late?

Every member has their own excellent reason to connect with your association when they first join up. And it’s easy to spot the most engaged members, because you always see them—volunteering for committees, speaking at conferences, driving social media traffic, and playing other leadership roles in the life of the organization.

The majority of members are probably quieter, and that makes them harder to read. Many of them may be satisfied with the benefits they receive, but you won’t know for sure unless you listen carefully and reach out constantly.

In a 2010 white paper, Lebanon, Indiana-based
Association Metrics suggested three questions to help you classify your members as loyal, neutral, or vulnerable, and are still very relevant today:

1.      If a friend or relative asked you about the association, how likely would you be to recommend they join?
2.      When your current membership is about to expire, how likely will you be to renew?
3.      How would you rate the overall value of your membership in this association against your dues?

A negative rating in response to any one of these questions is your signal that a member is vulnerable. And if you can spot a particular characteristic—age, income, educational level, years in your industry, or years in the association—that is more prevalent among vulnerable members, it may point to a cluster of members who are headed for a breakup.

Do you have an innovative strategy
for keeping members loyal and engaged? Drop us a line to tell us about it, and let us know if you’d like us to tell your story (anonymously) in a future blog post.