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The Secret to Member Engagement Is…Acting!

Member Engagement is SUCH a hot topic – we all want it, know that the association needs it to survive, but don’t know what to do about it.

XYZ University has defined Member Engagement as “the emotional commitment the member has to the association and its mission”.  Great definition.  So, now we know what it is, but how do we get it?  By acting!  Here are 6 ways that you can achieve engagement, if done properly:

  1. Member Surveys:  Outreach via survey can provide any organization with the feedback that they are looking for.  Most organizations offer surveys via an online only model, and are satisfied with 15-25% response rates.  But what you are getting are those who are already really engaged with your association, and those who are not satisfied with their membership and want to express it.  What can (and, should) be done with surveys is outline in your message why you are asking for this information, and what the association will do with the results.  Follow up with members by phone to get the maximum response rate (I have seen this go as high as 50%).  Then, ACT on the feedback you receive, and make the changes – quickly if you can.
  2. Interactive websites are a must.  You should have a website that is easy to search, with clean lines of information.  It should not take a member 10 minutes to find what they are looking for, and it should be a modern design, not something that is outdated.  Follow website trends, and make updates and changes to the design annually.
  3. Email marketing is very popular with associations, and if done right, can truly engage your members.  It is important for an organization not to operate in silos to make this work; instead, understand what every department needs to achieve through email marketing, and streamline the messages.  I know of one organization that operates in silos, and as a result, members can get up to 10 emails per week from the association.  They (members) as a result have tuned out and are missing important stuff. Don’t be that guy.
  4. Social Media can truly engage a significant portion of your membership.  We highly recommend an 80/20 split of posts (80% information sharing, 20% promotion), and that you have a person dedicated to checking back in often so that messages are returned, and conversations are fluid.
  5. Segment Your Membership!  Some of your members want to know and hear everything about you, others don’t.  If you cannot (or simply don’t want to at this time) change your membership model to customize membership, then the least you can do is customize communication.  Determine interests and communication preferences, and only send them the information they want and need.
  6. Get on the content train:  Content can be very powerful for an association.  Managing a blog, posting more whitepapers and research (either produced by you or by your members and stakeholders) will ensure that your members continue to feel that you are the first point of reference for the industry.  Don’t let other organizations steal your members’ attention away because they provide information that you don’t.

Have you implemented any of the above to create and maintain engagement?  

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /