By: Laurelle Jno Baptiste
Member retention is increasingly becoming top of mind for association leaders. The numbers don’t lie. Acquiring a new member can cost between five and 25 times more than retaining a member. Long-term members tend to be more involved with their association. They attend events and conferences, they join committees and generally volunteer more of their time to assist with the association’s growth. In time, more involved members contribute to the financial sustainability of the association.
While attracting new members will always be incredibly important for associations, many are putting significant emphasis on retaining members. This often means understanding how to increase member loyalty.
So, the question is, what drives member loyalty?
Here are six strategies for creating loyal members:
- Multi-Tiered Member Engagement
Member engagement is not as simple as mass communication. Not all members are alike and associations that treat each member the same risk alienating many. By creating subgroups among members, associations can save time while still maintaining some personalization in each contact. As members move through their membership and renewal process, they move down both an engagement and a participation funnel.Similarly, members react differently to touch-points. Some may actively reach out to the association. Some might only respond to emails. Some members might never communicate at all after becoming a member. Group the members accordingly and reach out to these groups in ways reflective of their activity. There is no sense in dealing with a member that has already renewed and is readily active in the same way as those who have never participated. This small step will allow for an engagement process that saves time and money and reaches the right people with the right content.
- Personalized Touch-points
Associations build relationships with members through contact points or touch-points. In the digital age, members seek personalization alongside these touch-points. It doesn’t matter how large an association is, each member wants to feel that they matter and that they remain an individual. Thankfully, the tools available to associations make creating and sending personalized touch-points easier than ever before.Touch-points can be any form of contact, whether that be a personalized email, a response to a query, a list of FAQ, social media content, member feedback forms, surveys, etc. Every piece of personalized communication with a member validates the member’s worth and the association’s presence. It also encourages greater participation and engagement from the member. Associations must ensure that these touch-points are tracked in order to optimize and improve touch-points in the future. Tracking this type of data through an online platform like an Association Management System will allow for continuous improvement.
- Utilize Social Media
While most associations are using social media already, not all place emphasis on using social media to engage members. Social media acts as an open channel of communication for an association. In addition to simply creating an online presence for the association, social media is a great place to run series-based content, post upcoming industry changes and events, address questions and communicate with members.For members, social media is a perfect spot to share success stories, ask questions, and initiate conversations and collaborations with other members. The bottom line is that social media, if used effectively, can increase member engagement.
- Have a Plan
Change is a necessity for all industries in the digital age. Professions and professionals are required to grow and advance or risk being left behind. For a professional, this can be a daunting prospect, but associations can help ease the burden. Members rely on their association to inform them of changes coming to the industry. Associations that have a plan and are in-tune with their industry assure members that they are in reliable hands.Demonstrating a plan can be as simple as maintaining a content calendar, scheduling early membership renewals, informing members of industry events far in advance, adapting to industry changes quickly and allowing members to react to those changes through online learning and certifications. Planning for the future doesn’t have to make for additional work either. Many of these functions can be automated with the technology available to associations.
- Be an Industry Leader
This goes without saying, but members need to feel that their association is on top of everything industry-related. At the very least, members want to feel certain that their association understands their industry better than they do. If the association provides industry news, industry changes and updates, a calendar of industry events or any combination of these things, members find more value and have another reason to connect with their association.This information can be hosted and updated on a dedicated webpage, shared through social media or sent out in a scheduled newsletter. What’s important here is that the member has access to a steady stream of industry information. This alone helps position the association as an industry leader in the eyes of its members.
- Result-Driven Content
When members are looking to renew their memberships, they weigh the benefits of the membership against the time, cost and effort involved in maintaining it. They then compare that to competitor associations. One effective way to build benefits for members is to create result-driven content. This is content that has measurable wins for members upon completion. That could be a certificate, a course completion diploma, or even a new license. Whatever the benefit is, it is quantifiable for the member.Measurable and result-driven content is important for member retention because it stands out as a benefit for the member when it’s time for renewing. It provides the member with something to lose as well if they consider not renewing. Of course, result-driven content also acts as an important vehicle for further engagement, encouraging members to participate and connect with the association.
Dr. Laurelle Jno Baptiste is the Chief Learning Officer of Vocalmeet Inc. She is an award-winning innovator and technologist with over 12 years of senior leadership experience helping organizations develop and implement online technology platforms. Dr. Jno Baptiste is a sought after speaker on digital innovation and agile techniques and practices. She currently works with associations across Canada to implement learning and association management technologies.
Laurelle’s Twitter: @LaurelleJB
Laurelle’s personal website: laurellejb.com
Company website: vocalmeet.com