3 ways to breathe new life into your membership in 2020

How you can use the Community Brands Member Engagement and Loyalty Study to revive member value

Now is the perfect time to revisit the value you provide your members. Here’s some inspiration from Community Brands’ latest study to get you started.

As one year ends and another begins, we often turn our attention to refreshing various areas of our lives. Reviving our workout routine, rethinking our diet, or even restarting a project that’s been languishing on our list – it’s all about improvement.

As an association professional, why not turn that same enthusiasm toward your membership? Now’s the perfect time to rejuvenate the activities that drive recruitment, engagement, and retention.

The recent Community Brands Member Engagement and Loyalty Study is a great place to start. It takes a close look at what members want from their professional associations and what makes them stick around.

Here are three ways to use data from the study to breathe new life into your membership.

1. Revisit your member benefits.

To keep members happy and engaged long-term, it’s important to deliver the benefits that matter most to them. The Community Brands Member Engagement and Loyalty Study suggests your organization might have work to do in this area.

One section of the study pulls together multiple data points for a gap analysis around member benefits. It shows where organizations are strong, where they’re weak, what benefits they should maintain, and what areas are less important.

The analysis shows organizations are doing well in several areas that are important to members. These include sharing industry information, providing a code of ethics, and offering training. But the results also show organizations have work to do around key areas, including offering job opportunities, gathering feedback, and providing targeted and valuable content.

Consider areas the study indicates are strengths for most organizations and evaluate your association’s performance. For example, is your organization regularly sharing industry information to members via your online community? How about your code of ethics: Is it updated and relevant? And what about training: Are you addressing members’ preferences for learning in a variety of ways – both in-person and online?

Next, consider benefits that might need improvement. For example, the survey data highlights a trend seen across multiple Community Brands studies: Job opportunities are important for acquisition, as well as retention, among those early in their careers. But those who work at professional membership associations don’t see job opportunities as important as members do, and only 12 percent say their organization is doing very well delivering job opportunities. Does your organization’s career center need a boost? How does your organization stack up in other areas?

And, be sure to talk to your members. While it’s important to assess your organization’s benefits, there’s no better way to know which benefits are most important to your members, and how well you’re delivering them, than to ask them. (A bonus, as asking for feedback is an area for improvement for organizations!) Here are some ideas for gathering and assessing member feedback:

  • Regularly read their comments on social media and your online community.
  • Send them a survey at least once each year to ask them about their experience. Ask if they’re getting everything they need from your organization. Ask what benefits are most important to them. Ask them to rate the benefits your organization provides. Include questions about how you can improve the benefits that are most important to them.
  • Establish a team that meets regularly to review member feedback and determine how to fine-tune your benefits to provide a better member experience.

2. Provide value throughout the member lifecycle and career journey.

As you review your strengths and areas to improve around member benefits, consider this finding from the study: Members join organizations for different reasons than why they stay.

Networking, socializing, and job opportunities top the list of reasons members join. Job opportunities continue to be critically important to those members who are early in their career, while those who are mid-career find professional trainings more valuable. Over time, these benefits become less important, while other benefits – including code of ethics, timely industry information, and representing members’ interests – become more valuable.

These changes over time in what members value most suggest an opportunity for your acquisition and retention efforts: to provide more targeted content and services to help members as they move through the member journey.

To keep members around for the long haul be sure to continually evaluate your organizational strategy to ensure you’re providing value throughout the member journey. Consider what your members are doing and what they may be looking for from your organization in each phase of their career.

3. Focus on member engagement.

The Member Engagement and Loyalty study looks at member loyalty data by three segments: high (“Super Members”), medium (“Rank and File”), and low (“Value Seekers”). When looking at the correlation between member loyalty and member engagement, the most common involvement across segments is attending an annual meeting, followed by certification and continuing education.

But even among Super Members, who are more likely to have participated in most of the activities tested, less than half say they’ve participated in any engagement opportunity.

This data suggests there is room for organizations to get members more involved. You work hard to attract new members and serve your current members. The last thing you want is for them to go silent on you. But if you aren’t keeping them happy and engaged, you just might lose them.

Ask your members to participate by volunteering at an event. Invite them to serve as a mentor, or even hold a leadership position. The more engaged they are, the less likely they will be to disappear.

There are many aspects to the topic of what benefits members value most and which ones have the biggest impact on recruitment, engagement, and renewal. Be sure to review the findings from the Member Engagement and Loyalty Study and use the data as inspiration to rejuvenate your association’s benefits and engagement activities.

Learn how Nimble AMS helps you provide a great experience throughout the member journey.

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