How to develop your association’s strategy for an engaging member experience


Tirrah Switzer, Senior Product Marketing Manager

February 5, 2021

Your members expect highly personalized and engaging experiences with your association. Here are some important things to consider in your member engagement strategy.

Want to make sure your members engage? Consider these tips for creating a member experience that rivals that of today’s leading for-profit companies. The Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report shows that more than 50 percent of consumers have stopped buying from a company altogether because a competitor beat them on customer experience.

Consider what that means for associations.

Associations are different in many ways from for-profit companies. But the truth is that your members are also consumers. They’ve come to expect great experiences from companies like Amazon and Netflix, and they expect to engage with your association in a similar fashion. Otherwise, they just might disengage and cut ties with you.

How do you create a member experience that engages members?

Salesforce suggests these steps for developing new customer experience strategies, which associations can apply to their organizations. In addition to following these steps, consider two key association-specific factors that establish the foundation for member engagement: the benefits you offer and the technology experience you provide.

Is your current AMS helping you drive engagement?

It should. See how Nimble AMS does it.

Which benefits best improve member engagement?

To provide an engaging member experience, it’s important to deliver the benefits that matter most to members. The Association Trends 2020: From Disruption to Opportunity report suggests associations have work to do in this area.

The events of 2020 led to a shift in importance of many benefits in members’ minds, but member priorities do not always align with organizations’ focus. Members are most focused on “must-haves,” including industry information and raising awareness – both considered more important now than previous years. Training, certifications, networking, and fueling innovation in the industry rose in importance to members, but continue to be undervalued by associations.

Top 10 most important benefits

Review the study’s findings and evaluate the benefits you provide your members. And be sure to note the data about how member priorities change throughout the member career journey.

How to engage members in developing your strategy

Also, be sure to listen to your members. 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. Some ideas:

  • Regularly read their comments on your online community.
  • Send them surveys to ask about their experience.
  • Set up a member advisory group and meet with them at least once or twice each year to get their input.

Establish a team that meets regularly to review the member feedback and determine how to fine-tune your benefits to provide a more engaging member experience.

Nimble AMS offers Nimble Communities, which allows you to easily set up and host an online member community. Nimble Communities is built on the Salesforce Community Cloud community platform and provides the capabilities you need to drive continuous member engagement, improve member loyalty, and ultimately grow revenue.

What technology can improve member engagement?

The Community Brands Digital Evolution Study shows that technology plays a critically important role in the lives of today’s members. The study also shows that the most loyal members place more importance on technology in their lives and feel their organization delivers a better technology experience.

This data suggests that a lack of emphasis on technology could leave your members questioning the value of membership – which, in turn, could impact engagement and the long-term outlook for your organizations’ success.

Your association technology can help you close the gaps between the services members value and the experience you’re delivering around these services. Leveling up your technology will increase member engagement and ultimately create more loyal members.

To provide value throughout the lifetime member journey, the technology you rely on for membership management, learning management, event management, and career services should work well together. Integrated solutions centralize your data and give you a more complete view of your members’ engagement, allowing you to more fully understand their needs and provide value on an ongoing basis.

Nimble AMS is built on the Salesforce CRM platform and allows associations to manage their entire organization while operating on the same level as large for-profit organizations to provide an engaging member experience. Nimble AMS is part of the Community Brands association software suite, which includes association management software (AMS), learning management system (LMS), event management, and career center solutions. This combination gives you a complete picture of your members to help you deliver a great online member experience.

Don’t let a disappointing member experience drive your members away. Develop a member experience that rivals that of leading for-profit companies, and your members will engage more throughout the life of their membership.

Learn more about how Nimble AMS can help you deliver an engaging member experience.

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