The complete guide to elevating your association’s member engagement strategy

Associations are different in many ways from for-profit companies, but members have many similarities to consumers. Just like customers expect great experiences from companies like Amazon and Netflix, they want to have positive interactions with your association. Otherwise, they could lose interest and withdraw from the group. 

Members play an integral role in your association. By creating personalized and exciting experiences for members, you can boost their engagement levels. Developing a member engagement strategy will deepen the connection between members and your organization. 

Read on to learn more about how to elevate association member engagement strategies.

Components of successful member engagement strategies

If you want to improve your association member engagement strategy or implement a new one, a great place to start is by looking at the components of successful strategies. 

Here are four essential factors in a successful membership engagement strategy: 

  1. Continuous: First, the best association member engagement strategies are continuously used and updated. By using your plan year-round, you can keep members engaged and interested in your association. When you take time to get to know members, they’ll feel respected and will be more likely to renew their membership for the following years.
  2. Focused on members: Next, you should tailor your engagement strategies to your members’ needs. For instance, you should plan newsletters or activities that are relevant to members’ situations or interests. Many associations use members’ behavioral data to make their strategies more member-centric. If you have a website or send out emails, you can analyze what links they click on or what pages are most popular. A member’s online habits can show their interests, which you can then integrate into an engagement strategy.
  3. Uses multiple channels: Many successful strategies use a variety of connection methods. For instance, you could invite members to virtual events, encourage participation in an online community platform, or even make personal phone calls. Everyone has different preferences, so providing various ways to participate can boost overall engagement.
  4. Innovative: Lastly, the best engagement plans are innovative. You must keep finding new and creative ways to appeal to your members. Your association’s needs might change, and it’s up to you to meet new demands.

How to evaluate your current member engagement performance

With those components in mind, you can start evaluating your current engagement rates for your association. You can use your current rates to craft engagement goals for the future. For instance, you might have a goal to increase member retention rates or to raise your overall number of members.

Because associations can vary widely, the method you use to evaluate performance might differ. One of the best ways to get started is by examining the current engagement opportunities you offer. For example, you might provide opportunities on platforms like:

  • Social media
  • Online community platform
  • Email marketing
  • In-person events
  • Learning seminars or panels 

Track member engagement at each of these opportunities. You can keep track of attendance numbers and involvement, like how many members answer questions or suggest new ideas. Once you have these metrics, you can turn the data into actionable plans. 

One way to transform data into a plan is with key performance indicators (KPIs). These metrics can help your association reach a quantifiable goal, such as an increased number of members. You can set member engagement KPIs based on your objectives.  

For example, you could create a set of KPIs for your social media or online community platforms. Consider tracking how often you gain and lose followers, how much your followers engage with your posts, or which posts are the most popular. Once you have these KPIs, you can use them to set other quantifiable goals. For example, if you notice a particular type of post receives more engagement, you can create more posts similarly to boost engagement.

Resources needed for an engagement strategy

Depending on the nature of your engagement strategy, you might want to use a wide range of resources. These are some tools that can streamline many processes of your plan: 

  • Communication plan and calendar: Keeping a detailed calendar that outlines your plan can help you stay on track to meet your goals. If you plan to send out regular communication, try maintaining a log so you remember when to send messages.
  • Automation software: Membership software is an invaluable tool for associations. It can help you automate messages, create personalized member experiences and provide analytic updates on your members’ engagement levels. For example, the technology could inform you about a particular member engagement benchmark, so you could predict future behaviors.
  • Membership directory: An active directory can also help you maintain your progress. You can update personal information about each of your members, allowing you to establish personal connections with them. For instance, if you update a member’s contact information, you can get in touch with them more easily.
Common membership engagement challenges

As you start implementing a membership engagement plan, you might run into a few roadblocks. There are a variety of factors that could impede membership engagement, such as: 

  • Lack of feedback: Next, you could also experience a lack of feedback from members. One of the best ways to enhance your engagement strategy is to ask for feedback from members about your current structures. For example, after you complete an activity, you could send a quick survey asking about their enjoyment. But if you don’t receive enough feedback, it can be challenging to find ways to improve.
  • Too many communication channels: Many association leaders increase their communication when they feel like they don’t receive enough responses. But if you send too many messages, members could feel overwhelmed and decrease participation.
Membership engagement strategy examples

While there are many member engagement strategies available, they can vary by industry. The good news is this—whether you want to boost engagement or increase the overall number of members in your association, you’ll be sure to find a strategy that suits your needs. 

Here are some engagement strategy examples: 

  • Start advocacy campaigns: Interest in advocacy is rising, especially among Gen Z and Millennial members. One way to interest more of your members is to start advocacy campaigns for topics that they feel passionate about. Have members create an entirely online advocacy campaign or carry it out in-person. If members work on a campaign they feel strongly about, they are more likely to engage and feel purposeful with their work.
  • Offer multiple membership levels: Another engagement strategy idea is to switch up your membership levels. By establishing more than one option, members can get involved at the level at which they feel most comfortable. For instance, the first tier of membership might require less participation than the third tier. Members can choose the level that suits them best and will be more likely to engage when they feel comfortable.
  • Provide incentives and awards: You can also start giving rewards and incentives for participating in events. Whether you offer gift cards, discounts on membership fees, or anything in between, members will strive to keep earning rewards, which could raise engagement levels. 

How to engage members in developing your strategy
You can also involve your members during strategy development. Once you identify a member engagement strategy, seek out member feedback and listen to the responses. By listening to members, you can understand which benefits are most important to them and how well you have delivered these so far. Then, you can adapt your plan for maximized engagement. 

Here are some ideas for engaging members during your plan: 

  • Regularly read their comments in 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. 

How can technology improve member engagement?
The Community Brands 2022 Association Trends Study shows that technology plays a vital role in many associations. Members who view their organization as early adopters of technology are more satisfied, more connected, more likely to renew, and more likely to promote their organization. 

This data suggests that a lack of technology could detract from your members’ experience. In turn, this trend could impact engagement and the long-term status of your association’s success.

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

Member engagement software can streamline aspects of your engagement strategy. Choosing technology like association management software (AMS) can combine advanced solutions like membership management, event management, and more. Integrated solutions can provide comprehensive insights into your members, which can help you connect with them even further. 

Develop a new member engagement strategy with Nimble AMS
At Nimble AMS, we understand the importance of developing a personalized member engagement strategy. If you want to create and execute a successful member engagement strategy for your association, consider Nimble AMS today. We help associations use the power of technology to achieve their goals. Our association management software combines the power of Salesforce with other member-based solutions.

Learn more about member engagement

Download our free whitepaper: Seven tips to strengthen your member engagement strategy and discover more tips to boost member engagement at your association today!

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