5 ways to show your members you appreciate them

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Beth Farrar, Senior Marketing Manager, Nimble AMS

August 25, 2020

Everyone likes to be appreciated, and your members are no exception. 

Your association wouldn’t exist without your members. Here are five great ways to say “thanks.”

Your association wouldn’t be an association without members. It’s really as simple as that.

So, what better time than now to make your members feel more appreciated? It will go a long way toward delivering a great member experience and keeping members around for the long-term.

Bear in mind that sending members an automated “thanks” message for renewing their dues or registering for an online event is common courtesy and a nice gesture. But, it won’t necessarily register in members’ minds as anything more than a confirmation of a transaction.

To really make a difference and make members feel truly appreciated, take gratitude a step further.

Member Appreciation Strategies to Increase Engagement and Retention

One of the key factors in increasing association membership retention rates and engagement is a strategic approach. A comprehensive plan for everything from outreach to onboarding and ongoing engagement can keep your members interested and involved in your organization. Developing a membership retention strategy can also give you the tools to achieve positive outcomes in multiple areas and ensure you give your members support and recognition for their contributions.

Attract More Potential Members

Excited and engaged members are your organization’s most powerful asset. Word-of-mouth recommendations and testimonials offer powerful personal accounts that can appeal to potential members. Give your members benefits they’ll want to tell their friends about, and you may receive organic interest to grow your membership base.

Boost Member Engagement

When you have a personal strategy for association membership engagement, you can make members feel more enthusiastic and involved in your organization. Have a plan for marketing strategies to specific segments of your member base and offer personalized benefits to get them excited about being a part of your organization. Strategically reaching your membership and offering them exclusive, customized benefits can help build strong and lasting relationships.

Increase Member Retention

Given that it can cost five times more to attract a new member than it does to retain an existing one, member retention is arguably as important if not more important than acquiring a new member. Check out this member retention timelinefor a graphical view of this common challenge.

It is important to make sure that your onboarding and renewal processes are navigable and simple. It’s essential to ensure joining and continuing involvement in your association is convenient for all members. With a welcoming, straightforward process for becoming a member and renewing, people can stay engaged and grow in your organization. Create a system that draws members in and makes continued membership easy.

Member Engagement Approaches Shown to Be Effective

Several powerful strategies can enhance association membership engagement with your organization. Here are some effective approaches:

How to Thank Members for their Membership

Why is it important to thank members? Showing gratitude can be invaluable to fostering lasting relationships with your membership base.

This may seem simple, but thanking your members for being members can be a powerful way to make them feel welcome and appreciated. It also sets the tone for a great member experience. It tells them they are a valued part of your organization and motivates them to continue their engagement. When you assure members that they matter to your association and care about their contributions, you naturally build a warmer, stronger relationship.

Showing appreciation can also remind members of what you do and encourage them to continue to support you. In many ways, thanking your members can have a reverberating effect that benefits them and you. Keep in mind that sincere thanks can go a long way, so put time, thought and effort into your demonstrations of gratitude. Also, improve membership in your association by giving people personalized attention with some membership appreciation ideas.

Try these techniques:

Reach Out to New Members

Send new members a “thank you” email from your executive director. Or better yet, send a hand-written note or give them a call. The personal touch shows that you truly value their membership and gives your relationship a strong start. Whatever you decide to do, ensure that your communication sets the tone for a welcoming and accommodating interaction. Make joining your association simple and enjoyable by creating a member-centered experience.

Make It Personal

In your message, be sure to address their reason for joining. Present them with information and next steps that address their particular needs. Let them know what communications they can expect to receive from you. The more you can welcome them and show immediate value, the more likely they will be to feel appreciated.

Ensure your members know what to expect and have a clear understanding of the next steps — keep the process straightforward and accessible. To help them feel comfortable and at home, express your support and offer convenient ways for them to communicate with you, get answers to questions or learn more information on topics related to your organization.

Share a Welcome Gift

Consider sending new members a welcome gift. Something customized with a unique touch from your organization gives them a small memento of your appreciation and welcomes them into the group. Consider putting together a welcome package to guide them through the beginning of their membership, including your thoughtful gift.

And, celebrate them by listing them in your email newsletter, so they feel recognized and welcomed by everyone in the organization. Ensuring your members know you care about their personal association with the group and allowing them to feel part of your community can help them get more involved. Create an environment that truly feels like a community, which offers ways to get visible recognition for joining and participating.

Acknowledge Renewals

Don’t forget about renewals. Granted, it might not make sense to list every renewed membership in your newsletter or send all renewed members a welcome gift. But anything you can do to thank returning members and add a personal touch – such as acknowledging how they’ve been involved with your organization in the past and thanking them for their participation and ongoing membership – goes a long way to showing your gratitude. Make sure they know you have noticed their contributions and engagement and that it matters to the organization with a member appreciation month or another special recognition.

Ask Their Opinion and Listen to Their Feedback

Your members have unique perspectives that can lend important insights about your membership process, operations and mission. Let your members share their opinions and give careful consideration to their feedback.

Whether it’s through surveys, emails or another medium, give them easy ways to offer their ideas and opinions on their experience with the organization, opportunities they’d like to have and ideas for growth. Giving your members a voice in your association can help them feel like a part of the community and more valued in the organization. You can also use this data to help create a strong membership retention plan or template.

Highlight the Success of Others

Share about how others have enjoyed membership benefits, and be sure to celebrate member successes. Help them discover the value of engaging with your association and give them ideas to achieve success when they get involved with your organization.

Give members the benefits they want.

Another way to thank your members is by delivering the benefits that matter most to them. After all, that’s why they joined in the first place.

Assess how well your organization is delivering on the most important member benefits. The Member Engagement and Loyalty Study can help guide this exercise. It looks at member benefits from multiple perspectives, including what benefits members value most and how the importance of benefits changes based on member loyalty segments and career stage.

Did you know only 50% of members are very likely to renew their association membership?

Find out what members want from their professional associations and what makes them stick around.

When you think about providing member value, remember that your members’ needs and expectations evolve as they move through their careers and their membership with your organization. Be sure to consider your members’ needs and expectations today as well as how they change through the member journey. Learn as much as you can about your members in particular. Ask them for feedback via online surveys and phone calls.

Remind members of their benefits, and point out benefits they haven’t used yet. This gesture shows members your organization cares enough to make sure they get the most out of their memberships.

Incorporate changes to benefits based on your self-assessment and member feedback. Share the changes with members to let them know you’re listening and understand their needs. And, don’t make it a one-time thing. Plan to continually gather information about their interests and needs, and then use it to inform your services and programs.

Deliver targeted, personalized content.

The Digital Evolution Study underscores the importance of personalization. Findings show that members are interested in receiving personalized content from their associations. In fact, 79 percent say it is very or somewhat important that their organization provide targeted, valuable content.

Once you have a clear view of the value members want from your organization, think about how to deliver targeted content to the right members at the right time. For example, based on your members’ interests and preferences, recommend new industry reports or new services offered by your organization. This approach shows members you appreciate them enough to deliver content just for them.

BONUS TIP: Remember that your members’ needs and expectations evolve as they move through their careers and their membership with your organization. Consider your members’ needs and expectations today as well as how they change through the member journey. Provide them with resources, such as articles and tip sheets, based on their individual career stage.

Get members more involved.

Nothing says thank you like letting your members know you want to see more of them. Yet, the Member Engagement and Loyalty Study suggests there’s room for organizations to get members more involved.

The study looks at member loyalty data by three segments: high, medium, and low. Even among the most loyal member segment, who are more likely to have participated in most of the activities tested in the study, less than half say they’ve participated in any one engagement opportunity.

So, get your members more involved. Invite new members to join an online forum or virtual meetup event for new members. Ask more seasoned members to serve as a mentor or hold a leadership position. The more involved they are, the more engaged and appreciated they’ll feel, and the more likely they’ll be to stick around.

BONUS TIP: Make your most involved members feel extra special by spotlighting them and their activities with your organization in your blog, newsletter, online community, and social media.

Offer a great tech experience.

Technology plays an important role in showing members they matter to your organization. Members won’t feel appreciated if they have an outdated or frustrating online experience with your association.

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

Consider conducting a member survey to better understand your members’ digital behavior and how they would like to interact with your association. Let them know you’re collecting the information to help create a better member experience that meets their expectations. They will see you care about their online experience and are open to their feedback.

Learn How Nimble AMS Can Help You Achieve a Good Membership Retention Rate

Suggested Content: Digital Evolution Study

Insights on the past, present, and future of member expectations and tips to improve your members' digital experience

Need more ideas? Think about companies that you think of as “customer-centric.” Consider what they do and how you can create a similar experience for your members.

Showing your members you understand their expectations and that your association is keeping pace with their demands is a great way to let them know you appreciate them.

Learn more about how Nimble AMS can help you deliver a great experience that shows you appreciate your members.

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