January 25, 2016

Don't Lose Your Best Members (A Lesson in Retention)

Don't Lose Your Best Members (A Lesson in Retention)

When it comes to an association's success, there are many contributing factors. Things like advanced technology and engaging events are just a few examples. However, many of these successful associations would not exist if it weren't for their members. Members are the heartbeat that keeps many organizations alive. While it may seem that recruiting new members is the highest priority, member retention is just as important. Keeping current members engaged and showing them that you care is vital. You must not only show members that you know who they are, but that you know what they need. In order to be victorious when it comes to member retention, associations must know what their members want and be willing to serve them. There isn't a golden rule when it comes to member retention, but we have a few tips to help you lead the way.

Listen to Your Members

This may seem like a given, but it is crucial to ensure current members become lifetime members. Obtaining feedback from members allows associations to better their membership experience, resulting in higher member retention. If an association is understaffed or has a tight budget, it may be difficult to hear member voices. However, with a little creativity, this can be achieved. One way associations can seek member feedback is to create a safe place for members to make suggestions or give feedback. Members express their needs because their association is lacking something that would provide value. Gaining insight into what members want doesn't just allow associations to adjust their practices, it also helps expand membership and keep current members engaged and happy.

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

In today’s day and age, it is so simple to reach thousands of individuals with the click of a button. With many different social media platforms and through different technological advances, connecting with others is easy. For associations, this is a huge advantage. To make member retention viable, members need to be constantly reminded of the great things their association is providing. That’s where digital marketing comes into play. With lower costs and easy accessibility for staff members, it is the go-to method for connecting with members.


Through digital initiatives, members can receive different marketing materials through their emails, - it’s that easy! Whether it’s promotional content, blog posts, or training guides, associations can send these materials easily and efficiently. Market segmentation allows the association to send relevant information to different subsets of members. It is imperative to first gather the information you wish to send, along with the appropriate recipients. By doing this, members will not be bombarded with irrelevant emails that do not pertain to them or their interests.

Event Promotion

One of the perks of being a member of an association is the ability to attend different functions and events. Members want to have access to these event details without searching for them. Digital marketing permits associations to announce events, explain registration instructions and benefits, and send event reminders electronically.

Merchandise Promotion

If an association offers an online store that sells different novelties, digital marketing can make promoting these items easy. Associations can market their merchandise, promotions, and discounts through email or different social media platforms.

Track Engagement

An engaged member is a happy member. In order to identify these happy members, associations must keep track of what is holding their attention. The process of keeping a member engaged starts early on. After a member completes registration, it is vital to continue to communicate with them to demonstrate the benefits of their membership. There are many ways to connect with new members to keep them engaged. Some examples of these include: hosting a new member orientation, recognizing new members formally, or implementing a buddy system.

To continue to keep members engaged, it is important to understand and scope out what initiatives these members are drawn to. Once these initiatives have been identified, it is important to make them a priority. Properly assigning a budget to these initiatives is highly recommended. Social media sites, webinars, and online surveys make it easy for members to stay engaged. To prevent a lapse in membership, associations must find unengaged members - fast. Unengaged members typically don’t know much about the association and don’t value what the association has to offer. By connecting with unengaged members, associations can salvage their memberships.

Make Renewing Easy

In a time when technology is constantly evolving, consumers are always looking for ways to make their lives more convenient. In order to comply with these demands, associations must make renewing memberships easy. A simple way to remind members to renew their memberships is by sending automated reminder emails. If memberships run during the calendar year, this is a very simple task! If memberships are rolling, the proper AMS will remind members that their expiration date is near.

Another simple way to make the renewal process easy is by allowing members to save their payment information. This simple step will grant members the ability to make one-time or recurring payments with the click of a button. Associations can also send members automated electronic invoices and receipts. This will allow members to understand when their payments are due and what payments are for. If a member is unsure how to renew their membership, chances are that they won’t. If associations utilize these steps to improve the renewal process, they can decrease lapsed memberships and increase member retention.

Prove Value in the Membership

Why do individuals decide to join a membership organization? It’s simple, they believe in what the association stands for and want to be apart of it. Members are willing to spend their money to be included in this organization. Shouldn’t you show them the value of their membership? By understanding what interests your members, you can highlight these aspects to them directly. By keeping the lines of communication open with members, associations have the opportunity to show members the great things their organization is doing. This not only informs members, but also keeps them engaged in current events, resulting in a great membership experience.

Membership retention may seem like a daunting task. However, by using these simple tips, your association has the opportunity to keep its greatest asset: its members. To learn more about member retention and recruitment, download our free whitepaper "What Good Is an Association without Members?"