February 1, 2017
Recruit, engage, retain. Those are three words that come with a lot of work which is why it’s frustrating to know how easy it is to lose members. Sure, some folks choose not to join and others churn all on their own. But sometimes, it has to do with what the association is (or is not) doing.
You did it! You recruited a new member who is (presumably) excited to join your organization. They click the “Join Now” button on your website only to find a PDF form they have to print out and mail to you. No big deal. They’ll just dust off the checkbook, hunt down an envelope and a stamp, and toss it into the mailbox. Except it is a big deal because who uses checks anymore? And they’re going to have to wait to receive member benefits for weeks while the form makes its way to your office and is processed by your staff. This isn’t what we would call a perfect first impression.
I was in a session at ASAE Annual last year when someone said “member retention begins with the welcome packet.” It is critical to personalizing the member’s experience right off the bat and making them aware of their benefits. A good welcome packet will have everything a member needs to engage with your association. Without it, they’re likely to churn.
There are certainly times when a mass email to your entire membership base is appropriate, but not always. Instead, develop messaging that’s specific to a group of your members. You can segment on a variety of things (membership type, demographics, location, job level, etc.) to create a truly personalized message that has a better shot at resonating with the reader. In fact, data has shown that segmented emails have higher open and click-through rates.
For many associations, events are a major source of revenue. For members, it’s a time to network, learn, and meet with vendors. They register (hopefully online) and make their way to the event venue. Things that are certain to damper their experience? Long lines at the check-in desk, confusion about session topics and locations, and not enough time to meet other members. You can prevent the let down by using event management software or by developing an event app.
It’s likely that your association isn’t hosting a meeting, webinar, or course every day. How, then, are your members engaging with each other and your organization during the down time? Online member communities offer members the opportunity to virtually connect and engage with one another. It not only allows your members the ability to control their own membership experience, but member communities have shown to increase member retention.
If a member feels like you’re not listening to them or like their needs aren’t represented, I’m willing to bet they’ll hit the bricks - which isn’t what you want. One way to figure out what your members like and what they don’t is to just ask them. Conduct annual membership satisfaction surveys to learn how you can better recruit and retain your members.
Member surveys will you key you into what your members are looking for, but they won’t tell you everything. That’s where data comes in. Spreadsheets and disparate systems won’t give you a holistic view of your organization, for better insight you’ll need a fully integrated central database with reporting capabilities. More on that here.
That statement can apply to a lot of things, but I’m talking specifically about membership offerings. If your membership structure consists of only one level, you might be missing out on new members or losing current members due to costs. Instead, give tiered memberships a try. Offer varying levels (with correlating dues) that gives members the option of picking a membership that’s suitable for their interests and budget. Just make sure your Association Management Software can configure the new structure on the back-end.
Thanks to recent data breaches bigger companies like Target, Home Depot, and Sony, consumers are a bit weary with their credit card information (as they should be). If your association isn’t taking measures to protect member information and a breach occurs, you could lose potential and current members. What can you do to prevent something like this from happening? Make sure your AMS vendor is using a payment processing provider that is secure.
Change resistance can come from a lot of places. Whether it’s your board of directors, your executive director, or the staff - a culture that is resistant to new ideas can be frustrating. Avoiding change can actually prevent you from doing something a better way - something that could potentially benefit your members.
Looking for more ideas on recruiting and retaining your members? Check our white paper “What Good Is an Association Without Members?”