Recognizing the Past, Current, and Prospective Barriers of Retaining Association Memberships
Retaining membership is often the highest priority for an association because it is the core of a successful association. In the past few decades, associations have witnessed an unfortunate trend of decreased membership; a decline in prospect members translates to a decline in member retention. This means that is more important than ever to maintain those long term association members and build a strong membership network.
On average, most flourishing associations will see a member retention rate of 75%. Does this sound like your association? If not, some changes need to be made to focus on member retention.
Members need to see the tangible value from an association in order to justify paying for a membership. Associations can provide members opportunities to build genuine connections through networking events both in person and online.
Simply put, the best way to improve member retention is by keeping members happy! Here are some strategies to help your association improve member retention.
1. Association Surveys
Sending association surveys to members shows them you care about their specific role in the association. It also provides you with specific ways to improve retention straight from the source! Send quarterly surveys via email to members (or even monthly) with every e-newsletter.
Read and respond to each survey, address their concerns, and share how, if possible, you will make the necessary changes.
You can also send an association survey to past members. Ask them why they left so you can improve for the next generation of members. Find out what they felt was missing as a member of your association. Addressing the specific reasons why members have left will help associations avoid making the same mistakes with current members.
2. Member Engagement Reports
You can consider this as the association’s version of a “survey response”. So, by collecting data that measures the member’s engagement, you can then provide your members with personalized opportunities for increasing their engagement habits.
In the report, present your members with data about how often they respond to other members; engage with emails and social media; how often they read association articles; participate in events, etc. Demonstrate the missed opportunities your members had to connect and take advantage of their membership.
By providing these reports, members see where they can improve as a valued member. Therefore, it puts the pressure on the member to become more engaged within their association. It allows for all of the opportunities that their membership grants them to really resonate.
3. A User-Friendly Experience for Members
Most members today will be using the internet to some degree. As a result, user members look up resources on your website, receive emails, and are following you on social media. Be sure that your association is providing member resources on a user-friendly platform. Consequently, it doesn’t matter if you have a ton of valuable content if your members have a hard time accessing it. Use your website, emails, and social media pages to engage members and ask for help from experts if that’s what you need.
A few things that will make your associations’ software more user-friendly include:
Having an organized website homepage with information such as:
- Member testimonials and survey responses
- Upcoming networking opportunities
- Article previews and resources for members
- Quick links to all social media platforms
- A newsfeed of any industry related news
Sending an e-newsletter that provides:
- Industry and association updates
- Ways to get involved and engage with members
- A link to any live surveys
- Details for any upcoming opportunities
Engaging with members through social media by:
- Responding to comments and messages quickly
- Prompting members to share ideas on social
- Sharing events and news on social regularly
Most importantly, be organized and clear with members. Make sure all online resources are easy to read and have ample visuals. Members need clear and concise information that shares all the benefits of membership. Make it easy for members to contact the association with any questions or concerns and respond as quickly as possible.
4. Find the Right Members
In other words, to improve member retention, associations must reflect and focus on the beginning of membership. Find members that fit, not just ones who can pay for membership.
Meanwhile, the ideal member believes in your cause, cares about the industry, and wants to be as involved as possible. The perfect member has a genuine interest in connecting with other professionals in their field. They are knowledge seekers and are always looking for the next opportunity to learn and gain new experiences.
Utilizing AI technology and automated technology like customer relationship management (CRM) software is one of the ways that associations can track down the right members. In the same vein, by embracing the use of technology, associations can use member data to find out who the “right” members are. Greatest of all, you learn the most about who the ideal member is by listening to the ones you currently have.
Raise Member Retention for Your Association
To sum it up, be sure to keep this in mind: if member engagement is on the rise, member retention will follow. Find new ways to connect to your member base, aspire to growth, and meet your members where they are. If you do these things, worrying about member retention will be a thing of the past!