The goal of most associations is to attain members and then retain those members. It’s simple, right?
Of course not. Individuals join your organization for one reason or another and there are 100s of reasons why someone has an interest in your organization. Some join for your cause, some join for a sense of belonging, some to access the resources, and some join because of the benefits; the possibilities are endless. The bottom line is encouraging the usage of your member benefits gives your members a way to stay in touch while giving them a bit of ownership and some rewards through their membership. Introduce benefits early and encourage usage, especially your everyday benefits like discount programs or social connections.
In this blog, we will focus on some of the best ways to attract members and stay connected with them through member benefits and member-focused strategies.
Enroll Them in the Online Community. An Online Community is a digital outlet for personal interaction, peer connections and can be accessible online or through a mobile app. This first member benefit should be a priority to give them the feeling of belonging, inside access to other members, an open line of communication between an organization and other members, etc. These communities also provide an outlet for your members to Tell Their Member Journey Stories - how they came to your organization and who they are. Member stories humanize the organization and encourage members to Build Social Connections. Social Connections provide opportunities for you to easily maintain your ongoing engagement.
Take advantage of social media. Social media is typically public-facing and usually offers pretty general information about your organization, so see how you can provide Member-Focused Social Media. You might want to consider some limited access profiles that offer member-exclusive content such as member-specific needs, news, events, or stories. Keep the member-focused social media accounts regulated and only follow or friend members, staff, partners, or organization specialists. You can even go a little further by offering a Member Takeover of Social Media Accounts. Occasionally, let an engaged member takeover. Find an engaged, highly networked member, then give them the power to share what they want for a specific amount of time and rotate it between members. The more personality, character, and unique content the better it'll be for your followers.
Offer Ask Me Anythings in your community or on your social networks. Not only will this encourage members to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, or anywhere else you have a presence, but this also gives your members opportunities to ask questions directly to an expert in your organization’s subject matter. Once the Ask Me Anything engagement event is over, you can turn the content into a social media recap or blog for access by those members who were unable to attend. Remember, email is still valuable, but it is not enough to center all your marketing around a single platform anymore. Don’t forget to Utilize Push Notifications to push out your latest content and make announcements about fun, interactive opportunities like an Ask Me Anything. Obviously downloading your mobile app is step #1 of this idea. Create a tutorial for first-time mobile app users that walks them through the app and explains why they need notifications on. Or incentivize turning the alerts on with a gift or points. An easy and highly appreciated gift or benefit for members is Early Renewal Discounts. Offer a ‘grand-fathered in’ or ‘locked-in’ rate for those highly valued, long-time members for them to avoid the inevitable member rate increases if the member renews early each year moving forward. Offering early renewal discounts will also prevent the hectic flurry of last-minute renewals.
Offer additional benefits and allow your members to capitalize on them by Creating a Referral Program. Members who are referred by a friend or colleague are prone to become as engaged as their peers. Another fun benefit that encourages engagement are Contests and Giveaways (NOTE: these do not have to come out of your pocket. Talk to related vendors who want exposure to your members; they may be happy to donate items or provide discounts on their services). Don’t forget to offer Partner Discounts. Partner with vendors who serve your audience and work with them to provide special discounts to your members. Make the partnership a healthy collaboration by placing your members at the heart of the arrangement.
Personalize your benefits and Allow for Preference Customization. Simply, let your members customize their membership as much as possible. Allow them to customize their mobile app setup or their log-in screen with shortcuts to what interests them. Allow them to pick and choose topics, educational tracks, preferred speakers, email topics, certain resources, or specific news. Remember they are the heart of your organization so giving them a bit of ownership in their membership helps ensure you're fitting into their lives the way they want.
Offer Surprises of Joy. Keep it interesting and new. Pick one member a week and highlight them in some way. Send a care package, a complimentary resource, or an organization’s branded item. Send a Handwritten Letters or Make a Personal Call. Another free way to make your members feel the love is if you Remember Names and Say Happy Birthday. These are all small investments that instill pride and appreciation for the organization.
The invigoration and innovation through your member benefits will keep members coming back to see what’s next. These kind gestures, with no ulterior motive other than to say thanks for being a member, will really ensure your members are engaged and guarantees they will continue to renew their membership year after year.