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10 Ways to Increase Association Member Retention

As an association professional, you probably place a high priority on member recruitment. But consider that association member retention is just as important. It’s possibly even more important when you consider the old saying that it costs more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. 

Here’s another thing to consider: Many of your members will decide if they’ll stay or go well before their renewal date. They’ll make their decision based on their experience with your organization and the value your association provides throughout the year. 

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With these ideas in mind, here are 10 ways to increase association member retention.

1. Know your members.

By understanding your members’ needs and how they evolve, you can deliver a better member experience. Continually gather information about your members’ interests and preferences, and then use it to inform your deliver your services and programs. 

The 2022 Association Trends study by Community Brands contains powerful insights into why the powerful connection between innovative career center technology and member loyalty remains critical to modern associations. The study, with data collected from hundreds of association leaders and a thousand members, reveals:

  • Your members’ new attitudes and outlooks toward technology
  • Technology’s powerful impact on member loyalty
  • Key technology trends that all association leaders should know about
  • Action items aimed at providing greater member value and a more positive member experience

Download the 2022 Association Trends Study

Learn about the future-focused member experience.

2. Review your value proposition.

In your members’ eyes, the value your association provides will evolve as they move through their careers. As you learn more about your members, be sure to continually evaluate your organizational strategy to ensure you are providing value throughout the member journey

increase member value

3. Be the industry resource.

Your members look to your association to be the leader, especially when it comes to the latest industry information and trends. Make your website and member portal the go-to place for the latest information, trends, and regulations. Also, provide your members with a place – such as an online member community  to discuss and share learning experiences with each other.

4. Help members advance their careers.

You have a critical role to play in keeping your members at the cutting edge of skills needed to allow your industry to advance. Professionals in your industry must be able to turn to you to keep their skills and certifications up to date

Take time to audit your professional education program and provide the learning content your members need. Also, be sure to understand and address learner preferencesFor example, you might want to add microlearning, live streaming, live webinars/broadcasts, guided learning courses, and career pathing as options.

5. Embrace personalization.

The Community Brands Digital Evolution Study shows that 79 percent of members view “targeted, valuable content” as important. Showing your members that your association understands and is keeping up with their expectations is a great way to keep members renewing year after year. Use your association management software (AMS) to collect and analyze data about your members’ career stages, interests, and behaviors to provide them with the personalized benefits they’re seeking. 


6. Dust off your code of ethics.

Community Brands studies have consistently found code of ethics as one of the top renewal drivers. Your code of ethics describes what brings your members together as a profession and is the foundation of their shared expectations of each other. Members are proud to belong to an association that provides a framework and standard for their industry. Be sure to keep your code of ethics updated and relevant. 

7. Give your job board a boost.

Job opportunities are an important benefit for membersYour members want career advancement and are looking for you to provide this value. With the right technology and some proven techniques, your online career center can help increase association member retention (and even drive added revenue) for your organization.

8. Make renewal easy.

The easier you make it for members to renew, the more likely they are to do so. Here are two simple things you can do to make it easy for members to remain a member: 

  • Remove the cost barrier. Price can be a barrier to renewing, especially for those early in their careers or between jobs. Consider offering a monthly or quarterly dues payment option.
  • Offer auto-renewalCommunity Brands research found that 13 percent of lapsed members simply forgot to renew. One of the best ways to address this issue is to offer an option to automatically renew membership, with the membership fee charged to the member’s credit card.  

9. Give event attendees a virtual option.

Advances in technologyevolving preferences of members, and necessity have made it easier for events and socializing to take place online. Provide your members with the opportunity to learn, participate, and network with one another through virtual eventsWhen members can engage with their peers and your association during an event, this helps cement their relationship with your association.

hybrid events

10. Start association member retention on day one.

Member retention isn’t just an activity that takes place the few months leading up to renewal. It starts on day one and continues throughout the member lifecycle. Be sure to make members feel welcome with a great onboarding process, keep them engaged, and provide the value members seek through each step of their journey with your organization. 

Get more membership recruitment and retention strategies.

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