Every association has lapsed members, but not everyone understands how to win them back- or prevent them from leaving in the first place.
Why do members lapse?
Associations lose members for a variety of reasons, predominantly because members either can’t or don’t want to spend the money and/or time asked of them. Each member has their own set of priorities that might lead to a lapse in membership. The challenge for your association is to prove that you can provide value regardless of obstacles your members might face.
The 2022 Association Trends study by Community Brands shows a detailed breakdown of the top benefits according to members. Every association’s top benefit will differ based on your industry, but this is a great temperature gauge to get an idea on membership priorities for your organization.
Let’s explore 4 ways to keep your members happy, engaged and renewed!
1. Position your association as the most valuable and trusted resource in the industry.
Remind members of all the benefits available to them exclusively through your association. You can even take it a step further and assign a dollar amount to each benefit. For example, if you offer members free admission to your annual conference, list the ticket price of your event next to that benefit as “a $XXX value”.
Members who have been lapsed for several months or more than a year might not realize that you’ve enhanced or added new benefits since they left. Make sure you highlight your new membership benefits using an infographic or chart that can be placed in your association’s newsletter and highlight any new benefits on your website.
Also, ensure your association’s career center positions you as the industry leader. Make your website and member portal the go-to place for the latest information, trends, and regulations. Provide the best job board and career planning resources that propel your members to reach their future goals. You want your members to feel the value your benefits provide. The 2022 Association Trends study conveys how members feel when asked about the importance of their organization.
2. Personalize the member’s experience.
There are many ways to personalize your members’ experiences with your association. One way is to recommend education courses for your members based on previous education resources they have utilized in the past. You can also personalize your emails about upcoming events for members. Check to see how your association management software tracks event attendance to help you with this outreach. Not only will it provide a more personal touch point, but it can also help drive event attendance.
Another way to make the member experience more personal is to have a current member reach out to a lapsed or unengaged member. Sometimes the peer-to-peer connection is exactly what your members are craving and could help an unengaged member start attending upcoming events. Current members could also reach out to lapsed members and invite them back to a networking event or conference. This might help a lapsed member find their way back to your association and soak in your association’s value again. Offer to connect lapsed members with a volunteer ambassador (member) to help them get connected back to your organization.
3. Marketing Drives and Membership Campaigns
Remind your lapsed members (or unengaged members) of the unique value your organization provides. The right marketing campaign can re-kindle the relationship with those members whose interest may have faded.
Work with your staff and association board to create a membership drive. This could look like an open house where unengaged and lapsed members can come to learn about new programs in your organization, or even something as simple as outreach calls. Your board and staff can divide a call list and talk to the unengaged and lapsed members directly so they can assist with questions and concerns.
When connecting with lapsed and non-engaged members, remind them of the importance of association activities, such as raising awareness and fueling innovation for your industry and profession.
4. Survey, Survey and Survey Your Members!
With regular feedback, you can identify members who are at risk of lapsing earlier and continuously improve the member experience and value. Survey lapsed members after they leave to ask why they left and what you could have done to provide greater value and keep them around. Additionally, utilize the insight your current members can supply. Knowing what makes your current members stay can help you understand what benefits you might want to emphasize more.
Survey current members to discover areas for improvement. Perhaps there’s a benefit that your association could easily add to your offerings, you just aren’t aware that members want it. When reaching out to lapsed members, invite them to join a committee or advisory board. It might be that they wanted to be more involved and simply were never asked.