Many organizations experience a gap between the value they believe they provide to their members and what their members feel they are getting. This difference in understanding can lead to decreased member engagement and increased churn, which is detrimental to any professional association.
Defining Association Membership Engagement
Member engagement is more than simple participation. Any member can like social media posts or occasionally open emails, but genuinely engaged members are emotionally invested. They see your association as a necessary and rewarding part of their lives.
Working to improve your membership engagement is important because engaged members:
- Stay in the organization longer.
- Are more likely to refer new members.
- Spend more on association products and services.
- Are more likely to attend association-sponsored events.
How to Measure Member Engagement
Because engagement is a complicated phenomenon, you need to take a comprehensive approach to create a membership strategy plan. Some helpful data points to measure for each member include:
- Touchpoint engagement: These are interactions with association staff, especially member-initiated conversations.
- Activity engagement: Tally the number of times members renew their membership, attend conferences or webinars, purchase publications or register for courses.
- Marketing response: This metric measures the frequency with which members open your emails, click on your links and engage with your ads.
- Social media participation: Include how often members like, share and comment on your association’s social media posts. It can also help to include participation in member-exclusive virtual communities.
- Benefit usage: Track how often members redeem offers or opt-in to certain perks.
This information can provide valuable insights into how and when your members interact with the association. However, this information will serve more as a demographic study than anything.
The best strategy for determining engagement is to gather feedback from your members.
Developing a Membership Engagement Strategy
First, it’s essential to determine what your members are looking for. Career advancement assistance and job opportunities are usually the top reasons people join professional associations.
Creating a member-centric experience is key to increasing engagement. All the content you produce and all the services you provide should be timely and relevant to your members, which can get tricky when you consider that each member is at a different stage in their career.
It’s much easier to directly ask your members what they want than to guess at it. You can get this information by conducting surveys and analyzing member responses.
Some examples of effective questions include:
- How often do you consult association resources for help in solving problems?
- How comfortable do you feel in turning to association members for career advice?
- Will you use the information you learned at this event in your career?
- How likely are you to refer this association to a friend, family member or colleague?
Membership Engagement Ideas
Now that you’ve figured out what your members want from your organization, you have what you need to develop your strategy. Here are some ideas for how to engage members.
Create Opportunities for Interaction
Establishing a face-to-face or online member community is a great way to increase interaction. Use the data you compiled to determine which social media channels your members use most often, then create a presence there. For instance, if most of your members prefer Facebook, creating a members-only Facebook group will provide a convenient space for interaction with other members and organization staff.
Through this group, you can host online discussions, make announcements about upcoming events and offers, and allow members to tell their stories about their journeys with your association.
Partner With a Relevant Brand
A brand partnership can help your organization become more visible to non-members and provide current members with perks like special discounts. Of course, you want to make sure the brand you choose makes sense for your niche to give your members the most value possible.
For example, an association for teachers might consider partnering with an office supply company. Members would get exclusive discounts on classroom supplies, and the association would benefit from increased engagement.
Special discounts help offset the cost of membership, making annual renewal a priority for members of all backgrounds.
Make New Members Feel Welcome
New members begin their journey interested in the association but may find it challenging to get involved. Most organizations are relatively minimal in their communication with new recruits — they’ll send a basic welcome email or letter introducing the association and wait for the new member to take the initiative.
To really engage new members, though, you need to kick it up a notch. Make them feel special by sending a welcome kit including a branded gift, like a t-shirt, mug or stationery set, to show them the association values them.
It can also help to call new members directly as part of the welcome process. Ask them why they joined the association and what they aim to accomplish through their membership. This information can help to inform the steps you will take in your engagement strategy.
Provide Accessible Career Resources
Providing comprehensive, easy-to-use career resources can turn your organization into a go-to source for your members to learn about and meet potential employers and connections.
YM Careers’ job board software is an excellent example. The program’s personalized job matching feature allows members to find jobs that match their prior search history and personal qualifications, which can increase member engagement and site traffic. Using this software can help boost your non-dues revenue and provide incredible value to your members.
In addition to our job board software, we offer several other solutions to professional associations, including:
- Career Planning Portal: Our member portal offers a wide variety of resources for members to research and develop their career plans. This feature is included with every YM Careers job board and provides a wealth of information, including career insights, professional advice and career mapping.
- MentorBoard: Create networking opportunities for your members by connecting them to mentors within their field. Users will gain valuable information about career development from qualified professionals while getting to know other organization members.
- Events and career fairs: Our team can manage an entire career fair for your organization both on and offline. We also provide the ultimate platform for virtual networking and online learning events, allowing even your most distant members to participate without having to find accommodations or travel.
Increase Member Engagement With YM Careers
At YM Careers, we’ve connected more than 100 million job seekers to hundreds of millions of jobs.