Want to Knock Member Engagement out of the park? Adopt this amazing blueprint.
Maximizing member engagement is crucial for associations. When members are engaged, they’re more likely to renew, refer colleagues and advocate on behalf of your organization.
You may already have a member engagement strategy in place. Or, you may be exploring these ideas for the first time. Looking for opportunities to improve is always wise, regardless of where you are.
Let’s review some member engagement basics and walk through some key questions.
What is member engagement?
On a basic level, the definition of member engagement is the interactions between members and an organization. On a deeper level, it’s about the exchange of value.
Members invest their time and money in an association to receive value. The more value they perceive, the more energy and resources they invest in the organization. An example of a highly engaged member is someone who attends events, participates in online discussions, and encourages others to join.
Why focus on member engagement?
Highly engaged members are more likely to renew. They’ll also champion your organization.
Improve Member Retention
Finding new members costs far more than keeping the ones you already have. When people feel like they’re getting a lot of value from their membership, they’re more likely to renew.
Engaged members can also generate revenue. They recruit others to the organization, increasing membership through word-of-mouth. They’re more likely to attend events and encourage others to do the same.
Members Become Advocates
If your organization needs volunteers or other advocacy, engaged members are more likely to invest their time.
What do successful member engagement strategies have?
All successful member engagement strategies start with a deep dive into your members. By fully understanding them, you can better deliver what they need.
Consider the different platforms your members use to communicate and interact. In-person events, online forums, social media, and email, among others, are all important places to look. Make an exhaustive list of all the ways your members connect today. Now, take stalk of the ways members want to engage with you. Is there a discrepancy?
Do a complete inventory of the different types of content and experiences that will resonate with your members. What are your top educational resources and events? Which emails have the highest open rates? What online discussions are popular? Start mapping all of these out to identify patterns.
Talk to your members. We can’t stress this enough. Set aside time to ask your members (in surveys, emails or interviews) what they need and want from you. Identify their pain points and look for opportunities to step in and solve problems. This understanding should be the foundation for your member engagement plan.
How do you measure member engagement?
Measuring member engagement before creating your strategy is essential. You need to create a baseline. Once you have a strategy, you need to continue measuring to understand what’s working well and what needs improvement. This information will help you make changes and adjustments as needed.
Establishing your member engagement goals is key when deciding how to measure engagement.
The best strategies start with the SMART goals. With this method, you’ll focus on creating goals that are:
- Specific: Your goal is clear and well-defined.
- Measurable: You understand precisely how you’ll measure this goal.
- Achievable: It’s ok to challenge yourself, but your goals should be attainable. It must be a goal everyone can rally behind.
- Relevant: The goal should align with your long-term objectives.
- Time-based: Set a realistic end date for your goal.
Next, dig a little deeper. Focus on creating member engagement KPIs. Key performance indicators (KPIs) measure how close you are to your goals. They’ll help you identify problems early so that you can adjust your tactics.
Include Touchpoints in your KPIs
Touchpoints are essential to consider when thinking about your KPIs. How are members engaging across the different channels? Are they attending events and purchasing publications? Do they open your emails and respond in forums? Look at the entire journey. Wicket’s built-in Touchpoints feature provides this end-to-end picture.
Create Comprehensive KPIs
Engaged members have an emotional connection with their association. Look for accurate ways to measure that connection. As Rita Santelli points out in her article, Measure Member Engagement, Not Participation, it’s vital to understand that engagement is about a relationship. Many associations make the mistake of measuring participation only and not going a level deeper.
Sentiment analysis on social media or in your forums can come in handy when thinking about how members feel about your organization. This technique determines whether online conversations are positive, negative or neutral. There are lots of apps on the market that can do this analysis on your behalf.
You can also look at creating net promoter and member satisfaction surveys. These surveys will measure the likelihood of members recommending your association and their overall satisfaction. These will give you a pulse check on how members perceive your organization. We recommend staggering these surveys throughout the year so you can adjust in response to the data that comes in.
Member Engagement Scoring
You can start investigating member engagement scoring when you have clearly identified goals.
Member engagement scoring measures how actively a member is involved in your organization. You give a score for different interactions, like attending meetings, participating in discussions, and going to events. You calculate a score using a formula that considers the frequency and quality of the member’s participation. A high member engagement score indicates that the individual is highly committed. Meanwhile, a low score may indicate a lack of interest or engagement.
Want to dive deeper? We’ve written an in-depth blog about member engagement scoring.
How do you improve member engagement?
Developing a strategy tailored to your association is important. Still, there are member engagement best practices to keep in mind. Let’s look at some of the top member engagement ideas.
To increase member engagement, start at the very beginning. Onboarding programs are one of the top member engagement tips. They set the tone for your members’ overall experience. Welcome packets outlining all the opportunities, tools and communities available are invaluable. If you have the capacity, a personalized email or phone call is always a nice touch.
Lisa Boylan from Associations Now recommends using the 3-3-6 member engagement model for email campaigns. You send three emails in the first week, followed by one email per week for the next three weeks, and then one email per month for the next six months. This regular schedule shows members that you invest in staying connected with them and value their time.
Improving member engagement is a continuous process, not a one-time campaign. Make it a core part of your organization’s priorities to ensure consistent action. Think long-term when creating goals. Then, meet regularly with your team to discuss the status of your engagement goals.
Balance Virtual with In-person
Today, it’s essential to foster member engagement online and in person. Allow members to connect in ways that work best for them. In-person events can be energizing, but online communities can foster a sense of connection. By offering a balanced approach, you can give members more chances to form strong bonds with your organization and other members.
We encourage our customers to consider member engagement training. A few simple sessions where you share your goals and KPIs among all staff is a great place to start. Making it core to your workplace culture gives everyone a clear mission.
What are membership engagement platforms?
Member engagement platforms should play an essential role in your strategy. These platforms are the tools that your members interact with directly. These platforms make it easier for associations to communicate, collaborate, and connect with their members.
For example, online communities like Higher Logic create a space for members to share ideas, ask questions, and provide feedback. A platform like this can foster community and create opportunities for members to connect.
Another important member engagement app to consider is your events platform. These tools help manage registration and ticketing. They can make it easier for you to plan and promote your events.
Email is a crucial way to connect with members. Choosing the right email marketing platform is essential. That’s why we created a free guide to help associations choose the right platform.
How do you see the full picture of your members’ journey across these systems? Wicket can help. It integrates with all your software, bringing your member touch points into one system. When you open a member’s profile in Wicket, you can see what emails they open, what discussions they participate in, and what events they attend. With connected data, you can also create a customized member engagement dashboard that meets your needs.
Member engagement is essential for the success of any association. Focus on understanding the needs and preferences of your members. With this understanding, you can provide them with engaging content and experiences that keep them invested. Measurement and evaluation are key to ensuring that your engagement strategy is effective.