3 Member Engagement Tips to Boost Retention



Updated By: Eric Edwards

The number one reason members do not renew with an association is due to a lack of member engagement. Is this happening to you? 

Regardless of industry, studies show it can be five times easier (and less expensive) to retain current customers than to obtain new ones. For associations, it can be seven times easier to retain members than recruit new ones. And many associations do a good job of retaining membership with 90% or more annually re-enrolling. 

Is your association missing out on even greater participation and non-dues revenue opportunities due to a lack of member engagement?  

Let’s look at three ways for you to discover how your members feel about engagement.

Develop a Designed Feedback Process 

Like people, organizations change over time. The reason why a member joined 10 years ago may not reflect its membership interest today. Businesses want tools and resources to grow, that’s partly why they joined your association. It’s imperative to ensure once you obtain your members that your engagement strategies do not fall flat. 

The only way to uncover if your engagement is working is to develop a designed feedback process. We suggest contacting members every three to six months to request an update on their key issues. To help the member organization, request that phone calls, anonymous membership satisfaction surveys, or a three-line email (or a combination of the three) be done to put a finger on the pulse of member engagement. 

An anonymous membership satisfaction survey is a simple tool to check the engagement of members. Anonymous surveys can uncover issues and provide useful feedback. Survey questions should focus on member experience, satisfaction, and ideas for improvement. 

Sending a three-line email to members can also be used, but responses will not be anonymous. Therefore, responses may be more limited than with a survey. 

Be sure to explain the survey’s goal at the beginning and keep questions short and simple. Members will not want to spend more than a few minutes answering questions. 

When done, your data may reveal new forms of engagement and avenues for non-dues revenue opportunities you had not thought of.

Communicate a Clear Benefit for the Member

Once you have a better understanding of member needs and pain points, it’s time to communicate the value of your association effectively. Again, it’s about engagement.

Do not blast all of your association benefit information at once. This could be considered information overload and could be overwhelming for the prospect or member. Instead, focus on the top needs you discovered through your communication techniques with the association members. Then, craft a message about how your association addresses that need, in other words, make sure you have a strong value proposition. 

Studies show it can take at least eight communication attempts before an audience member recognizes a value message. The effort to make this connection translates into increased engagement and possibly non-dues revenue opportunities. 

Here’s a Secret: Everybody Has the Same Members

The overlap in the trade association membership is immense. The result? Many associations have the same membership. How do you stack up?

Member based organizations spend a great deal of time and effort comparing competitors’ dues structure, membership benefits, advocacy muscle, educational opportunities, and communication offerings. You may not lose members to the competition—yet, but companies are evaluating the association’s value each year.

Keep in mind no association will make 100% of its members happy 100% of the time. Therefore, it is so critical to monitor your members’ perceptions through a designed feedback process, continually respond to the data, and have a clear value proposition. 

Need more member engagement tips? We can help!


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