A Few Secrets About Association Member Retention and Acquisition
For associations, your main goals are to: 1. Retain members, and 2. Gain new members. If you are struggling with that, here are some ideas to help you get on the right track.
Don’t think of the renewal process as something that happens a month or two before memberships run out. If that is your strategy, the outcome will always disappoint you.
The decision to renew an association membership begins as soon as a member joins your organization, says qualitative member researcher, Amanda Keiser. This is something you must start on day one. You have to treat renewals as more than just a simple transaction. And we all know this from business 101: It’s easier and less costly to keep existing members than sign new ones, so make your members feel valued and provide them with value.
1) Start with communicating your value and make it a priority:
The sooner your members experience the value your organization has to offer, the better the chance you have of retaining them for life. There’s also a strong connection between engagement and value. So, when members feel involved, they feel valued, and in-turn see your organization as valuable.
- Survey your members. Learn their needs, goals and challenges. The insight will help you deepen the relationship they have with your association.
- Use that information to customize your offerings and personalize communications.
- When a new member comes on board, reach out and ask, “How can we help you solve a problem?”
- Customize all types of communications and interactions — this will make your outreach feel personal.
- Define your communication plan for digital and print, and test it out along the way.
2) First impressions are key:
Unfortunately, no one ever gets to make a first impression more than once, so make it a great one! For conferences and events, consider the following:
- Create must attend events that offer speakers on the latest topics that members won’t want to miss.
- Offer other opportunities like vendor exhibits that can help members find the right partners.
- For first-time attendees, allow members to bring a guest for free.
- Registration is the key to making a great first impression. Welcome attendees warmly as they walk in the door.
- Members want great experiences when they come on board with your organization, and it’s important to identify what that means as you hone your strategy.
If your association’s goal is to focus on acquiring new members, here is an interesting case study involving the world’s largest HR professional society, representing 285,000 members in more than 165 countries. Their secret? They have relied primarily on direct mail acquisition campaigns to drive new members.
AGS has decades of expertise working with associations and we have lots of ideas that we can talk to you about around conference communications, personalizing direct mail and driving up your membership numbers. We would love the chance to help you!