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5 Top Tips For Exceptional Member Engagement

Updated: Feb 1

Exceptional member engagement is the lifeblood of your association. It is not enough for members to simply join; they must feel valued, connected, and actively involved in a way that matches their needs, desires... and appetite.

Member engagement is a two-way street. This means association leaders are accountable to their members for the co-creation of value, nurturing meaningful relationships, and engendering a sense of empowerment. In this article we explore unconventional and conventional and ways to boost member engagement.

Why Member Engagement Matters

Engaged members are more likely to renew their membership. And? That's just table stakes. So why else does member engagement matter, and what can we do differently to transform it? The answer to these two questions lays in non-dues revenue and emotional commitment. We must look at member engagement as the emotional commitment that the member has to the association, and vice versa. Here's why:

  • We read that players on our football club's first team visit a local school at Christmas to deliver gifts; that emotional connection may motivate us to buy our star player's shirt.

  • We watch a compelling advertisement from the British Red Cross for humanitarian aid in Ukraine, and if we feel emotionally connected to the cause we're likely to make a donation.

  • We listen to a radio ad featuring a classic track from our favourite band promoting a well-known soft drink brand. That emotional connection might compel us to stream their greatest hits (again) and buy a can or two of said fizzy beverage!

Modern members seek personal and emotional engagement from their associations. And smart association leaders are looking for ways to provide that connection.

5 Top Tips For Exceptional Member Engagement

So here they are, 5 Top Tips For Exceptional Member Engagement. Putting these into practice will help you to create a thriving community of engaged members who feel valued, connected, and motivated to actively contribute.

#1: Personalise The Onboarding Experience

Really personalise it! Your onboarding process is the perfect opportunity to make a positive impression on new members. Here are some unconventional ways to stimulate vital emotional connection:

  • Start a success charter: ask new members what they want from their first 18-24 months of membership, write it down, and hold each other accountable.

  • Build a buddy system: provide the opportunity to pair new members with existing members through shared interests or backgrounds to fast track the feeling of belonging.

  • Lead by example: mobilise your association leaders and staff to deliver high-quality, informative, personalised video welcome messages.

By personalising the experience beyond welcome emails and member portals, you show new members that they are valued and that their needs and preferences are taken into consideration.

#2: Encourage Member Input And Feedback

This is about the co-creation of value. Members want to feel that their opinions and ideas matter. Actively seek feedback from members on their experience, satisfaction, and ideas. Consider the ubiquitous McDonalds Happy Meal, the creation of a franchisee, not Mickey D's HQ! Here are some concepts to explore:

  • Collaboration: Foster a culture of collaboration and co-creation by involving your members in the development and execution of programs, events, and initiatives.

  • Feedback: Implement a feedback loop that allows your members to provide input and see the impact of their ideas.

  • Innovation: Your members are doing some of their best work for their employers. Getting a piece of that action is a win-win for your association and members at large. Check out Unilever's innovation hub for some inspiration.

By co-creating experiences with members, your association will create new, powerful, and resilient emotional connections that will ensure relevance, inclusivity, and sustained engagement.

A woman displaying a range of emotions
Look at member engagement as the emotional commitment that members have to the association, and vice versa

#3: Recognise And Reward Member Contributions

A little bit of love goes a long, long way.* Recognising and rewarding member contributions is a powerful way to foster the deepest engagement. Here are some ideas to stimulate love... that most potent of emotions, amongst others:

  • Love: Highlight members' achievements, share success stories, and publicly acknowledge their contributions. Use social media kudos functions. Write them a letter.

  • Pride: What's your association's 21st century rallying cry? Checkout APMP who landed on #ProudToBeAPMP as theirs, which has been used tens of thousands of times across social media, email signatures, presentations, association merch, and more.

  • Desire: Implement an advocacy and referral programme with gamification or other incentives that activates member participation and rewards them for their efforts.

By showing appreciation for your members' contributions, you will motivate them to continue engaging and contributing to their individual and your association's success.

#4: Provide Opportunities For Skill Development And Growth

Members are more likely to stay engaged when they feel that their membership is helping them grow personally and professionally. Here are some ideas:

  • Professional Development: Certification provide members with opportunities to enhance their professional skills, knowledge, and expertise. And it's really sticky — meaning offer a pathway for progression and continued commitment to learning.

  • Personal Growth: Volunteering on committees, focus groups, task forces, speaking engagements, and leadership is a beautiful way for members to spread their wings in a safe space to nurture soft skills and discover new sources of personal nourishment.

  • Adjacency: From collaboration and networking to innovation and cross-pollination of ideas to diversified career opportunities, by offering members visibility into adjacent professions and careers, you support their long-term success and satisfaction.

By investing in your members' personal growth, professional development, and exposing them to adjacent career opportunities, your association will nurture long-term engagement and loyalty.

#5: And Here Are Some More "Conventional" Foundations

While we regard the following as "table stakes" they deserve an honourable mention. And they form a solid foundation for member engagement:

  • Embrace Innovation: By staying ahead of technological advancements, your association can be sure to meet members where they are and provide seamless and engaging experiences.

  • Continuously Evaluate and Adapt: Your member engagement strategy should not be set in stone. Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of your engagement efforts and be willing to adapt and evolve.

  • Foster Community: Facilitate connections and relationships, empower your members to take the initiative, and create a supportive an inclusive environment through member-inspired affinity groups.

  • Deliver Value: Offer valuable benefits that align with members' needs, desires, and interests. Providing tangible benefits demonstrates the value of membership and encourages members to stay engaged.

  • Effective Communication: Clear and consistent communication is key to keeping members engaged. Regularly update members about upcoming events, new resources, and opportunities for involvement to keep them informed, engaged, and excited.

We're Revolutionising Association Management Software

Modern AMS is not just an option; it's a necessity. Your AMS must act as a driving force, streamlining operations, enhancing member engagement, and unlocking new growth opportunities. By investing in sociatio, your association positions itself as an industry disruptor, ensuring long-term success and a thriving community of engaged members.

Don't settle for mediocrity; embrace the power of sociatio today! Discover how our state-of-the-art association management software can revolutionise your operations, supercharge member engagement, and unlock new revenue streams.

Are you ready to deliver a sustainable, premium membership experience? Are you ready to help your staff work smarter, not harder? We're revolutionising association management software. So, visit our website today to learn more about sociatio, the AMS platform created by association leaders for association leaders.

Help Us To Help You

Take a moment and give us feedback on the AMS market through our quick poll. Your answers are anonymous. You can vote for more than one answer. Feel free to comment below. And get in touch with us if you'd like to share more. Thank you!

Which of these 5 tips are you keen to try? Leave a comment telling us why.

  • 0%#1: Personalise The Onboarding Experience

  • 0%#2: Encourage Member Input And Feedback

  • 0%#3: Recognise And Reward Member Contributions

  • 0%#4: Provide Opportunities For Skill Development And Growth

You can vote for more than one answer.


*Wynonna Judd, 1992: A Little Bit Of Love (Goes A Long, Long Way)

Photo from Pexels (by Andrea Piacquadio).


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