As you know, member engagement is key to providing value and retaining members over time. However, you must also recognize that member needs and preferences are evolving rapidly, especially as they desire more seamless digital experiences. Additionally, member expectations for personalized, omnichannel interactions have risen in recent years, and this means that associations must strategically leverage every resource at their disposal to optimize member experiences at every touchpoint. With that in mind, here are some leading practices to improve member experiences to maximize engagement and member lifetime value for associations.
In this article, we will cover:
Association Member Benefits
As for what members want out of the associations they join, the specific answer will vary depending on your vertical. However, there are a few common expectations that transcend industries. These include the following:
The Opportunity to Grow
According to a Community Brands Association Trends Study, nearly half (48%) of participants consider job opportunities and career advancement the most important benefits they receive as dues-paying members of an association.
These passionate, career-minded individuals want to be a part of an organization that propels them forward. Therefore, as you work to improve member experience, explore ways to integrate these perks into your association’s strategy.
For example, encourage member organizations to post job openings on your career board, giving individuals the chance to explore other opportunities in their field. You could also offer career advancement coaching or publish relevant content on your blog.
Training, Certifications & Credentials
The aforementioned study also revealed that 51% of association members consider certifications and credentials among the top benefits they receive. This means that offering innovative training sessions is a great way to boost engagement and improve the member experience. To best align these trainings with membership value, make sure to offer
- Subject matter and topics that are modern and applicable to your members
- Accessible formats, including digital courses, micro-learning opportunities, and mentoring
- Complementary soft skill training that encourages a holistic professional life — one that’s supported by empathy, collaboration, and diversity
Personalized & Relevant Events
Members expect your events to be relevant, but more and more are looking for personal reasons and attributes to draw them to the event. This means that everything from event themes and locations to the content itself must be tailored to your membership.
If you’re not sure where to begin, consider asking your existing members. Gather feedback about past events, and find out what they loved — as well as what they would like to see you do differently in the future. Pay special attention to accessibility issues and other points of friction that may erode engagement.
Omnichannel Member Communication
To maximize member lifetime value, associations need consistent and coordinated communication with individuals across every available channel. Whether they prefer face-to-face events, email, social media, mobile apps or online communities, you must be able to meet your members wherever they are. This not only makes things convenient for your members, but it also allows you to drive engagement by delivering relevant, personalized communication via a platform on which a specific member is most active.
For example, you can send emails that encourage specific individuals to attend an upcoming live event based on their interests. Then at the live event, you can use geo-fencing and beacons to send them notifications about sessions closely aligned with their roles. Post-event, you can then follow up with personalized feedback surveys and additional recommendations on continuing education based on their event activity.
The key to this process is comprehensively mapping the member lifecycle and orchestrating contextual messaging and recommendations tailored to individual needs at each stage. When done right, omnichannel communication keeps members actively engaged while also allowing staff to continually enhance and refine interactions.
As mentioned earlier, personalization is now a key ingredient for superior member experiences that instill loyalty. This is where modern technology can accelerate your capabilities: Machine learning, AI and predictive analytics can automate personalization at every step of the process – all while making every member feel valued.
This means that generic batch-and-blast emails can be replaced by personalized outreach with merge fields, behaviorally triggered messaging and recommendations for relevant programs and content. Some platforms even allow for building personas and custom nurture tracks for defined member segments.
Likewise, community forums and online resource libraries can harness technology to serve personalized content recommendations that are aligned with individual interests and attributes. Event platforms can auto-populate unique schedules and recommendations based on defined preferences and roles. The result is the emulation of the Amazon and Netflix model of individualized engagement for members at every stage, resulting in higher satisfaction and retention over time.
4 Pillars of a Good Member Experience
When it comes to the member experience, “good” and “engaging” should be synonymous. That is, all good member experiences are engaging, whereas bad ones fall short in terms of engagement and personalization. The truth is that your member experience can’t be great unless you prioritize engagement — and if your members aren’t engaged, they probably aren’t having an enjoyable time interacting with your association.
You can better foster a positive member experience by focusing on and improving these four pillars:
As discussed, it’s important to deliver personal and tailored experiences and content to individual preferences. The goal is to make members feel as though your content was made just for them. You should apply this rule to email communications, events, direct interactions, and every other touchpoint.
Remember that membership with your association is optional, so interactions need to remain convenient and seamless. Friction discourages engagement and can leave members asking why they pay dues in the first place.
When someone signs up to become a dues-paying member of your association, they’ll have effectively met you halfway in forging a relationship. If you want to retain members, you must acknowledge and reward them for their preemptive loyalty, especially if they make any bonus contributions like purchasing merchandise or attending a conference. A simple email or even a gift — such as a career advancement guide — can go a long way toward making your members feel appreciated.
Providing timely and helpful assistance is vital for member retention. If one of your members encounters an issue with your site, organization, or the services you provide, do whatever you can to make things right. While a satisfied member can become a great ambassador for your association, a disgruntled one can create a landslide of attrition.
Investing in Innovation to Improve Member Experience
It’s harder every day to attract and retain members who have more options and demands on their time than ever before. And if you’re not careful, you’ll directly contribute to member attrition by being complacent with legacy products, services, and mentalities that no longer meet members’ needs. That’s why associations need to embrace an innovative mindset and continually look to stay ahead of experience expectations.
Data is the key to improving member experiences. It helps you understand both what the member tells you (surveys and feedback forms) and what they actually do with their membership (transactions, postings, event attendance). To this end, utilize data to identify weak points and make strategic improvements that your audience will notice and appreciate.
By taking an active approach to innovation and integrating relevant technologies as they become available, associations can keep pace with member expectations. Along the same line, prioritizing forward-looking opportunities in budgets, strategies and staff skill building will help leading member-centric organizations set themselves apart from the competition even more.
At the end of the day, people, processes, data and technologies are most effective when they aim to help associations achieve outcomes like member acquisition, engagement, satisfaction and retention. Therefore, you should take an active role in piloting and integrating innovative solutions that provide emerging capabilities.
Utilizing Data & Insights
The starting point for enhancing member experiences is gathering data and insights regarding member preferences, behaviors and motivations. This includes quantitative and qualitative feedback across member interactions, from event app downloads to community forum posts to benchmarking survey participation. Analytics can then help uncover insights into the offerings members value most and what challenges they want addressed. It can also help you identify opportunities to tailor experiences based on attributes like demographics, engagement levels or industry roles.
Armed with these insights, you can then map out optimized member journeys — creating customized segments and personalizing engagement for different member needs. You can also prioritize opportunities or innovations based on which solutions show the greatest promise for improving engagement and satisfaction metrics. As you can see, when you embrace the power of data and insights, you can optimize member journeys, maximize satisfaction and drive loyalty.
If you’re ready to improve member experiences through engagement optimization, here’s how you can accelerate your efforts:
Gather Member Insights
First, you need to step into the shoes of your members. Surveys, interviews, and data analysis can all provide a wealth of information about your members’ wants, needs, and preferences, and those insights will help you realign your member experience strategy with their expectations.
Next, use the information from your surveys and data analysis to cultivate a more personalized and convenient member experience. Start at square one by examining your member sign-up process, and then work your way through the entire membership journey. Ensure that personalization permeates every leg of the journey so you can boost retention, engagement, and value.
Invest in the Right Tools
Investing in tools and technologies that facilitate greater engagement and convenience — such as overhauling your website, developing a mobile app, or adding a member portal — can be a game changer for your organization.
Whichever tools you choose to implement, ensure they are user-friendly for both your team and the membership. The goal is to facilitate a seamless implementation and maximize adoption.
Improve Your Member Experience With UDig
Optimizing the member experience requires a functional understanding of what members value and why they joined your association in the first place. From there, you’ll need to strategically leverage data and commit to optimizing engagement.
At UDig, we understand what it takes to improve member experiences for associations. From modernizing balloting systems to streamlining reporting, we empower you to maximize engagement and participation through the strategic application of technologies. When you’re ready to reimagine your member experience, fill out the form below and let us help you meet your membership on their terms.
- Reimagine your Member Experience
- Transform you Data into Value
- The Importance of Data-Driven Leadership for Associations
- A Guide to Creating the Ultimate Data Strategy Roadmap