You should already know building a loyal member base takes time and requires the focus of each person of your team on quality and member service. What turns out to be crucial for boosting engagement and loyalty is the raw data you collect about each of your members.

There’s one simple secret to boost member engagement: deliver more value than the cost your members pay by creating a connection with them.

However, that may prove easier said than to accomplish, especially if you have limited experience boosting member engagement. To get a head start, download Community Brands 2017 Member Loyalty Study to see all the data collected about engagement.

By the numbers.

Your organization will thrive once you get a better understanding of the data coming from each member. A data-driven approach to membership engagement leads you to conduct targeted surveys and gather answers from your members. Surveys allow you to more clearly see industry trends. Data from user surveys also helps to support your associations as you build up membership numbers and engagement with each person. Consider the following eye-opening statistics:

84 percent of members surveyed feel satisfied with their membership. However, just 55 percent feel a connection to their professional membership organization. The gap of nearly 30 points shows better engagement is needed to keep these members happy and loyal. Keep in mind that loyal, happy members are instrumental in bringing you more members, as they make personalized recommendations to friends, relatives and colleagues to join.

47 percent of members said content was not personalized to them. If content isn’t personalized, you’re eroding the precious trust you’ve established with members and inching them closer to nonrenewing. But, when you start to amass data about each member of the organization, you can use the data about them when developing your messages.

For example, geographic differences may lead to you highlighting benefits or useful information in members’ various ZIP codes, cities or entire states. Or, you might want to send different messages to men and women, or create content based on categories, such as age or educational level.

45 percent of members said email was the most engaging content for them. It’s not difficult to see why this is so popular. Most people have instant access to their email through their smartphones, tablets and laptops. And, for you, email should also be a popular tool for your organization. It’s also the most cost-efficient. Digital methods of communication are far less expensive than printed options, and they yield greater engagement.

What’s more, you can easily test different versions of emails to different segments of your membership roll. How does a short message of 100 words compare to a 350-word email? Do certain words in the subject line lead to more members opening the email?

Devise variations of your email messages, and test them to see how they fare during your runs. Then, when you find a winning combination of words, send the best versions to each segment of your membership mailing list.

34 percent of members said the reason they won’t renew is because it’s too costly. Take these concerns to heart, because it might turn out you need to adjust your membership tiers. Perhaps a lower-costing membership package is more appealing to some.

26 percent said the organization provided too little value. This is like the 34 percent of respondents who said membership was too costly. If you’re getting feedback members find limited value in staying with your association, you have some work to do. You need to improve your messaging, so you can clearly demonstrate the value you provide (or introduce more value now!).

Be customer member driven.

Historically, all great companies which have grown a lot make it a priority to be customer focused. You can do that, too. You must focus on the value you provide to your members. After all, if you focus only on retaining members, you put your time and effort into strategies and tactics that won’t scale and deliver value. They just reduce pain and friction, while your true goal must be to offer more benefits—especially benefits they can’t find elsewhere or easily.

A huge factor in retaining members is through onboarding. It might seem like dealing with renewals in a retention program is something you will handle a long time from now (when membership renewals come up), but, there’s a reason first impressions matter.

Proven ways to further boost member engagement.

Hold events. There’s a ton of value meeting in person. When members see you and their fellow members in the flesh, they feel more like they are part of a community focused on mutual benefits and shared goals. As they network, the value of their membership in your association becomes clearer. An annual event could include a dinner and awards ceremony to give special consideration to your most active members.

Regularly communicate. It’s essential to keep communication channels open. Otherwise, how can members sound off if they have a challenge, or deliver praise when a member of your team goes above and beyond in helping them? Make sure you let members choose their preferred mode of communication—email, text messages, e-newsletters or snail mail. Include your social media channels in your emails, so in case a member cancels the email subscription, he or she can still connect with you, for example, on Facebook.

Maintain a community. A strong community formed among your members helps keep them engaged. Since online communities are the easiest to form, start there.

Personalize content. A lack of personalized, relevant content is a huge pain point for survey respondents. It’s possible to customize content to segments of your member database based on demographics. And, you must! Younger members may be more receptive to one type of message, while another version appeals to the elder members of the association.

It’s clear engagement creates loyalty. And, since loyalty helps your association grow, there’s no time like the present to start changing what you do to engage with each member—from those who just signed up to those who have been with you since the beginning. Take the time to set goals for member engagement and to establish what tactics your team will use to boost it.

Key takeaways.

  • The best way to retain members in your organization is to deliver more value to them than they pay for membership.
  • Boost engagement by making an authentic connection with your members.
  • Studies show that while 84 percent of members are satisfied with their membership, only 55 percent of them feel like they have a connection with their professional organization.
  • Approximately 26 percent of members indicated they won’t renew their membership, because they felt the organization offered too little for what they paid.
  • Harness the power of targeted emails to improve engagement with members.
  • Hold events to meet with members and build a stronger community.

You can learn how data-driven associations like yours boost member engagement, just download our free 2017 Member Loyalty Study.

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