How to increase member engagement for your association

As an association professional, you probably know that increasing member engagement is the path to greater member loyalty and improved member retention. But when your association has a small staff, how can you create a successful member engagement strategy? And what are the best tactics for engaging members? 

Let’s look at some useful ideas to help you boost membership engagement for your association. 

Research to support your association’s member engagement strategy

It can help to build your member engagement strategy if you have some data to point you in the right direction. The 2023 Association Trends Study by Community Brands includes multiple findings about member engagement that can help you understand what members want and how you can engage more effectively with your members. For example: 

  • More than a third of members in the study say they engage with their association every day or at least once per week. Of those, the members more likely to engage at least once per week or more include Gen Z and Millennials (52 percent), those early in their career (56 percent), and those that consider their association an early adopter of technology (59 percent).
  • Although association professionals in the study report modest increases in member engagement, only a quarter of them report that their association has an organization-wide member engagement strategy.

What do these numbers tell us? They suggest that while membership engagement is strong, associations lack a cohesive strategy for ongoing engagement with members across generations and career stages. This points to a big opportunity for associations to improve member engagement in multiple ways

How to increase member engagement for your association. 

The key to increasing member engagement for your association is to deliver more of what members want. There are two important areas to address: member engagement channels and member benefits.

Member engagement channels

The 2023 Association Trends Study shows that email and online community are both the top ways members engage with their organization and their top preferred engagement channels. However, a look at members’ and association professionals’ viewpoints together shows some gaps between how associations engage with members versus how members prefer to engage. For example, about 20 percent of members prefer text communications while only 14 percent of associations use text for member communications.

With these data points in mind, here are some ways to improve your use of member engagement channels:

  • Keep your email communications targeted and relevant. Since members rate email as a preferred engagement channel, make the most of your email communications. For example, use information in your association management software (AMS), such as member career stages, interests, and behaviors, and then use targeted lists to send them email communications with content that’s personalized for them.

TIP: YourMembership AMS by Community Brands allows you to quickly and easily pull email lists based on member information and then build and send targeted email communications.

  • Build a robust online community for enhanced member communications. Several data points in the study indicate that an online community can drive member engagement and loyalty. Fifty-one percent of members rely on their professional association the most for networking, collaboration, sharing ideas, and participating in a professional community. Nearly half of members have used their organization’s online community. Those who have used it report higher loyalty metrics and a stronger sense of community than those who haven’t. So, be sure to have a robust online community in place, and use it as part of your member engagement plan.

TIP: YourMembership AMS includes functionality to help you easily build a thriving online member community.

  • Put text messaging to work. A highly effective (and efficient) way to communicate with members is via text. Be sure to make text messaging with members a part of your association’s engagement strategy.

TIP: YourMembership AMS offers SMS text messaging functionality, making it easier to build and send text messaging campaigns.

Member benefits

Improving engagement with members also requires giving members more of the benefits they want most. Top member benefits from previous studies turned out to be even more important in the 2023 Association Trends Study than past years, with training, certifications, and credentials as well as help with career advancement all up significantly from 2022.

Here are two ways to use these data points to boost member engagement:

  • Offer more professional education opportunities. The study suggests that members are relying more on their association for professional education. They also show interest in more learning modalities than most organizations offer. Engage members by giving them a variety of learning opportunities throughout the year to accommodate their schedules, learning preferences, training, and certification needs.

TIP: You can deliver educational content more efficiently with YourMembership Learning, powered by Freestone learning management system (LMS) by Community Brands. It integrates with YourMembership AMS to help small associations organize content and deliver a modern online continuing education experience.

  • Provide a robust online career center. With job opportunities and help with career advancement continuing to appear in the list of most important member benefits, providing your members with an online job board is a must-do for member engagement. But you can take member engagement even further by providing a true online career center that supplements your job board with career-building resources, such as career peer data, industry-specific career advice content, career coaching, an online planning tool, and mentoring.

TIP: YM Careers by Community Brands integrates with YourMembership AMS, and offers job board software to power your association’s online job board. Each job board comes with the Career Planning Portal, a career advancement hub that offers a comprehensive set of career development resources.  

More member engagement ideas for associations

Want to take member engagement even further? Here are some additional member engagement ideas:

  • Host events. There’s a ton of value meeting in person for networking events and other types of events. When members see you and their fellow members face-to-face, 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 even clearer.
  • 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 your organization goes above and beyond in helping them? Make sure you let members choose their preferred mode of communication, such as email or text messages. Also, include your social media channels in your email and on your website, so in case members opt out of email, they can still connect with you there.
  • Put your association’s data to work. Use your AMS to track and analyze your association’s data. This approach can give you deep insights into your members, such as membership engagement trends. You can then use this data to determine what you might do to reverse trends that are moving in the wrong direction or spot opportunities to deepen member engagement by offering new programs and benefits.

TIP: YourMembership AMS includes dashboard and reporting functionality, plus advanced data analytics capabilities, to help you track and analyze your data.

Learn more about how to increase member engagement for your association

YourMembership AMS is built to help small-to-mid size associations boost member engagement while easily managing membership activities and increasing non-dues revenue.




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