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3 Association Membership Strategies Proven to Enhance Engagement

Looking for new association membership strategies? Here's what worked for three associations.
Looking for new association membership strategies? Here’s what worked for three associations.

When an association’s member engagement strategies simply aren’t working, what do they do? One association membership director might scour the web for ideas. Another might attend ASAE’s Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference. And a third might do both.

The thing is, there’s really no substitute for real world examples — the success stories that elevated member engagement at other trade and professional associations to another level.

In our recent e-book, three associations served up their secret sauce to member engagement. While these association membership strategies may be unique to each situation, the following insights could be tailored to fit any member-based organization.

3 Proven Association Membership Engagement Ideas

Be Inclusion-oriented

A common theme among the associations surveyed in the e-book was this: reach out to the disengaged, whether they’re members or not. One trade association based in Missouri did just that.

Prior to an annual convention, this association expanded its outreach and offerings industry firms to firms in Spanish-speaking markets. That outreach led to several meetings with Spanish-speaking attendees, resulting in “quite a few” corporate memberships.

While this specific situation might be unique, what’s not unique is a company — or in this case, an association — with diverse leadership outperforming others. According to the Harvard Business Review, employees at more diverse companies were 70 percent more likely to capture a new market than they were the year prior.

For going above and beyond, and leveraging the talents of their multilingual team members, this organization was rewarded with an appreciative new association membership base who are happy to make use of the plentiful resources now available to them.

Find Members on the Fringe

Rather than focusing on a subset of disengaged event attendees based on linguistic characteristics, a North Carolina–based professional association looked to re-embrace an oft-overlooked group of current members.

Once the isolated group was identified, the professional association sought out ways to boost engagement. These members were encouraged to submit abstracts for meeting presentations, and ultimately three or four sessions were led by this previously underrepresented group at a recent annual meeting.

If you’re one of the 95 percent of event professionals who believe that live events are a “valuable opportunity to form in-person connections in an increasingly digital world,” according to Bizzabo,  we suggest trying this approach.

Win with Webinars

While the previous two associations aimed to boost face-to-face engagement, a Denver-based organization set its sights on the virtual world.

This association studied its data to realize members were more likely to renew if they had attended a live webinar. So they changed the webinar pricing structure to be free for members and $99 for non-members. This plan increased webinar participation from 100 attendees per webinar to around 900 attendees per webinar in one year’s time. Now, the organization sees 1,500 to 2,000 attendees per webinar.

This type of analysis and data-driven decision-making sets associations apart and turns member engagement into membership renewals.

But, it isn’t easy to embrace a data-driven culture. According to NewVantage Partners, 85 percent of companies are trying to be data-driven, but only 27 percent say they’re successful.

For more real-world success stories and data about member engagement, download your copy of Protech’s e-book, “Association Experts Share the Hidden Truths to Member Engagement.”