According to six association membership experts in the e-book, “Association Experts Share the Hidden Truths to Member Engagement,” the only constant for member engagement in trade and professional associations is change.
When asked, “What’s next?,” association professionals from the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination, American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association, Electrical Apparatus Service Association, National Contract Management Association, North Carolina Healthcare Association and the United States Parachute Association each served up a unique member engagement prediction worth pondering.
Member Engagement Predictions: Email & Marketing Automation
1 – Email Will Lose Relevance
Your membership base is changing. Long-time members are retiring and a new generation is filling their shoes. That’s nothing new. But these generations of members expect a different experience.
Just as you thought your professional or trade association had perfected the art of email marketing, the tide had already begun shifting.
One of the membership experts quoted in the e-book suggested email is on the wane. What’s more important now, she said, is understanding how people communicate outside of work.
While you can’t just stop sending emails, you have to make sure the information included is relevant.
That’s where a single, clean data source comes in handy (45 percent of marketers believe that data is their most underutilized asset.)
2 – Successful Membership Directors Will Use Innovative Communication Channels
With all that said, another e-book participant urged associations to be innovative and flexible with their communications. No longer will a newsletter, website and annual conference be enough to keep members interested and entertained.
How can a professional or trade association be innovative and flexible when it comes to emailing members? Try marketing automation.
3 – Automation Will Become More Common
A third interviewee said it’s “overwhelming” trying to respond to every member on a case-by-case basis. Instead, they try to automate when they can, leaving enough staff resources available to respond to the unique inquiries.
Member Engagement Predictions: Communication
4 – Direct Mail Will Make a Comeback
As some associations battle for supremacy among their members’ cluttered inboxes, others find their members aren’t even checking their email on a daily basis.
In the e-book, a director of membership services suggested it’ll be a long time before her 40,000-member association can go paperless, emphasizing the importance of traditional phone and mail communication.
Sound like your association? Ease your members into the digital world by avoiding these email issues, as highlighted in Adobe’s Consumer Email Survey:
- Excessive scrolling
- Waiting for images to load
- Too much text
- Small font size
- Lack of mobile optimization
5 & 6 – Watch Out for the Rise of Micro-volunteerism and Text Messaging
Finally, if email simply doesn’t work for your association, here’s what two other association professionals predicted as major engagement drivers: micro-volunteerism and text messaging.
By offering a member a chance to contribute to your association’s blog, or some other light commitment, you’ll give them a chance to feel more invested as a member.
Or, try texting. Think about those texts you get reminding you of a doctor appointment. The same could be done for members, just replace the appointment with a membership renewal reminder.
Final Thoughts on Member Engagement
While technology and innovation are essential to the younger generations that are joining today, it’s not always best for your association to live on the cutting edge. Know your audience. Tailor communications for them. The hard part? Making sure you’re still engaging with long-time members along the way.