Want to increase the member loyalty? Take a page from the playbooks of companies like Amazon, Apple, and Netflix. Your association needs to become an integral part of your members’ lives. Making it so they can’t even remember what life was like before they joined. You must build your association into something so indispensable that your members find the idea of not renewing laughable.
It may sound a bit intense, but competition is fierce and your members. They have a lot of options for where they spend their time and money. Even within the most niche categories, multiple organizations are vying to win the same audience. For example, did you know that there are 70+ national and local associations for those working in the concrete industry?
We have worked closely with associations for over a decade and heard firsthand which approaches to increasing loyalty are a home run and which can actually push members away.
In this article, we’ll cover a few of the most effective member loyalty strategies our clients have used to boost member loyalty in their organizations, including the following:
- Establish your association as the go-to for good content
- Build an engaged online community
- Offer an exceptional benefits program
- Give members a voice (and listen to what they say)
- Make it easy to renew
Establish your association as the go-to for good content
The ability to provide targeted, valuable content is the greatest opportunity for associations looking to improve their member loyalty.
To capitalize on your members’ desire to stay informed, make your website the go-to place for the latest advice and insights. You will also need to alert members when you have new resources available by:
- Featuring it prominently on your homepage
- Promoting it in your newsletter and other emails
- Post links to it on social media
In addition to distributing content you’ve created, share articles from popular industry publications and other experts on your social feeds, too. Your members may be overwhelmed by the ocean of blogs, e-books, and infographics out there and if they know they can count on you to be a curator of helpful, relevant content from trusted sources, it will encourage them to stick around.
Build an engaged online community
Hosting in-person events and regular meetups is a critical part of fostering member loyalty, but sometimes circumstances make that impossible. Even when everything is business as usual, engaged members can be too busy to consistently attend. In addition, geography can play a part in event attendance, particularly in larger states.
While members in these situations certainly appreciate the association and its other perks, they may be missing out on one of the most attractive benefits of membership in a professional association: a sense of belonging.
Building and maintaining an active online community is an effective way to ensure every individual has the opportunity to build relationships with other members. With online message boards, members have a forum to ask questions, offer feedback, voice concerns, and recount personal experiences with other members all over the country—or the world. You can also create a searchable directory of member-managed profiles. This can help members find others who work in similar roles or share common interests and easily connect with one another. Consider taking advantage of social media and establish a LinkedIn or Facebook group for your association.
Offer an exceptional benefits program
What makes your members tick? What are their motivations? Their frustrations? Their aspirations? Building an extraordinary benefits portfolio starts by answering these questions. This is because exceptional benefits programs provide benefits that are not only exclusive to their members but also personalized to their needs.
For example, the Austin Young Chamber, a group for young Austinites looking to grow professionally, offers its members discounts on coworking space reservations as well as free admission to workshops hosted by the Baylor Executive MBA program.
The benefits you provide must be substantial and worthwhile and should demonstrate your commitment to the well-being and success of your members. They should either support their professional goals, personal pursuits, or (ideally) both. Most importantly, your member benefits should act as a tangible representation of your appreciation for their decision to be a member of your organization.
Give members a voice (and listen to what they say)
While one of the primary responsibilities of your association is to consistently share important news and information with members, just as necessary is allowing members to respond to your communications and express their opinions.
Facebook and Twitter are particularly helpful for encouraging interactive, two-way conversations between members and your association’s administration. You can also use your social media accounts to poll members. Emailing surveys to your members and/or putting a questionnaire on your website are effective, as well.
Members should feel comfortable being completely forthright and honest when sharing their opinions about the association. Even if some of their feedback ends up being a bit harsh, it is much better to find out now so you can make any necessary changes before your renewal rates plummet.
Make it easy to renew
You may not realize it, but your association’s renewal process may be affecting retention. If the process is cumbersome or time-consuming, it may be enough to push members to reconsider renewing. Your goal should be to make membership renewal as simple and streamlined as possible.
One idea is to allow members to complete the entire renewal process online. Reduce the paper process of requiring them to fill out a physical form and/or mail in a check. Your members may not even have a stamp, let alone know where their checkbook is.
You can also offer a recurring payment option for dues. In a recurring payment model, members provide their payment information and are automatically charged at specific intervals. The biggest advantage is that members don’t have to worry about remembering to pay, and you don’t have to worry about reminding them.
To foster member loyalty in your association, offer an experience that demonstrates that you genuinely value them. Your members should be proud to say they are part of your organization and should want to promote it at every opportunity. If you follow the five tips above, you can build an association of loyal, lifetime members.
Callie Hinman is the Content Strategist for AffiniPay, a provider of online payment technology for professional services, associations, and nonprofits. She is a proud graduate of the University of Texas. And staunchly committed to following Ann Handley’s Rule of FIWTSBS (“Find Interesting Ways to Say Boring Stuff”).