Once your certification program comes to a close, you’re faced with an important question:
How do you strengthen your business relationship, demonstrate value beyond the certification program, and keep those members engaged?
This question is even more pressing if your newly certified member is also new to your organization. In this post, we’ll discuss several key engagement strategies to increase member investment and satisfaction.
Start With a Plan for Engagement
Before delving into engagement strategies, let’s start with a basic engagement plan. What should newly certified members do immediately after completing your certification course? How would you like your members to interact with your organization? Do you have a solid plan for onboarding these new members into your organization?
If not, create a 6- or 12-month engagement roadmap for everyone who completes your certification program. While your individual roadmap will look different, here’s a template you can follow:
Month by Month Member Engagement Roadmap
- Month 1: Send out onboarding emails immediately following the end of your certification program. Introduce new members to your organization and show them other benefits you offer to your members.
- Month 2: At the beginning of this month, reach out to your members with a phone call. Find out about their experience with your organization over the last 30 days of membership and ask if there’s anything you can do to help them in the future.
- Month 3: Invite your member to join your referral program via email. Explain the benefits of joining.
- Month 4: Ask your members to participate in a case study.
- Month 5: Send out an email to promote your annual conference.
- Month 6: Make a follow-up phone call.
- Month 7: Via email or social media, share testimonials from other members. Also, provide a list of personalized metrics to show how the member has benefited from joining your organization.
- Month 8: Remind your members about your annual conference.
- Month 9: Highlight important membership benefits and invite the member to partake of these benefits.
- Month 10: Send a free and valuable ebook or other gift (a t-shirt, a coffee cup).
- Month 11: Send a personalized email where you discuss future goals. Ask the member to mentor other, newer members.
- Month 12: Invite members to participate in a survey or a case study. Also encourage renewal with an expiring promotion.
While creating your month by month member engagement roadmap, be sure to consider holidays. You can run special holiday promotions, and highlight in-person social activities that create higher levels of engagement.
Score Members Based on Engagement Level
The next step is to score your members based on their level of engagement. Make a list of all potential member actions, such as:
- Blog reading
- Blog sharing
- Email opens
- Email click throughs
- Event attendance (webinar, in-person)
- Social media participation
- Social media sharing
You’ll need to assign scores to the activities that you deem most important for your organization.
With that out of the way, the next step is to group your members based on their score.
You may create three categories for your members: Active and Engaged, Moderately Engaged, and Not Engaged. Members in the second category, especially those with waning engagement levels, should receive more attention. You’ll also want to reach out periodically to the Not Engaged members, too.
Create a Content Marketing Strategy
Blogging is great for SEO and helps to keep members engaged. Through your blogs, you can create pertinent and valuable content that your members will look forward to reading.
When creating a content strategy with a special focus on member retention and engagement, make a list of ideas that empower your current members. Too often, blog posts are written with the intent of wooing prospective members. That’s important also, but don’t forget about your current members in the process.
Members will stay connected to your organization if they believe you’re providing relevant resources to meet their current needs.
To create an effective content marketing strategy, take an inventory of your members’ needs. Survey your members to ask what content they’d like to read. Then create more of that content.
Your content marketing strategy doesn’t focus solely on blogging. Although blogging is the centerpiece of most content marketing, it’s not the only way to reach your members. Videos and podcasts are other options for communicating with your members.
Focus on Email Marketing
Don’t depend on bookmarks and the member’s intention to return to your site. Even if your member bookmarks your website, he or she will forget to come back. Enter email marketing.
Email marketing is a brilliant way to stay in touch with your members. Once you’ve created a blog or video post, you can then advertise it to your members through email.
Fortunately, you can gently remind them through a well-planned email marketing strategy. Email allows you to stay in touch with your members, and also gives you another opportunity to score their engagement levels.
When email marketing, follow these best practices:
- Stay in touch consistently – Send an email on a predictable schedule (i.e., every Friday, or the second Tuesday of each month).
- Segment your list to personalize your interactions – Group your members based on demographics, location, behavior, goals, etc.
- End with a call to action – Drive traffic back to your blog (or other desired action).
Create In-Person Events
Host in-person events. Even if you’re a small, web-based organization and can only manage to host one in-person event per year, do what you can. In-person events, such as workshops and conferences, can help foster more engagement and a greater sense of community.
You can also use these in-person events to increase activity on your social media channels. Encourage attendees to post live videos or photos of themselves with branded hashtags.
Encourage Members to Refer Others
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to set up a referral program. By issuing digital certificates through Accredible, you already have built-in brand exposure and referral power. However, if you create a referral program, you’ll have an opportunity to both extend your reach while also keeping your members engaged at the same time.
Reward referring members with special perks, such as:
- A month of membership
- Branded office supplies (clothes, pens, mugs, etc.)
- Special recognition (referrer of the month)
Continue to Evolve With Your Member-Base
The needs of your members will change as the years pass. The last thing you want is for your organization to stay stuck in the past. However, many organizations make the mistake of being complacent.
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Another mistake is focusing entirely on new members without thinking about the growing needs of your current member-base. As your members mature and develop in their careers, they’ll continue to need guidance. Here are a few ways to ensure that you’re a perennial resource for your members:
- Take surveys often to determine the needs of your members
- Develop new courses and material to meet those needs
- Create a mentorship program for ongoing direction
Keeping your members engaged requires careful planning and a commitment to evolve with your members. Use our tips above to ensure member engagement and retention.
Before you go, check out these related posts:
- Tips to Maximize Your Member Engagement Through Your Certification Program
- How To Generate More Social Shares With Accredible