Member retention is one of the most important metrics for your organization. The best way to prevent your membership from dwindling is to focus on ongoing engagement. In this post, we’ll discuss key strategies for keeping your members engaged and enthused about your organization.
Define Successful Engagement
Every organization has a slightly different picture of successful engagement. For some organization, successful engagement is measured in the amount of email opens. For others, it’s measured by how many members sign up for the next webinar or attend a conference.What is successful engagement for your organization? Click To Tweet
It’s important that you define it now and as completely as possible. This allows you to know if you’re hitting the mark or if you need to tweak your efforts.
Make a S.M.A.R.T. goal for membership engagement. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive. Here’s an example of an achievable goal for membership engagement:
- Specific – Increase the number of signups for the certification program.
- Measureable – Enroll at least 50 members in the certification program.
- Actionable – Create a social media ad campaign targeting members who will benefit from the certification program within the next month.
- Realistic – Monitor the campaign each week to make sure it’s on track and there’s member buy-in. If not, identify the problem and find a workable solution.
- Time-Sensitive – Meet this goal by the end of the second quarter.
Your S.M.A.R.T. goal may not look like this one, but hopefully, this works as a template for your membership engagement campaign.
Start Off on the Right Foot
In addition to creating goals for existing members, make sure that you start off correctly with new members. Set expectations for how often you’ll be in touch– and stick to that plan. Make it a priority to stay connected with your members. This will foster ongoing membership participation.
When adding new members to your organization, make onboarding via email a priority. Introduce yourself to them. Help them get acquainted with your website. Link to important pages on your website (i.e. your resource hub, your membership perks, or your previous webinars). Instead of hoping that your new members wander into the right place, guide them there. This will increase engagement from the very beginning.
Additionally, in your onboarding email(s), invite your new members to ask questions. You may choose to answer those questions directly or, if your organization is too large to field individual queries, you can direct them to a new members’ forum. This is a safe “kiddie pool” experience that can encourage community participation without throwing them into the deep end.
Segment Your Communications
Don’t blast the same emails to everyone on your list. While very select few emails may be shared with everyone on your list, the majority of your emails should be segmented.
In other words, group your email subscribers and then send emails that are personalized for each group. For example, you wouldn’t want to promote a certification course to members who’ve already taken it. That email would be frustrating for those members who’ve already received their certification. Or if you wanted to promote a follow-up course to members who’ve taken the previous one, you wouldn’t want to send to everyone on your list.
This is the beauty of segmentation. It allows you to customize your communication so that your message is more valuable and personal.
Create a Lively Social Presence
No doubt you have a social media profile, and maybe even more than one. Most organizations are represented on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. That’s a great start, but to truly engage your members, you’ll need to do more than sporadically post inspirational messages and reminders for membership dues.
Social media should be just that– social. These platforms provide an opportunity for you to interact with your members on a personal level. For example, use your social accounts to do the following:
Ask questions – Engage members by posting a question of the day or week. One way to encourage comments is to have your team members comment, too. There are no laws against answering your own questions, and it can be a fun conversation starter.
Post regularly – Don’t be one of those organizations that only post once a month (or less). Find a reason to post at least once a week, but ideally several times a week. There are plenty of things you can post about, from membership spotlights to relevant industry news. You can also share a “behind the scenes” look at your team, and interview individual team members as well.
Posts things that will help your members – Share and link to any resources that may benefit your members. This may mean linking to other organizations or business, but don’t forget to promote your own resources, too. For example, highlight a new resource each week. This will encourage more interaction with your organization by bringing members back to your website.
Invite your members to connect with your brand over social member – You can extend the invitation on your website, your blog posts, and through your email newsletter. They may not know about your social presence otherwise, so make it a part of your outreach to members.
As mentioned briefly above, a great way to engage your members is to highlight them. All of your members share a connection through your organization. When you promote a member, it can be a positive experience for all of your members.
There are several unique ways to highlight your members. One of the most effective is to create a member case story. In this story, you can identify problems the member had prior to joining your organization and how your organization provided the solution.
You can also interview the member for your blog, then share the link to your subscribers and over social media.
Highlighting members provides the much needed social proof that keeps members committed to your organization. You can inspire your entire community of members by sharing their success stories. What’s even better? It’s free.
When your members participate in some special initiative (i.e. attending a webinar, completing a certification course, signing up for a referral contest), you can provide a token of your appreciation. This token also does double-duty as promotional marketing for your organization. When a member wears a hat or t-shirt with your logo, it will act as a form of marketing. You’ll get two wins: 1) Delighting the member, and 2) Building brand awareness.
If you don’t want to provide actual products, you can also reward participation through financial consideration. For example, offer time-sensitive discounts or coupons towards your own products and services.
Carefully monitor your engagement initiatives. What’s working? What’s not working?
This assessment keeps you focused on your S.M.A.R.T. goal.
One way to monitor engagement is to compare metrics related to your goal. Look back over a period of time to determine whether or not your engagement strategies are positively impacting your membership.
Another way to monitor engagement is to ask your member-facing staff what they’ve observed. Has your staff noticed an uptick in member activity? What is the general mood or sentiment of your members? Staff members can pick up subtle changes that don’t show up in computer algorithms.
Over to You
What’s your favorite way to engage your members? Let us know in the comments section below.