If you read our recent blog post on member retention versus member acquisition, you know that no matter how many members you recruit, if you can’t make them stay, your efforts may be wasted. So if member retention measures success, that’s most important metric, right? Well, not necessarily. In a recent membership report from Advanced Solutions International (ASI), researchers found though member retention is an important component to an association’s success, member engagement may be a better metric to use in strategy. It’s likely you engage with members through events, newsletters and website content – but do you have different strategies for those who engage frequently versus those who don’t? By thinking through engagement levels, you can build strategies that focus both on targeting those with little engagement while also providing relevant content for active members.

1. Engagement Metrics

It’s challenging to measure member engagement because each platform of engagement (events, meetings, member portal activity) all have different retention outcomes. For example, members who are active and vocal in monthly meetings yet quiet online probably have a pretty good retention rate; their frequent, physical participation shows their interest and dedication to the association. On the other hand, someone who logs into the member portal and posts comments in the discussion thread from time to time probably have a lower retention rate. Edward Wendling, global marketing director for ASI, suggests using this information when creating strategies. Set levels or tiers of engagement based on specific member actions (monthly meeting vs comments in member portal) and use these tiers when determining the way you will interact with them and how frequently that needs to be done.

2. Show members their ROI

Selling memberships to your association includes providing a list of perks members receive by joining. It’s important that you stay true to these benefits and frequently remind members about them. Think about these benefits in terms of ROI – are you showing them that their financial investment was worth it? If not, it may be time to reevaluate prices or provide additional benefits. Financials aside, members also invest their time into your group. Not only should you be providing meaningful experiences for your members through workshops, meetings, volunteer opportunities, speakers, continuing education and more but be sure to frequently remind members of these opportunities. Even if they aren’t attending your events, they’re still aware of their options and the benefit of investing.  

3. Renewal time

Whether you have a rolling dues structure or all members renew at the beginning of the year, the renewal period is a great time to reconnect with members. Dallas HQ, a management association, uses renewal time to remind members of all the ways they engaged that year. As you configure a member’s engagement data, pay attention to members who are less engaged and personally reach out to invite them to your next event. You can also create a reward system for members who have been the most active. For example, say a member attends five meetings, two workshops, and volunteers in the community? Reward them with a free ticket to your next conference or discount to your association’s online store.

There are so many metrics that help in determining an association’s success. Building a strategy that addresses member retention and how member engagement fits in with that can be a lot of work initially but the payoff is definitely worth it.