In our previous article, we looked at how to get the most out of your member renewal process. We now move on to how to engage your members earlier on to improve how renewals are received.
Research shows that lack of engagement is one of the main reasons individuals don’t renew their membership (1) – and by the time it gets to renewing, without on-going communication, there’s little you can do to change their mind!
Ensuring you have an on-going member engagement strategy can not only increase the likelihood of members renewing, but can also act as a research tool to address any issues with membership and continuously improve your services. Perceptions of membership are inherently tied to your value proposition and how much members have used the benefits available to them.
On average, only 55% of members are involved with activities offered by their membership association (2). While in many professions, members will still be keen to renew, this does leave you more vulnerable, particularly if there’s any changes in the wider market which could displace existing loyalties.
Think about how to engage your members throughout the year, let them know what you have to offer and why they should value membership with your organisation; whether that’s events, content, CPD or networking opportunities. Reminding members to renew won’t make a difference if they’ve already decided the membership fee isn’t value for money.
Whilst keeping healthy, regular contact with your members is great, avoid bombarding them with information of little interest or no relevance.
The key to any successful engagement activity is ensuring that it’s tailored to each individual and their interests; targeted using both demographic indicators (such as location or career stage) and behavioural signals. If you have online member accounts, these can provide a goldmine of data about individual members, their level of engagement and their areas of interest. You could also use other member engagement touch points to capture data on what’s of interest, for example, events, networking, industry updates and so on. Gathering these permissions can also make sure your data is more compliant from a GDPR perspective.
Look out for behavioural signals and monitor how individual members have engaged with your organisation – whether they’ve attended events, responded to emails or read a newsletter – scoring type of engagement can help you distinguish how your members prefer to be contacted. Similarly, if someone’s registered for an event, don’t bombard them with information about every future event, instead, use this information to understand which events would be most relevant for that individual.
All of this information can help make your communications as tailored and relevant as possible, but remember, don’t conflate high volume of engagement with high level engagement!
In some industries it might be necessary to have qualifications that can only be completed through accredited professional associations. In these cases, interest in membership may initially begin with a shelf life. To encourage these members to renew, think about how you can convert interest into broader engagement. Try tailoring communications to highlight other areas of interest – such as events, networking, CPD services – that can help tighten your grip on new members and show that you have more to offer throughout their career and once they’ve completed their qualification.
You might also consider additional touchpoints, such as contacting a member just after they’ve joined to point out additional features of your organisation, then following up with a satisfaction survey after three months. Your strategy should consider the channels you use to engage members and make sure this fits with what your members want. Aim for a multi-channel communication strategy that ensure all members will have a number of personalised, tailored touchpoints throughout the year.
If members aren’t consistently engaged, there’s not much that can be done last minute to get them to renew, whereas a successful engagement activity can make the renewals process easier and less costly. Thinking about member renewal within the wider context of a member engagement strategy can help improve retention rates. This means you get the most out of your members – and they get the most out of you!