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11 Ways to Drive Member Engagement through Association Management Software

11 Ways to Drive Member Engagement through Association Management Software

Imagine going to a party. You walk into a large, cold, unfamiliar room. You see lots of people, but no one you know. No one greets you. No one cracks a smile. No one even looks your way. You feel lost. Alone.

Now imagine going to another party. As soon as you step through the door, you connect with Jon, the host. He welcomes you with a warm hug. Jon shows you where the food and drinks are. Not long after, you discover you both have a penchant for puns. You begin exchanging dad jokes. You feel happy inside. Connected.

That’s “engagement”. It isn’t just a concept — engagement is a feeling. A feeling of connection. A feeling of belonging, excitement.

Do your members get that feeling? Do they feel that they belong? Do they get excited to attend your meetings and trainings?

It’s important that they do. The greater your engagement level, the more likely your members will maintain their membership, and refer their friends, which ultimately means a healthy, growing membership base and higher renewal rates for your association.

So how do you raise member engagement? How do you get the guy that’s at every meeting, but won’t participate in any roles or utter a word, more engaged?

Start here. We’ve compiled a list of some simple ways to attract new members and get your existing members excited, inspired, and involved with the help of association management software.

1. Dig into Data to Grade Engagement

What’s your current membership count? Your renewal rate? You can probably rattle off those numbers quite easily. But what about your engagement score?

Many associations grade their engagement level to provide a current reading on their engagement level and pinpoint groups of members that need extra special attention.

In the article, To Increase Member Retention, Rate and Score Engagement, the Florida Association of Insurance Agents breaks down its membership into tiers. Tier 1 is the most engaged (8 points or better), tier 2 somewhat engaged (4 to 8 points), and tier 3 the least engaged (less than 4 points). The association then puts effort towards tiers 2 and 3 to increase engagement and involvement with those specific members.

Your first step? Run your active membership list using your association management software. Print the list, make copies, then get together with your team. Define what engagement means to your organization. Group members into specific engagement categories and develop an action plan for each member type.

2. Communicate Goals with Members

Your members believe in your organization and its mission. That’s what attracted them to join in first place. Knowing that, there’s an extremely good chance they’ll back your association’s growth plan without hesitation.

Be transparent.

Let your members know just how many members your organization is planning to enroll in each membership tier, the renewal rate it seeks, and other goals you’ve set to achieve.

Let members know why each goal is important, how it impacts them, what happens if the goals are met, and what happens if the membership goals aren’t met.

Make sure you refer to the goals often — not just in one meeting. Repeat your goals in each meeting, and give updates on numbers in emails and newsletters. Frequently communicating your goals ensures those numbers are always top of mind and strengthens members’ involvement and commitment in helping you achieve those goals.

3. Host Special Events Like a “Bring a Friend” Meeting

Give your members an opportunity to get involved, show their pride, and at the same time, increase your chance of enrolling new members.

A “Bring a Friend” meeting is an opportunity to review all the great benefits of belonging to your organization and pique guests’ interest in becoming members themselves.

If you use 123Signup association management software, the registration page for your “Bring a Friend” meeting can be created in seconds through the simple event tool.

After you’ve set up the event registration, get the word out by sending an email to all members with the registration link.

Point out the social sharing buttons on the registration page too, so that members know they can easily share the event on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

To ensure the event isn’t forgotten about, members can easily add the event to their calendar from the event page, as shown in the image below by selecting the “Add to my Calendar” button. If you use 123Signup association management software, links for members to add the event to their calendar also appear in the registration confirmation email.

4. Track Professional Development, Award CEU Certificates

Your members work hard to learn new skills and advance their career. You can provide extra value by giving them the tools to log courses and credits, and track event history.

If you use 123Signup association management software, members can view their professional development status at a glance very easily in their member profile. Through 123Signup, you also have the option to develop custom CEU certificates for members to print themselves on demand. Certificates are a great way to acknowledge member achievement and make your members feel valued.

5. Gamify Your Next Conference or Meeting

Gamification is an effective way to educate your attendees and increase engagement at the same time. You could award points to attendees for attending sessions, for taking and posting a selfie on your social networks during the conference — anything you can think of that will get your attendees involved.

Create a leaderboard that you showcase at the conference. The attendee with the highest score wins.

Remember it’s best to fill your members in ahead of time to create buzz and excitement. Send an email out to registrants prior to your next meeting or conference to let them know about the game elements being added to your program.

Most association management software includes a built-in email communication tool. Through 123Signup, you simply choose your event list directly from the existing database and can get your message out the door with minimal effort.

6. Hold a Membership-Building Contest

It’s extremely likely that each of your members has a friend or co-worker with mutual interests. Which means it’s almost guaranteed that each of your members has someone — possibly even a handful of people — they would refer to your organization.

Why not hold a contest to jumpstart referrals? Many 123Signup clients host referral contests and provide a variety of incentives. Some associations reduce the member’s renewal fee for each referral that successfully becomes a member.

Other associations enter the referrer into a raffle for a chance to win a quarterly prize like an iPad, a gift card, or a free membership that they can use for renewal or gift to a friend.

Some organizations provide a reward for every successful referral and enter the referrer into a raffle. The rules of your membership-building contest are entirely up to you!

Whatever you choose, be sure to put a time limit to your contest to create urgency (Example: run the contest from February 1 – March 31.)

It’s best to get the word out initially about your contest by sending an email to all your members. You can easily do that through your association management software and then increase your email frequency as the deadline approaches to build momentum.

Make sure that you also continue to drum up excitement throughout the contest period by mentioning the challenge and the results in meetings and ongoing communications, like newsletters.

7. Host an Online Meeting Series

You probably hold several in-person conferences and meetings throughout the year, but what about webinars? Online educational seminars — webinars — are convenient for both you and your participants because no one has to travel to get to the meeting.

Another benefit is that the webinar can be recorded, so that those that miss the meeting can watch it on their own time. Plus, you can host the recording on your website and share on social media if you choose.

Here’s an example of the ADAP Advocacy Association utilizing 123Signup association management software’s event registration page to promote a webinar series they held May 31, 2017 to Sept. 27, 2017. This event registration page was integrated with their website to provide a seamless online experience to all website visitors.

8. Publish a Member Directory

The more connected your members are to one another, the greater their sense of belonging and overall enjoyment as a member.

Give your members added exposure and an easy way to connect with one another by providing a member directory.

With 123Signup, you can easily provide a searchable member directory that pulls records from the software database.

9. Promote Member Renewals Early

The fewer members you lose, the easier it will be to achieve your annual growth goal. That’s why we always advocate starting your renewal process as early as possible. Many of our clients start as early as three months before expiration.

With 123Signup’s automated renewal feature, you can set up as many email templates as you need and schedule them to be sent to expiring members at specific times.

10. List Your Membership Levels Online

It’s a good practice to offer membership levels to appeal to a wider audience. It’s an even better idea to have those membership levels listed on your website and tied to an easy signup or renewal process.

In this example, the San Francisco Neurological Society shows their Active Member, Associate Member, Nurse, Retired Member, and Industry membership types on a 123Signup hosted enrollment page that’s part of their website. If someone is interested in joining, they simply click the enroll button and go through an easy online signup and payment process.

It’s worth mentioning here that the 123Signup system is completely configurable to specific business rules. Many of our clients require approval with memberships. The 123Signup system can be configured to accept applications upon approval.

11. Increase Self-Service to Increase Satisfaction and Convenience

Self-check-out at Target. Fueling your car. Placing an online order for pizza delivery. Self-service technology isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s a given in today’s world. People expect it.

Enabling self-service tools where your members can enroll online, pay renewal dues online, keep personal contact information up to date online, and signup and pay for an event online provides major convenience for your members — not to mention lowers your association’s overhead admin costs.

Through association management software, like 123Signup, you can easily integrate membership and event pages with your organization’s website to take membership enrollments, renewals, donations, membership add-ons like journal subscriptions, event registrations, and payments securely online. Plus, the pages can be formatted to match your brand for a seamless online user experience.

Here the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, New Jersey Chapter uses a 123Signup event listing page to make signing up for its Holiday Meeting easy.

Turning Up Member Engagement for Your Association

The ability to retain existing members and gain new members is essential to your success. But just like you can’t bake a cake without flour, you can’t maintain and grow your organization without the vital ingredient of member engagement. And you can’t create a meaningful, measurable difference in engagement without a recipe to provide direction.

Look at your membership. Grade your member engagement level. Then put these tips and others into action to move the member engagement needle forward.

Kristen Campbell is the Brand Manager at 123Signup. She is responsible for developing, implementing, and managing all marketing initiatives and programs for 123Signup.


Crank Up Engagement with 123Signup Association Management Software
From online event registration and payment, CEU tracking and certificates, to self-service enrollment and renewal,
123Signup association management software gives you a host of tools to turn up member engagement. Signup for a free personalized tour today!

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Are These Mistakes Costing Your Association Memberships, Renewals, and Event Registrations?

Are These Mistakes Costing Your Association Memberships, Renewals, and Event Registrations?

Today’s Thursday. The day John picks up his kids from school. He pulls into the parking lot and realizes he’s early — a whole 5 minutes early. He thinks back through his day.

Oh yeah, I need to sign up for the holiday party the chamber of commerce is throwing.”

John takes out his phone, gets to the local chamber of commerce’s events page, but the page is only set up for desktop.

After scrolling and scrolling, 5 minutes passes in a flash. John’s kids, Aaron and Jacob, are now in the backseat exchanging jokes they heard during lunch period. “Signing up for the holiday party is going to have to wait”. John groans. Maybe later tonight he’ll register. Maybe Monday. Maybe …

Your members — like all of society — like John — are constantly seeking information from their smartphones. And they’re quick to click away from your site if it isn’t easy to navigate and doesn’t load within seconds.

The Greater the User Experience, the Greater the Results

A poor online user experience equates to poor results, while a seamless, intuitive user experience leads to greater results.

When members or prospective members come to your site, they do so to get information. They may also visit your site to become a member, renew their membership, or sign up for an event. You want them to be able to take action quickly and easily. The last thing you want is for them to scroll endlessly through pages, get frustrated, and abandon their transaction — like John.

Get on the Brand-wagon

Branding on your web pages is equally important as is ease of navigation and a mobile-friendly design. Your members already recognize and trust your brand, believe in your association, and stand behind its mission.

That means it’s critical to include your branding through and through on your website where members are taking actions like signing up for a new membership, paying their annual dues, or signing up for that holiday party.

Optimizing the Experience for 123Signup End Users

To improve the user experience, 123Signup’s enrollment, renewal, and registration application pages went through extensive user testing. Then based on data and feedback, the pages were redesigned to optimize navigation and make transactions, like renewing a membership, intuitive and simple. The result is a better user experience which translates into more memberships, renewals, and event signups for our clients.

And because branding is so important, we’ve expanded our page customization options. The application pages can be tailored to reflect the software users’ brands so that their end users — their members and prospective members — get a seamless online experience no matter what action they’re taking on your website.

Speaking of Brand …

You may have noticed that we refreshed our own brand. We’ve always been committed to delivering the most feature-rich and flexible AMS software on the market. We needed a logo — and fresh, clean, modern site — to reflect our evolution over time. Be sure to check out our site and let us know what you think by sending an email to [email protected].

123 … Takeaway!

1. Have a friend or family member — someone far removed from your organization — review your website. Is it easy for them to find where to go to renew? Can they find where your events are? Take their feedback into consideration to improve the user experience and improve your results.

2. Review your application pages. Do they adequately reflect your brand? This simple exercise could make all the difference from someone enrolling in your association or stopping dead in their tracks because the page doesn’t look like it’s part of your association or that it’s trustworthy.


Time to Take Another Look

Over the past several months, we’ve been hard at work redesigning our Enrollment, Renewal, Registration and Edit Profile application pages — with expanded options to reflect your brand. See how we can improve your members’ user experience — and improve your association’s results. Signup for a free personalized tour today!

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Paper, Phone or Web Survey: Which Do I Choose?

Paper, Phone or Web Survey: Which Do I Choose?
Web surveys have surged in popularity in recent years, and for many associations, they’ve become the go-to tool for measuring member engagement.  So when and why is it appropriate to choose good old paper or phone-based surveys over electronic?

A lot of organizations automatically opt for the cheapest and easiest method, but it’s more important to consider which tool will help you get the information and insights you want to get out of your survey.

Response rates and the size of your membership are two of the key factors to consider when choosing your survey tool. In a recent 123Signup webinar with Matt Braun of Loyalty Research, he estimated that response rates for phone interviews are the highest (50-60%), paper surveys tend to get a response rate of around 20%, and web-based surveys get the lowest response rates of 8-12%.

A web-based survey sent to 10,000 people with a response rate of 10% gives you 1000 responses – a big enough sample size to give you good insights on your members’ attitudes and behaviors. But sending the same survey to 100 people would result in only 10 responses, and that’s just not enough to give you reliable, actionable data.

(Read The Right Questions to Ask on Your Next Membership Survey for ideas on putting together an effective questionnaire.)

For smaller organizations looking to get more detailed information, a phone survey may well be the way to go – there’s more to think about before choosing your methodology. Here are some of the pros and cons of each survey tool to help you choose the right method for your next research project.

Paper Surveys

Pros:

  • Easy to design as a Word document.
  • Can be easy to collect by mail or if handed out at an event.

Cons:

  • Entering data from the back end can be time consuming and result in error.
  • People can write in answers that are difficult to interpret and categorize.
  • May get a lower response rate among younger members.

Phone Surveys

Pros:

  • Information quality is the best of all the methods because it captures the true voice of the member. Phone interviewers have the ability to probe respondents and get them to expand on their answers so you get more in-depth answers and insights.
  • Better participation than paper or web-based surveys, and a good choice for smaller memberships.

Cons: 

  • The most difficult method to get right.
  • Cost is high as it may require that you higher an external company to help to design and implement it.
  • It takes longer to collect information.
  • Can be difficult to reach people at a convenient time for a 10 to 20 minute survey.

Web Surveys

Pros:

  • Highest value for the cost.
  • Inexpensive applications make it easy to design and collect information.
  • Can be distributed through various channels, including email, social media, and on your website.
  • Many applications offer basic analysis and reporting tools to help you get insights from your data.
  • Gives every member with access to the web the ability to participate.
  • Allows for longer surveys, and give respondents the ability to save and continue.
  • Gives you the ability to assign a unique identifier to each respondent for tracking purposes.

Cons:

  • Have lower response rates than paper or phone surveys, which may not be ideal for smaller organizations.

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Keep The Spark Going! Using Auto Renewals to Enhance Member Retention

Keep The Spark Going! Using Auto Renewals to Enhance Member Retention
Contributed by Mary Byers, CAE

What do health clubs, iTunes, Dropbox, Xbox and Netflix have in common? All require members to participate in monthly billing or auto renewal programs. And all are benefiting as a result.

Author and association consultant Seth Kahan recently hosted a summit on “Private Sector Membership Models,” a growing trend in the corporate world. He notes that for-profit companies embrace the membership model for renewable relationships and income potential, also of interest to associations. Says Kahan, “It’s hard for me to imagine there would be any resistance to auto renewal because its sounds like it makes things easier for everybody.” Indeed it does.

Here’s why your association should offer auto renewals:

Member Convenience. Auto renewals allow members to enjoy uninterrupted service and avoid the hassle of manually cutting a check or entering credit card information online. Members receive a notice in advance of renewal so account information can be updated if necessary, and they can opt-out if they choose to not renew. Otherwise, no action is needed.

Automation. Think of the flurry of activity in the membership department around dues renewal time. Then think about how this same energy could be put to better use enhancing products, services and the overall member experience instead of processing renewals. Programmed renewals allow for automation of much (if not all) of the process.

Predictable Revenue Stream. Many associations enjoy an influx of dues around the beginning of the calendar year—only to be staring at nearly-empty coffers toward the end of it. Automatic billing for dues on the member join date, rather than on a calendar year, creates a smooth revenue stream throughout the year (and is a practice worth considering even if you don’t use automatic renewal). Or, consider monthly or quarterly billing to further even out revenue.

No Decision Points. Sending a dues statement once a year provides an annual decision point for members and invites scrutiny: “Did I get my money’s worth this year?” “What am I getting for my dues dollar?”

Robbie Baxter, author of the forthcoming book, The Membership Economy, notes, “Because payment and benefits are ongoing, there is no obvious moment when the member must re-evaluate options, and potentially choose to end the relationship.”

Companies such as health clubs, iTunes, Dropbox, Xbox and Netflix don’t provide annual decision points. You want to be a member? Provide your debit or credit card number and you’re a member until you cancel. It’s a simple concept that could result in higher retention rates and millions of dollars for your organization.

About Mary Byers

Author. Speaker. Facilitator. Consultant. Provocateur. All describe Mary Byers, CAE.

Through highly interactive programs, Mary uses compelling questions and thought-provoking techniques to encourage participation. Mary helps associations and other organizations remain competitive in an increasingly competitive environment. The author of Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations and Road to Relevance: 5 Strategies for Competitive Associations, she’s worked with a wide variety of associations (both individual membership and trade groups) and presents a compelling and insightful message designed to help volunteer leaders and staff alike create a viable and sustainable future. Visit www.marybyers.com to learn more.

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How Well Are You Managing Your Online Community?

How Well Are You Managing Your Online Community?

There’s a difference between “setting up” and “building” an online community – and the latter requires much more time, ongoing effort, and resources.

Private online communities have grown in popularity in the association world, and they can be a great tool for building engagement and connecting members.  But many resource-constrained membership organizations set them up only to find that it’s a lot harder to manage a community than they thought it would be.

A thriving online community requires a lot of time and attention. So before you launch, be sure you have the ingredients you need to make it successful!

A Purpose

What do you want to achieve? Most communities focus on information sharing, connecting members, staying in touch with members, and giving members a place where they can get answers to questions. Online communities thrive on content, but before you can determine what kind of content you want to distribute, you need to have some specific goals in mind.

A Strategy

It takes time to build a thriving community, so you need to think long term, rather than posting content on an ad hoc basis. Your strategy follows your purpose. Based on your goals, get something down on paper that provides some detail on what kind of content you’ll post, how often, how you’ll manage your community, and who will be responsible for managing it.

Exclusivity

With so much competition for your members’ attention on the web, you need to be sure you’re giving them relevant, timely information they can’t get anywhere else. Maybe it’s researching findings from studies you’ve conducted, quick tips from reputable experts within your organization, or videos that will teach your members something valuable.

Community Managers

Ideally, you’ll want to dedicate more than one person to creating and posting content, monitoring forums, and responding to questions. Choose people who know the industry really well, even if it means using a reliable volunteer. You want people who are up to speed on the latest industry trends so they can generate some discussion.

Content

Think varied and personal. Your content should touch upon the issues and challenges your members to encounter on a day-to-day basis so that they are compelled to read it, watch it, or listen to it. Use a mix of mediums, including written content, videos, and photos to keep things interesting for your members.

Contributors

Don’t do it alone. The most successful communities draw on the expertise of many contributors. This might mean including content from partner organizations, sponsors, board and staff members, and even enlisting some of your members to volunteer as contributors.

Patience

Your online community won’t grow overnight. Keep at it, monitor your progress, and re-assess your strategy from time to time. Be flexible – if something’s not working, acknowledge it and change your approach.

Put all these ingredients together, and over time your fledgling community will grow into a thriving, regularly visited hub for your members and prospective members.

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Data Rules, Assumptions Drool: Keeping Your Email Marketing Relevant

Data Rules, Assumptions Drool: Keeping Your Email Marketing Relevant
Contributed by Mary Byers, CAE

Email marketing has long been the mainstay of an association’s marketing plan, but is it still effective? The popularity of smartphones and tablets has made email readily accessible but has also created some challenges. To be most effective you’ll need to do a little research to determine how and when your members read their email, and what type of content is most likely to engage them.

Lori Ely, Marketing Manager at Informz, Inc. says, “Behavior is huge and understanding what your individual members are doing in your emails, both on desktop and mobile, will help in creating the right strategy.” You can accomplish this fairly easily using analytics technology offered by most email marketing systems.

Ms. Ely offers the following tips for keeping your email campaigns relevant and effective:

Many associations are taking notice of Ms. Ely’s advice and revamping their email marketing to meet the needs of their members. Here are a few examples of associations that made significant changes to their email marketing strategy to become more effective:

Toy Industry Association, Inc. – revamped their weekly newsletter through testing, re-engagement strategy and design.

Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association – transformed their monthly newsletter into a mobile-friendly version based on utilizing data to identify those who read on a mobile device.

The American Political Science Association – improved their customization of messaging by utilizing behavioral marketing.

The success of any email marketing strategy begins with understanding your members’ preferences and how to best engage them. Tracking and analyzing your email campaigns and utilizing behavioral marketing concepts will help to achieve a better response rate and more effective communication with your members.

– See more at: http://www.marybyers.com/data-rules-assumptions-drool-keeping-your-email-marketing-relevant/#sthash.KKD4nmFT.dpuf

About Mary Byers

Author. Speaker. Facilitator. Consultant. Provocateur. All describe Mary Byers, CAE.

Mary Byers helps associations gain clarity and focus through leadership conference training and facilitating strategic planning retreats, assisting task forces and work groups, and helping association staff and volunteers talk through tough issues. Visit www.marybyers.com.

Blog Category: Industry Trends & News, Marketing, Technology