MEMBERSHIP: What does it mean to your members
Why are the Correct Membership Engagement Services so Important?
Despite its importance, member engagement is a fairly tough concept. Unlike more traditional disciplines like marketing (although intrinsically linked), it is still a developing area of an organisation’s communication strategy. Part of the reason that member engagement is such a big challenge is that there isn’t one clear-cut process.
Your first step to improving member engagement is to create a winning member engagement strategy. Use this to build, validate, and measure your organisation’s member engagement strategy.
If your membership organisation were a car, engagement would be its fuel. For organisations that have members and user groups, member engagement drives the core objectives of that organisation. Members should steer the future of the organisation with the organisation acting as the facilitator.
By consistently keeping your members engaged, you won’t just attract and keep more members—you’ll have the leverage to push through and increase your event attendance and other types of revenue. Your members will advise you what they want so that you can provide it to them!
In order to know if your strategy is working, you need to begin with clearly developed and easily measurable goals.
Ask yourself: How would you like your relationship with your members to change through this plan? What will you measure to know if you’ve achieved your goal?
You should create well-developed personas for your target members and their behaviours help you to know what your members are likely to need and what you’re competing against for their attention.
Ask yourself: Who are you targeting? What are the composite characteristics and behaviours for each group?
If your community can’t help to solve your members’ most important problems, then they won’t have a reason to engage or maintain their membership status.
Ask yourself: What are each persona’s most urgent and pervasive challenges? How can your membership organisation and community help to solve them?
The value of both your off and online community offers is how you will help to solve the problems and challenges your members face. Whether through quality content, connections with experts, webinar series, or networking opportunities, the value of your organisation and community will give your members a reason to stay engaged.
Ask yourself: What can I offer to solve my members’ problems or provide them with services that they want? What are the information resources, collaboration, or networking opportunities they need or expect?
Next, you need to decide what format you will distribute your value to your community members. You have several options: online, at a live event, in a publication, or through other communication tools.
Ask yourself: What method of delivery would be most convenient for your members? Fewer barriers to consuming the value that you are proving means that more people will receive that value and come back for seconds…..and thirds, etc. It is vital that you provide the information to your members in the way each individual member wants to receive it. Don’t make assumptions – ask them and stick to that method.
Membership Engagement Services
Membership engagement is not instantaneous, there are several stages within the engagement process that allow you to create content and offers based on the stage your members are in, with hopes of moving them towards full engagement.
In the case of an online member community, common steps in the engagement process include awareness of the community, visiting the community, returning frequently, asking a question, responding to a discussion, and adding content.
Ask yourself: How does my membership organisation define stages of the engagement process? What can we do to take members on this journey?
Since there are different degrees of engagement, you need different metrics to track your success and identify your weaknesses. Then, you can make adjustments to specific aspects of your engagement plan without having to waste your time on areas that are working well.
For instance, let’s say you’re hosting a webinar series. Rather than measuring how many members attended versus how many members didn’t attend, look at the smaller steps toward full engagement.
Ask yourself: How many people opened the invitation email? What percentage of those people clicked through? Then, how many people registered for the webinar? Finally, how many showed up for the webinar? Measuring those ratios will give you a bigger and clearer picture to work with as you tweak and refine your approach.
Now that you know the stages of engagement for your members and your organisation, it’s time to decide how you will communicate the opportunities for engagement to your members throughout each phase of the process.
Ask yourself: How will your target audience be made aware of the engagement opportunities available to them? Emails, direct mail, member events, member publications, search engines, social media, etc.
Your member engagement services strategy is an ongoing initiative. To remain successful requires consistent effort on the part of your organisation to deliver ongoing value to your members while making adjustments to your plan.
Ask yourself: How will this strategy result in members staying engaged and continuing to get value from our organisation in the long term? How is that going to be maintained and who will be responsible for maintaining it?
It is important to have a clear outline of who within your organisation is responsible for each aspect of your membership engagement services strategy so that everyone knows what they’ll be responsible for. It may be sensible to consider a professional management team or seek out an experienced supplier that can add value and manage the process for you.