Monday, May 17, 2010

Here’s How to Engage Your Members

Posted by Princess Eva Angelica at 2:43 PM
Much effort in membership engagement and retention is focused on informing members of all the great things an association does. But the research shows that giving members more information falls short. Engagement comes by impacting a member’s behavior.

That’s why I enjoyed the comments by David Gammel, in his May article in Associations Now, Connect. Engage. Accelerate. He writes, “I define member engagement as the following: Engagement is the result of a member investing time or money with the association in exchange for value.”1

I agree with his definition. And in fact from my research, it is not only a good definition, but it actually works.

Awhile back, I reported these results from a membership analysis that we did.

• Members who upgraded their membership in the past year to a higher level of service were 12% more likely to renew.
• Members who placed a product order in the past year were 28% more likely to renew than those who had not placed an order.
• Members who also maintained membership in an optional local chapter along with their national membership were 17 percent more likely to renew than those who were not a member of a chapter.
• Members who attended an association meeting in the past year were 19 percent more likely to renew than those who did not attend a meeting.
• Members who attended an association meeting at any time in the past were 7% more likely to renew than those who never attended a meeting.
• Members who attended four or more meetings were 30 percent more likely to renew than members who never attended a meeting.

But the engagement does not just need to be a financial exchange. Engaging interaction can be as simple as a phone call. In a presentation for ASAE and the Center that I did with Karen Gebhart, President of the AOPA Foundation, we reported that their research showed members who called the association’s '800' number compared to those who did not had an improved retention rate.

Gammel also highlights, “If you accept that engagement occurs when someone invests time or money with the organization in exchange for value, you can then consider opportunities to do so before that person becomes a members as well as after.”2

In my membership lifecycle vocabulary, I call the pre-membership engagement stage awareness, but the concept is basically the same. In essence it is helping a potential member to find you and initiating some level of relationship. One method is what I have come to call trading content for contact. If you want more information on this take a look at my post, The Push and Pull of Membership Recruitment and see how this strategy might be used at the introduction or awareness level.

The bottom line is that lots of information sent to a member does not build engagement. However, finding ways to get a member to interact, use, and take advantage of the value you offer builds your member relationship.

1. Associations Now, C. David Gammel, CAE, Connect. Engage. Accelerate. May, 2010.
2. Ibid.

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