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3 Ways to Revamp Your Membership Engagement Strategy

6 min read
June 28, 2021
Ronnie Gomez headshot
Ronnie Gomez

Everyone running a membership organization wants to recruit some shiny new members. But, if there’s no membership engagement strategy in place to engage and retain them, those efforts are probably being made in vain. 

If you’re not sure where your organization stands when it comes to keeping your existing members happy, then it might be time to revamp your membership engagement strategy. 

Even a basic member engagement strategy can be all you need to excite your current members, and entice them to renew for years to come. 

To help you get started, here are a few of our favorite approaches: 

  1. Create an online community using social media
  2. Plan events your members won’t want to miss
  3. Upgrade your email marketing outreach

Today, we’re going to be discussing steps you can take to put these strategies in place. We’ll also be sharing the important metrics you need to keep an eye on to measure your performance.

You worked hard to grow your member base. Here are some concrete ways to get them to stick around.

Why You Need A Membership Engagement Strategy

There are a ton of different organization’s competing for your member’s attention. Combine that information with the recent 6.3% dip in retention across the nonprofit sector, and we begin to see a clear-cut issue. 

It’s now more important than ever to develop a strategy that wows your current member base.  

Now remember, all this doesn’t mean you have to scrap your member acquisition efforts

Strategic planning is the backbone to working smarter —  it can give you enough foresight to sustainably do both.

3 Membership Engagement Strategies That Boost Member Retention

Strategy #1: Create an Online Community Using Social Media

A recent study found that internet users spent 2 hours and 23 minutes a day on social media in 2020. That’s a little over two workdays a week — plenty of time to interact with your organization. 

Thanks to social media, spending quality time with your members doesn’t always have to happen face-to-face. If your goal is to create more engaging online spaces for your members, here are some social media tips to try out: 

Plan Online Only Events. 

Social media events can be planned, promoted, and executed all at little to no cost. 

Try hosting a Twitter Q&A relevant to your mission or service, or even a Facebook or Instagram Live event. Making it a monthly occurrence gives your members a reason to hit your follow button. 

Create a Hashtag Campaign

Hashtag campaigns are a great way to get members near and far involved in something that brings them closer. 

Looking for an easy win? Challenge your members to a photo contest, and require that all entries use the same branded hashtag. 

Make it a Two Way Street

The key to a successful social media strategy is making sure communication is flowing both ways. 

Follow your members, like their posts, and make social media interactions a regular part of your social strategy. You can even feature members on your org’s pages in a monthly member spotlight! 

Measure Your Success 

Developing your social media presence as a membership engagement strategy can be measured using concrete actions. Impressions are nice for measuring awareness but overall, they’re much too broad to measure engagement.

Instead, focus on growth in follower count, clicks, and shares.

Strategy #2: Plan Events Members Won’t Want to Miss

Whether it’s a small summer picnic or your glitzy winter gala, a positive event experience will give your members something to look forward to year after year. And, a reason to renew their membership!

Before you send out invites to your next member event, try putting these tips into action: 

Give Choices

Instead of telling members what you’re planning, ask them what they’d like to see planned. A simple interest poll can provide a considerable boost in attendees.

Build Anticipation

Plan some email reminders leading to the event, so everyone has a chance to mark their calendars. A good CRM will allow you to easily plan this out ahead of time.

Let Them Capture the Moment 

A photo backdrop and some props can give your attendees an opportunity to make some memories. Just remember to hang a sign that lists your social tags nearby.

Measure Your Success 

Live events build a deeper connection between your organization and its members, but in order to build those connections, your members have to show up. That means the success of your event engagement is dependent on the success of your event promotion engagements. 

Track registration vs. attendance and member attendance over time to see if you’re motivating your members to get involved IRL.

Strategy #3: Upgrade Your Email Marketing Outreach

Email marketing offers a fast (and cheap!) method of keeping in contact with your members. After all, 91% of all US consumers check their email daily.

Make sure your emails stand out from the rest by keeping them creative, consistent, and personal. Here’s how to do it: 

Start a Newsletter

Send newsletters out on a quarterly or monthly basis to let your members know what your organization has been up to. Remember to keep it interesting — feature a member, include relevant information about your organization, or even include some behind the scenes pics!

How to Perfect Your Nonprofit Newsletter

Make it Personal

Personalized messaging can lead to a 26% increase in open rates. 

With some marketing automation and your CRM data,  you can address people by name, segment by interest, and create authentic communications that excite and delight.   

Remember Renewal Reminders

Make sure you’re sending out renewal reminders via direct mail and email, so your members are less likely to miss important updates on their membership status.

Measure Your Success 

Of all the strategies we’ve shared so far, email marketing offers the most easily measured metrics. Once you’ve hit send, keep an eye out on your open rates and click through rates. 

FYI, nonprofits have an average email open rate of 24.11%, so use that if you’re in need of an initial benchmark.

Next Steps for Your New Membership Engagement Strategy

Choose one of these options, and scope out a plan for putting it into effect. 

It can be tempting to try to do everything at once, but we advise against it. Focusing on one at a time will allow you to get a better understanding of what is really working for your organization. 

As you continue to fine-tune your efforts, make sure you keep track of what works for your organization, and what doesn’t. Soon, you’ll have a membership engagement strategy that keeps your members coming back year after year.

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