7 Steps to Boost Association Member Retention

Member retention is an ongoing focus for nearly every association. And for good reason. Building and maintaining a strong membership community is the core of all member-based organizations. . 

These days, a wealth of free tools are available to your members, and many suspect they can access the resources they need through what’s available on the outside. Blog posts, YouTube videos, books, webinars, and conferences—these resources offer the illusion that associations are no longer needed to add value to their work lives. With this mindset, an existing member may begin to wonder why they would keep paying dues to your organization. 

That’s not the full story, of course. But many of your current members may only figure that out once they’ve already left. The trick—if you want to call it that—is to show your current members that you can offer them everything they need and more.

But how do you adapt and compete in such a changing market? 

 

Here’s how to approach membership retention—and how Impexium can help.

First: Remember Why Member Retention Matters 

In a practical sense, retention rate matters because without member renewals, it will be nearly impossible to grow. You can go out seeking new members, of course—but this should be part of your growth plan, not a tactic to make up for member loss.

Remember, it costs more to attract new members than it does to nurture and retain the members you have. But even beyond maintaining your bottom line, there are important factors to consider. 

Even if you’re succeeding at new member acquisition, failing to retain your current members will stop your association from thriving. A revolving door of members coming and going won’t lead to a deeply rooted association over the long term. 

For these and many other reasons, it’s vital to have a workable member retention strategy to address member churn.

 

The Single Best Way to Ensure Member Retention 

The best way to ensure member retention is to provide ongoing value to your current members.

When an association delivers good value, we see a positive correlation with growth. Associations reporting increases in their membership levels and those having a renewal rate of 80% or higher are more likely to believe their value proposition to members is compelling or very compelling.

The 2022 Membership Benchmarking Membership Report

 

When your members see the value in what you provide as opposed to resources they can access on their own, they will stay with you over the long haul. 

How do you provide this value? We’re so glad you asked.

 

7 Steps to Boost Member Retention in Your Association 

These seven steps will go a long way toward helping you prove your value to your current members.

1

Nail the onboarding process

Nailing the new member onboarding process is the first (and arguably the most important) step to providing an immediate sense of value and ensuring strong membership retention for your association. 

By creating a positive new member experience right away, you help them create an attachment to your association and instantly see what you bring to the table.

People stick around when they quickly feel connected and know what to do first. With Impexium, you can create a smooth and seamless onboarding process that is fully automated and designed to help members connect with your association from Day 1.

Automate Your Way to Success
2

Simplify your membership management

Associations gain a wealth of useful data on their members. 

  • Location 
  • Credentials 
  • Conferences and webinars attended
  • Levels of engagement
  • Needs and interests

Though this abundance of data is a blessing, without good data management tools, handling it all could feel like a curse. That’s why powerful data management tools are an absolute must. Without them, your staff may have trouble getting the info organized to make strategic decisions about how best to address member satisfaction. 

Fortunately, Impexium’s reporting tools and capabilities make membership management easy. Everyone in your organization—no matter the level or technical ability—can access dashboards every day, comparing year-to-date changes and implementing changes on the fly. 

 

With Impexium, you can:

  • Track your data in real time 
  • Share insights easily among your teams
  • Quickly recognize when there is a problem with the member retention rate
  • Develop a membership retention strategy to get in front of the problem before it spirals
  • Retain more members as a result
Conduct surveys among current members
3

Conduct surveys among current members

Running surveys among your members is a powerful tool to boost member retention. 

Surveys can help you move beyond assumptions to know what aspects of your services your members enjoy most or what member benefits they’d like to see you add. 

How do you know what to ask in your surveys? There’s a lot we could say on this matter, but for now, just know this: by analyzing your data, you can see areas of concern. Consider where engagement seems to be low or interest is flagging. Target those issues for member surveys first. 

Impexium makes it easy to write, run, and analyze surveys so that you can trim your sails as needed and keep membership retention on track.

Target and streamline your marketing
4

Target and streamline your marketing

A gap between member expectations and reality can create huge problems for your retention rate. 

81% of marketers believe that their company mainly competes on the basis of customer experience. Which is why it’s vital that your marketing match the value you actually bring to your members.

Slick marketing may get a new member in the door, but if you’re not really offering what they were expecting, people will quickly look for the exit, and your membership numbers will naturally decline. Targeting and streamlining your marketing can go a long way toward preventing this kind of debacle. 

This is where Impexium really shines. 

 

With our intuitive tools, you can:

  • Understand the behavior of your current members 
  • Analyze the value they find in your association 
  • Pull actionable insights from the data 
  • Gain the information you need to target and streamline marketing 

 

Not only will this sort of analysis help you stay in tune with your current members’ wants and needs, but it can also help you create a marketing plan that sets expectations in line with reality—both factors that will boost member retention over time.  

Understand retention shifts
5

Understand retention shifts

Small retention shifts are always to be expected, and a bit of variation doesn’t necessarily need to be a cause for immediate concern. 

People may exit your association for reasons that have very little to do with you and your organization:

  • Personal difficulties. Financial reversals, health challenges, and other personal difficulties may lead members to become overwhelmed and decide to scale back their involvement in various organizations, including your association. 
  • Professional changes. People might lose their jobs, decide to change careers, reach retirement, or experience another level of professional change that makes membership in your association either untenable or unnecessary. 

So not every membership cancellation requires hitting the panic button. 

But when your retention numbers drop in a big way—or begin dropping slowly and just keep on sinking—you need to figure out why. And when numbers are on the rise, you also need to analyze why so you can repeat the formula.

The good news is that Impexium’s tools allow for pattern recognition to help you analyze why membership is rising or falling. Impexium makes it easy to track your members’ engagement levels over various topics, platforms, and so forth. 

Perhaps best of all, with Impexium, tools are not siloed. Everyone in your organization can see the same numbers and access the same data. Each person can get what they need exactly when they need it, without having to wait on other teams to send them updates or information.

Addressing membership retention will take everyone working together, and when everyone has free access to all the information they need, it becomes increasingly possible to pull together as one team.

AMS Resources
6

Build a sense of community within the association

When people feel at home and connected with others, they tend to stick around. A sense of community is not only incredibly binding but also vital to human flourishing.

 

A community is a familiar thread used to bring people together… As human beings, we need a sense of belonging, and that sense of belonging is what connects us to the many relationships we develop. Communities are also rich in resources, that is where their collective aspect comes into play. (Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue)

 

But building a sense of community is not always easy, particularly in the digital age, when members of your community may be spread out across the country or even the globe.

If you’re going to build a sense of community within your organization, you will want to concentrate on strategies that will help members engage and connect with one another—not just with you as the organization.

  • Ensure that the onboarding process for newcomers helps them feel immediately recognized, welcomed, and connected to the group 
  • Create ways for members to network and connect online (profiles, forums, live chats, etc.)
  • Host events, either in-person or virtual, so that members can have face time with one another
  • Establish clear systems and structures by which members can track each other’s achievements and celebrate each other’s wins 

When members feel connected to you and to one another, they’ll be all the more reluctant to consider leaving. That’s why building community within your association is vital to boosting member loyalty.

Address member disengagement early
7

Address member disengagement early

When it comes to member disengagement, it’s best to be proactive. Be sure to have a system in place to alert you of members who aren’t getting involved. 

That way you can reach out to members who seem disengaged so that you can address their concerns before they consider canceling. Seeking constructive feedback will not only give members a way to re-engage by entering into a dialogue with you, but it could also result in some helpful tips to improve your association overall. 

Tracking member engagement levels might sound like just another chore, but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to prove taxing or time-consuming. With Impexium, you have everything you need to track this data, put a system in place to respond, and automate parts (or even all!) of this process. 

With our software working on your behalf, strong member retention levels have never been easier to achieve.

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Get Started with Impexium Right Now!

Keeping an association firing on all cylinders isn’t easy, but you don’t need to do it alone. See how Impexium’s innovative tools make it easier than ever to boost your member retention. Request a demo to see if Impexium is a good fit for your association.