Member Engagement: What It Is, Why It Matters, and 5 Steps to Boost Yours Fast

Associations offer a variety of avenues for members to interact and engage, but too often find that a significant portion of their membership still isn’t engaging. The solution isn’t always obvious, but it is there!

If this is what you’re currently experiencing, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to break down the ins and outs of member engagement—and how Impexium’s AMS can help get you on the right track. 

What Is Member Engagement?

Member engagement is essentially a measurement of your members’ participation level in the services, resources, and benefits your association provides. This measurement can be on your membership as a whole, segments of your membership, or individual members. 

It is a simple concept. But measuring it depends on your association’s values and priorities. And improving it depends on your ability to use your member data for insight.

Why Does it Matter?

Member engagement has double-sided value for your association. When your members engage in your association’s events, training offerings, webinars, and more, they’re more likely to stick around for the long haul. When members stick around and renew, they are actually making the association more valuable for all of your members. A large number of highly engaged members make the overall experience richer and more valuable for everyone. Your churn, retention, and average lifetime of a member are all likely to improve considerably when engagement rises. 

In summary, if you engage your members, they are more likely to stay. And those engaged members are more likely to influence other members to stay as well. 

If you want those renewal fees recurring at a high clip, new members joining at a faster rate, and a rise in member loyalty, engaging your members is a must.  

That’s where measuring and tracking your engagement becomes imperative.

How to Maximize Member Engagement

How to Improve Your Association’s Engagement

Member Engagement Funnel

A member engagement funnel works similarly to a sales funnel. It serves as a visual representation of a member’s journey through your association. 

The idea behind this funnel is to find engagement opportunities and to create a consistent experience across the board for all members. You can plan your outreach and communication based on member progress through the funnel.

  1. Awareness. This is the system by which you reach out to and engage new members. It starts with the onboarding process. In most cases, onboarding will include a series of target email campaigns designed to provide new members with opportunities for getting involved. This could also involve raising awareness of your current programs/services and how members can take full advantage of them. Based on their activity, they can either progress into the funnel or move into a process for disengaged members. If they were already in a disengaged process, you can create a segment for those in need of personal outreach. Best of all, these workflows—from welcome emails to engagement campaigns—can all be fully automated. 
  2. Commitment. Post onboarding, you can begin targeting members with personalized, interest-specific communication to help them find their points of connection with your association. This is the same member engagement strategy you can take with current members who are disengaged and/or on the fence about their membership renewal. Target such members with campaigns intended to spark interest in one or more of your programs and services—the one most likely to interest them and draw them back into active participation with your association. 
  3. Participation. Immediate engagement and participation, more than anything else, will deepen the member experience and commitment to your association. The more members participate, the more connected they feel to your association, and the more likely they are to stick around and stay engaged. Once your members are committed, you will know more about what they like. Further use that knowledge to increase participation, be that through holding live events, sending out surveys, soliciting member feedback, or fostering points of connection among the members themselves. 

Fortunately, Impexium’s association management software gives you access to all the data you need to determine how new members are entering your association and where/how they’re engaging. 

By tightening up strategies that aren’t working and doubling down on ones that are, you’ll naturally increase your member engagement and strengthen your association overall. 

Keeping a Member Engagement Score

In order to boost your association’s current member engagement, you need to understand how members are currently involved with your organization–or not involved, as the case may be. One way to do this is to set up a scoring system for measuring engagement and a funnel to track the lifecycle of a member. Analyzing this valuable data will help you determine the best strategies for boosting engagement.

Successful association professionals use different benchmarks and scores to determine the potential value of every new member that comes their way. Known as member scoring, this process has since become a staple of nearly every association that wants to improve member engagement.

Attaching Point Values to Actions

Start by grading membership engagement on both the individual and group level. You can use a point-based system to determine grades.

It starts with assigning a number value to member actions. For example, if they enroll and attend a webinar, that may be two points. If they attend a live conference, that may be five points.

Giving yourself targets to aim for helps you stay focused on next steps. For example, your association may be trying to increase attendance at live training events, and thus, you may highly value a member who actively participates in these. 

A few years later, you may want to shift towards more virtual and online training programs. In this case, you value that member who is keen on live training a little less.These shifts over time are only natural, and changing values depending on your needs is totally fine. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so it’s good to have a system in place that can grow and change alongside your needs.

The example above is just one example among many possibilities, but it highlights the point that your scoring will likely have to alter as your association’s priorities change. Fortunately, with this scoring, you will have a way to reflect these changes of priorities in your engagement measurements.

The goal here is to map as many member actions as possible to point values. You and your team can always change the values attached to actions as well as add other actions in the future.

Creating Tiers and Grades for Engagement

Once you create this map for scoring engagement, you can create tiers for your members’ accumulated point values.

Consider the following scoring strategy:

  • Tier 1: Members who score eight points or higher are placed into Tier 1 and are considered the “most engaged” members in the entire organization.
  • Tier 2: The second tier is for “somewhat engaged” members who score between four and eight points.
  • Tier 3: The bottom tier is reserved for those who score less than four points and are considered the “least engaged.”

The tiered system is somewhat simple and straightforward, making it easy to determine the value of each membership tier. It also streamlines the processes of outreach and engagement by highlighting groups that need the most attention.

In this case, Tier 2 and Tier 3 members are those who may be at risk of not renewing their memberships and require the maximum amount of outreach and individual attention.That doesn’t mean you can forget your Tier 1s. These members may be the ones you ask to serve on committees, give your association referrals, or to speak at events. Thank them for their participation and encourage their continued involvement.

Of course, your tiers can be more granular than our example. You could grade on a 100 point scale if you so desired. But however strategically you choose to get here, these tiers give you a nice way of segmenting your membership by engagement.

Two Methods for Using Scoring, Tiers, and Membership Funnel

You can think of the membership scoring exercise as a way to find the members in need of attention. And the membership funnel exercise as a method for seeing how you can strengthen your outreach to those members; it provides a high-level view of the entire operation.

Given these two exercises, there are a couple of ways in which you can use them. The first is to make efforts to reach out to those tiers that scored low. You can use your member data and your AMS analytics tools to find those things that these groups would value. 

If you’d like to learn more about how Impexium can help with membership analytics, click the link here. We detail the ways in which we can help ensure that in the short-term, you reach those members at risk of dropping.

But your membership funnel gives you the ability to track where your members are getting stuck. You can couple it with your scoring to find trends in where your system is falling short. Maybe a large percentage of your bottom tier members are in a particular point in your funnel. Whatever you may glean from your data and analysis, you can then use the funnel to find ways to strengthen it by adding offerings and/or outreach at strategic times in the member lifecycle.

With your scoring, tiers, and funnel, you can create a system that provides a consistent and great experience for all members. You can automate a personalized touch.


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Additional Considerations to Increase Member Engagement

Getting a handle on your member engagement takes time and attention, but with the right plan in place, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few general points to consider when forming a strategy to boost engagement.

Know Who You’re Dealing With

Sometimes referred to as “personas” or “customer avatars,” detailed profiles of your ideal association members can grant you a wealth of insight into who you’re dealing with.

In marketing, an avatar is a little fiction that helps us understand who our ideal customers are so [we] can more easily find them. (Forbes)

Understanding who your members are and what is important to them provides a strong foundation for communicating with—and therefore engaging—both current and future association members. 

Always Stay Member-Centric 

Over time, benchmarks for measuring progress will change. When that happens, you will need to adapt in order to stay relevant. The bottom line: a laser-focused, member-centric approach  is the only way to maintain membership engagement over the course of time.

Members will only engage with content that is topical, relevant, or useful. If you notice your numbers falling away, it means that something has changed. 

Fortunately, a good AMS gives you the tools you need to analyze your member satisfaction numbers and give you the information you need to keep current with your members’ wants and needs.

Identify Your Value Proposition 

Your unique value proposition is what sets you apart from the rest of the associations out there—especially the rest of the associations in your industry. 

This is where Impexium can prove a true partner. Our AMS puts power in your hands to help you stay at the front of the pack.

  • What are the unique features that only you offer? Impexium can help you leverage member benefits to stand apart, even in a crowded field.
  • What are the pain points we can solve? If member engagement is among those pain points, our AMS provides the tools and resources you need to address them. 


Member Engagement: Best Practices 

Reaching your member engagement goals is easier when you don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Instead, abide by tried-and-true best practices to see the greatest results.

Best practices for effective member engagement include the following: 

  • Establish a plan. Creating a content calendar with touchpoints mapped out throughout the entire year allows you to be consistent and efficient about your engagement efforts. 
  • Consider automation. While not everything about your engagement funnel can be automated, a large chunk of the work can. Set up a system to send touchpoints automatically via Impexium’s seamless Power Automate plug-in, and enjoy the freedom to focus your time and energies in other areas, knowing automations are doing much of the heavy lifting on your behalf.  
  • Maximize dashboards. Put your data to work by monitoring engagement and pivoting your engagement programs when needed. Impexium’s Power BI plug-in maximizes your data insights and allows you to always keep them at the tips of your fingers. A quick visit to your dashboard could be all it takes to trigger your next re-engagement campaign designed to bring the outlier back into the fold. With these insights always available, you can take action sooner rather than later, fending off even potential dips in member engagement. 
  • Track your progress. Use valuable KPIs to monitor success. (If you’re overwhelmed and wondering which metrics are best, always focus first on the following: traffic, Google Analytics goals, form submissions, calls, clicks, and revenue.)
  • Communicate internally. As you monitor your member engagement, always have a system in place by which you and your team can discuss what’s working, what’s not, and what new ideas you can implement to boost engagement.

Come Experience the Impexium Advantage

Unsure how best to go about measuring engagement amongst your membership? Looking to see high engagement and more members added as soon as possible? 

Impexium has what you need to grow your association. Our AMS puts more power into your hands by providing you with the tools and resources you need to make better decisions and serve your members with greater efficiency. 

Come request a demo and experience the Impexium advantage today. 

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