Association memberships are increasing. However, retention rates are at a standstill or decreasing, according to the Member Engagement and Performance Survey conducted by Advanced Solutions International (ASI) and IMTS Global Research.
Associations have no difficulty going out to recruit members, but keeping them is a struggle. It is during the third through fifth years that members begin to drop and retention rates decrease. That is why membership management must be a focus of businesses, not just recruiting members.
Members begin their time with an association during years one to three without any grievances, satisfied with the organization. Once year three comes along, members begin to leave because of the absence of engagement, the lack of communication and other reasons, as reported by the 2014 survey.
Members, however, return to the association after year five.
So why does this drop occur in the first place if members end up coming back? The survey identified four main ideas as to why retention rates during years three to five are decreasing:
Communications Aren’t Reaching Target Audiences
Increased membership management growth is linked to an organization’s forms of communication. The channels of communications have to be similar to what members want. If they are not lined up with what the members want, they become uninterested and uninvolved. Associations need their membership management to take into consideration who their members are, what wants they have, and how that matches up with the company. The right communication is essential to keep membership from decreasing.
Lack of Engagement and Involvement
No matter what the size an organization is, it’s important to remember that everyone plays a part in that organization’s success – no matter how big or small. Lack of engagement among members is a large factor to why retention rates are not increasing, but there’s an easy solution to this problem: involve them! It is that simple. No tricks, no gimmicks. It actually is that easy. Not only do members like to be acknowledged for their work, they like to be a part of it.
Outdated Member Management Systems
According to the survey, associations often wait 7-10 years before updating their new member management software. This is a huge error in membership management. Keeping up-to-date can create many positive outcomes. The biggest is that new members are drawn in and current members want to stay in.
Furthermore, another error that associations face is that there are a variety of different systems within their circles. Not only is this costing associations a ton of money, but it is also more difficult for members to keep up with it on their smart phones (remember, new members to your team are working more and more from their mobile devices!) In this day and age, most people have a smart phone connected to their hips. Associations should install an engagement membership management system, one centralized system, which is accessible from smart phones and computer desktops alike. This would allow members to stay connected to one another by meeting new members and reconnecting with ones they haven’t spoken to in a while. Communication with one another in a seamless manner is imperative.
Outdated systems are a recurrent theme when it comes to why members are leaving associations. An easy access, up-to-date website will go the distance with your membership management. Associations need to take their updated systems (see above) and tie it into their website, so it is a cohesive package. Also, associations need to update their website frequently to keep members interested and continuously involved. Websites should be stimulating and modern, yet easy to navigate. This redesign of your website will go a long way.
Side note – Keep your social media up to date as well! Using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram can help your association with keeping connected to your members. Membership management involves keeping all the different media platforms current for your association’s members. Most of your members are on social media, so it’s important that your association is on it too. But it is not enough to simply start a social media page. You need to keep up with it — social media accounts are only beneficial when they are updated regularly.
That’s not all! Here are some simple and easy tips to build membership engagement through the 3-5 hump years that were not noted in the survey:
This plays along with involving your members. It’s important that your members feel safe and secure within your association. This leads to creating a positive work environment. Members will feel as though they can share, cultivate, and develop their ideas. Membership management involves developing a trusting and a collaborative environment within your association so that members will feel included and important. Members who aren’t just a number will want to stay with you for the long run.
Work is work, but there is no problem with having a little bit of fun and thrill! Members should be able to relax and be comfortable with their membership to the association. A dynamic staff will bring your members together, allow them to express themselves and feel their opinions and contributions are truly valued. Having a high energy, forward thinking, engaging staff will allow for members to desire to participate with others.
You just wrapped up this year’s annual conference. Everyone’s excitement for the association is at an all-time high, attendees have experienced a myriad of networking and educational moments, and everyone is feeling reinvigorated and recharged. New partnerships are being discussed amongst members and they cannot wait to begin implementing the new strategies and tactics they learned at the conference. However, that excitement abruptly comes to an end once they all check-out of the hotel, board their plan, and walk back into their home. The discussions of new opportunities have regressed to the back burner and people begin forgetting all the promises and inventive solutions that they learned. As the host of the conference, you can be the connector afterwards to maintain this excitement by becoming the ultimate membership management force. Your association can be the driving factor behind ensuring success and continued relationships until the next annual conference. Suddenly, business relationships are forged and long-term friendships are solidified… all thanks to the post-conference efforts of your association. This can be achieved through ongoing social media efforts, sponsored meetups, and providing a virtual community forum and/or bulletin board.
CMA Association Management can help your association retain its membership and implement the strategies above through membership management. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.