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5 Effective Membership Tips for Association Professionals

As an association professional, you want to stay on top of the trends in order to maintain a strong membership.

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As an association professional, you want to stay on top of the trends in order to maintain a strong membership. According to Growth Zone’s 2018 Association Trends Survey Report, 54% of associations who responded report their membership has either decreased or not grown at all. On top of that,  48% claimed the same results for their new membership numbers.

You don’t want your association to get caught in a flat line of membership growth. You need the best tips to propel your membership in the right direction and increase your revenue.

So, what can you look towards to guide you towards a better membership? What new trends should you keep an eye out for? Let’s discuss the latest trends in association membership and analyze what they mean for your association and its future membership growth.

Don’t hold yourself back.

While it seems like a cliché, sometimes the worst thing holding an association back from its goals is its own team. When Growth Zone asked what the top challenges were for associations looking to grow, many of the answers are ones that can be avoided with the proper preparation. Problems like lack of funding and other resources are problems that every association faces. And, unfortunately, these problems are not so easily solved for many organizations. It’s safe to say there will never be enough revenue or materials for any association’s dream membership plan.

However, there were many answers that can be fixed. One association was quoted saying, “(the number one thing holding our association back is)...engaging new younger members and getting them to join and renew.”

Another association's biggest struggle was, “too much drinking and not enough networking.” It’s problems like these that are fixable with the right strategies set in place. If you’re looking to see success in membership growth trends, take a look at these solutions to the top challenges.

Aging members

While it’s important to stay connected with your membership as it ages, it’s equally as important to engage new generations of members. In 2016, Marketing General reported 32% of membership associations with 20,000 or more members face challenges when it comes to attracting and retaining young members. This reflects the fact that, in the same report, studies show less than one percent of members in an association are in the millennial age range. So, why do associations have such a hard time attracting and retaining a younger age group?

While there are many different reasons, one of the most important reasons millennials do not join associations is because of money. Yes, as much as money is a problem for associations, it is also a problem for their members. Abila claims that 37% of millennials find association memberships too expensive to purchase. When it comes to membership, it’s clear that a “one size fits all” approach just won’t cut it for millennials. How can your association combat the apprehension millennials have to become a member? One way is to offer special discounts to younger members based on education or income.

For example, if you know you’re younger membership is made up of mostly students, you can offer a student discount. Or, if you know their average income is lower than more established members, you can provide a pay break for those with low incomes. Or, you can always create different levels of membership. Offer a variety of different benefit plans with different prices in order to attract members who are looking to spend less money for a membership.

Another thing millennial members value is constant communication, specifically through social media platforms. Around 35% of millennials prefer social networking when it comes to association communication. They want constant updates and any information they can get their hands on. Your association can stay on top of millennial targeting by keeping up to date with social media trends. If you know which platforms your millennial audiences flock to, you can meet them there and attract them to your association. Find the best ways to appeal to millennials and your association can see a change in young membership growth in the near future.

Outdated technology

This is another challenge that many associations face, when in reality many should not have to worry about. While updated technology can cost a large sum of money, there are also many low-cost options to get your association on the right track in the tech world. Let’s start with mobile media and how it can work for your association.

According to Tech Crunch, 80% of Facebook’s social media ad revenue was generated from mobile ads in 2016. Why is this? Well, BGR claims that mobile users have surpasses desktop users way back in 2016. 51.3% of website views recorded for the month of October were from a mobile device, with 48.7% being from a desktop. People are finding mobile web media more convenient than traditional web use. With this in mind, it’s important that your association has a mobile strategy for its website and marketing efforts.

There a simple ways to adjust your website to be easily accessible on mobile. You can change fonts, page widths, and many other visual aspects that make a website aesthetically pleasing and easy to use on mobile. Another way to enhance your mobile strategy for little to no cost is to update your email campaigns to be mobile-friendly. Approximately 44.7% of email opens happen on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. In addition, 80% of email receivers will delete an email if it’s not mobile-friendly. You don’t want to scare off your members by not supplying a mobile option for your association’s emails. Your association doesn’t need a separate budget to keep on top of technology trends. If you apply small changes to your tech strategies, you can combat many of the struggles audiences face when joining and renewing with your association.

Member engagement

This challenge was widely mentioned when Member Zone collected direct quotes from associations. One person said “identifying how to reach all the individuals in our profession” was a large problem. Another identified their problem as a “competition for their time and money.” It seems that many associations want to know the best way to engage a targeted audience.

The best way to start to engage members is to begin by forming a member engagement strategy. Identify what engagement means to your association and its membership. Set core values in your membership and what you’d like to achieve in order to begin to construct an engagement strategy. Once you know what you’d like to achieve with your engagement strategy, be unique in your engagement opportunities. Make it easy for members to find your association and open up communication channels for them to directly contact you.

For example, one great way to open up your association to member engagement opportunities is to create a 24/7 customer service page on your website. Help Scout claims that the most requested improvement from customers on the buyer experience was “better human service.”

Make it possible for members to send in any questions, comments, or complaints to your association. You should also ensure that your member’s entries get answer and/or solved in a timely manner. Another idea to include in a member engagement strategy is to create healthy conversation between communities on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The more specialized hashtags you can use, the better. According to MobileMarketer, 58% of internet users claim to use hashtags on a regular basis. If you promote the use of hashtags on your social platforms, you can create a better outreach to your targeted community. Create a strong and strategic engagement plan in order to see membership growth at your association.

Staying on top of membership trends doesn’t have to be a stressful situation. If you stay on top of recent survey results and combat those answers, you can see success in your membership growth in the future.