Boosting Member Retention: 5 Strategies to Keep Members Engaged

Membership Audra Hopkins

You’ve acquired new members to your association. Great work! Now you need a strategy to keep them there.

While the most common targeted member retention rate among associations is 75%, studies have shown that number dropping within the past year or so with only 65% of survey respondents reporting a retention rate of 75% or higher. So how do you keep your own retention numbers from slipping?

If you can connect with your members through meaningful engagement and ensure they’re happy with the time and money spent with your association, you’ll be on your way to a higher retention rate. These strategies will help you keep your members happy and coming back each year.

1. Make sure your website is member friendly

We’ve discussed using your association’s website to increase non-dues revenue, but you can also use your website to increase retention rates. This is one of the easiest fixes to keep members attracted to and engaged with your content.

Members want to hear stories from people just like them, so make sure your website has a section for member testimonials. You can reach out to members who engage with your content regularly and ask for stories from them about their experiences with your association.

Another way to optimize your website for members is to have an online community where members can speak directly with employees from your association. Whether it’s through e-mail, voicemail, or an instant messaging system, members like to know that their questions and/or feedback are being received by the right people.

This also allows the opportunity for your association to reach out through the community to specific members that may be falling behind in engagement.

2. Create an engagement scoring chart

Engagement scoring is something that associations are using in an effort to track the engagement levels of their members. Segment your membership into three levels: fully engaged, mildly engaged, and somewhat or not engaged. While fully engaged members are considered low-risk members and will most likely renew their membership subscription, close attention should be paid to the two lower levels.

While a top-level member may be someone who actively is involved within your association’s community, a member with mild to no engagement may just be a member who bought a subscription and never took advantage of what your association has to offer. To bring those members back into your association’s ‘orbit’, dedicate one employee to act as a contact for lower-level member outreach.

Members should be scored based on the following engagement activities:

– Volunteering

– Participation in events

– Website shares

– Social media interaction

– E-mail interaction

– Content downloads

A top-tier member will actively volunteer at events, share and comment on your association’s content, and almost always download any content offered by your association. A mid or low-level member will not respond to emails, have poor event attendance, and ignore social media posts by your association. Make sure to score members correctly in order to save time when trying to engage with low-level members.

Unfortunately, most associations will find that the majority of their members fall into the lower levels of engagement scoring. How can this be combatted? We’ve got the answers.


3. Sending your members their own report card

The Software & Information Industry Association followed one association’s success story by developing their own engagement report card. By sending your members a report card, you provide your members with information about their own engagement levels. However, you also open up a new channel for engagement with members in the process.

Some key points of engagement that can be included in your report card are:

– Social media shares/likes

– Webinar attendance

– Offer/content downloads

– Regional meeting attendance

– Newsletter views

– Annual conference attendance

Engagement report cards remind members that your services are available to them at any point. It also encourages members to renew their subscription if they feel that the services your association provide are useful. Sending your members a small reminder that you’re around and available is an easy yet effective way to encourage members to top level engagement.

So, you’ve sectioned off your members into three engagement levels. You’ve sent out engagement report cards to all of your members, making sure to reach out to members in the lower levels of engagement. What more can you do to lock in a higher retention rate?


4. Create a membership engagement plan

A membership engagement plan lays out every engagement action your association can do in order to increase the chances of an increase in membership retention. Membership engagement plans can be a strong engagement strategy if they are correctly approached. While every membership will have a different strategy for an engagement plan, a successful membership engagement plan extends through an entire membership year and should be organized with month to month plans.

Here’s what a membership engagement plan might look like:


An engagement plan creates an organized schedule so your association knows when certain actions need to be executed. With an engagement plan, you decrease the chance of members falling through the cracks and becoming unengaged. You also increase the chances of increasing engagement by tracking when engagement happens.

But, there is still the question of when should your associations should be engaging with members.


5. Strategize when you reach out to members

Although you have a membership engagement plan to organize how to reach out to members, it is also important to know the key times to reach out to members that produce better results engagement wise.

Just as there are optimal times to post content, there are optimal times to reach out to members. In fact, the two are very similar. You should always reach out to members right before their specific membership renewal date. Ensure the message is personalized and offers valuable content to your members to keep your association fresh in their mind. You should also reach out to members halfway through their membership to update them on any new features they may be missing out on.

According to research done by KYA, engagement results are best when reaching out to members on weekdays at times where they would be able to check their media. Posting from 12-2pm, when most people are on their lunch breaks, seems to be the best time to reach out. From this graph, the best day of the week to reach out through content appears to be Monday.

If you calculate when to engage with members, you may see a dramatic increase in member engagement which could lead to a higher member retention rate in the long run.

Check up on your website to make sure it’s member-friendly and that members can relate to similar stories through member testimonials. Score your members to keep track of low engaged members. Then, send report cards to keep members interested in their own activity. Create a membership engagement plan to keep your engagement organized and calculate the best times to engage with your members.

Increasing your member retention rate and getting members to engage with your association’s services may seem like an uphill battle, but can be an attainable goal if approached the right way. Hopefully, your association sees results, maintains or increases your member retention rate, and even gains new members through increased engagement.