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Engaging and Retaining Members: 4 Reasons to Pick Up the Phone

Personal phone communication between members and leaders in the association could be just what your association needs to boost member engagement and ultimate retention. Connecting with your association’s members and potential members is crucial!

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When it comes to member recruitment, we know it’s all about how to get members to stay members. This is done through constant reevaluating, revamping, and expanding member benefits, as well as the engagement members encounter through their membership.  

Adding all of that with the integration of today’s technology can seem overwhelming at times, but it doesn’t have to be so complicated. A great, simple way to engage and retain members can come from just simply picking up the phone. According to a report by Karen Gebhart, President of the AOPA Foundation, research showed that members who communicated with their association’s ‘800’ number showed greater retention rates compared to those who did not.

That personal phone communication between members and leaders in the association could be just what your association needs to boost member engagement and ultimate retention. Connecting with your association’s members and potential members is crucial for establishing and growing your membership base.

So, next time you’re thinking about enhancing your association’s member engagement and ultimate member retention, consider these four reasons to pick up the phone:

1. Phone calls are more personal

First and foremost, phone calls are one of the most personal ways your association can communicate with members and potential members. Personal contact through phone calls helps your members experience genuine engagement as opposed to emails. While emailing remains important for opening up communication with members, as well as an invaluable resource for marketing, phone calls are less easily ignored and a faster source of this communication.

According to HubSpot, a survey of their team showed that about 40% of HubSpot employees had 11 to 50 unopened emails. This shows how easily ignored emails can be and why phone calls are even more important when you’ve got a backed up pile of things to respond to. Taking the time to personally respond to your members, especially when a response is long overdue, is a good way to make members feel like they are important to you and the association.

Other times that phone calls are important to make to your members are when you have to explain something complicated, you anticipate a lot of questions, or just want to get to know your members on a more personal level. By just picking up the phone, you are going to be much more likely to accomplish these things with ease.

2. Phone calls are a better source of engagement

We already know that striving for member engagement will only leave you with happier, more invested members. An easy way to increase this member engagement is to simply call your members. Communicating with your members over the phone can accomplish a lot, for both them and for you. Your association can inform members on any upcoming meetings, new information in the industry, or any networking opportunities that the member could benefit from.

The personal contact you make with members over the phone regarding these matters can encourage more action and engagement from them. Calling your members also shows them you are interested in listening to and understanding them rather than just passively selling via email or your website. This level of care for your members leads to better feedback. To build better engagement, you must start by understanding what your members want and why. Without communications strategy in a membership-based organization, how can you give members what they want if you don’t ask?

Remember, your members live and work in the industry every day and are therefore your best subject matter experts. To better help them, and yourself, you should engage your members by personally calling them and hearing what they want, need, and have to say.

3. Phone calls deliver rich info about members

Like we have discussed above, your members want the most out of their membership. For them, information is knowledge, and knowledge in the field is more power to them. Today’s day and age is constantly changing, in both everyday technology and the industry. Members should be actively informed through the association on these changes. By keeping your members up to date on what’s going on in the industry, they are going to feel more satisfied with their membership.

Maybe you send out a monthly or quarterly newsletter with updates and news. Accompany that newsletter with a quick phone call follow-up to select members each round. If not that, make sure a phone number is clear in newsletter so members know they can always reach you.The goal is to keep your members informed on any industry changes in advance, and ultimately creating and spreading content that will help them succeed in the future.

4. Calling leads to better retention rates

Retention phone calls are a personal way your association can help remind current members that it’s time to renew their membership. Research done by the Association Management Center showed that retention calls are an effective way to improve monthly renewal rates. Of the various associations studied, retention calls for members in “grace”, or those who did not remember to renew, had roughly 30% greater monthly renewal rates. AMC also noted that even though many calls are left in voicemails, the call is still just the nudge many members need to remind them to renew and seal the deal. A lot of the time, members don’t get enough personal communication within their membership, which makes them feel less connected and engaged. The personal connections made through retention calls can ultimately help renewal rates.

According to Associations Now, about 40% of members who are called around renewal time end up renewing, either during the call or shortly after. But your efforts shouldn’t stop after the retention phone calls. Your association should track retention within a few different segments, such as first-year members, long-term members, or members in specific types of jobs. This will ultimately aid in the growth of retention rates in your association. When crafting an effective communication strategy in your association, your association’s team should consider these four reasons to pick up the phone.

Your success will come from making direct links between member engagement and the value of membership, to the reason for members to renew. The best start to this is by simply picking up the phone and engaging members with more personal calls. Through these efforts, your association will be much more likely to improve member satisfaction and therefore improve retention.