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How to Refresh Your Association’s Member Retention Strategy

Membership Audra Hopkins

Member retention: It’s a necessary part of any association’s membership strategy.

And having those retention rates increase over the years is just as important. You want to make sure your association is keeping members engaged and ready to sign on again year after year.

According to Marketing General’s 2015 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, 67% of associations claim to have increasing retention rates each year. That’s well over half!

If you want your association to be among the percent of those that see high retention rates, it’s important that you keep your member retention strategy new, fresh, and innovative.

Your association’s members are always changing. With constant technology updates, evolving membership needs, and other unforeseen factors, it’s hard to predict what your members continue to want out of your association down the road.

However, with a member retention strategy that is refreshed, you can meet members at every twist in turn and life and stay updated with their wants and needs.

So, if you’re convinced that your association’s member retention strategy needs a refresher course, this blog is for you.

We’re going to go over a few strategies that can take your member retention rates to the next level, proving to your members that your association has what it takes to keep its members engaged and happy.

Here’s what you should consider when refreshing your association’s member retention strategy.


Revisit your member personas

If your association is one that understands the benefit of creating member personas, it could be something you use as an aid for your member retention strategy.

But as we said before, your members are always changing. And with that change, your member persona could become stale, or altogether irrelevant.

You don’t want to keep using member personas that don’t correctly identify your membership. It’s time to take a look at your pre-existing member personas and see if they need to be updated to match your current membership.

For example, let’s say you made a member persona for your young professional members. They’re young, inexperienced, and tech savvy. They value career development opportunities and are looking for ways to grow in their industry, while also saving money.

However, over the years your younger members will grow up. They’ll gain experience, save up money, and transform into entirely different people with different needs.

You don’t want to keep offering members benefits long after they’ve outgrown them. This is why revisiting your member personas and updating them is essential for your member retention success.

So, how is this done?

Meet with your marketing team and closely analyze your current member personas. What are the most important characteristics? Have they changed since you’ve created your personas? What are their characteristics now?

Doing research and conducting surveys on your current membership will help you get the answers you need.


Strategize your emails

Emails are an important part of keeping your members updated and in the loop with all of your association’s changes.

But sometimes, they can do more harm than good.

Up to 74% of American consumers claim to be overwhelmed by email abundance. And that overwhelming sensation is what we know to be called email fatigue. But why should your association care?

According to Hubspot, email volume within associations increased by 12.3% in the year 2016 alone. That means more emails are coming from associations and landing in the inboxes of members than ever before. And to members, that inflation can actually cause problems.

Inflicting email fatigue on your members can actually hurt your chances of retaining them in the long run.

Email fatigue is caused by both mailing your members too frequently and mailing them irrelevant content. When both of these combine, it causes your members to go into shut down mode, completely ignoring the message your association is sending- and therefore disengaging altogether.

Email might be a huge part of your current member retention strategy- and it should be, with email being the top form of business communication out there.

However, your retention emails need to be thought out, valuable, and well strategized.

Be sure to organize all content within your emails. You need to ask yourself the question: Is all of the information enclosed in your email relevant? Could it be summed up in a shorter message, or perhaps fit into another email to cut down on frequency?

Your emails should be a smart way to reach members, not a way to bombard them with an overabundance of content.


Invent new incentives

Who doesn’t love a free offer? Chances are, your association has used incentives in the past to keep members around for the long run.

But those incentives can lose their appeal and become lackluster over time. If you’re continually offered a free service, the value of that service can decrease, until it eventually becomes unattractive.

Brainstorming ways to bring brand new incentives to your members can jumpstart your retention rates. You want to keep things exciting with your members.

If your association offers incentives in the form of discounts, try switching it up.

For example, you could offer your members free access to downloadable content. Or, you could also offer exclusive early access to your associations videos, webinars, or other forms of content before they are released publicly.

You need to make sure your incentives are something that members will get excited for.

Again, this relates back to your target audience and member personas: What do they want? What problems do they have that can be solved by your association? If you can find the answers to these questions, you can deliver members a solution in the form of brand new, unique incentives.


Go back to your roots

Oftentimes, when association’s assess their member retention plan, they tend to get too caught up in the process and forget why it is members flock to them in the first place.

Your members came to your association for a reason. Whether it’s career development, industry-exclusive perks, or any other reason, something sparked a fire in your audience to get them to become a member.

This is why reflecting on your association is important when revamping your member retention strategy.

What does this mean? Well, you want to pinpoint exactly what value you bring to your association’s membership. How did you get your member’s attention from the start?

If you can find out your exact value that appeals most to members, you can enforce those values in the future. This will give members more of what they appreciated in the past.

All of your member retention plans should relate back to your association’s main missions and beliefs. This will help you keep your association in mind when trying to gain back the trust and engagement of your members.

Another concept to bring back into focus for your association is the idea of customization.

Your members like to feel special to your association. In fact, it may turn them away and disengage with the membership if they feel like just a number.

This is why individual customized member retention plans might be a good idea for your association.

This does not have to be an intricate strategy. In fact, it can closely follow your general strategy. However, this should involve your association getting in personal contact with each member and learning more about how they can keep them around in the future.

With these strategies in mind, you can refresh your association’s member retention strategy and engage your members for years to come.

Consider incorporating these ideas into your member retention plan and see how you can increase your association’s retention rate.

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