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7 Online Member Acquisition Strategies to Grow Your Base

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Your membership base is the heart of your organization, no matter what type of organization you work for. Without your members’ engagement, your organization wouldn’t be able to do what it needs to do.

And unfortunately, members sometimes have to leave your organization. This occurs for a variety of reasons, most of them a natural part of the membership cycle, but it does mean that your organization has to constantly find new members.

Finding new members is a lot more difficult than retaining your existing members, but with some smart tips, it can become easier than ever! Using the internet to maximize engagement is the best way to ensure that your organization is able to stay relevant in today’s ultrafast world.

What are the best ways that your organization can step up its online strategy in order to acquire more members?

  1. Prioritize social media engagement.
  2. Create online partnerships with related organizations.
  3. Use visual storytelling tactics in your outreach.
  4. Optimize your email campaign to non-members.
  5. Provide “teaser content” to encourage increased engagement.
  6. Offer perks to your existing base in exchange for recommendations.
  7. Make online registration as easy as possible.

With these easy tips, you can ensure that your membership base remains solid. If you’re ready to learn more, let’s get started!

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1. Prioritize social media engagement.

When it comes to strengthening your online member acquisition strategy, there is no technique so effective as leveraging social media to expand your outreach abilities. Social media is an important resource to use because it allows you to capitalize on the social networks of your existing members.

To make the most of this idea, determine where your potential members will be online. The most popular social media platforms include:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook

Once you know where your target audience spends their time, plan a course of action that allows you to take advantage of the unique pros and avoid the cons of each platform while conducting outreach.

For example, use Instagram’s focus on images and videos to advertise how fun and engaging your member meetups and educational conferences are. On Facebook, reach out to existing groups and communities of like-minded people to promote your association.

And don’t forget to ask your existing members for help! Offer perks to those registered in your membership CRM in return for them sharing your posts and images amongst their friends for increased online visibility.

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2. Create online partnerships with related organizations.

Like we suggested with Facebook, take advantage of the work that other like-minded individuals or organizations have done to increase your online visibility. Reach out to organizations with similar missions or target audiences and see if there’s a way to collaborate.

For example, your organizations can offer each other:

  • Advertising space in emails or newsletters.
  • Discounts on membership dues or custom merch for members of partner organizations.  
  • Promotions to members on each other’s websites.
  • Collaboration on exclusive eLearning content like webinars.  

If you’re really looking to strengthen your partnership, consider co-hosting an event for your members!

When you link up with organizations with a similar target audience, you can increase your levels of online engagement and visibility by reaching out to their audience. This benefits both of you, as you can both effectively share a pool of engaged online users.

This strategy is also effective because you get to build off of the hard work that they’ve already done to grow their member population, and they off yours. Your symbiotic relationship will only grow to benefit both of you even more as your member populations increase.

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3. Use visual storytelling tactics in your outreach.

When you reach out to potential members online, you have to keep in mind that they are bombarded with information every day. They’ve gotten accustomed to sifting through the bytes and bytes of useless or irrelevant information that they’re presented with online to find the most interesting, relevant, or helpful resources.

When you reach out to potential members, whether through social media, email, or something else, remember that you only have seconds to make a good impression before they determine whether or not they’re interested.

To make the most of your crucial seconds with your potential members, use visual storytelling to grab their attention. Include pictures and videos as collateral in your outreach.

Some tips for having the biggest impact possible with your visual storytelling techniques are:

  • Use high-quality pictures and images of people, rather than places and things.
  • Build a narrative around the people in images, to build an emotional connection.
  • Enhance your pictures or videos with brief, engaging captions or voice-overs that communicate what the images don’t.

Using visual storytelling can help you engage your potential members online because it provides legitimacy for your association, as well as piquing the interest of those who aren’t already familiar with your organization.

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4. Optimize your email campaign to non-members.

Your association might have a list of people that aren’t members but have interacted with your organization before—these could be individuals who subscribe to your newsletter, attended an event once, or purchased something for a friend.

However they came into contact with your association, you should work to capitalize on this fledgling relationship and convert these people into full-blown members through email outreach.

Email is a super-effective outreach strategy because it delivers all the necessary information directly to the recipient. But how can you make sure that your emails actually get opened and read, and not sent straight to the trash?

  • Write an engaging subject line. The subject line is the only chance you get to ensure that someone reads your email. If your subject line is boring or irrelevant, your email will get ignored. Write a subject line with strong verbs that immediately tells the reader that opening the email will provide value to them.
  • Personalize your opening. If you have the name of your recipient, use a smart software solution that flows the name of the recipient directly into the email. Nothing turns off a potential member quicker than being addressed as “Reader”.
  • Get right to the point. If the reader doesn’t understand why you’re reaching out within the first two lines, you’ve already lost their interest. Hook them in with your main point, and then increase their interest through telling a story.

Getting someone’s email address is half the battle. Once you achieve that, you just have to send some great emails to engage with them further and hopefully convert them into a member of your organization.

Email scheduling, personalization, and distribution are key to a strong communication strategy, and your organization needs a software solution that can streamline this process. To learn more about these and other essential features that your team needs, check out this membership management guide from Fonteva.

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5. Provide “teaser content” to encourage increased engagement.

When reaching out online, your association has to have two tiers of content: free “teaser” content, and then more valuable content as a perk of either signing up for a newsletter, membership, or other level of engagement.

On your social media, website, or other online platforms, give potential members something of value in return for their time. Then, once they’ve initially engaged with your organization, offer them more valuable content in return for increased engagement.

What types of content could that be?

  • A webinar in return for an email address.
  • An e-book in return for a newsletter subscription.
  • A one-on-one chat with a member relations staffer in return for a LinkedIn follow.

However, you have to have content that draws potential members or subscribers in first. This content will vary based on the characteristics of your organization, but common ideas include educational articles or interviews with relevant experts.

Advertise this content wherever your organization has an online presence, and then further engage these casual readers with more content that they’ll find valuable. This is one of the most effective lead capture techniques out there because it provides real value to new readers.

Once you’ve converted casual readers of your website into more dedicated community members, you’ll find it easier to convince them to increase their engagement even further.

Their interest in membership depends on the value that you provide them, so make sure that your potential members have every opportunity to learn more about that value.

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6. Offer perks to your existing base in return for recommendations.

A key way to take full advantage of the outreach capabilities of the internet is to get your current member population involved! Many individuals will be more willing to learn about your organization if it is recommended to them by a trusted friend.

Ask your current members to share your posts or articles about your membership program or association on their Twitter feeds, Facebook timelines, or LinkedIn profiles, and to add their own experiences with your organization to the post to add a personal touch!

However, you don’t have to just rely on the kindness of your members when you do so. Add some fun perks to ensure that they’re interested in helping you gain new members. Some incentives include:

  • A discount on their next membership renewal.
  • An upgrade to the next tier of membership.
  • A discount or free shipping on their next merchandise purchase.
  • A free or discounted course through your LMS.

There are a thousand ways you can incentivize your members to help you, depending on the things that your organization offers them. Leverage these offerings to increase your online outreach capabilities!

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7. Make online registration as easy as possible.

You can have the best online recruitment or association management strategy in the world, but if your potential members can’t figure out how to register to become a member online, it won’t do you any good.

To make sure that all your online outreach pays off, make online registration as easy as possible.

Your members don’t want to have to fill out a fifty question survey just to become a member. You’ll have time to get to know them after they sign up! Make your member registration process quick and painless with these tips:

  • Only include the required fields on the form, so that they can register as soon as the mood hits them.
  • Brand your registration page to your organization so that it matches the rest of your website. You don’t want people to hesitate to register because they don’t trust your payment processing page.
  • Make your online registration mobile-optimized so that people can sign up on the fly at events or similar engagement opportunities.

Online registration for membership should be the easiest part of this process. If a potential member arrives at your membership sign-up page, there should be nothing that might stop them from completing the registration.

If you need help strengthening your website or your online registration portal, check out this top membership website builders list from Morweb.

Optimizing your online registration process is a key step in improving your online acquisition strategy!


Online member acquisition may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! If you follow some smart best practices, you can improve your online outreach and inspire your audience to become members.

 

About the Author

Jake-Fabbri-Headshot

Jake Fabbri is the Vice President of Marketing at Fonteva with over 18 years of experience working in marketing management. He has experience with lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.

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