Keeping Your Members Involved: A Helpful How-To Guide

April 19, 2022
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Member engagement is a top priority for any association professional. After all, your association is at its most effective when you’ve created a strong community of members who engage with one another, advocate for your program, and value opportunities for professional development.

That’s what makes it so important to keep members motivated and involved in your membership program after they’ve attended their first event or taken their first eLearning course. To achieve this, the first place you’ll want to turn to is your association software.

From supporting tried-and-true member retention techniques to empowering fresh engagement ideas for the smartphone age, your association management system (AMS), eLearning platform, and website are full of ways to keep your members engaged.

Let’s take a look at some of the best software-driven strategies you can use to boost member engagement. We’ll show you how you can:

  1. Gather information in your CRM to learn more about members.
  2. Use your website to keep members updated.
  3. Get members involved in eLearning opportunities.
  4. Host a fun event to help members expand their networks.
  5. Allow members to drive their own engagement with member communities.

The better you understand your members, the better prepared you’ll be to create courses, events, and other programs that they’ll want to stay involved in. Let’s begin by exploring your CRM—one of the best resources for gathering, organizing, and reviewing member information.

1. Gather information in your CRM to learn more about members.

Members are far more likely to take advantage of your association’s events, courses, and programs if these opportunities align with their professional goals and their reasons for joining your organization. This is where your constituent relationship management system (CRM) can be an incredibly valuable resource, as it’s your main depository for member data.

To create more impactful programming for members, consult the member information you’ve gathered in your CRM. Additionally, to ensure that your member data stays updated and accurate, choose an AMS that integrates with—or, better yet, is native to—your CRM. Look for an effective association management system that:

  • Automatically enters data into your CRM. This way, if members change or update information in their profiles via your AMS, these changes will appear automatically in your CRM. Plus, you can prevent the human errors caused by manual data entry.
  • Creates comprehensive member profiles. In addition to being able to update their own profiles, members should be able to see all of their interactions with your association automatically reflected on their profiles. This includes the length of time they’ve been a member and courses they’ve completed via your eLearning platform.
  • Automates communications. From simplifying your event email marketing strategies to keeping members up-to-date on due payments, automated emails can streamline member outreach. You can even further increase member engagement by using your AMS and CRM to segment members by their interests and send out personalized opportunities.

Your AMS and CRM are essential to gathering information on your members and using it to better understand their needs, which is the first step in keeping them engaged. Once you’ve learned more about your members, you can fine tune your events, courses, and programs to appeal to their needs.

2. Use your website to keep members updated.

Your association’s website is a hub for digital member engagement, offering a place where members can locate all of the most important information about your latest events and opportunities. Remember to regularly refresh your website so that members can easily find new ways of getting involved with your association.

Of course, refreshing your website’s contents, especially on your homepage, is likely already a regular part of your association management practices. However, it may have been a while since you last gave your site a more extensive makeover. Now is a great time to check whether:

  • Your association website’s design is engaging. Aim for a clean, modern layout that features multimedia elements such as photos or videos without complicating navigation. This encourages members to stay on your site and allows them to easily explore it further. If you’re looking for inspiration, Morweb’s article on association website best practices offers membership-specific design tips to beautify your site and improve digital member experiences.
  • Members can find the content they need easily. Your members should be able to log in to their profiles on your AMS or other members-only content from your website. Links to this content should be easy for them to find and all password-protected content on your site should be kept highly secure.
  • Your association site is mobile-responsive. It’s no secret that most of us are attached to our smartphones and do much of our internet browsing from them. Ensure that your association’s website is mobile-responsive so that your members can access and navigate it from the convenience of their favorite devices.

In addition to keeping your members updated on your association’s most recent news and events, your website is also an excellent platform to host and promote new types of content and perks.

For example, eLearning courses are among the most valuable of these opportunities. You’ll want to make sure that all of your interested members are able to learn more and register through your website.

3. Get members involved in eLearning opportunities.

Your members are always looking for more ways to further their professional development—after all, that’s one of the main reasons they joined your association! You can facilitate their growth by offering them continuing education courses through an eLearning platform.

Also known as an association learning management system (LMS), an eLearning platform empowers your members to purchase and complete courses relevant to their professional fields. LMSs provide members with valuable educational experiences and foster deeper engagement with your association.

Whether your association is selecting an eLearning platform for the first time or upgrading your current system, do the necessary research to make sure that you:

  • Choose the right association eLearning platform. Look for a platform that encourages course completion with engaging multimedia content, interactive learning experiences, and gamification tools. These features help members get excited about the learning process.
  • Integrate your eLearning platform and your AMS. Choose an eLearning platform that integrates with your membership management software. This ensures that eLearning information about your members is automatically organized in your association management system, which in turn keeps your communication and engagement strategies as effective as possible. For example, an LMS-AMS integration automatically updates members’ course completions and certificates on their member profiles. It also enables you to offer members additional courses based on their completion histories. 
  • Host live learning events. No matter what their different learning styles are, all of your members will benefit from the opportunity to participate in various forms of social learning. Look for an eLearning platform that allows you to host live learning events and upload the content afterward for those unable to attend.

Live learning events are a particularly valuable aspect of your association’s eLearning platform because they facilitate in-person connections among your members. Other types of conferences and events serve similar and equally beneficial purposes.

4. Host a fun event to help members expand their networks.

One of the reasons that many of your members joined your association was to get to know more like-minded professionals in their fields. Your association can help members grow their networks and discover more career opportunities by hosting conferences or events.

Events are a wonderful way to bring your members together, strengthen your association’s branding and overall presence in your field, and drive non-dues revenue through the sale of tickets and merchandise.

To host an excellent event for your members, you’ll want to:

  • Make registration easy using your AMS. When members can register for your event through your AMS, information that already appears on their member profiles will be input automatically. You’ll also be able to gather additional information from their registration forms to store in your AMS and CRM.
  • Leverage event microsites. Event microsites provide members with all the information they need before your event begins. Microsites include the agenda for the event, the list of presentations and sessions, and any additional information you’d like your members to know to build excitement before they arrive.
  • Sell branded merchandise. Quality branded merchandise builds brand recognition for your association and helps your members commemorate a fun event and showcase their pride in being part of it. From t-shirts to lanyards, well-made custom merchandise will be used by your members for years to come, all the while deepening their ties to your association and further marketing your membership program.

When you’ve planned a great event, you’ll want all of your members to attend. While this isn’t always possible, especially for large associations with members scattered all across the country and even the globe, you can facilitate increased participation by giving regional chapters and other member subgroups the tools to host their own events.

5. Allow members to drive their own engagement with member communities.

All of your association’s members deserve the opportunity to meet one another at conferences, live learning events, and other in-person programs. However, it isn’t always possible for your organization as a whole to reach each one of them. Member subgroups such as committees, communities, and regional chapters foster increased collaboration among those who share a geographical location, professional interests, or other similarities. 

Fonteva’s guide to association management software provides a few tips for fostering these groups, including: 

  • Empower member coordination within your AMS. Members can use your association’s familiar platform to create, manage, and invite others to their chapters, committees, and communities.
  • Allow event registration and management for regional events. Live events can have a bigger impact when they’re tailored to the interests and needs of the members who are most capable of attending them. When regional chapters can plan and register attendees for their own events through your AMS, the events will better reflect the attendees’ interests.
  • Communicate via email and other online methods. Automated communications are an important time-saver for your association as a whole, and they can be just as effective for managing chapters and communities.

Members who are able to contribute their input to your association’s offerings, whether through sharing their professional goals or working to help plan events, will be more motivated to stay involved in your organization. Listening to your members and facilitating their involvement is sure to keep them engaged.

When your members are eager to involve themselves in your courses, events, and other programming, your association is better able to further its mission. The more you learn about your members’ interests and preferences, the better you’ll be able to tailor your offerings to meet their needs and encourage future engagement.

About the Author
With over two decades of experience marketing association technology, Fonteva CMO Jake Fabbri has developed a deep understanding of the unique needs of associations and the challenges technology can solve. Jake’s marketing expertise has been honed by demonstrated excellence in the areas of lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.

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