Our members are looking for more than just a membership card. They are looking for value—and we need to offer it, so they stick around.
In my experience, value comes from two main places: the membership benefits we provide and the feeling of belonging we instill. Benefits that matter include member-only discounts, special member access to events and programs, and technology that can help members in their real estate business. But it’s that sense of belonging that’s key to member retention.
Theodore Roosevelt purportedly said it first: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Relationships are an integral part—probably the most integral part—of a great member experience. When we nurture relationships, then we will find that most members will give back their time, passion, and loyalty. It’s a two-way street between members and the association that starts with engagement.
Engage your members by providing information that matters to them through social media, which is the most inexpensive, fast, and easily accessible outlet of online communication. Emails, member forums, blogging, and video are also great avenues to reach your members wherever they are.
Your website should make it easy for members to find everything they need in one place. Just in case, add an “I need help” button that members can click to send a question to you or your staff, and then respond to those questions as soon as possible. Automated responses are good for letting members know that someone is attending to their needs, but a timely human follow-up is essential.
Don’t be that association. Be the amazing-member-experience association that values its members and listens to their needs.
How do you measure your member engagement? You cannot do it without meaningful research. Regularly gather quantitative and qualitative data from members, leadership, and staff. Start by putting together a diverse focus group that can offer different perspectives to benefit the association. Remember to include both veteran members who have knowledge about past successes and newer members who can offer fresh ideas.
Then, simply ask. Ask them about the membership benefits, events, and programs that are beneficial to them. Which ones do they find value in? Ask why they joined the association and what they want from it. This will give you an understanding of how your members feel about their member experience and the association’s engagement with them.
Our overall goal should be to keep existing members involved with the association while recruiting and selling the member experience to potential new members. Remind members why their membership is a value to them and encourage them to actively participate in the association.
I can’t say this enough: Stay in contact with members. If the only time they hear from you is to renew their membership, they will not feel valued, and they will not stay involved with the association in most cases. And consider this: Your return on investment is much higher for renewals coupled with a great member experience. In other words, it costs less money to market the association to members who have already enjoyed the member experience and benefits. It is also much easier to retain members than it is to recruit them, and the toughest task is to try to earn them back once they have decided to leave.
Don’t be that association. Be the amazing-member-experience association that values its members and listens to their needs. Often, I will go around the table at our association meetings and ask, “Why did you get involved with the association?” And 99% of my members will tell me, “Because you asked.”