Memberships & Associations
October 10, 2023

Top 10 Tips: Creating a Membership Engagement Strategy

Member Engagement Strategy

All membership organisations want new members to come in and stick around for the long haul. The snag in that plan is that the modern world offers people so many options, with membership organisations and associations trying to stay relevant. 


Without clear, proactive strategies to engage members and give them memorable experiences, you might struggle to keep member churn in check. 

A member engagement strategy goes beyond the face-value of the membership to provide a unique narrative that can't be found anywhere else. The idea behind such strategies is to create a sense of belonging so powerful that it compels members to remain loyal. 

In this guide, you’ll learn how to create a successful member engagement strategy that boosts member retention and enhances your member value proposition to help drive sustained growth.



Membership Engagement Strategies (1)

Understanding Member Engagement

  • Emotional engagement: This is the emotional connection that members have with your organisation. It's about them feeling a sense of belonging and a genuine emotional connection to your organisation.

  • Behavioural engagement: This concerns the actions and activities members perform within your organisation. It includes attending events, participating in discussions, and contributing to the community.

  • Cognitive engagement: This is about members understanding your organisation's goals, values, and objectives.

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Why is Engagement Important for Membership Organisations?

According to a recent report,
41% of organisations of all sizes struggle with engagement.  

There’s no denying that engaged members are one of your organisation’s most valuable assets.

Here's why:

  • Stronger Advocates: Engaged members are your biggest supporters. They promote your organisation to others, helping you boost membership acquisition.

  • Loyalty and Retention: Engaged members are less likely to leave. Their strong emotional connection to your organisation makes them more likely to renew their membership.

  • Organisational Resilience: In times of crisis or economic downturn, having a strong membership base can be a source of strength and stability.


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Membership Assessment - Acquisition, Engagement & Retention


10 Key Considerations for Your Member Engagement Strategy 

Here are our 10 top tips to consider when creating your membership engagement strategy. It's also worth keeping an eye on membership trends for ideas on how to keep your members engaged with your organisation.

1) Personalised Member Journeys

This strategy involves personalising member experiences, interactions, and communications. By considering each member’s needs and preferences, you make them feel valued and understood.


Tips for Personalising Member Journeys:


  • Segment Members: Group members by demographics, interests, and engagement.

  • Data Collection: Collect member data from surveys, website analytics, and events.

  • Personas: Create detailed personas for each member segment to understand their motivations and preferences.

  • Customise Communication: Use the channels and communication styles that each member prefers.

  • Event Recommendations: Suggest events based on activities that members have engaged with in the past.

  • Recognition and Rewards: Acknowledge member contributions with tailored rewards like badges or certificates.

  • Progression Pathways: Encourage members to increase their engagement levels by rewarding their progress.

  • Feedback and Adaptation: Collect feedback to adjust and improve personalised member journeys.

  • Automation: Use CRM software to automate personalisation and manage member data efficiently.

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2) Effective Member Communication

You need clear, timely communication to engage members. An effective communication strategy keeps members informed and motivated to participate in your organisation.


Importance of Clear and Timely Communication: 


  • Transparency and Trust: Your members will appreciate being kept informed about organisational developments, decisions, and goals.

  • Member Involvement: Members are more likely to participate in events, discussions, and activities if they get timely communication.

  • Retention and Loyalty: Regular updates and relevant information remind members of your organisation's value.

  • Problem Resolution: Maintaining open communication lines helps you resolve member issues faster.


Tips for Improving Communication Channels:


  • Multi-Channel Approach: Use multiple communication channels (email, social media, newsletters, and online forums). 

  • Consistent Messaging: Make sure your messaging is consistent across all communication channels. This reinforces your organisation's identity and message.

  • Responsive Support: Respond to member inquiries and feedback. Members should feel heard and valued.

  • Regular updates: Provide regular updates on your accomplishments, upcoming events, and industry news. 

  • Feedback Loops: Create feedback channels for members to share concerns, ideas, and suggestions. Also, take action to show you value their feedback.

  • Automation Tools: Use tools like email marketing software to schedule and personalise communications. 

  • Member Portals: Add member portals to your website so members can access resources, discuss with other members, and get organisation news.

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3) Interactive Online Platforms

Online forums and communities are invaluable for membership organisations. They provide a space for members to connect, share ideas, and collaborate.


34% of associations engage members by inviting them to join their online community.


Here are some benefits of building an online community:


Benefits of Interactive Online Platforms:


  • Increased Member Engagement: Online platforms foster community and engagement by bringing members together. Discussing topics, sharing experiences, and seeking advice makes members more invested in your organisation.

  • Knowledge Sharing: These platforms allow members to share their knowledge and expertise. Their insights and resources are valuable for personal and professional growth.

  • New Opportunities: Online communities provide unique collaborations and partnerships as members connect with peers, mentors, and industry leaders.

  • Member-Generated Content: Members generate content through discussions, contributing to original content on your organisation’s platforms. 

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4) Gamification and Rewards

Gamification uses game-like elements to encourage active participation among members. It adds an exciting spark to mundane tasks and activities and delivers memorable experiences. 

Studies have shown that gamification increases engagement by as much as
60% for organisations.

Here’s how it can work for you.


Using Gamification to Boost Member Engagement:


  • Motivation through Competition: Reward participation in events and online forums with badges and loyalty points to boost engagement.

  • Progress Tracking: Introduce leaderboards and milestones to allow members to track their development within your organisation. 

  • Social Interaction: Create social media challenges and contests to encourage interaction and community building.

  • Learning and Skill Development: Allow members to earn rewards or loyalty points for completing educational courses or gaining new skills.


Implementing Rewards and Recognition Systems:

  • Clear Objectives: Establish clear objectives for your gamification and rewards system. Define the specific actions or behaviours you want to encourage.

  • Tailored Rewards: Make sure that you give your members relevant rewards. Rewards could be digital badges, certificates, discounts, exclusive content, or physical items.

    See our blog 8 membership incentive ideas for further inspiration.

  • Transparency: Make sure that everyone can access and easily understand the rules of the gamification system. Clarity is essential for fostering trust.

  • Progressive Levels: Create progressive levels or tiers that members can aspire to reach. Each level should come with increasingly valuable rewards.


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5) Referral Programmes

This engagement strategy involves encouraging existing members to recommend your organisation to others. Members can earn rewards for each successful referral they bring in.


How Referral Programmes Engage Members:

  • Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Referral programmes leverage the power of word-of-mouth marketing. 

Over 87% of consumers trust personal recommendations from friends and family. 


When your members promote your organisation, it boosts organic traffic and gets more people interested in it. 

  • Active Involvement: Members who participate in a referral programme are actively working towards your organisation's goals and mission. They learn more about your values, which makes them more dedicated to their membership.

Also, referral leads have a higher conversion rate (30%) and lifetime value (16%) than leads acquired via other marketing channels.


  • Incentives and rewards: Giving members rewards for successful referrals is a great way to keep them engaged. It gives members an extra reason to join the programme and spread the word about your organisation.


Structuring Referral Programmes:


  • Double-sided Rewards: Reward both the referrer and the new member. Incentives could be discounts, exclusive access, or even financial rewards for successful referrals.

  • Tracking and Reporting: Use a tracking system to monitor referrals and the progress of your programme. Tracking improves effectiveness and helps you reward members appropriately.

  • Communication: Make sure that all members understand the details of the programme. It is important that they know how the programme works and how they can join.

  • Promotion: Tell people about the referral programme through email, social media, and your website. Encourage members to tell potential referrals about their good experiences.

Visit how to increase subscription sales, for ideas on membership acquisition.


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6) Compelling Content Creation

Engaging content informs, educates, and entertains members, keeping them engaged. 


Benefits of Creating Quality Content:

  • Education: Quality content provides insights and resources about your organisation’s mission and industry. 

  • Discussion: Thought-provoking content encourages members to share their thoughts, experiences, and ideas.

  • Career development: Webinars, courses, and expert articles help members learn new skills.

  • Displays Success Stories: Recognising member accomplishments and contributions makes them feel valued and encourages participation.


Tips for Content Creation and Distribution:


  • Audience-Centric: Create content with your members' needs and preferences in mind. 

  • Quality: Prioritise quality over quantity when providing content to members. 

  • Multiple Formats: Provide articles, videos, webinars, podcasts, and infographics to accommodate your members’ different learning styles.

  • Consistency: Create a content calendar for regular delivery. Consistency builds member engagement and anticipation.

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7) Loyalty Programmes

This proven marketing strategy promotes loyalty among your members and increases engagement. These member loyalty and reward programmes are designed to encourage repeat business by rewarding loyal members. Repeat customers account for 65% of a company's revenue, making this crucial. 


Boosting Member Engagement with Loyalty Programmes:

  • Incentivising Engagement: Loyalty programmes reward active members. These rewards encourage members to participate in organisational activities.

  • Exclusive Benefits: Loyalty programmes offer exclusive benefits to loyal members. Benefits may include premium content, early event registration, discounts, or personalised services. Such benefits enhance the overall member experience, making it more attractive and engaging.

  • Referral Engagement: Loyalty programmes can extend to referrals, encouraging loyal members to bring in new members. By using word-of-mouth marketing, members help the company grow.

  • Upselling Opportunities and Membership Upgrades: Offer exclusive rewards that increase with member spending or participation. This gives members a reason to upgrade their engagement level, which boosts their lifetime value and keeps them as members longer.

ISM Reward Programme 2


Integration with the Referral Programme:


Give your members extra value by integrating referrals into your loyalty programme. When members bring in new customers, they are rewarded with loyalty points, subscription discounts, or invitations to member-only events. This integration boosts member engagement, word-of-mouth, and acquisition.

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8) Diverse Member Events

While routine is great for encouraging growth and development, you must look for ways to add excitement to the membership experience. Offering a diverse range of events is a great way to achieve this.


Benefits of Diverse Member Events:


  • Inclusive Community: Diverse events cater to your members' diverse interests and preferences, ensuring inclusivity and a wider reach.

  • SKill Development: Different events offer unique educational, networking, and skill-building opportunities, improving the member experience.

  • Community Building: Diverse events bring members together over shared interests and experiences.

  • Membership Retention: Offering diverse events can prevent member churn by continuously providing fresh and appealing activities.


Examples of Successful Member Events:


  • Workshops and webinars: These online events teach industry trends, skill development, and best practises.

  • Networking Mixers: Virtual or in-person mixers help members build professional relationships.

  • Special Interest Groups: Establishing subgroups or committees for specific causes or interests in your organisation can be engaging. 

  • Annual Conferences: Membership organisations often hold annual conferences with keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and networking events.

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9) Member Feedback and Surveys

Getting feedback from your members remains an effective approach for addressing their pain points. Beyond improving the member experience, it helps members feel included in the decision-making process.


Benefits of Collecting Feedback:


  • Drives Improvement: Feedback shows you how to make your organisation better at keeping members happy and engaged.

  • Validates Decisions: It helps you make the right decisions and points you towards what really matters to your members.

  • Improves Communication: Asking for feedback shows that you care about your members, which improves communication and trust.


Best Practices for Surveys:


  • Ask the Right Questions: Make sure the questions in your surveys are clear, brief, and relevant.

  • Segmentation: Tailor surveys to different member segments to gather specific insights.

  • Feedback Loops: Always close the feedback loop by talking about how you are using feedback to make things better.

  • Regular Surveys: Conduct regular surveys to keep an eye on how members feel.

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10) Advocacy and Social Impact Initiatives

This approach leverages members' passion for positive change. It improves engagement by adding a sense of purpose and responsibility to the membership experience. 


The Power of Advocacy and Social Impact Initiatives:


  • Increasing Member Engagement: Public advocacy and social impact projects unite members around important issues. Doing things that matter gives them a sense of purpose and makes them feel more connected to your organisation.

  • Extending Your Reach: Advocacy and social impact projects expand the organization's reach beyond its membership. It shows a desire to make the world a better place.

  • Positive Reputation: These initiatives establish your company's social responsibility and ethical leadership. This will attract like-minded people who want to make a difference.


Examples of Organisations Driving Change Through Member Involvement:


  • American Red Cross: Members participate in disaster relief, blood donation, and community outreach. They do their part to help achieve the organisation's mission of ending human suffering.

  • Sierra Club: This environmental group gives its members the tools they need to fight for protecting and preserving the environment. Members take an active role in campaigns, lobbying, and projects to raise public awareness.

  • Amnesty International: Members of Amnesty International actively fight for human rights by writing letters, protesting, and spreading information about abuses of human rights around the world.



Strategies to make your organisation thrive

This comprehensive guide equips you with strategies for sustainable growth, covering member acquisition, engagement, and retention. Prepare to elevate your membership organisation's performance and deliver an exceptional member experience.

Memberships & Associations Guide to Increasing Acquisition, Engagement & Retention




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