4 Member Engagement Mistakes to Avoid

Member engagement initiatives ensure your association’s members continue to attend your events and engage with your activities. But getting your engagement strategy right can be hugely challenging, especially as there are multiple ways for you to engage members.

Unsurprisingly, it can be hard to determine which ways are a fit. It’s even harder to avoid some common member engagement mistakes if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Here are four common engagement mistakes associations make and strategies for avoiding them.

1. Too little or too much communication

Communication is vital to any membership engagement strategy. It allows you to keep members updated and cultivate long-term relationships. However, communication requires a careful balance—and you can over- or under-communicate.

With too little communication, members aren’t always aware of new opportunities. They may disengage from your organization entirely, making it difficult for you to form bonds with them.

Too much communication, in turn, can be overwhelming. Members may struggle to decide what information to act on. It may even lead to the communication becoming impersonal, with members feeling like messages are non-personalized and spammy.

You can avoid these mistakes by establishing a clear messaging strategy. Reach out to members and ask them how often they would like to be messaged. Some may prefer infrequent communication, like once per month, while others may be more comfortable with once per week. Then segment your audience based on their preferred communication frequency. Consider investing in email marketing and choose an email service to help with this process.

2. Not regularly researching your audience

Knowing your audience is key to creating valuable content relevant to their interests. However, your audience’s interests can change over time. If you don’t regularly check in with your members and research your audience, you may have assumptions about their wants and needs that are outdated and don’t quite match up to reality.

To avoid making this mistake, stay up to date with member’s needs by:

  • Sending out regular feedback surveys to identify current programs and activities they deem valuable and those they don’t. For example, you can ask members what benefits they currently use and what benefits they would like to see as part of your membership program in the future.
  • Conducting member exit interviews to understand why members left so you can avoid this from happening to others.
  • Keeping tabs on competitors’ offerings for ideas you can implement in your own membership programs.

3. Not creating an effective onboarding experience

It’s easy for your onboarding experience to fall by the wayside when things get busy or when some members seem happy to jump head first into the membership program and seld-direct.

But most members will appreciate having direction from the start in the form of an onboarding process. It helps start the relationship on the right foot and makes members feel welcome. It also helps them feel orientated and ensures they know what benefits and services they can access with their membership.

You can create an effective onboarding experience by:

  • Developing new members’ materials that cover essential details about your association. This can include what your association does and why, who currently works there, what volunteers are expected to do, and an overview of your policies and rules. You may consider making this information available through a dedicated resource library that volunteers can access from anywhere and any device. It may also be a good idea to appoint a main point of contact to answer any questions members may have.
  • Creating a welcome email series or having a one-on-one call. A one-on-one call is generally preferred as it’s more personal, but if that’s not possible, you can use your association management system (AMS) to send personalized emails.
  • Hosting new member events where members can interact with employees and other volunteers and get used to the culture at your association. These could be in-person or virtual events.

4. Overlooking your internal processes

It’s normal for associations like yours to devote the majority of their attention to the member experience. After all, this keeps your members happy and helps your association thrive.

Internal processes, however, often suffer as a result which ironically can help you improve your member experience and external process. With internal processes not being updated as they should be, a few common issues typically occur:

  • Work slows down—and with it revenue.
  • Software becomes outdated, so your association isn’t running as efficiently as it should be.
  • Data becomes unclean—and up-to-date member data may no longer be available. This makes it difficult to reach members and personalize communication.

To avoid this scenario, regularly assess your internal strategies by:

  • Interviewing staff members to understand their experience with certain processes. Ask them what they like and don’t like about existing workflows.
  • Setting internal development goals. For example, setting a goal to eliminate paper-based processes in your association to reduce manual touch points and improve efficiency.
  • Staying on top of industry trends to adapt internal processes to meet industry best practices.

Start avoiding member engagement mistakes today

As crucial as an engagement strategy is for member attendance, creating one is often harde than it needs to be, and engagement mistakes are all too common. But you can avoid these mistakes altogether by following a few simple strategies:

  • Get the balance of your communication right by establishing a clear messaging strategy
  • Stay updated on your audience’s needs by sending out regular feedback surveys
  • Create an effective onboarding experience that welcomes members and provides resources to help them adapt
  • Improve internal processes by keeping your pulse on what’s working and what’s not.

Do that, and you’ll not only improve the success of your engagement strategies but the success of your association overall.