Tag Archive for: Associations

Incorporating Events into Your Member Recruitment Strategy

Event planning is one of many important parts of effective association management. A well-planned association event not only boosts your revenue and engages existing members, but it can recruit new ones as well.

Members make an association. And recruiting new members is just as important as retaining current members! Recruiting helps association growth and keeps numbers up when old members leave.

In this guide, we’ll discuss five essential ways your organization can incorporate events into your member recruitment strategy to enhance your results.

1. Determine your target audience

Before you begin planning an upcoming event to increase member recruitment, it’s important to understand your association’s target audience. There are different reasons for someone to attend an association event. Here are some common motivations:

  • Education: For attendees who want to learn more about a specific subject, consider having a speaker or a workshop on a specific topic relevant to your association.
  • Professional networking: For those who want to build connections for their professional social network, hold roundtable discussions, lectures, and workshops. Just make sure attendees have ample downtime between activities to socialize.
  • Socializing: Many people attend events to meet new people. Almost any kind of event will work for this! Try holding trivia or other fun activities that get people involved and talking.
  • Community involvement: Many attendees are interested in giving back to their community, so consider holding charity events that help them make a positive difference.

By understanding how to appeal to potential members’ values and interests, you can choose the right type of event to attract them.

2. Plan how you’ll engage potential members

Plan your association event with potential members in mind. You should always be thinking about the specific individuals you’re trying to draw in. It’s always a good idea to plan as much of your event in advance as possible. This way, everyone helping at the event knows exactly what they’re meant to be doing and how they can connect to potential members.

Consider hosting an event that both members and non-members are free to attend. Or consider inviting potential members to attend a members-only event as guests. No matter the event, you can prepare welcome packets containing important membership details to pass out to these non-members at the event.

To provide added convenience to potential members, consider making your event hybrid or virtual so that even those who may be unable to attend in person can participate.

At this point in time, most people are very familiar with attending virtual events, which makes it easy and convenient. This also broadens your audience and lets you reach more people. You can reach people who may live further away but are still excited to join. 

Having this option is a great way to attract people who are interested in your association but haven’t been able to make it to in-person events previously. They’ll be even more excited for this one! 

3. Enlist your current members to help at your event

Make the most of your existing members’ connections by enlisting them to help with member recruitment at your next association event.

Having current members there is a great way to introduce potential members to your association. It’s also a great way for potential members to form connections within the association through current members. A personal connection goes a long way.

Ask for volunteers from your members to become ambassadors at the event. They can encourage potential members to join your association by:

  • Welcoming guests
  • Sharing their experience as a member
  • Answering membership-related questions
  • Introducing them to other members at the event

Furthermore, encourage existing members to invite a non-member acquaintance, work colleague, or friend who might be interested in becoming a member.

Using existing networks is a great way to find new members. A person coming to an event through someone they know is more likely to join up if they have a personal connection to your organization already. 

4. Emphasize member benefits

Make it easy for event attendees to embark on their membership journey to your association by highlighting specific member benefits at the event. Show them why they should join! 

At the event, you can include benefits in your welcome packet. You can also consider passing out one-page sheets listing the benefits. Having the benefits highlighted in their own handout can be helpful to make them more clear.

You can also go into more detail if they’re separate, rather than trying to fit it all into the welcome packet, which should be concise. Provide a link to your website on anything you hand out, or another place where they can learn more.

Just a few member benefit ideas you can highlight include:

  • Discounts and coupons
  • Member directory
  • Mentorship programs
  • Exclusive online content
  • Professional training and certifications

Member benefits will be different for every association. Again, think about your audience. Who are they? What do you think would benefit them? What do you think they’d be most interested in?

5. Follow up with event attendees

In addition to your usual thank-you emails to everyone who attended your event, follow up specifically with your non-member event attendees about joining your association.

Give them a clear path, both during and after the event, for how to join your organization. Make the process as easy and clear as possible. Nothing stops a potential member more than a lengthy and difficult-to-understand application process. Having a straightforward application process should always be an important part of your member recruitment strategy.

There are many things you can fit into a thank you email. Here are some suggestions:

  • First of all, thank them for coming!
  • Tell them about the next event they can attend.
  • Link them to further information about your organization. This could be your website, which should have benefits laid out again, and a clear way to join your association.
  • Invite them to subscribe to a regular newsletter so they can hear about what’s happening next. These little updates and reminders help keep your organization in their mind and make them more likely to join.

Show them that you care about their experience with your organization by sending out post-event surveys to gather their feedback and make improvements for future events.

Events can give potential members a clearer picture of what membership in your association looks like. Therefore, it’s critical to plan an enjoyable and memorable event experience for all attendees. In this article, we’ve given five ways to help you improve your member recruitment strategy. Following these five tips will help turn your next recruitment event into a success!

A person stands at a desk looking at a computer. Text: "Boosting Virtual Member Engagement: The Definitive Guide"

Boosting Virtual Member Engagement: The Definitive Guide

Member engagement is a driving force in growing your association. Fonteva’s guide to member engagement defines this term as “the ongoing outreach and interactions between associations and their members to keep constituents informed, educated, and motivated to continue their memberships.” With an engaged membership base, your organization will see increased retention, a stronger community, and even increased non-dues revenue.

When planning for your association’s future, it’s crucial to consider how you will keep current members engaged while attracting new ones. Improving member engagement will require you to explore your association’s strengths and weaknesses as well as your members’ needs and preferences. To get started, you’ll need to employ the following strategies:

  1. Set goals and choose engagement strategies.
  2. Understand and appeal to members.
  3. Prioritize community building.

In this guide, we’ll break down each of these tactics and how they will put you on the path toward deeper virtual engagement. Let’s get started! 

1. Set goals and choose engagement metrics.

Outlining the goals you’d like to achieve must be the first step you take toward increased engagement. The goals your organization chooses will dictate which initiatives you focus on, how resources are allocated, and which metrics you’ll need to track in order to measure success.

To get started, look at your association’s past performance. You might reference member surveys to understand what areas could use improvement, developing goals meant to target those weaknesses. The goals you create should be structured as “SMART” goals, or goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Let’s say you want to boost your association’s social media presence. One of your goals could be to increase your LinkedIn follower count from 500 to 1,000 within the next year. Because this goal uses a specific number and timeframe, is realistic, and is relevant to your objective, it qualifies as a SMART goal.

Once you’ve settled on a few engagement goals for your association, it’s important to start tracking metrics related to those goals so you can accurately measure your progress. Here are some common key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help you track improvements in virtual member engagement:

  • Social media metrics: Social media provides a treasure trove of useful data about users and how they interact with your page. You can track your follower count, likes, comments, shares, click-through rates, and more (depending on your goals). To narrow down which metrics you’ll track, remind yourself of your goals and develop KPIs that directly apply to those goals.
  • Virtual event KPIs: If your association holds virtual or hybrid events, make sure to measure the engagement of virtual attendees (just like you would for in-person attendees). You can measure factors like registrations, actual attendance, returning and new attendees, and participation time.
  • Email marketing engagement: Emails likely play a big role in how your association attracts new members and connects with existing ones to keep them in the loop. You can track how engaged members are in your announcements, newsletters, fundraising prompts, or other campaigns by measuring metrics like open rates, click-throughs, conversions, and unsubscribes.

Many of these metrics can be tracked using an association management tool to create custom reports to visualize your organization’s performance. These reports provide a much more accurate, easy-to-understand way to analyze association data.

2. Understand and appeal to members.

After deciding on your association’s core engagement goals and identifying how you’ll measure progress, you’ll need to start implementing strategies that improve engagement opportunities for members.

If your organization is seeing low engagement rates across the board, your current offerings may not align with what members are looking for. To make the switch to discussing topics and holding events your members will be excited about, you’ll need to learn more about their interests.

Here are some of the strategies you can use to understand your members and adjust association activities to meet their needs:

  • Send out surveys. Surveys are a great way to see inside your members’ minds and hear directly from them what they expect from your organization. There are many kinds of surveys you can send, depending on what you want to learn from members. You might send more general surveys asking about their interests, or narrow the subject by asking how your virtual engagement strategies could be better. Another popular way to get member feedback is by sending post-event surveys (ideally, there should be separate surveys for in-person and virtual attendees).
  • Segment members. Create groups of members based on shared characteristics like their interests, tendencies, or preferences. For example, you might create a subset of members who take advantage of almost all of your continued learning opportunities and further segment these members by their communication preferences. Then, you can direct communications about the opportunities and subjects they are interested in to those segments as appropriate.
  • Set up a variety of engagement opportunities. Because your members each have different preferences and goals, make sure to offer various engagement opportunities to address their unique needs. Options for virtual engagement can include virtual events, meetings, learning opportunities, and discussion forums, all providing a different way to connect and build a community. For instance, members who want to expand their network and form relationships outside of association events and meetings may use your membership directory most often.

Taking an approach that focuses primarily on meeting individuals’ needs rather than creating a blanket solution will make all members feel included and catered to. Over time, this careful consideration will help build more positive member experiences.

3. Prioritize community building.

Additional engagement opportunities like fun events or fundraisers can help add value to the membership. These activities strengthen the bonds between members in your community, leading to increased renewals and member retention rates. While you may think of these events as being limited to in-person annual dinners, there are virtual and hybrid options you can extend to remote members as well (like a quarterly virtual happy hour). 

Fundraisers are a great way to unite your members for a common cause, whether you are fundraising for your association or on behalf of a charitable organization. To get members more engaged in the fundraising process, you can put together a member-led fundraising committee. Give this committee specific responsibilities like developing fundraising ideas, planning fundraisers, and executing fundraising events.

After your event or fundraiser wraps up, always remember to thank those who attended or donated. These thank yous will keep members coming back to your events or donating in the future. Keep in mind that the time period following a successful event or fundraiser can be a good opportunity to send renewal reminders, if applicable.

Virtual member engagement goes beyond encouraging connections between individual members and your association. It also motivates members to connect with one another, building a web of professional relationships that they can leverage to advance their careers, further their education, and secure exciting new opportunities. To achieve this level of engagement and give members the experiences they are looking for, be sure to select a membership management platform that will make implementing new strategies and measuring your progress simple.

5 Association Web Design Tips to Boost Member Acquisition

Did you know that it takes just 50 milliseconds for online users to form an opinion about your website, which ultimately determines whether or not they like it and if they’ll stick around? In half the time it takes most websites to even load, your online visitors have already made snap judgments about the value of your website and – by extension – your association or member organization.

Every one of those curious scrollers who winces and clicks away is a potential new member, you’ve just lost to something as easily-solvable as simple web design changes.

So, how do you start tackling poor association website design and determining which design elements will turn casual visitors into happy new members? If you’re at a loss for where to start, never fear—we’ve prepared these tried-and-true association website best practices to boost your online member acquisition:

With digital engagement on the rise, it’s more important than ever to use your website as an attractive, interactive hub to enhance the member experience and entice visitors to hit the registration button.

Optimize accessibility for any user, on any device.

First things first: your top priority is making sure that your website actually works when users click through it.

This sounds easy enough—if every site visitor were a digital native with a fiber optic internet connection and a desktop computer. Unfortunately, the reality is a lot messier, and many potential and current members aren’t going to fit that mold.

To ensure that every site visitor has the same smooth, seamless online experience no matter when, where, or how in the world they’re navigating your site, take a look at these UX best practices

  • Optimize your website for all devices, especially for mobile users.
  • Cut down on load speeds by compressing images, minimizing redirects, and removing unused code.
  • Use high-contrast colors for text and graphics, allowing visually-impaired site visitors to see your content.
  • Include alt-text with all images, which describes visual content for users who might have a poor internet connection or use screen readers.

There are many small but important steps you can take to open up your website to a vast new audience of online users. However, there’s a limit to how much you’ll be able to tweak your website without some serious technical experience.

For best results, consider investing in a dedicated association website builder. A user-friendly CMS allows even the most technically-challenged association professionals to make effective changes to your website. Use drag-and-drop features, customizable templates, and member-specific design toolkits to make an association website that will blow users away—and encourage them to head straight to your membership registration page.

Use visual storytelling to capture the member experience.

Once users have successfully loaded your site, you’ll want to make the most of that precious half of a second where they’ll be judging whether to explore further or run away screaming.

This is where visual storytelling becomes your best friend. To immediately capture visitors’ attention and draw them into the narrative of your association, incorporate vibrant, professional images across your major web pages.

From Pulitzer-worthy candids of your event guest speakers in action to Instagramable snapshots of members, these snackable images instantly convey what your association stands for (and what you can offer users if they join).

Of course, pictures aren’t the only visual element to pay attention to. Don’t forget to build your membership website with:

  • The tactical use of white space
  • Concise, action-oriented text
  • Complimentary color palettes 
  • Clean, striking typography 

When you bring all of these pleasing elements together, you’ll have created an irresistible feast for the eyes that not only wows new site users but also engages current members.

Tease users with sample content, previews, and perks.

Now that you’ve survived that roller coaster of the first minute visitors spend on your website, you have to continue feeding their interest to successfully attract new members. 

Remember that actions speak louder than words. So, rather than writing some long-winded appeal for users to give your association a chance, give them a taste of what they’re missing out on!

Take a page from the MemberClicks guide to building a membership website and strategically organize your association website for the public (including prospective members) so that they can access and sample enticing content. In particular, you’ll want to allow anyone to view your: 

  • Event calendars and promotional materials
  • Key webpages, such as landing, about, and event pages
  • Surface-level versions of your member directory
  • Engaging resources that are useful to your members, such as informative podcasts

You could even offer tastes of event content, downloadable resources, educational materials and other small samples of everything your association has to offer. If users want more, all they need to do is sign up.

Leverage the promotional power of your member directory.

The online member directory is probably one of the most underrated marketing tools in your association toolkit. 

At first glance, your directory may just seem like a glorified list. But in reality, it can be a critical tool for member networking, digital engagement and (you guessed it!) public promotion.

Think of it as an online pamphlet that prospective members can flip through to see just how many passionate members have taken the dive to join your association. And for a small price, they, too, can access the full high-powered network of fellow professionals.

Be sure to invest in an association management system that can integrate seamlessly with your website. This will allow you to upload your directory directly into your CMS and automatically update member information as new members join and existing members tweak their profiles.

For inspiration on how to create and customize your own online member directory, check out Wild Apricot’s member directory templates.

Test, test, and test again.

When in doubt, test, test, and test again. 

There’s no such thing as a perfect association website, and there will always be room for you to improve, adjust, and revamp elements of your site to maximize engagement and push individuals toward your registration page. 

Use regular A/B testing to see how different versions and elements of your website perform and what steps you can take to constantly improve the online user experience. 

This is especially important as web technologies continue to evolve and user expectations get higher and higher for what they want to see from your association web platform. 

There are many moving parts to consider to build out a truly awe-inspiring, member-acquiring association website. To guarantee that you end up with a beautiful, functional web platform rather than Frankenstein’s monster, use these key tips and tools to guide you through the creative and technical process.

From investing in the right website builder and AMS solution to mindfully organizing your site’s visual elements, these insights should give you the confidence and power to create a membership website for the ages.

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NXUnite Panel Accessibility

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