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10 Strategies that Grow Your Association Memberships

Robert RaffertyGrowth Marketeer

Robert Rafferty,

Growth Marketeer

Apr 24, 2019

What it takes to grow association memberships can be a challenge, yet it's still the engine that pushes communities to be engaged and impactful. Members are the face of your organization's network, and it's through them your association can standardize ethics and standards in any industry. With associations popping up left and right, niche organizations are quickly snapping up influencers and industry leaders into their ranks, and with that in mind, it's not only important to grow your membership for ROI reasons, but also to help retain the memberships you have.

Here are a few tips and tricks we've been working on over the past few years as an association management software platform. Through our clients, their successes, and their feedback, we've been able to digitize a lot of the traditional processes as well. Take a look and find the ones that work for best for your association, or all of them!

membership growth

Jump to a Strategy

Know Where Members Are Host Events Keep Members Happy Get Feedback Automate the Renewal Process Digital  Membership Cards Create Urgency Create Referral Programs Create Welcome Packages Be Active on Social Media

Know Where Your Members are (and Promote there)

membership congregation

It's important to know where your members hang out, congregate or otherwise cross paths with other potential members. This also doesn't mean just physical locations, but online circles as well. LinkedIn is a great place to get started in discovering where your potential members are lying. It's encouraged that you partake in regular discussions, commenting, and sharing your insights as well.

Being a part of the community within an industry is priority number one when it comes to building your audience. If you don't have the patience, you could always leverage these platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn by advertising your association in their feeds, but by all means, do not sacrifice your engagement with them.

Host Events

host events for memberships

Associations are not just known for hosting events. We dare say it's an obligation to host high quality and regular events for an association to even survive. Events are perfect ways to force paying members into getting their money's worth by engaging and interacting with other members, the public, and governments.

This is how associations the world-over impact social, political, and economic changes in their communities and industries. Without these events, you would never get your name out there in front of the eyes of curious would-be members.

Keep Existing Members Happy

Keeping members happy

Retaining your members are just as important as adding new ones to the association. You'll never reach your membership goals if you keep losing members. The core reason members leave is that they are unhappy with something.

There are ways to keep members happy with a blanket-engagement strategy that we'll list out for you, but most importantly, you should look inward to how your association is organized and try to pinpoint what makes your members upset. If that doesn't work, what are other associations closer to your industry doing that's working for them, and can you apply it to yours?

There are some great ways to keep members happy, and the primary way is through constant high-quality engagement. Pumping out Events, Meet & Greets, Reward Programs, Implementing member feedback, social media engagement and more are great ways to keep everyone happy.

However, it's equally important to make sure that this engagement is tailored to each member. A little bit of personalization goes a long way, and that's why it's important to use association management software to your advantage when it comes to making content that's personalised in a way that doesn't take hours to do.

Here's more of the process in motion. 👇

Get Feedback from Current Members

host events for members

Set up a system of regular, monthly is ideal, surveys to send out to your members, and get actionable feedback from the members themselves. This will always keep you in the loop for what changes your association needs to take in order to please members and improve your associations. The mere fact that you're making an attempt to listen to your members is enough to make you stand out as an association that care about it's members, and it makes members feel that they're valued.

Provide Digital Membership Cards

Virtual Membership Cards

Membership cards are a must-have for associations to help members feel they're truly a part of something special. However physical cards are going the way of the do-do bird. It's far more commonplace, and green, to use digital membership cards, all based on the same system used to register, manage, and engage with members.

Membership management software, including Glue Up's, hosts a digital membership card feature that delivers membership cards immediately to new members with more benefits than a physical card will ever provide.

By leveraging the platform, membership cards are now finding homes in the phones of members these days. Every actionable stance a physical card has is now expanded by leveraging the phone's myriad of sensors and cameras allowing not only for normal use cases for physical membership cards, but also for allowing the ability to track that engagement in an actionable way.

It also saves us from chucking plastic away in the end.

Interested in moving to digtital membership cards? Book a demo with us and we'll show you how it works.

Automate the Renewal Process

automate membership renewal reminders

With members joining at different times, with potentially varying lengths of memberships, it can be tedious to keep up with their activities, their exit dates, and when the best time to remind them is. There's even a surprising amount of associations out there that are not automating this process. Even some sadly never remind members due to the sheer manual time-taking task that it is.

By leveraging a membership management software with a built-in CRM and Contact Database, you'll be able to set-up a range of settings that automate the reminder emails and push notifications that get delivered to members to remind them when it's time to renew. This consistent and automated reminder system is key to not only growing your membership base, but also easing the workload.

Create Urgency

event planning

Setting up time-based or limited count offers are a great way to push those potential members on the fence about joining your association to finally go through with the registration process. Making deals for holidays, or limited time offers push members to take deals that they wouldn't otherwise find in other associations, and it's also a great way to push other offers to current members as well.

Create Referral Programs

business card exchange

Referral programs are a great way to engage your current member base while also adding on fresh members. By offering rewards, discounts, extensions, and more, you'll be able to encourage current members into being part-time recruiters basically.

By being a part of your association's industry, it's likely they'll bring in engaged leads who are highly likely to convert into your new members. passing on this same referral program to new members then spreads the effectiveness to others, and it ends up becoming a great viral referral effect.

Create an Engaging Welcome Package

membership welcome package

Welcome packages are a great way to engage new members, and while they're good for engaging members, the long-term effect of having engaged members can have an influence on how word-of-mouth spreads about your association. Association membership growth is based on a lot of factors, and while there are marketing ways to do so, word-of-mouth is always the winner.

Members beget new members, and welcome packages are a great way to do so. Deliver Polo shirts, informational pamphlets, do-dads, and discount codes or offers. These little things educate and delight new members immediately, and it keeps members from regretting the decision to join. Here's a great guide that will get you on track with starting your own welcome package.

People spend 2.5 hours on social media each day. That's a huge chunk of someone's day glued to a media feed that's ripe for your association to be on and in their face.

But why do you want to be on there? Who is going to see it?

Essentially social media is the best place to make it look like your association is alive, at least in the beginning. Even if no one reacts, comments or shares your posts, it doesn't mean they're not unwanted in their feed. You'll slowly grow an audience over time, maybe it could use some extra nudging from your physical in-person meets and events to ask people to follow you. But in doing so you'll spread your message to those both in and outside of your circle.

Being acting on social media doesn't just mean posting regularly. That's half the battle. The other half is social listening. If you're not listening, you're not in the know.

By seeing who else is posting about related topics to your association, you'll be able to find opportunities for discussion, and you'll be able to put your association at the forefront of popular discussions and even some hot topics. By doing this, you'll attract followers and like-minded folks who may or may not be your members. This is a great opportunity to slip in some subtle CTAs that get them interested in joining your organization. As well, it's a great way to promote events and keep members up to date!

Not sure where to start? Check out our guide on 16 Tips and Tricks to using Social Media for chambers of commerce, who's needs are probably similar to yours.

If you feel the need to automate some of these tricks we listed here today, get in touch and book a demo with us and we'll show you how you could be automating your association membership engagement today.

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We are very pleased with the simplicity of the system. We rarely spend time training staff as most users simply “get it". It’s simple and fast out-of-the-box solution. We now have 4 client accounts running on Glue Up software.

Marcel Ewals, Director, Community Development, MCI Group
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