Digital Member Engagement: Why it Matters and How to Do it Right
Connection has always been the name of the game for membership organizations. In today’s virtual world where people are often widely dispersed and remote, engagement has taken on a new digital realm that is likely to continue to grow and evolve. That’s why it’s more important than ever to maintain an accessible, multifaceted, and compelling online presence. But even if you think you’re doing all that you can to appeal to your audience, you may still be overlooking some critical elements. So how can you tell if your constituents are fully on board with your organizational mission or if they’re just along for the ride? Fortunately, effective strategies exist for improving digital engagement as well as for measuring it, both of which are vital to your success. Please read on to learn more.
- Put your website to work.
When current and potential members want to get updates or learn more about your association, they head to your website. Make it easy for them to find the information they need and explore your offerings with an appealing, navigable site. The best association websites are efficient, interactive, and user-friendly. It starts with a clean, modern layout and intuitive design that helps visitors locate what they need and encourages further exploration. Event registration pages, member login areas, and other frequently used sections should be easy to find upon landing and accessible with one click. Don’t forget to include apparent call to action (CTA) buttons and plenty of interactive tools like decision tools, calculators, and quizzes. Above all, make sure your site can be updated effortlessly and that the content is refreshed regularly.
Measure your success: Use a web analytics tool like Google Analytics to evaluate your efforts. Assess results based on relevant factors such as the number of new visitors, bounce rate, and the call-to-action click-through rate.
- Add some wow to your onboarding.
When it comes to connecting with new members, an effective onboarding process sets the stage for long-term success. It’s a golden opportunity to highlight all that you have to offer and the many ways that you can help newcomers take advantage of these perks. Go beyond simply welcoming people; start off on the right foot by immediately providing readily apparent benefits so they know their choice to join was a good one. Rather than cramming every detail into one lengthy welcome email, why not create a short and sweet “welcome email series”? Break down all the key facts into several brief messages that new members will receive incrementally after they join. In each, highlight one of the many ways your association brings value to them, such as key resources, upcoming events, organizational information, explanations of benefits, and the like. A member onboarding video is another smart way to interact with new folks and teach them all about your association. You could explain how to utilize your website, for example, and show them how to log in, where to find special offers, and what types of benefits they can enjoy online. Plus, videos are reusable and can dramatically increase traffic to your website. Letting new members know that you’re excited to have them as a part of your organization creates loyalty from the very beginning, leading to a more fulfilling and engaging relationship going forward.
Measure your success: Track what activities and communications new members are responding well to. This will help you continuously improve your onboarding process and craft positive initial member experiences. With each batch of new members, measure things like email open rates, event attendance, and their level of engagement in your online community. Another great way to identify areas for improvement in your onboarding process is to ask new members directly through an online survey. If these metrics aren’t where you’d like them to be, there’s room for improvement in your organization’s onboarding journey.
- Tap into the power of events.
Your members want to meet with and learn from like-minded professionals. Conferences and events, whether virtual or in-person, help them expand their networks and encourage further participation in your association’s offerings. They’ll be even more excited to register for events when the process is easy and they’re educated about what to expect in advance. Facilitate the registration process by populating forms with the information that’s already stored in their member profiles or your CRM. Encourage event registration with automated emails, website notifications, and any other online methods your association uses to stay in touch with members.
Measure your success: An Event Management System (EMS) can help you capture revealing data about your members and their event participation. Assess key factors such as: How many people are attending the annual conference? Are they attending the entire event or just a portion of it? Which networking events are most popular? This information allows you to hone in on what’s working and revamp or eliminate what isn’t effective.
- Offer compelling learning opportunities.
Many people join membership organizations because they value the opportunities for professional development and growth in their careers. Continuing education courses are a critical and often necessary component of that growth. You can facilitate continuing education efforts by offering relevant coursework through an association learning management system (LMS). When your course offerings match the specific educational needs of your members, they’ll be eager to participate. They will also be more motivated to complete courses when the learning experience is fun. Interactive, multimedia presentations of key information keep learners engaged. Social learning features such as discussion boards and live chat options also promote increased participation. And don’t forget to test your LMS and the courses you create before offering them to ensure that the user experience is positive.
Measure your success: Certification programs and other educational materials are an excellent source of member engagement data, especially when delivered online. You can track key metrics like registration rates by course, how long it takes members to complete each unit, ratings of the materials, and much more.
Make sure your metrics are meaningful.
There are many ways to assess digital member engagement so consider which approaches best suit your needs. For example, absolute values allow you to assess a specific figure, such as the total number of attendees at the annual conference or your quarterly e-commerce income. When choosing metrics to focus on, ask yourself:
What can we accurately measure about our members?
- What will this metric reveal?
- Could the information provide direction and guidance for future decisions?
- Measuring too much can lead to paralysis and inefficiency. Limit your focus to metrics that are relevant, accurate, and that support your strategy.
No matter how large your association is or how widely your members are distributed, savvy digital engagement efforts can keep you connected. For additional resources or to learn more about NiUG and the valuable member support we offer, please contact us at https://www.niug.org/ or call 570.243.8700.