Emma Thompson, Director
Retention and renewal: it’s all about engagement, isn’t it? There have been plenty of studies - by membership bodies tracking their data, and by sector suppliers evidencing the requirement for their products - to show that the more engaged members are, the more likely they are to stick with their membership.
It certainly seems to hold true. And thus, membership bodies invest time and money in understanding their members better, devising engagement programmes and offering targeted services to increase engagement.
But have you considered that some members don’t want to be more engaged? Receiving a printed journal, access to ad-hoc advice, or simply the kudos of having achieved membership are enough for some. And no amount of cajoling - targeted or otherwise - will encourage these members to engage any more than they already do.
If you measured the engagement of one of these members - using whatever system of scoring or monitoring you have in place - the outcome may not be very positive. Particularly if compared to an individual who is a committee member, attends events, has a place on the mentoring scheme, logs-in to the members area regularly, follows your Twitter account, recommends membership to others, writes for the blog… and is generally an all-round, membership good egg.
Unless - of course - satisfaction is one of your measures. Because, while the seemingly unengaged may not be using the vast majority of fabulous benefits and services you make available to them, they may be very excited to hear the thud of the journal on their doormat once a month, and be one hundred percent satisfied with their membership as a result.
At this point I will reference a useful article in Associations Now from a few years ago, which draws extracts from an even more useful book - The Art of Membership: How to Attract, Retain and Cement Member Loyalty, by Sheri Jacobs.
The article reports:
“[Jacobs] recommends profiling members according to what they value, rather than by demographic characteristics. “Instead of thinking of members in terms of experience, industry, title, or other obvious common factors, think of members in terms of their individual motivations, attitudes, and interests,” she writes. That profiling can be used to develop specific member types or categories.”
Well, yes: we get that. Segmentation and tailoring the offer (and the communication of that offer) to characteristics that run a bit deeper are going to lead to better results than a one-size-fits-all approach.
The key word here is motivation. If you can understand why someone is a member in the first place, you’ll have a better idea of how they want to be engaged. Then you can make sure you continue doing the right things, to keep them engaged in the ways they want to be engaged.
And motivations for membership can change over time, so check regularly to ensure you stay ahead of the game.
Want to find out the why behind the how? Read on to find out about the research approaches you could take.