Though associations are often busy managing members, tracking expenses, and assessing ROI, one of the most important facets of any successful association is its ability to enhance the membership experience.
Because members are at the core of everything that associations do, their satisfaction with their experience within the association is paramount.
- Why Membership Experience is Important?
- What is Effective Reporting?
- 8 Ways Effective Digital Reporting Can Improve Membership Retention
- How to Execute an Effective Report?
Why Membership Experience is Important?
Many associations—focused on attracting and onboarding new members—often neglect to take care of the experiences of current members. Though it’s important to market one’s association effectively—offering incentives, benefits, and more—retention of current members actually has better ROI.
On average, studies show that it costs 7-10% more to entice and win over a new member than it does to retain an existing one.
So while onboarding often takes the forefront, and associations invest time and effort in bringing new faces into the fold, retention practices often fall by the wayside.
Ongoing membership care can help your association reduce turnover, and signal to new potential members that your association is worth joining. Basically, expert retention can actually aid in the recruitment process.
One of the best ways to keep members happy—and perhaps one of the lesser-known strategies for improving your membership retention rate—is to invest in effective digital reporting.
What is Effective Reporting?
Effective reporting is an accurate, compelling glimpse into an association. Depending on the purpose of the digital report, associations can use them to assess their internal practices, forecast future results, set goals, and drive progress.
With accurate data measurements, up-to-date metrics on financials, initiatives, and more, an effective report can act as a comprehensive overview of any given association and prove a wealth of information to both members and chapter leaders.
What Does Effective Reporting Look Like?
Effective digital reporting can take a myriad of shapes, depending on the purpose, content, and intended audience of the report.
For associations with robust membership, and multiple national and local chapters, potential digital reports might include:
- Impact reports
- Annual reports
- Industry analyses
- Internal auditing
- Campaign assessments
- Event recaps/summaries
- Leadership assessments
- Board reports
Though these reports vary in audience, content, and goal, each would likely include up-to-date metrics, compelling analyses, and easily digestible information which help members to better understand and grasp the proposed topic.
How Does Effective Digital Reporting Strengthen and Enhance Member Experience?
As discussed previously, investing time and effort into membership experience aids membership retention rates—usually a more cost-effective solution to creating and maintaining a robust association (vs. focusing solely on recruitment and onboarding).
Effective digital reporting, if done well, can be a valuable retention tool. From creating information accessibility, and enhancing engagement and communication, to showcasing member value, digital reports are a cost-efficient, creative way to improve the membership experience and improve retention rates.
8 Ways Effective Digital Reporting Can Improve Membership Retention
Creates Information Accessibility
Accessibility is one of the most important factors in creating a great membership experience.
Not only does accessibility refer to a member’s access to management or local and national chapter leaders, but accessibility also refers to access to crucial information about the association.
In successful associations, members always feel that they are within reach of important event information, upcoming campaigns, internal metrics, and more. Access to important insights will make members feel empowered and “in the loop,” so to speak.
If members must search far and wide for information about the association—and grow frustrated by the lack of accessibility—they might just leave for a competitor.
In this way, information accessibility also helps to reduce friction. Readily available, and easily readable reports full of expert digital integration (think membership sign-up links, resource links, staff directories), the less likely a member is to become frustrated.
Members—like most anyone that is part of a group or organization—need consistent engagement to feel connected and satisfied. For associations, membership engagement is a fundamental practice for retention.
Usually, when people think of reporting, they think of paper print-outs and accordion-folded brochures jam-packed with complicated metrics and dense text. That type of reporting usually does little for driving membership engagement.
Effective digital reporting, however, gives members an opportunity to engage in your association in a new, creative way. With easy-to-use software designed for associations and nonprofits, associations can create reports that are interactive and well-designed.
From embedding social media links and video clips to including interactive timelines and graphs, members will have a hands-on opportunity to engage with important information about the association, driving better retention rates.
For big associations with several chapters, communication can sometimes be a hard process to streamline. With competing messages and varying leadership, it can be difficult for associations to provide high-level messaging as well as communication channels between national and local chapters.
Effective digital reporting allows for a constant touchpoint of communication. Unlike weekly emails that can feel burdensome—and often go straight to spam—a comprehensive report that alerts members to new initiatives, industry information, and more, can provide an opportunity for cross-association communication.
And, for many associations, communication across national and local chapters can be a headache—each is invested in different initiatives and programs or is engaging in entirely different opportunities.
Digital reports that include chapter-specific updates and highlights will keep national chapters informed on their progress and activities—and vice versa. Each branch will benefit from an inside glimpse into the other’s ecosystem.
One of the most crucial benefits of an effective digital report is one that isn’t member-facing. An internal audit, or an internal assessment of operations and processes, is an incredible tool for retaining members.
Though the audit is usually internal facing (though parts of it can be recycled for a member-facing report, to keep them in the loop), the process of investing in consistent auditing allows associations to improve the membership experience. When membership experience is improved, retention rates improve.
An internal audit can help associations assess member ROI, specific programs or initiatives, and analyze areas of improvement. By improving pain pains, and enhancing the experience, your association will keep members happy.
Members want to feel like they are part of an association they can trust. Much like donors want to trust nonprofits that they’re contributing to, association members want to know that the organization they’re a part of is transparent and forthcoming about its practices and offerings.
Not only does this put members at ease, and create trust, but it also helps your association communicate its values and bolsters the brand story of any organization.
Effective reporting—full of accurate financial information, member information, and more—allows members to feel in control of their membership. It prevents members from feeling uneasy about hidden fees, unforeseen responsibilities, and more.
One of the biggest reasons that members don’t renew is because they don’t feel connected to the association or its promised value.
Accurate digital reporting—full of crucial information about the association and its endeavors—allows individual members to feel a part of and connected to the broader parent association.
Not only does this foster loyalty to the parent organization, but it provides a connection between chapters and branches of the association. When individual chapters have a glimpse into the work of other chapters—whether they’re local or national—they’ll feel more connected to one another, instead of feeling siloed.
Digital reporting fosters mutual understanding and connection to one another, helping to align each subsect along similar brand mission and goals.
Makes Members Feel Valued
Demonstrating member value is one of the biggest reasons members renew. It’s also one of the biggest reasons they leave. If members don’t feel valued, they’re more likely to leave for a competitor and cancel their membership. Alternatively, those that feel valued remain trusted members.
Member spotlights, accurate data on member value and impact, and key metrics that underscore the importance of a chapter or individual membership can show members that they are integral to the association.
By spotlighting specific people, and their contributions, you’re expressing gratitude for their efforts. Gratitude, as most people know, is essential to sustaining and maintaining long-term relationships.
Relationships between a parent association and its members are much the same—the more you can appreciate the efforts of individuals or chapters, the more valued they’ll feel. Meaning, they’ll be committed to your organization for the long haul.
Members should feel consistently driven and inspired by their collaboration with your association. That’s why it’s important to provide them with information that motivates them and piques their interest.
Well-designed, interactive digital reports that showcase case studies and testimonials encourage members to renew their membership and continue their relationship with your association. Evidence of success from other members is a clear, surefire way to keep them engaged and connected.
How to Execute an Effective Report?
Now that we’ve unpacked the importance of effective digital reporting for enhancing membership experience, and thus, improving membership retention, let’s cover exactly how to create an effective report.
Like with any project execution, an effective digital report requires planning. Before you dive headfirst into the analytics and design, it’s crucial to first answer a few questions about your report:
- Who is the target audience for this report? The entire organization? The national chapters? All the local chapters? Both? Or is this report internal-facing?
- What is the goal of this report? Is it to showcase membership case studies? ROI? To improve programs and incentives?
- How often are you going to send out this report, or ones like it?
- What key stakeholders should be involved in the creation of the report? Why?
Once you’ve begun to investigate the answers to these questions, you’ll be better suited to gather and organize the appropriate data—one of the most important parts of any digital report.
Keep It Simple
In the digital age, fewer people have the attention span to read dense metrics and long, seemingly endless paragraphs of complex information. That’s why it’s crucial that associations prioritize simplicity—both in content and design.
If your report includes comprehensive financial numbers or assessments, distill their central premise into easy-to-understand charts, graphs, and graphics. By making your report scannable, and easily digestible (with integrative digital tools), readers will be much more engaged in your reporting.
With software like Yearly, association cans make their reports interactive and engaging. With the ability to integrate social media, and imbed links to forums and other online communities, a digital report is a limitless place for creativity.
Here are a few elements to consider incorporating into any given digital report:
- Interactive maps
- Audio clips
- Member highlights
- Brand fonts and colors
- Social media links
The more creative your digital report, the better story it tells.
Of course, an effective report is only effective if members have access to it.
Though there are many ways to disseminate reports, it’s crucial to communicate with your members where they are—online.
Download your report as a pdf and embed it on your website, link it to an e-newsletter, or even post it on social media (if appropriate). And for associations that host regular meetings with chapters, turn your digital report into a PowerPoint presentation or slide deck.
For in-person events or for those keener on paper copies than digital ones, print your report to distribute and hand out. A digital report allows for a variety of functionality. Plus, going digital means it’s easier to distribute.
Repurpose and Reuse
Effective digital reporting can always be spliced and repurposed for other content or marketing needs. Once you’ve created a report or two, don’t reinvent the wheel—repurpose some of the content within the report for other needs. Think blog content, future board reports, and more.
Though effective digital reporting can be beneficial for a myriad of reasons, this type of channel for communication and dissemination of pertinent information makes for an ideal tool for member retention. And, by using efficient member management software to gather data and digital report software to create the content, you’ll streamline your processes.