How to Create a Winning Member Engagement Strategy for Your Association? [An In-Depth Guide With Tips, Checklists, and FAQS]

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How to Create a Winning Member Engagement Strategy for Your Association? [An In-Depth Guide With Tips, Checklists, and FAQS]

Content Strategist
17 minutes read
July 01, 2022

Engaging your members emotionally is the path to making them feel connected to your association. But how do you ensure that they stick with you every time they have a choice?

The answer is, By creating a winning member engagement strategy.

An effective engagement program hooks members from the start, makes them invested in the cause, and inspires them to become brand ambassadors.

To help your organization achieve member engagement in its truest sense, this guide will outline:

Quick Reads

What is Member Engagement?

what is member engagement?

In simple terms, member engagement is the ongoing interaction between an organization and its members in exchange for meaningful benefits. However, when understood deeply, it is a two-way emotional investment between both parties.

While members of your organization feel closely connected to the organization's mission, you, on the other hand, strive to provide them with a consistently valuable experience.

This engagement can take multiple forms. For example, your members show their involvement with their participation in the form of online interactions, digital engagements, and feedback.

Similarly, your association creates events, social content, membership benefits, and other incentives to provide them with a robust membership experience.

Five Characteristics of an Effective Member Engagement Strategy

A fantastic member journey starts with a member being not involved to renewing year after year and ultimately reaching the advocate level.

However, not all of your subscriptions will convert into loyal members. But if you develop a strong strategy from day one, you can get these numbers high.

To ensure success, take into account these five characteristics as you set up the engagement plan for your association.


An effective association strategy is member-centric, i.e. it caters to its members' needs, wants, and preferences, while providing them with a consistently great experience.

If you want to succeed in building a long-lasting relationship with them, start with gathering your members’ data. The customer mapping enables you to walk into their shoes as they interact with your association’s interfaces.

Each interaction they do with you (through EDMS, website visits and clicks, social media, forums) reveals their needs at each stage of the customers’ funnel.

The best way to capture this data is to use a membership automation platform that gathers and summarizes the information with advanced AI technology.

With the invaluable resources at your fingertips, you can find ways to engage your audience on a meaningful level.

Remains Active Throughout The Year

Engagement is all about building an emotional connection with your members. This contradicts the traditional approach of memberships that involved “communicating for money”. This included sending promotive content or new features, or sending a notice when the year ends.

The new approach is all about value creation. Maintain regular communication with your members so that they know you care about them. Ask about their experience and if there’s anything they’d like to improve.

Help them build meaningful connections with the right people. Tell their inspiring stories to the public and thank them for their contributions.

If you are looking for more strategies, check out these 50 ideas for member engagement that are effective throughout the year.

Features a Hybrid Interaction Model

With in-person bringing people together and virtual eliminating geographical boundaries, a membership model that does not include any of those is incomplete.

As a result, an engagement strategy featuring a hybrid connection is most effective. It provides your members with the flexibility of staying connected however they like it. This includes in-person events, 1-on-1 chat, online webinars as well as social forums.

Glue Up's speed networking platform connects people virtually. It uses advanced technology that pairs up attendees on a short face-to-face call so that they can meet as many people in a short span of time. With this feature, you can bring new and existing members together in a quick session.

Thus, today's only successful membership model is one that combines both in-person and virtual ways of connecting.

Involves Personalization and Automation

Engaging association members is a time-consuming process since it involves sending renewal notices, calling people to ask why they didn't renew, and sending them emails about promotions and updates.

Thus a better way of driving engagements is personalizing through automation. For example, Glue Up’s membership automation software allows you to send bulk event invitation emails to your members. Furthermore, it allows you to find outstanding payments, as well as send push notifications to members who haven't renewed yet.

There is also an analytic dashboard with a membership engagement scorecard in the software that shows your disengaged members for the year. Using segmented data, you can develop customized communication strategies that boost engagements.

Adopts New Rules

With changing membership needs, you will need to reevaluate engagement efforts as your strategy changes. It may feel comfortable to keep doing business as usual, but this approach can limit your organization's ability to flourish.

You can introduce new ideas that can help your company grow and showcase its value by rethinking some of your engagement strategies. This way, you will keep delivering exceptional value to your members as well as providing them reasons to choose you over your competitors.

11 Key Elements of an Effective Member Engagement Strategy

elements of member engagement strategy

Even though there is no cookie-cutter approach to creating an engagement strategy, it should include these 10 elements to drive success.

1. SMART Goals


The best membership engagement strategy is the one that has SMART goals. Not only does it help you to identify what matters the most, but also gives you a solid ground to measure its success.

Check the following points in your strategy to make sure it has a SMART goal:

SPECIFIC - Make sure your goal is well-defined. If it is to achieve more engagements by the end of the year, consider revising it to achieve a 20% increase in member engagements by the end of the year.

MEASURABLE - Check if your goal is measurable. For example, if you want a 20% increase in engagements, how will you measure it? One way of doing this is to set a KPI that measures your progress. In this case, your KPIs can be membership churns and retention rates.

ACHIEVABLE - Don’t set too ambitious goals that are impossible to achieve.

REALISTIC - The word "realistic" might seem like the same thing as "achievable," but it isn't. This implies determining if you have enough resources to complete your goal.

TIME-BOUND - Last, but not least. Ensure you have a set deadline for your plan.

2. Personas

Personas are just as important for associations' strategies as for any other business. They are written representations of your members with defined preferences and behaviors.

Well-created personas help you become aware of what your members need, and what your competitors are doing to gain their attention. Again, association management software can provide you with comprehensive data to generate valuable knowledge about your audience.

3. Problems

Members join clubs for several reasons. It could be supporting a cause, networking with others, or even volunteering. Unless your association can help to solve your members' most pressing problems, they will not engage or remain members.

To solve their pain points, you need to know what they are. Begin by doing some research. Gather behavioral data through online communities and CRM solutions to determine their problems, what they value and what you can do to help them.

4. Value Proposition

Engaging your members is all about delivering value. What are you doing to make their experience exceptional, how are you creating additional opportunities for them, and what are your competitive advantages?

It is not uncommon for people in a competitive world to leave one association and join another. Thus, make sure your members have a good reason to stick with you.

5. Execution Platforms

The next step is determining how you will deliver your value to your audience. It can be an online member engagement platform, event-based events, publications, or other methods, depending on their convenience.

Providing fewer barriers to consumption means more people will receive the value you provide and will come back for more.

6. Measurement (KPIs)

The key performance indicators (KPIs) provide you with information about your progress toward your strategic objectives.

Divide your goals into smaller objectives and assign relevant KPIs to each of them. Check-in periodically to see if you are reaching the milestone of achieving your goals.

As an example, your KPIs can include email open rates, time spent on site, click-through rates, and events attended.

7. Planning & Tools for Communication

planning and tool for communication

Everyone dislikes getting irrelevant emails, but no one wants to miss out on a valuable opportunity or a piece of content that's relevant to them. The best solution? Choose the right communication tool with effective content.

Automation emails, direct marketing, community platforms, referrals, paid marketing and social media are the list of communication platforms you can use to successfully reach your audience. Don't wait until they need you. Aim to reach them early and often.

8. Member Benefits

The benefits you provide to your members are the foundation of your membership model, as they are a big reason why members join and stay with you.

When it comes to incentives, they all have the same purpose: offer your members something useful and/or interesting that they can access immediately after joining, renewing, or referring to your site.

Provide them with valuable benefits such as job opportunities, credentials, discounts, value deals, training, and job opportunities. While they may sound like a large investment, they yield fruitful results in the long run.

9. Administrative Roles

It may seem unimportant, but choosing the right roles for your staff is crucial to the success of your engagement strategy.

New members could, for example, get assistance in using the features, obtaining credentials, or getting other support from the onboarding staff. Likewise, the event staff can inform members about upcoming events in your association.

You can also use your current members as advocates or volunteers to get extra help from them.

10. Funding

Once you develop a strategy, you will need enough funding to support the cost of tools, software, analytics, and staff. Present this to your boss to explain your plan and the investment it will require.

This will ensure your success, as well as the funding and time you need.

11. Consistent Approach

Engaging members is an ongoing process. An effective engagement strategy provides ongoing engagement opportunities for them. Your organization must exert consistent efforts to deliver ongoing value to your members while making changes to your plan where needed.

For optimal results, do a periodic audit after every quarter. Check your data to see where your engagement graph is leading.

Membership Engagement Strategies That Boost Member Retention

member engagement strategy

Distribute Surveys to Gauge Member Satisfaction

Surveys form a direct communication channel with your members. They demonstrate your sense of responsibility for the members and how you are taking care of them. Furthermore, you can use it to determine the satisfaction level and preferences of your members.

Surveys and polls can be sent out using services like Google forms or social media sites. GlueUp can also help you design a survey and send it via email campaigns. As soon as you receive answers, they are automatically added to an analytics dashboard so you can easily analyze them.

If you're wondering when's the best time to send out surveys, consider sending them immediately following an event. People are most motivated after an event, so there is a greater likelihood that many people will fill them. Similarly, send them surveys with renewal reminder emails when their membership is about to expire. In case they decide to leave your organization, you can ask them why.

Another good time to send our surveys is at the end of each quarter when you can ask them what achievements they think the organization made and what improvements they think are needed.

Create Interest-Based Segments for Customized Content

interest-based segmentation

By segmenting your members according to their interests, you will be able to engage them more effectively. This gives you a better idea of which member engagement tactics work best for what type of your audience.

Segment your audience based on their demographics, interests, and interactions on the website. Customize your content that resonates with each segment, for example, one message type may appeal to younger members, while another caters to older members.

Additionally, segmentation can help you determine which members are more engaged with your association, who are more committed to the mission, and which members are more receptive to your benefits.

Establish a Solid Communication Strategy

In order to improve your communications, two things are important:

  1. Don’t overdo it
  2. Choose the right platform

Communicating with your members may seem like a great engagement tactic, but clogging their inboxes several times a week doesn't seem like the right approach. Instead, make your communications effective by using a highly-targeted approach.

Send relevant, high-quality communications to your members. Let them choose their preferred channel and frequency of contact. This way, they will feel more control over your involvement in their lives.

Use personalization emails that highlight how your features can benefit them. Don't forget to include a CTA at the end to engage them more effectively.

Hold Engaging Events

Meeting others with similar interests is a major reason people join associations and social events are the perfect way to accomplish that. Besides serving as a strategy for increasing member engagement, events offer valuable opportunities for learning and networking.

Both virtual and in-person offer great value, so make sure you plan them well. Also, consider ways to make your event stand out to make sure your association's offerings are worth more than your membership dues.

Create a Private Online Community

An online community helps people to foster relationships from anywhere, at any time. However, when you provide them with a platform that is solely dedicated to your association, they tend to feel secure and exclusive.

Glue Up’s community app offers a seamless networking experience to your members. It allows users to connect with other members, create posts, groups, and events, as well as spark meaningful connections through one-on-one chatting. The app also features digital business cards which can be shared via direct messaging.

Keep Them Posted With Regular Content

Keep your members posted about what’s happening in your organization. Use your most active channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, community apps, and LinkedIn. Make sure your website is updated as well. Share newsletters with your new product offerings, events, and incentives.

You can also share award posts such as ‘Member of the year”, appreciation posts, and success stories on your website.

Facilitate Two-way Communications

two way communication

The success of your engagement depends not just on how well you communicate with your members, but also on how well they can communicate with you and one another.

Online forums prove to be quite fruitful when it comes to creating a two-way conversation. It provides a secure platform for them to discuss what they want from your company.

Another way of boosting connections is through social media interactions including polls, mini-surveys, and comments.

Snail mails are also great to facilitate bidirectional communication. They show that you don't just reach out to your members when you want money, but genuinely care about their satisfaction.

A member directory can be helpful for a peer-to-peer network. In this way, members can share information and know when to approach who. Furthermore, it encourages them to interact with one another.

Use Social Media for Engagements

Engagement is often measured through website visits, page views, and social media mentions. Even though social media participation is only one part of a successful member engagement strategy, the power of two-way engagement is increasingly important to create a long-term relationship with members.

For social media strategy, choose the single best channel with the most active audience. Oftentimes, people create dozens of accounts on social media platforms to increase their brand presence but end up not using any of them.

A better approach is to ask yourself these questions before starting an account:

  • Which channel has the most active target audience?
  • What content do they find most engaging?
  • What is the best time to post for maximum engagements?

Share behind-the-scenes videos, member stories, and event coverage for the best content. You can ask your members to create posts or videos for you. People love being creative, especially when they are asked to share their stories in public.

Engaging members with tactics such as conducting polls on Facebook, posting highlights in your Instagram story, and asking questions on Twitter can help you share more about your organization's work while making them feel like they're part of the conversation.

Create an Unforgettable Onboarding Experience

Onboarding is all about creating your first impression. The better the onboarding experience you provide your members, the higher your engagement will be.

A welcome kit can go a long way when encouraging them to kick start their engagement. This may include a personal email invitation letter, a welcome brochure, a membership card, and discount cards. Whenever multiple members join at the same time, host a welcome event to get them to know each other and your team at the same time.

Find out more engagement tactics to create a memorable onboarding experience for your members in this article.

Provide Different Levels of Membership

As you segment your members according to their demographics and interests, consider grouping them based on their goals, commitments, and financial capabilities. Offer different membership levels with corresponding benefits to cater to these divergent needs.

Make sure to include a variety of ways for them to engage with your association, even for your base plans. As for the premium packages, you can include extra perks such as reserved seats, priority bookings, and extra discounts.

Design an Optimized Association Website

A well-designed website is a key to successful memberships, especially for virtual organizations. In addition, your website must be easy to navigate so that users can find easily what they are looking for.

Ensure you have a separate page for events, memberships, and your story. Highlight your organization's mission through your homepage tagline, so that members can relate emotionally to it every time they see it.

Also, make a member page with their stories, journey, and member directories. As a result, they will feel like important members of your association and will be more motivated to participate.

Monitor and Adjust Your Member Engagement Strategies

track engagement

There is no set formula for your member engagement strategy once you complete it. By monitoring progress, your team can make timely adjustments for opportunities or challenges that may arise.

Analyze your member engagement data and make regular checks to determine whether you are on track to meeting your goals using analytics tools. If your goals don't line up with your progress, you can identify the reasons and make changes to make them more successful.

Also, be sure to stay in touch with your members through surveys and other means of direct feedback. This can provide insight into the experiences of individual members and can help your organization figure out what is working well and what needs to be improved.

Use an Association Management System

When it comes to memberships, your audience looks forward to a well-rounded experience. They want to feel valuable, connected, and part of a cause. Thus, you must have a robust engagement platform to help them:

  • See the bigger picture of your mission and their contribution.
  • Feel deeply connected with your values.
  • Find networking opportunities with other members.

This is where our association management software (AMS) can help you. It assists your organization in maximizing retention by offering a holistic customer experience.

With a retention rate of 82 percent, they are able to engage members through the use of campaigns, event creation, website integration, membership automation, and community apps.

In addition to offering a seamless signup process, Glue Up's CRM offers a premium front-end experience. Using automated emails and push notifications, you can also increase retention using renewal reminders. Moreover, your members feel more included with the use My Glue community app, while having their own place to network privately.

You can also see your members’ engagement by using the analytical dashboard. This helps you make informed decisions while creating or adjusting your engagement strategies.

It also has an integrated feature that integrates it with your website and allows members to view and compare subscription plans. The seamless front and back-end interactions make it easy for:

  • Members to easily switch plans as they wish.
  • And your team to change their plans seamlessly in real-time.

Looking forward to increasing member engagements with Glue Up? Book a demo today to find out more.


What Are Member Engagement Strategies?

Member engagement strategies form a streamlined approach to boost interactions and activities that creates an ideal customer experience after the subscription. It contains various channels of communication to build a relationship with your members, improve their satisfaction, and develop their loyalty.

What Is an Example of an Engagement Strategy?

The best example of a member engagement strategy is a loyalty incentive program. Customers who consistently engage with your brand are rewarded with points, discounts, and special gifts for their loyalty. It not only encourages member engagement but also boosts brand loyalty.

How Do You Create a Membership Strategy?

Creating a membership strategy is a long-term process that involves several steps including:

  1. Do comprehensive research on members and their interactions.
  2. Segment them into member personas and personalize strategies for each group.
  3. Set SMART goals.
  4. Develop plans for targeted content and communications.
  5. Use regular metrics and analytics to measure success.

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