16 Tips for Driving a Stellar Member Experience in Your Association [With a Comprehensive Guide to Journey Mapping]

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16 Tips for Driving a Stellar Member Experience in Your Association [With a Comprehensive Guide to Journey Mapping]

Content Strategist
14 minutes read
July 15, 2022

Last updated: December 1, 2023

According to Customer Service Statistics 2023, 90% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. The same applies to the members of your association.

A great membership drive attracts people to your club, but the experience is what makes them stay with you in the long run.

Thus, the feelings, thoughts, and benefits your members receive from your association can influence their participation. This, in turn, affects your revenue and growth.

In this article, we will walk you through everything you need to know to create a stellar member experience, including:

So let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

  • Member experience refers to the overall feeling members have towards an association. It includes every interaction a member has such as signing up, accessing benefits, and communicating with staff.

  • Positive member experiences lead to improved membership renewal rates, expanded reach to new members through word-of-mouth referrals, increased engagement, loyalty, and reduced churn.

  • Journey mapping allows deeper insight into a member's emotional experience and helps identify pain points, opportunities for improvement, and gaps in unmet needs.

  • Some best practices for improving membership experience include writing a membership agreement, keeping fees transparent, personalizing interactions, establishing networking opportunities, and offering exclusive member events.

  • The right membership management software like Glue Up can automate workflows and provide members with a great experience that boosts retention and renewal. 

What Is Member Experience?

Members' experience refers to the feeling they have toward your association from an emotional and functional standpoint. How they interact with you, feel about your brand and what they value is all part of their experience with your organization.

It includes every interaction a member has with your organization - from signing up, to accessing member benefits, to communicating with staff and leadership.

At its core, member experience is about meeting and exceeding a member's expectations at each touchpoint.

Why Does Member Experience Matter?

Similar to customer experience, a member experience examines the behavior and interaction of customers who subscribe to be a part of your business.

Thus, member experience is key to delivering consistent value across all channels, including:

What Does a Positive Member Experience Can Do?

Promotes Membership Retention

member retention


A positive member experience leads to improved membership renewal and retention rates.

When your members are highly satisfied with your organization, they are much more likely to renew their membership year after year. This saves you time and money that would otherwise be spent continually recruiting new members.

Expand an Organization’s Reach to New Members

Satisfied members are your organization's best marketers.

When they have a positive experience, they are eager to tell friends, family, and colleagues about the value they get from their membership. This word-of-mouth marketing helps your organization grow its membership base exponentially over time.

Improves Member Engagement

Members who are enthusiastic about their experience with an organization tend to be more engaged. They are more likely to take advantage of your member benefits, attend events, volunteer, and make additional donations.

Increases Member Loyalty

Outstanding member experiences build emotional connections between members and you. This drives loyalty, making them less likely to explore other options and more likely to stick with your organization long-term.

Reduced Churn Rate

reduce churn rate

When your organization delivers positive member experiences, it leads to lower membership churn rates. Simply put, fewer members cancel when they see ongoing value in their membership.

Since acquiring new members often costs more than retaining existing ones, reducing churn can substantially impact your organization's bottom line.

What Does Member Experience Include?

Providing a great member experience involves carefully meeting your consumers' needs and expectations. Thus, it should be:

Streamlined: Whether it’s filling out a membership form or opting for renewal, make your processes smooth for your members.

Personalized: Everyone needs to feel valued. If you are using a one-size-fits-all for your members, you are probably going to lose memberships. Thus, depending on the personality, past experience, and interests, you will need to take a customized approach for each member.

Accessible: You need to keep everything at arm's length from your members. By making it difficult to reach you, e.g. not responding to emails or not answering the phone, you lose a point to your competitors.

How Do Emotions Affect the Membership Experience?

role of emotions in member experience

According to Diane Magers, CEO of Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), 85 percent of our experiences are emotional, and only 15 percent are rational.

Apparently, associations have not tapped into this fact as marketers have. Think about how subconscious messages and emotions may affect a member's experience during a joining or onboarding process.

Consider both the emotional and functional needs of the participants when thinking about improving their experience.

Increasing the attention, participation, retention, and referrals of your members will boost your association's revenue if you are able to meet both types of needs.

Importance of Membership Journey Mapping in Improving Member Experience

Journey mapping allows deep insight into a member's emotional experience during their association with your organization. Members are not only viewed through their actions or involvement but also through how they feel.

All-in-all, journey mapping helps in:

Identifying Pain Points

Journey mapping leads to increased empathy towards members.

As prospects and members move through different experiences with your association, you understand what they are thinking and feeling.

This gives you a better understanding of the current membership experience and the factors that influence it such as:

  • Which part of the journey causes the most emotional and functional pain?
  • What are the main emotional needs members’ conceive during interactions?

Enhancing Members’ Satisfaction

Once you identify the members’ pain points, it allows you to explore opportunities for improvement. Considering how these improvements might improve outcomes and member satisfaction, for example:

  • What opportunities does the association have to improve the member experience?
  • Is there any new technology, talent, resource, or process that could prove useful for enhancing members’ satisfaction?

Identifying Gaps

Your new insights and ideas help you identify gaps in needs that remain unmet.

With a journey map and a plan of action, you outline how to improve the experience. As a final step, you get a working pilot version of the new experience to evaluate the results.

How to Journey Map a Member’s Experience?

How to Journey Map a Member’s Experience

A member journey map is a visual illustration of your members’ emotions and perceptions over the course of their interaction with your association. Thus, It has four stages:


Investigate the needs and wants of your members to learn what constitutes a positive experience.

Issues and Opportunities

Discover what's preventing members from enjoying a better experience and what can be done to improve it.


Create innovative and personalized engaging experiences that address emotional and functional needs.


Increase business value and membership metrics by utilizing the results of your journey mapping exercise.

16 Best Ways for Improving Membership Experience in your Association

1. Write a Membership Agreement

member agreement

An agreement between you and a member is intended to clarify expectations and guidelines as well as establish a roadmap for them. This legal document ensures mutual benefits between both parties, where the association will be paid by members, in return for receiving services. At the same time, it also explains your membership model in detail. The following elements should be included in your contract to make it comprehensive:

  • Membership rights and responsibilities (including payments, licenses, and indemnity clauses)
  • Disclaimers for customers
  • Provisions for administrative procedures

The agreement must be signed and dated by both parties to be official. It's best to have a lawyer draft your membership agreement to ensure it's legally correct.

2. Keep Your Membership Fees Transparent

You should be upfront and honest with your members about the subscription fees. No one wants to get a list of hidden charges after they have signed up for the membership. By being transparent from the very beginning, you build a trusting relationship with them.

Clearly communicate the use of membership fees in the registration forms. In the same email, describe how membership fees are allocated. For example, you can include a detailed breakdown of how much money is spent on the operations and how much goes to the benefits.

If you are looking for effective membership pricing strategies, read our experts’ guide here.

3. Always Personalize

make sure to personalize

Providing members with a personalized experience is the best way to increase engagement.

A personal touch like adding their first name to your email newsletter, suggesting a job based on their past searches, or suggesting classes based on their educational background are easy, yet very effective tactics to keep them motivated.

Member engagement tactics don't have to be challenging at all. It only takes some testing, research, and inspiration. Take a moment to analyze your members’ feedback and involvement. Personalize your strategies based on that data.

4. Decide What Your Value Proposition Is

Your value proposition determines what sets you apart from your competitors. It is a driving force that keeps your members hooked with you every time they have a chance to choose other associations.

Identify what makes you unique by brainstorming your organization's positive attributes. It could be as simple as sponsoring a nonprofit, hiring volunteers, or offering hands-on training with certifications.

You should also consider what other organizations in your industry are doing. Visit their websites to see what events they are hosting, who they are partnering with, and what their annual accomplishments are.

This comparison will help you identify the gaps in your mission and suggestions for how to address them in your engagement strategies.

5. Establish Networking Opportunities

Providing more networking opportunities is a great way for clubs to drive membership. This is because a big reason why people join associations is to build relevant connections that they cannot find anywhere else.

Therefore, offering members the opportunity to network with each other, whether online or offline, is an important part of enhancing the member experience.

A member directory is a great way for members to get to know one another. Making groups on social media and arranging offline/ online events are also very effective for boosting connections.

You can also arrange speed networking events where members can meet one-on-one while sharing their virtual business cards.

Curious how it works? Get in touch with Glue Up to arrange your speed networking event with us.

6. Create a Member-Friendly Website

member friendly website

A member-friendly website acts as a central hub that facilitates communication and information sharing between your members. Usually, these are gated sites with member-based content including events, forums, email lists, and podcasts.

To increase your digital customer engagement, add a gated section on your website, giving access to your members only.

If you want to level up, consider launching a community app exclusively for them. This private social media app will make them feel secure. At the same time, they will be able to stay connected all the time through their phones.

Improve retention while providing an impeccable experience through announcing training webinars, surveys, and events on the app.

Not sure where to start? Check our community management software to set up an engaging platform today.

7. Streamline Membership Renewals

streamline renewal

Renewal processes that are confusing or difficult can slow down the membership experience. A good example is The Marketing Society of Kenya which enhanced members’ experience by offering an easy and convenient membership application and renewal process.

They used Glue Up for automating members’ registrations and renewal processes and sending push notifications and email reminders for renewals. Furthermore, they created an automated confirmation and invoice process that streamlined the renewal process.

The analytics revealed member interactions throughout the year, which helped them identify where engagement was lacking.

8. Provide Membership Rankings

You can improve your members' overall experience by offering them fun and creative membership names and rankings.

In addition to being fun names and rankings for visitors, these titles act as an invitation to become a member of your institution's community. As a result, they gain a greater sense of identity and a closer relationship with your organization.

9. Offer Members-Only Events


As well as being a great engagement strategy, it is also a great way for clubs to drive membership.

You can build a sense of community among your customers by hosting member-only events. Also, they allow institutions to get creative and have fun by utilizing whatever event ideas their team comes up with to increase membership engagement.

When it comes to enhancing interest among members, exclusive events like wine and dines, bowling days and hi-tea are a great choice.

10. Offer Membership Incentives

While some members subscribe to your club to support a cause or network, others join to take advantage of the incentives at your club. Don't forget to take care of them.

You can improve their experience by providing discounts and promotions on snacks, drinks, gifts, and other goods.

11. Focus on EDMs

EDMs are a great way to engage your members by:

  • Thanking and appreciating them for their involvement.
  • Reminding them of all the exciting new events that are coming up at your organization.
  • Providing them with interesting links and information they might find useful.

Don't limit yourself to dry emails that focus on your organization only. Be creative, fun, and personal to make them more interesting.

Take this example from the Spanish Chamber of Commerce South Africa which enhanced members’ experience by launching mass email campaigns. They set up automated EDMS using Glue Up and increased their email open and click-through rates, renewal status, and social media engagements.

They also used member engagement scorecards to assess member engagement over time and guide initiatives to improve customer retention and loyalty.

12. Virtual Tour of Behind The Scenes

It's hard to find anything more exclusive than a behind-the-scenes tour of your organizational activities.

Make your members feel exclusive by involving them in your backstage tours. Make small videos of these scenes and post them on your social media pages.

It will not only engage your members but also improve your organization in terms of brand awareness.

13. Maintain an Active Membership Calendar

event calender

Publish a membership calendar online and update it on a regular basis.

By sending members a monthly calendar, you can remind them of all the events, exhibits, and seasonal festivities that are coming up.

In this way, you can reduce the number of emails your members receive and provide them with a bird's-eye view of all the benefits their membership provides.

15. Provide a Strong Digital Experience

Since people are increasingly adopting digitization, it’s important to keep yourself informed with online presence and digital offerings.

Build an intuitive, easy-to-navigate website that makes key info readily accessible. Enrich your digital offerings by providing access to a wealth of resources such as whitepapers, webinars, and discussion forums.

Make sure to empower members with the ability to update their contact details, sign up for events, and engage with one another through online platforms like the My Glue app.

By delivering comprehensive digital access, you cater to the growing member demand for services that are both mobile and available on demand.

15. Don't Make It Too Complicated

Don't forget to keep things simple and fun. You have done the hard work of converting visitors into memberships. It's now time to engage them with creative strategies.

Don't overthink things and be confident in what you've accomplished. Make sure your members remain upbeat and optimistic by doing more of what you've done to attract them.

16. Use the Right Membership Management Software

membership management software

The right membership management software not only automates your workflows but grows your community engagements as well. It provides your members with the ultimate experience they are looking for, increasing retention and renewal rates.

Glue Up is an engagement management software that handles memberships from gaining new members to forming a long-lasting engagement. Using a powerful CRM as the main line of communication between different modules, the ecosystem is able to streamline your processes, build your community and automate your workflows.

Each module has been designed to increase engagement with your community while making our customers more effective and flexible. From managing registrations and collecting payments to facilitating successful events, the ecosystem automates all your membership processes.

Additionally, Glue Up offers a private community for your club that fosters relationships between members by allowing them to share knowledge, create posts, and organize events. With the new 1-on-1 chat and business card sharing option, they can build connections and long-lasting relationships.

Thus, associations that are using Glue Up have average member retention of 82%. Interested in being one of them? Book a demo now and explore our platform today.



What is member engagement?

Generally, member engagement refers to the ongoing interaction between an organization and its members. However, when understood correctly, it requires a two-way emotional investment from both parties in the long run.

While members of your organization care deeply about its mission, you strive to consistently provide them with a valuable experience.

What is a membership as a customer?

Businesses create membership programs in which customers are able to register for certain benefits. Business memberships can be free or require a fee based on what the business decides.

Additionally, memberships allow businesses to collect valuable customer data to improve their understanding of customer behavior. When customers are able to enjoy all the benefits of memberships, they are more likely to stick with a business, cultivating customer loyalty.

How can organizations improve membership?

Organizations can grow their memberships using various strategies, including:

  • Providing perks and benefits
  • Offering digital membership cards
  • Hosting events
  • Offering networking opportunities
  • Creating referral programs
  • Offering volunteering opportunities
  • Automating their membership workflows

How do nonprofit organizations increase membership?

The best way to increase memberships in nonprofit organizations is to organize charity runs and recruit volunteers. Depending on your budget, you can use organic social media marketing or go for paid digital ads for membership recruitment.

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