Membership Madness Revisited

Posted by TMG on April 17, 2013 3:40:00 AM

Recently, Talley’s Association Management Services Division made the trip to the Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives’ March Membership Madness half day education session.  Led by Todd Von Deak, CAE and Ethan Gray, CAE, the session provided a unique overview of multiple membership issues.  Instead of a traditional session focused on issues that Todd and Ethan picked out, this session was totally crowd sourced.  The direction of the session was dependent on the attendees and what they wanted to cover.  This unique session format provided the attendees the opportunity to engage not only with the presenters, but also fellow attendees; which included a group of attendees who attended via virtual video conference.
So, what did we cover?  First, we dove into member retention; something every association faces.  Some key points were how to identify your year one touch points for members.  How are you contacting your members in their first year of membership?  Are you making a good first impression, one that will make a member’s renewal decision a no-brainer?  Another point was how often you are seeking feedback from your members.  Are you surveying your first year members in some format, to get a feel for their perceived value in their membership?  This does not have to come from a standard survey, but it can come from informal communications and direct calls to check in with new members.
Another hot topic that everyone had a say in was data management and technology.  The growing reliance on technology in daily life increases the burden on associations to keep up.  This burden comes in having an engaging web presence not only on your website but in your communications, whether that be email or via social networks.  The new norm is to have your membership experience be self service online, being able to renew, update your info, and connect to fellow members all online on the member’s schedule.
What was surprising to some in the session was the universal trouble with keeping your data updated.  Association’s of all sizes and budgets face the same issue when it comes to keeping your membership data up to date.  Members move on to new jobs, change emails (a vital communication link for most associations) all of which can cut your communication line to that member.  While there is no magic spell for solving this problem, there are ways to help ease your data troubles.  One is to personalize your communications as much as you can.  Keep your members data in front of them so they are more likely to update it right away when they see outdated info.  Another is to give them every opportunity to update their information.  In your regular emails, whether that is in newsletters or other notices make sure you include a specific message and link to where they can update their info.
One example that we have implemented at Talley is to have a dedicated email campaign throughout the year to update user information.  This quarterly email is simple and to the point, “We want you to have the best possible membership experience and to do that we need to keep your information updated, here is what we have, let us know if it has changed.”  These emails dramatically improve the integrity of our client data and keep their members engaged throughout the year.  It also provides us with another one of those valuable touch points that are vital to winning the retention wars I touched on earlier.
Overall, the session was highly engaging and provided a great forum to hear from other association management professionals.  The Talley team was able to share some of our membership best practices and also gain a new perspective from the other attendees.  So, what are your membership madness topics?  Are you facing these same issues or found a new way to deal with some of these types of issues?

Contact Us