Increasing Membership Registration: 5 Tips for Associations

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As an association, your goal is to provide valuable resources and opportunities for your members. Your members are the reason for everything you do and are the heart and soul of the organization. They rely on you for resources, and you rely on them for a consistent revenue stream. That means much of your focus should be centered around increasing and maintaining the network of members you’re connected with.

As you do this, it will also be important to enhance member involvement. By promoting professional relationships among members, producing more resources for them, and creating greater opportunities, your membership organization will strengthen its value proposition and membership value.

However, the first step of recruiting potential members and getting current members to renew can be tricky. In this post, we’ll walk you through five tips you can follow to increase membership growth:

As you follow these 5 tips, you’ll be able to find and connect with new people and improve your member retention.

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1. Provide Membership Perks 

One of the best ways to attract new members to your association is to assess (and improve, if needed) the membership benefits. In other words, ask yourself, “What are my members getting out of their membership?” 

If the resources and opportunities you’re offering are worth the cost of membership dues, prospective members will see it’s a no-brainer to join your association.  

Here are some of the most valuable resources that associations can provide for their membership base: 

  • Conferences: Conferences are a great way for professionals to connect and learn. Attract people to your association membership by offering discounted conference registration or access to exclusive events. You can even host your conference virtually
  • Member Events: Make your membership more appealing by offering exclusive access to events. People will be motivated to register for a membership if a great speaker or entertainer is participating.
  • Re-Certification/Continuing Education Courses: Many professionals have to stay on top of their certifications or want to pursue more education in their field. Fill these needs by offering educational opportunities that are either member-only or discounted after the cost of dues. Remember that busy professionals need a convenient way to fit education into their schedules, so consider offering courses online
  • Job Boards: Many people join associations for access to a larger online community. One benefit of belonging to a community is that you can rely on it to help you find opportunities. Create a job board on your membership program’s website. Job seekers and employers will be able to turn to it as a resource to find the right people or opportunities they want. 
  • Network Directories: Again, community is key. Offer a members-only directory so members can connect, strengthening their professional connections and ties to the association. 
  • Insurance Offerings: Some associations offer group insurance policies. A benefit like this can be attractive if your members are primarily self-employed.

Remember, you know your association best. As you’re looking for ways to increase membership marketing and draw in more members, consider what your specific community wants from you and work to offer those resources as member benefits.

2. Make Your Association’s Website User-Friendly

Your website is key to how you gain and retain members. Members rely on your association’s website to pay dues, connect, and get information about the opportunities you’re offering. 

If your website is difficult to navigate, members will be less inclined to visit it or to follow through with payments. So what can you do to optimize your site? 

Morweb’s roundup of website best practices suggests you try the following: 

  • Keep your branding consistent. Make sure any fonts, logos, or colors you use on marketing materials and promotional materials are the same that you use on your website. This consistency makes you easy to find and trust and helps your association appear organized.
  • Make sure your site loads quickly. Reduce the number of redirects your site requires and remove any unused code that might be slowing your site down. The last thing you want is for members to get frustrated with how long your site takes to load and decide to leave. 
  • Optimize your site for every device. Whether they’re using a tablet, computer, or mobile phone, users should have a positive, streamlined experience with your website and be able to get the information they need. 

These ideas for website optimization focus on the online experience members and prospective members have on their end. But you’ll also need to be mindful of the association management software (AMS) you’re using to manage your members. 

According to Fonteva’s overview of AMS systems, the AMS you choose should help you gather and organize information about your association members. When considering different options for your AMS, you should look for a system that can provide the following features: 

  • Membership management
  • Member Portal
  • Event management
  • Financial management
  • Communication management
  • Reporting tools
  • eCommerce

By using the right software, you’ll be equipped with the right tools to manage your members and gain valuable insights to stay organized. This will allow you to focus on more membership recruitment and retention strategies.

3. Reach Out to Existing Members’ Networks

When it comes to finding new members, it can be hard to know where to begin. However, your existing members often have connections to more professionals or alumni who aren’t part of your association. 

By using your members’ connections, you can gain access to people you haven’t been able to find on your own. Plus, relying on members for recruitment suggestions is a great way to get them involved. You can even incentivize your members to refer their colleagues or friends by gamifying the process and offering prizes or extra member perks, like swag or free tickets to an upcoming event.  

Another benefit to tapping into your existing members’ networks is that new recruits will be more likely to register for membership because a person they know and trust is already part of the association.

4. Plan Events Specifically Marketed to Prospective Members

Sometimes people want to join an association but are reluctant to do so because they aren’t sure how to “break in” to the community they want to be a part of. It’s your job as an association to make your organization feel accessible to newcomers and promote membership engagement.  

One great way to come across as welcoming to new members is to host events specifically for prospective members. So much of what associations do targets existing members—and rightly so—but it’s a good idea to go out of your way and connect with new people. 

Whether you host a virtual or hybrid information session or a lecture with a great keynote speaker, you’ll want to be mindful of how you market your chosen event. 

Try the following strategies: 

  • Make college students your target audience. By targeting younger members, professional associations will be able to connect with students who are incoming professionals in their field. Alumni associations can tap into school loyalty to get students registered for their alumni association before they leave school.
  • Advertise the event on social media. Social media will help you reach younger prospective members. Plus, existing members can share the event details with their friends, tapping into their social networks as mentioned above. 
  • Ensure event registration is easy. If someone is on the fence about registering for a membership and wants to attend the event to learn more, you want to make sure they follow through with attending the event. Make it easy for them to register for the event online and it’s more likely that they will show up.

Hold off on pushing for association membership until the actual event. To avoid coming on too strong, wait until your attendees are at the event to begin talking about joining and membership fees. Give them a chance to get to know the association and the perks, and then provide them with information on registering. This will make the process of joining your association less overwhelming.

As you plan events targeting prospective members, focus on what would convince them to join your association. This will guide you as you’re planning these events. 

5. Strategize to Retain Members 

Once you’re consistently recruiting new members, you’ll need to shift your focus to retaining your association’s membership numbers. This shift is crucial because you aim to keep new members engaged and encourage existing members to renew their memberships when the time comes.

To do this, you can use your association membership management software. For example, if you want to get members to participate in an event focused on renewing memberships, use your AMS to streamline the process of hosting that event. Combine membership renewal and ticket purchasing online, and use your software to store attendees’ contact information. This way you can follow up with anyone who might not have had the chance to renew their membership during event registration. 

You can also streamline the process of paying dues online with an easy-to-use payment form. The easier it is to pay dues, the more likely members are to continue paying them. 

On top of streamlining your online processes for payments and registration, you’ll want to offer ways for members to take on more responsibility in the association. For example, you might get members involved with leading committees within their local chapters. While attending conferences and taking courses is an important part of being in an association, taking ownership of the organization by being in a leadership position is also a great way to make members feel like they’re needed long-term.

Increasing Member Engagement for Your Associations

As an association, you care about making sure your members are engaged and connected. When you strategize to recruit and retain members, you can grow your association and connect people to opportunities that will benefit them in their professional circles. 

With the five tips outlined—providing membership perks, simplifying your website’s user experience, leveraging existing networks, hosting events for prospective members, and crafting retention strategies—you’re well-equipped to enhance your association’s appeal and effectiveness. 

Remember, the core of your efforts lies in creating a supportive community that values member’s contributions. By focusing on delivering value, facilitating professional growth, and ensuring a seamless experience, your association will not only attract new members but also inspire loyalty and active participation among existing ones.

About The Author
Asaf Darash
CEO and Founder of Regpack

Asaf, Founder and CEO of Regpack, has extensive experience as an entrepreneur and investor. Asaf has built 3 successful companies to date, all with an exit plan or that have stayed in profitability and are still functional. Asaf specializes in product development for the web, team building and in bringing a company from concept to an actualized unit that is profitable.

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