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Increasing Membership Registration: 5 Tips for Associations

Increase your membership registration with these five tips.

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

As you do this, it will also be important to work on enhancing member involvement. By building professional relationships between members, producing more resources for them, and providing opportunities such as conferences, events, and continuing education, your association will be strengthened. 

But that first step of recruiting new members and getting members to renew their memberships can be tricky. In this post, we’ll walk you through five tips you can follow to increase membership registration:

  1. Provide great membership perks
  2. Make your association’s website easy to use 
  3. Reach out to existing members’ networks
  4. Plan an event specifically marketed to prospective members
  5. Strategize to retain members

As you follow these tips, you’ll be able to find and connect with new people and hang on to current members. They’ll benefit from your association and be a valuable part of your professional circle, strengthening the mutually beneficial relationship between association and members. 

1. Provide great membership perks 

One of the best ways to attract new members to your association is to assess (and improve, if needed) the perks you offer. 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 and current members will want to renew. But what are alumni or professionals looking for when considering membership in your association? 

Here are some of the most sought-after resources that associations can provide: 

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

2. Make your association’s website easy to use

Your website is key to how you gain and retain your members. In their day-to-day lives, members old and new will rely on your association’s website to pay dues, connect with each other, and get information about the opportunities you’re offering. 

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

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

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 to gather and organize information about your members. When considering different options for your AMS, you should look for a system that can provide the following features: 

Using the right software on our end will set you up with the right tools to manage your members and stay organized. Then you’ll be able to focus on recruiting and retention. 

3. Reach out to existing members’ networks

When it comes to finding new members, it can be hard to know where to start. But 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.  

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

4. Plan an event specifically marketed to prospective members

Sometimes people want to join an association but are reluctant to do so because they aren’t sure about how they can “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

One great way to come across as welcoming to new members is to host an event 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 to 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: 

As you work on planning an event specifically for prospective members, focus on what they need to know to be convinced that it’s worth their while to be part of your association. This will guide you as you plan the event.

5. Strategize to retain members 

Once you’re consistently recruiting new members, you’ll need to shift your focus to retaining your members, because you want to hold on to new members and get existing members to renew their memberships with you when the time comes. 

To do this, you can use your association membership management software. For example, if you want to get members participating in an event focused on renewing memberships, use your AMS to streamline the process of hosting that event. Combine membership renewal and ticket purchasing together online, and use your software to store attendees’ contact information so 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 in leading and running committees within their local chapters. While attending conferences and taking courses is an important part of being in an association, taking ownership in the organization by being in a leadership position is also a great way to make members feel like they’re needed long-term. 

As an association, you care about making sure your members are engaged and connected to each other. 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. 

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