We all want more engaged members because we’re told that’s the key to retention and increased member referrals, but how do you engage members without seeming like that desperate kid on the playground trying to make friends? Engagement at its easiest levels means connecting with your members on their terms and sharing things they find value in.
The key to successfully increasing member engagement is to understand exactly what it is. Engagement at its most basic level means connecting with your members on their terms and sharing things they find value in.
But if it’s that simple why do so many membership organizations struggle with it? Because there are a lot of things people forget to do when they are launching engagement programs.
Most Commonly Forgotten Pieces of Chamber Member Engagement
Understanding Your Norm
It’s great to hear that a chamber increased their retention by 20% but that’s not going to happen for you if you’re already at 92%. It’s important you know your numbers before you try to change them.
Knowing Your Members
Member engagement involves knowing who your members are and what they like, but you also need to know what they do. it’s unrealistic to set activity expectations on engagement if a large percentage of your members don’t come to your events. Some people are “participants.” Others prefer to use your chamber for resources that don’t involve ticketed events. You can market to these “nonparticipants” all day but it’s really hard to turn a lurker into a participant, nor do you need to. If they are finding value in their membership, it doesn’t matter if you never see them at a single event. Successful member engagement engages members in the way that they enjoy and find valuable. It’s not the same for everyone so it’s important to know what types of members you have.
You can easily do this through a Net Promoter type evaluation. In a survey like this you ask your current members one question — would you refer a friend or peer to the chamber?. There’s a scale of how likely they are to do such a thing. If you’re able to conduct a survey like this that is not completely anonymous, meaning you could easily tell those who rank your value high (they’re willing to refer you) and compare it to their activity history, you could tell which members value you even if they don’t come to events. Now take a look at what they do value and participate in.
Engagement is only successful if you reach out in a way that members appreciate. Reaching out just because you think it’s trendy or marketers are telling you that you need to, will do little to move your actual engagement numbers.
Want more member engagement strategies for a ground-up approach? Check out our Member Engagement Primer.