The key is conveying members’ importance to the association

10 November 2021
Topic(s)
Membership

Effective communication is vital in any relationship. That’s especially true when it comes to associations and their members. The way in which associations convey benefits, opportunities, and business matters, like renewal, sets a precedent for member interaction.

When a member is engaged in an organization, they may enthusiastically look forward to renewal each year. For members who may not be as involved in an association, the renewal communications may be the association’s most important message to help retain them and build a stronger, longer relationship. 

Make the Greeting Personal
Effective renewal communication begins with the introduction. The first words, “Dear…” may have a huge impact on whether the letter or email is read or taken seriously. A greeting such as “Dear Member” is impersonal and likely to have a member stop reading immediately.

Use a member’s preferred name in the introduction, as it creates a personal connection and an understanding they are well-known as an individual within the association.

Customize Your Message
Using a preferred name is only the beginning. The conversation may have been started but it’s important to remember that each member has different values in an association. At any point, when a member receives renewal communications, they may automatically think, “what has my association done for me lately?” They are weighing the value of membership and the benefits the association has provided them against the cost.

Associations and other membership organizations can segment their membership list to create a more personalized message. “You don’t want to develop messaging that uses a blanket approach hoping it’ll resonate. Take the time to define your member types (personas) and craft content that speaks to them directly,” said Christina Bertino, marketing manager. Transactional communications can be detrimental to building long-lasting relationships with members.

For instance, with newer members, highlight specific member benefits that they may find most beneficial, such as networking events. For long-standing members, a personal thank you note could work wonders. For current committee members and volunteers, highlight the association’s success over the past year and acknowledge their contributions. Regardless of member type, highlighting the value the organization provides to members can go a long way.

Give Members Opportunities to Contribute
When members receive their customized message, it’s important to provide them with unique experiences and a chance to contribute to the association. That way, they may see beyond cost by recognizing value.

One way associations may get members to contribute is through a survey. Members are looking for a sense of belonging as well as an understanding of what they say matters to an association. A survey can also be a great way to highlight tangible benefits the association provides. Other ways to contribute are through continuing education and networking opportunities.

Make the Renewal Urgent, Yet Easy
The goal for renewals communication is no secret. Members know what’s coming next in the message, so associations should be confident in making the pitch. Ask members to renew their membership immediately. Members will be more likely to renew if there is an effective sense of urgency — i.e., they don’t feel overwhelmed by the process.

To create effective urgency, provide members with an easy renewal process. “If your renewal process is cumbersome and not digital or automated, then it’s time to start making it easier for your members to renew,” said Bertino. Include instructions in the letter or a link in an email so members can easily renew. A quick and easy process can lead to higher retention and ultimately association success.

Say Thanks
With the smooth renewal process listed out for members, be sure not to forget one of the key components of your message: saying thank you! Make this message warm and personal to remind them why they became involved originally.

Stay Consistent
No matter how the process or membership management systems work, take the opportunity to reach out to all members throughout the year, because every moment a member is part of an association is part of the renewal process. “Renewal communications occur year-round through larger membership engagement initiatives, personalized communications, connection points, and by providing value, tools and resources to support your membership,” Bertino said. “You are requesting their renewal every day, every time you interact with them.”

Discover how associations that demonstrated their value increased their membership.

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