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How to increase online engagement with current association members

By Jason Stone

For any association or non-profit organization, a strong base of members, sponsors, donors and supporters is crucial. It’s not enough to simply attract new membership; active current members keep your organization thriving. However, it can be a challenge to keep individuals involved. While your association’s website is the perfect platform to engage with members online, many organizations still struggle do so. If your association is experiencing dwindling engagement with your membership base, consider the following tips to boost interaction.

Survey your members

Associations facing this challenge first need to assess why members are not engaging online. Though you should consider your association’s goals when designing your website, you should not assume you know members’ wants and interests.

The best place to begin is to simply ask. Survey your members to learn how they currently use your website and what they want to find or do that is currently not available. Armed with this information, customize your offerings accordingly. By providing value with relevant, usable information and user-friendly functionality, you can create an engaging online experience and give members a reason to return in the future.

Customize and personalize

While website capabilities and content are some of the best ways to demonstrate value to current members, keep in mind that not all individuals’ priorities are the same. In today’s associations, members don’t want to be seen as just another number. They expect you to know their unique preferences and interests to deliver personalized and customized experience. This is where information from your member database comes in to play.  

Identify the different audiences you are trying to reach and consider demographics including job titles, age range, location and membership levels. Data provided by your Association Management System (AMS) about past activity, involvement and habits can help you better cater to individual interests. When members receive newsletters, event invitations and other offerings that align with their personal interests, they are much more likely to positively respond and actively engage.   

Build an online community

While most modern AMSs offer tools for customized email correspondence with members, increasing online engagement requires more than just one-on-one communication. Member-to-member interaction is also key. The great sense of community built through regular, in-person meetings and events can also be extended online through your website.

Member forums, blogs and chatrooms can build a strong online community and provide great added membership value. These features boost engagement by offering members the opportunity to communicate, debate, share information, and provide support to their peers. There are some popular enterprise social networking platforms and products available for member communication, such as HigherLogic, that can easily integrate with a number of popular AMSs.

Leverage your AMS vendor’s expertise

AMS platforms may require varying levels of expertise to incorporate all the tools needed to actively engage members with your website. Some platforms include copy-and-paste JavaScript, others have APIs that require a developer, while platforms such as Engage AMS fully- integrate your website and the administrative back end all into one central system. An AMS vendor with integration experience can ensure all the functionality and software packages you need are connected. Further, a vendor that provides a high level of service and support can ensure your association has the right technology, paired with the right strategy, to keep members interested, informed and involved.  

Analyze for results

Once your association has its engagement strategy and tools in place, monitor their success and learn what is and is not working. Google Analytics can be used to determine how members are actually interacting with your website, and even filters results for more insight into specific demographics. You can track what content is being consumed via metrics like page views and time on site, and use event tracking to monitor interaction with non-HTML content, such as PDFs. Other tools like LuckyOrange and HotJar can be used to easily gauge interaction with your website via heat maps and mouse and click tracking.  Based on these analytics, you can adjust your strategy accordingly to meet your association’s goals.

Ultimately, building a strong association is all about demonstrating and offering value to your members. By providing a personalized online experience that caters to members’ wants and needs, your organization will see increased member participation, retention and loyalty. Contact our experts at Engage to learn more about optimizing your website to meet members’ unique needs and drive engagement results beyond expectations.

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