Knowledge Communities

Five trends that membership associations should know about

The way that members interact with membership associations has been evolving since the birth of the Internet. The Covid-19 pandemic caused another significant shift in member and association relations with 47% of associations reporting a decline in membership in 2021. Now, with many individuals and organizations facing budget cuts and economic volatility, there is yet […]
Five trends that membership associations should know about

The way that members interact with membership associations has been evolving since the birth of the Internet. The Covid-19 pandemic caused another significant shift in member and association relations with 47% of associations reporting a decline in membership in 2021. Now, with many individuals and organizations facing budget cuts and economic volatility, there is yet another evolution in how membership associations are viewed by their members. All of this changes how associations reach current and prospective members through marketing. 

So let’s look at five top marketing trends that’ll help you attract and retain members.

1. Cutting through the noise

Let’s face it, the online world is noisy (and getting worse). In order to reach your target, you need to be saying something useful and not adding to the noise that’s already out there. How can you do this? Expert content. 

Find your internal and external experts who can speak knowledgeably on a topic and then leverage their up-to-date insights in everything from written content and discussion threads to video panels. It’s no longer enough to communicate the value of your products and services, you need to constantly reinforce your mission and cement your position as a credible, trusted source.

2. Get targeted

This ties closely with the point above. As the saying goes, if you’re a Jack of all trades, you’re a master in none. Getting niche with your topics and audience will help you to focus marketing resources on the people who are most likely to convert, deliver higher value within that smaller space, become well-known for that niche, and come across as more authoritative and authentic. It directly meets a need that a quarter of members say they want from their association too — access to specialized information.

3. Boomerang members

Much like boomerang employees (who return to their company again), if you have an effective re-engagement strategy you can attract lapsed members back to your association. Given that almost half of membership organizations (as we mentioned at the start) lost members in 2021, trying to encourage former members back into your ranks can be a worthwhile growth tactic. 

How? Show lapsed members that they still matter to your association. Reconnect them with content that shows them what they’re missing out on. Tell them about any new benefits and improvements your association now offers. And gather feedback to understand their reasons for not renewing — then use this to inform your communications to them and how you retain current members.

4. Staying hybrid

The pandemic caused a widespread shift to online events and the impact of this lingers, with 73% of event planners believing that hybrid events will continue to be more common in the future. But have you given any thought to what happens after your event? Increasing engagement before and after an event can deliver value to your members for days and weeks, instead of a one-time thing. It can also generate buzz before an event, if a speaker does a pre-event Q&A, for example, or hosts a discussion thread.

5. Building trust

Trust is becoming a key factor in purchasing decisions (and more so in times of change) with 88% of consumers believing that trust is more important in ever-changing times. The same figure also ranks trust and the experience that a company provides as just as important as its products and services. 

This number rises among association members. More than 93% feel that their association’s role as a trusted source will be extremely important in the future. It’s clearly a competitive driving force when fake news is fuelling a cycle of distrust in established institutions.

Expertise and authority are key when building trust in your membership organization. As is building spaces where members feel they can go (both in-person and online) to meet fellow members and learn knowledge that they can trust. 

Communities are the common thread

Increasingly, membership organizations are turning to online, expert communities to complement their marketing efforts. Online communities are the ideal way to create meaningful, lasting connections between associations and members. Communities can also drive greater value for members, making it more likely that they renew or recommend others to join. 

Hosting a community that is owned by your association, not on a public forum or social media, allows you to create the trusted space your members are crying out for. And having an expert community means knowledge and learning are done every day, among peers, to consistently build your reputation as an authority in your space. 

Want to learn more about the potential of online communities for membership organizations? Download the “Members for life” ebook now.