Even if your association is mid-to-large-sized, growing membership isn’t always easy. It takes ongoing time and effort.
But if your association is like many others, increasing membership is vitally important. In fact, the 2023 Association Trends Study by Community Brands shows that increasing membership is the top priority for associations.
So, what can you do when you need to give your membership a boost? Let’s look at some effective membership growth strategies.
Eight ways to grow membership for your association
Here are eight ways to attract new members and increase membership for your association:
1. Gain insights into your membership data.
Your membership data can give you tremendous insights to help you increase membership. For example, using Nucleus Data Analytics for Associations, which is available in NetForum association management software (AMS) by Community Brands, gives you useful insights through data visualizations.
You can use data visualizations to uncover membership trend data to help you grow your membership. For example, you can see which membership tiers receive the least number of joins so that you can re-evaluate the value of each of membership type and improve member value for tiers that are least popular. You can also see trends in how members change from tier to tier so that you can create targeted campaigns that direct members to the best membership tier for their needs.
2. Ask your members to help grow membership.
Tap into your members’ networks to find new prospective members. It can help to offer your current members an incentive, even if it’s a small one, to get them out there promoting your organization. This word-of-mouth approach is one of the best ways to attract new members and grow membership – and it doesn’t take a great deal of added work or budget on your part.
Another impactful way to get current members to help grow membership for your association is to ask them for testimonials. Invite them to share quotes (written or via video) that talk about why they joined your association and what value they’ve received from their membership. Then, use these testimonials in your membership acquisition campaigns to help attract more prospective members.
3. Use social media ads to attract new members.
With a relatively small investment of time and money, you can get your association in front of prospective members who might not know about you. Start by understanding what social media channels your current members (and prospective members) are using. Then, use paid advertising on those channels to spread the word about your association.
4. Offer an online career center to provide two top member benefits.
Offering an online career center that includes a job board and professional development resources is a great way to attract potential members to your organization. According to the 2023 Association Trends Study, job opportunities and help with career advancement continue to be top priorities for members. These benefits are more important for those members who are early and mid-career. Providing a robust online career center provides members with two of the benefits they value most, which helps you to attract prospective members so that you can convert them to current members.
Setting up an online career center for your association can be easier than you might think. YM Careers by Community Brands offers job board software for associations that helps you build an online job board where employers can easily post job openings and members can easily search and apply for relevant opportunities. A Career Planning Portal is included with each YM Careers-powered job board. It’s a professional development hub that gives professionals in your industry comprehensive career resources to help them grow their careers.
5. Use email marketing campaigns.
If you know who has visited your association’s membership sign-up page but hasn’t joined, then create an email nurturing campaign to address common questions that potential new members might have. For example, one email might highlight top benefits for new members. Another might include a member testimonial. Another might focus on upcoming can’t-miss events for current members. You can make this approach easier by automating the emails so that you don’t have to send them manually.
6. Make joining easier for potential members.
Making the process of joining your association simple and easy helps to ensure that confusion or difficult navigation doesn’t distract someone from joining.
Start by reviewing your website to make sure there’s a clear and compelling path for people to become a member. For example, ask yourself:
- Will first-time visitors know they’re in the right place?
- Can they immediately see the value you provide to members?
- Is it obvious what impact membership will make on their life?
- Is it easy to figure out how to join?
Once you evaluate your website, if anything is unclear or challenging to navigate, then make some adjustments.
Next, simplify your online membership form. Keep in mind that lengthy forms are a turn-off, so be sure to ask for only what’s necessary in your online membership application to process each new membership. You can ask members for more data later.
7. Offer potential members an incentive to join your association.
Sign-up incentives are a great way to encourage prospective members to complete the sign-up process. Consider offering a bonus, such as a discount on an annual membership fee, a free gift (like branded merchandise from your association), or a free training or continuing education course.
8. Celebrate new members.
Make new members feel welcome and appreciated by including a new member list in your association’s email newsletter. Consider hosting a new member luncheon at your association’s next annual conference. These are effective ways to welcome new members into your community and start your association’s relationship with them on a positive note.