How an App Can Help Falling Membership Rates

Member retention drives a lot of what you do and is a barometer for whether or not you as an organization are meeting expectations. Like it or not, retention rates ultimately tell the tale of your effectiveness. According to Marketing General Incorporated’s (MGI) 2018 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, the majority of associations saw declining or stagnant membership - 25% saw a decrease in numbers, 26% saw no change and only 48% reported membership increases in the last year. 

MGI found that lack of engagement with the organization is the most commonly cited reason for nonrenewal. In fact, 37% of associations list this as a top reason. Just 62% of associations reported that they have a tactical plan for increasing engagement.

Social Media: Not the Be-All End-All

MGI found that Facebook is officially now used by 93% of associations. Twitter is now used by 89%. Despite that, email still holds strong as the most effective member renewal tool followed by word-of-mouth and association events/conferences yielding in the most new members.

There is intense interest in social media and associations are right to use it in order to reach their intended audiences. But if the ROI is negligible or not measurable, then refocusing your strategy is worth a look. It is incumbent upon you to convey your value. While social media is a means to promote and market your value to members and the public, does it actually add value and/or improve the member experience? If your organization had its own private, dedicated app, it can be used similarly to social media platforms but instead fully enhance the member experience. Members are informed, engaged and connected with community without distractions.  

Make It Personal

MGl mentions 55% of associations experiencing a new member increase have used marketing automation to send personalized content. Within an app of your own, you can easily tailor content to your members’ feeds and alert them of new forums, resources or events relevant to them so they may then join in, download or register instantly. The more your members use your app, the more you can view their habits and interests, which ultimately helps you to improve their overall experience. 

Renewal Notifications and Automation

From a practical standpoint, an app can also help with membership retention by deploying push notifications as reminders and automating the payment processes. These tools can alleviate membership churn due to lapses. MGI stated 28% of associations reported individual member lapses were caused by simply forgetting to renew. An intuitive, year-round membership app would serve to continually remind members and even prompt them to renew instantly inside the app, eliminating the need to do so elsewhere. 

Connect Your Industry

MGI found that networking with members in the field is the number one reason people join associations (58%). Creating and making connections is vital for those within associations. Mobile forums and messaging features can really come into play here. The app provides a dedicated platform for members to seek and share insights, resources and advice. 

In short, the number one reason members join associations is to network with other members and the number one reason they leave is a lack of engagement. The solution to falling retention rates lies within an all-encompassing mobile solution for year-round connectivity. 

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Bridget Wendling

12 February 2019