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Building Your Membership Program Through Custom Engagement

You’ve heard it a thousand times: “We need to increase our memberships!” However, increasing memberships and increasing the number of returning members really go hand in hand. How can you best accomplish both of these goals? By increasing targeted engagement.

Why engage current members?

If we engage our current members, we’ll create ambassadors who’ll spread the word about our organization and the benefits of membership. As an added bonus, we’ll also get more renewing members!

How do you increase engagement?
5576ca8bd9208657e7a7f3a8b1e4e34c-huge-neBefore you can answer this question, you need to answer another question: what is engagement—or what is the right type of engagement? Sadly, more funny cat videos will not increase engagement—or at least not the type of engagement you want and need (unless your organization works with cats). Engagement is getting people to build their relationships with your organization. And when it comes to building engagement, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. You need to identify the type of persona you want to engage and the goal of that engagement, such as becoming a member, renewing a membership, or using membership benefits.

What’s a persona? And what does it have to do with membership programs?

A persona is a data-driven but fictionalized representation of a core constituent segment. So for membership programs, a persona would be a grouping of similar types of members or perspective members where you create a fictionalized version of a person in that group. For your membership programs, you may have a persona for your active members, for your non-active members, and for your prospective members. You could create more personas to further represent your unique groups of members or prospective members.

Why create personas?

Personas give you a person to imagine instead of a large group. For example, let’s say you have 300 members who don’t use their membership benefits, and your boss asked you to engage each of them through a targeted communication and engagement plan. Would you rather try to create a targeted mailing for 300 people or one for Johana, a persona created to represent the members who never use their member benefits? 

When do you need to start engaging?
Studies show that engagement is key at the time someone learns about your organization but also throughout their entire lifecycle with your organization. You can’t create a one-size-fits-all engagement approach, but you also can’t create 300 different approaches. Use personas to identify the right groups of people you want to engage, and then use the persona information to determine the right types of engagement. 

Where can you learn more about personas and membership engagement?

In the Organizational Best Practices: Marketing—Personas workshop, learn the benefits and the process of creating and working with personas. In the Organizational Best Practices: Membership—Engagement workshop, learn how to engage your members from day one—and keep them engaged using industry insights and best practices. Want to learn how the “how-to” for the insights you’ll gain in these OBP workshops? Register for the Raiser’s Edge: Membership Management course.

Share your favorite membership engagement ideas in the blog comments or out on the Organizational Best Practices Community!
Posted by Melissa Rancour on Mar 21, 2019 12:04 PM America/New_York

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Great suggestions!
  • Posted Mon 25 Mar 2019 11:49 AM EDT
I've never taken any of the OBP workshops, Thanks for linking them here so I can sign up!
  • Posted Mon 25 Mar 2019 06:07 PM EDT
Just coming off a conference where every session I attended was about engagement and stewardship. This is just driving it all home!
  • Posted Wed 27 Mar 2019 08:44 AM EDT
What are some ways we can use Raiser's Edge to track member engagement? Specifically, as a museum I want to track each time a member visits, but our admissions/ticketing are done in a separate POS that doesn't interface with RE. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!  

I'll be sure to check out the Membership workshops - thanks for sharing!
  • Posted Wed 27 Mar 2019 12:25 PM EDT
Hi Adrienne, 

Great question! You could import them as actions in Raiser's Edge if you can get your POS to track who is coming in on an Excel spreadsheet. 

Hope that helps!
  • Posted Wed 27 Mar 2019 01:23 PM EDT
Thanks for the great suggestion, Melissa!  I'm still a newbie at Raiser's Edge - is it possible to inclue the Actions in a query or some other data-pull? 
  • Posted Fri 29 Mar 2019 03:51 PM EDT
Hi Adrienne, 

Yes, you would be able to use the actions in a query or anything else. You could add an Action category so that it is easier to pull. 

Happy Monday! 
  • Posted Mon 01 Apr 2019 10:18 AM EDT
I'll share this information with my colleagues.  Thanks!
  • Posted Wed 10 Apr 2019 10:59 AM EDT
Great information!
  • Posted Thu 09 May 2019 09:50 AM EDT
Great advice! Thanks!
  • Posted Tue 09 Jul 2019 02:56 PM EDT