What does the future hold for membership engagement?

DateJune 2023

Membership engagement is the holy grail for membership organisations. After all, if your members are engaged, it’s likely that they’re happy with the services, insights, and overall value that your membership organisation provides.

Why then are there so many gaps when it comes to effective membership engagement?

MCI’s Association Engagement Index (AEI), a global survey of 51 associations - 75 per cent of which are professional associations with the remaining 25 per cent being trade associations - revealed how, based on three performance indicators, associations record a ‘middling relationship strength with their members’, leading to a moderate engagement score of 88.

To put this in perspective, a score of 50 is weak with a score of 122 being strong. The 2022 report, released earlier this year, also reveals that only 20 per cent are strongly engaging their membership, with 13 per cent reporting weak levels of engagement.

Listen up

The AEI report also outlines how many associations are still grappling with how best to move forward in a post-Covid world, despite the fact that members have already stated that their preference, in an increasingly tech-led world, is multi-channel.

As the creators of the UK’s leading Dynamics 365 membership management system, we’ve not only seen this multi-channel evolution take place but also played a role in shaping it.

The best membership management systems in the UK are built on a multi-channel framework. If your organisation is made up of a diverse membership, then what works for a member aged 21 is likely to be very different from what works for somebody aged over 70. So, having the choice of a number of communications channels might be the difference between keeping and adding new members, and losing them.

Regardless of the nature of your membership organisation, a multi-channel approach to membership engagement is no longer a nice to have, but a must-have in order to thrive. Implementing the appropriate digital infrastructure to support a multi-channel approach is one thing, but using it correctly, in a way that resonates with each and every member, can only be achieved by listening to your members and finding out what they want.

Upcoming trends

In our view – and for the foreseeable future - the membership management landscape is going to continue to be dominated by all things digital.

For example, giving your members what they want in a way – or format – that they want comes down to personalisation. And personalisation at scale isn’t something that can be done using analogue methods. Personalisation is underpinned by digital capability, which membership management systems provide in abundance. For that reason, we expect membership management systems to become a standard tool by the end of 2024.

Another trend we expect to see flourish in membership organisations is creativity. Until very recently, membership management was perceived as an administrative function. Now, thanks to low-code, no-code technology and the ascendance of artificial intelligence, membership organisations can be as creative as they wish when it comes to building tools that best serve their members.

Dynamics 365, for example, enables membership organisations to create their own apps quickly, easily, and without any coding knowledge. As we covered in a recent article on AI and trade unions, we’re only at the beginning when it comes to AI and membership. As a result, we expect to see an explosion in AI tools for membership organisations, particularly those which seek to boost engagement levels, over the next few months.

With digital tools advancing at an exponential rate, will engagement levels be ‘middling’ in the next AEI? We certainly hope not, but much depends on the membership management system membership organisations implement. And, more importantly, how they use it.

Do you want to increase engagement levels amongst your membership? Thinking of investing in a Dynamics 365 membership management system? If so, contact our team of  membership management specialists at 01483 409409 or by emailing hello@silverbear.com.

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