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Member engagement is the lifeblood of any association or membership-based organization. If you’re not engaging with your members, you’re not delivering real value or staying top-of-mind. This puts you at high risk for non-renewals. After all, why would they continue paying dues and renewing their membership if they’re not getting much in return? There’s nothing easier than canceling a subscription or service you never use. 

Trends and innovations in technology, shifts in consumer behavior, and of course, the global pandemic of the past year, have ushered forth some major changes to the way associations engage with their members. 

Here are 3 of the ways member engagement has changed forever. 

1. Greater investment in digital communications and engagement channels.

Member engagement has trended toward digital for some time now, but the pandemic undoubtedly expedited that change. Pandemic or not, digital communication is here to stay, and organizations who do not invest in greater online and digital resources are not setting themselves up for success. 

Even though we’re seeing returns to physical offices and in-person events, it remains important to have a strong digital infrastructure in place. For effective, flexible, and far-reaching member engagement, organizations need more online education opportunities, webinars, virtual conferences, and more. Associations should have online learning platforms where they can easily access resources and recordings of past events. 

MORE: Want to increase member engagement? This social media trick will help

2. More frequent and timely touchpoints

With a digital-first mentality, associations are able to connect more frequently with their members. You don’t have to rely on monthly events and meetings to stay engaged anymore. Instead, interactions can happen weekly and daily, through educational webinars, forum discussions, social media conversations, and more. 

In addition to an increased frequency between touchpoints, it’s now more important than ever for associations and membership-based organizations to stay current with what their members are following and interested in. 

Here’s what we mean: 

Since last year, the pandemic and social injustice have dominated the nation’s attention — including your member’s. For organizations to be successful, useful, and engaging, they need to demonstrate an awareness of the important, broader issues affecting their members outside of the organization or even industry itself. 

Organizations who responded to the demands of the times did things like:

  • Created covid-specific resources
  • Hosted webinars and training on diversity, inclusion, and equality
  • Created content and guidelines for avoiding hiring discrimination 
  • Moved traditional in-person events to hybrid or virtual formats
  • Developed industry standards for inclusive language

Nowadays, it’s not enough to just maintain course or continue doing things the way you always have. Associations need to be attuned to the greater world and their impact in society. 

3. Using data to increase touchpoint relevance and effectiveness

Members expect their engagements and interactions with you to be relevant: a long-time member doesn’t want to receive a message intended for welcoming new members. There are just too many data points and tech solutions available to be generic. 

Among many other interesting insights, you can use analytics data to learn and understand:

  • Content types and topics that resonate most with your members
  • When members are online
  • Which social media platforms they use
  • Which website pages they access most
  • Which website pages cause them to exit your website
  • Types of events and webinars that members actually want to attend

Once you know these things, you can use them to improve the relevance of your engagements and touchpoints with members. 

Some of the tactics you can deploy to engage with members in a relevant way include: 

  • Running social media ads promoting a specific committee or event after someone viewed that particular web page
  • Improving weak page content on to keep visitors online and engaged with your website
  • Focusing your social media efforts on the right platforms instead of wasting resources
  • Sending follow-up messages and resources to members who attended a specific event
  • Emailing reminders and discounts to members who placed a product in their shopping cart but didn’t complete checkout
  • Scheduling renewal reminders through automated emails and targeted social media ads

With the access we have to so much data and automation tools to boot, it’s easy to tailor your engagements and do more of what works. 


We’re all humans, and thoughtfulness goes a long way in engaging members. Whether it’s by addressing the things they’re really concerned about, engaging at the right time on the right platforms, or hosting events in hybrid formats so they’re accessible both virtually and physically, member engagement of 2021 is all about relevance. Your members are humans first, and thoughtful communication and flexible policies will go far in keeping a happy and engaged member base.

Emily Herrington
Post by Emily Herrington
June 2, 2021
Emily Herrington is a New Orleans-based digital marketer specializing in SEO, content, and pay-per-click advertising. She can usually be found at her desk obsessing over data and rankings, or in the kitchen covered in flour.