Ever feel like your member communications are going out, but not really landing with your members? Concerns about understanding what members want to hear from your association are so common among associations that Dave Will, co-founder and CEO, and Brianne Wheeler, director, marketing, both for PropFuel, spent some time during ASAE’s Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference discussing simple conversation starters for deeper member engagement. They outlined how to engage members through a simple but effective process: Ask, Capture, Act.
If you want to know what your members’ needs are, ask! Moving away from the broadcast mentality of pushing out content and creating more of a two-way exchange with your members starts with asking them about their needs. Relevant questions are the only way to capture information that allows your association to take relevant action.
Think about it: If you’re out for a walk with your dog and you come across another dog owner with their pet, asking the other walker, “Is your dog friendly?” is going to determine what happens next with your exchange. If the answer is yes: It’s play time for the pets! But if the answer is no, it’s time to keep walking to avoid a canine altercation.
Similarly, when someone arrives on your association’s website, asking why they’re there could lead to fundamentally different outcomes for that individual and your association. With the right question, you could convert a potential member.
There are so many questions you can ask:
- “How can we help you today?” Lead them to a landing page designed to provide all necessary info about joining. Have a “Call me” or “Email me” button that prompts your staff to reach out when the member or potential member clicks on it. You’re capturing intent!
- What are your pain points?
- What do you value?
- Are you interested in joining?
- What topics interest you?
- When are you planning to graduate, and what is your post-graduate email address?
Where can you ask these questions? On your website. Within a one-sentence email. Within a newsletter. On your social media channels. Anywhere members are listening and gathering.
Once you’ve asked questions, you need to be able to capture their answers. That’s valuable data that will help you better serve that individual and others like them going forward. You’ll want to find a way to add answers to an individual’s member profile in your AMS, MDP, or another database. Ensure this field is visible to everyone in your organization so that your staff can note it and include the member on any information or resources that would help solve their concerns and add value to their membership experience. This will require some tech, but that tech doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
Once you’ve found out their reasons for digitally visiting, along with what their concerns or interests are, tag that member’s account. Use the systems you have to stay in touch or create new systems that will enable your association to continue having this conversation with the individual. If they’re interested in membership, have your membership team reach out. If they’re interested in publications, add them to your pub mailing lists. Create campaigns that begin when a member answers a question and take the member through a series of steps you’ve designed around a common theme, such as student member engagement or volunteer recruitment.
Will and Wheeler recommend using real-time tools that enable instant conversations, such as chatbots, click-to-call buttons and text messaging. Some of this can be automated. Some, like chatbots, deserve a live person manning them to provide the best customer service possible. Empower your staff to resolve concerns individually. Pass along conversations for follow-up with the appropriate department.
If you’re worried that staffing a live chat or holding your staff to a standard of immediate callbacks would be impossible with a very large membership, it’s important to note that the ROI of new memberships, event registrations, member renewals or whatever it is your association wants to convert more is often well worth the effort an individualized action plan entails. Will emphasized that the volume of calls or clicks isn’t as essential as being able to interact with them appropriately.
Be present at the member’s point of need
Molding your member communications into more of a two-way conversation takes effort, but your members’ experience will be so much better for it. The Ask, Capture, Act method is a simple way to encapsulate the steps your association should take to be less of a broadcaster and more of a conversationalist that responds to member needs.
In summary of the spirit of communications as a conversation, Wheeler offered this maxim: “Be present at the member’s point of need.” Asking, capturing and acting will serve the needs of people who want you to reach out to them.