Combining Tech and Empathy to Create Meaningful Member Engagement

ASBO International marketing pro Annie Henderson breaks down how she utilizes tech to create a supportive environment for members.

Associations have been in a constant state of change for the past year and a half. But one aspect of business across all industries has remained the same: in order to thrive and grow, organizations need to recruit and keep members engaged with great products, essential services, and powerful networking opportunities.

So how do savvy marketers create meaningful connection with their membership base that keep them renewing year after year? It comes down to human empathy supported by dynamic technology, says Annie Henderson, marketing and communications coordinator at the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO). “When thinking about increasing member engagement, I always keep in mind that our members are very busy people,” she says. “So we want to think about what they’re truly in this membership for, and try to meet those needs.”

Henderson believes that interactions between an association and its members are a signal of its strength. “​​Associations want to strive for quality engagement from their members to continue to show value in the membership,” she says. “When members feel supported by not just the association, but other members, it creates a very encouraging environment.” This also translates to renewed memberships and positive word of mouth.

ASBO’s membership is composed of school business leaders from around the globe, and the association membership team works very diligently to create easy opportunities for members to engage. They have designed a streamlined process for members to write for a few of ASBO’s print publications. They encourage members to respond to other members’ questions to bolster a strong network community and spark member conversations on the community boards. They also actively reach out to members to submit proposals for the association’s webinars and conferences.

To effectively and efficiently accomplish these various types of outreach, ASBO utilizes Higher Logic, a powerful member engagement platform that helps associations bolster relationships at scale. “We started using it about 10 years ago, and since then, the platform has evolved and become multi-faceted, giving us a lot of features to help us properly communicate, execute our strategies, and monitor how they are performing.”

One tactic they’ve used with success to retain members and bring back lapsed ones is a combination of win-back emails and personal outreach. “We are very happy to report that our retention rate has increased thanks in part to these campaigns,” she said. “We had a 76.6 percent retention rate in June, which is a 2.1 percent increase month-over-month.”

Like many associations with a “small but mighty” team, the professionals at ASBO need to devote time and energy to multiple parts of the business. Being able to make impactful communications on a daily basis, Henderson says, would be next to impossible without the Higher Logic tool in her marketing quiver. “I mean, we could do it, but other things in the business would have to give, and we wouldn’t be as effective or as efficient in other parts of our association.”

Henderson also points out that the conversations with Higher Logic go beyond onboarding and implementation. “Their customer support has been very helpful when we are trying to use a new feature. They’ve enabled us to incorporate new aspects to our site much more smoothly than if we were just on our own.”

Henderson, like other great marketers, sees the impact of her work beyond the numbers. “It’s so rewarding to know that I work for an association that supports individuals who are making the steps and the changes necessary to open schools across our country and across the world. It is just a remarkable feeling that I get to work with an amazing team and that our members are doing this amazing job to serve our students and their educational growth.”

Higher Logic, the industry-leading, human-focused engagement platform, delivers powerful online communities and communication tools to engage members at every stage of their journey. Higher Logic provides a robust engagement platform and strategic services with over a decade of experience in building personalized and scalable community engagement programs. We serve more than 3,000 customers, representing over 350,000 online communities with greater than 200 million users in more than 42 countries worldwide.