Membership

Membership Pro Tip: Talk to Members Like Humans, Not Widgets

By / Sep 15, 2021 (shapecharge/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Sparking better member engagement is all about talking like real people do in everyday life. Conversations are not one-sided—they are a give and take—a concept that is often absent in member communications. Here’s how to do better.

Communicating with members like we do with people in the real world sounds easy. But something gets lost in translation when we write emails, even when we try to make them more personal by using a person’s first name in the salutation.

You can personalize emails in any system, but “it’s not personal, it’s a mail merge,” says Dave Will, cofounder and CEO of PropFuel, a conversational engagement platform. “The way you make something personal is by creating a way for somebody to interact with you.”

How Does It Work?

When you ask a question, listen to what the person says, and then take action. You won’t know what kind of action to take unless you hear what they have to say. “That’s how humans interact,” he says. “But we don’t treat our members like that.” The idea is to spark a conversation.

The way to engage members is to start with a question—not a rhetorical question—but something like: “Your membership expired 30 days ago. Are you planning to renew?” If the answer is no, find out why not. If the answer is yes, then find out why they haven’t renewed yet and give them the link to renew.

Why Is It Effective?

“You’re talking to members with a human approach to conversation and engagement, you’re not using a digital approach,” Will says. It’s replicating the way people talk to each other rather than having a more transactional correspondence. “If you make it more like what you would say to someone in everyday conversation, then you’re more likely to get a response,” he says. “Stop thinking like a broadcast system and start thinking like a human.”

What’s the Benefit?

Members are getting an individualized experience with the association. If you ask them a dozen questions over the course of a year, every member will take their own journey through their member experience based on how they answered questions about what’s important to them. Some might be focused on getting professional certification, while others might want to get a better job.

Associations will double the level of engagement because members will engage more. “They’re going to sign up for more things, renew faster, and take more action because they’re actually engaged in a conversation as opposed to deleting an email,” Will says.

Do you have a membership pro tip? Please share in the comments or send me an email.

Lisa Boylan

Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now. More »

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