How to Convert an Attendee to a Member

Looking to take your relationship with a nonmember attendee to the next level? Here are three ideas for encouraging a conference attendee to become a member of your association.

It’s great to get a prospect to register to attend one of your association’s conferences. But what can you do to convert them from an attendee to a full-fledged member? Here are three ideas that may help them take that next step.

Host conference programming just for them. Your attendee database should make it easy to identify attendees who are not yet members. Send this group an email and invite them to conference sessions and other activities that will help them get a better sense of what being a member is like and the benefits that come with it.

For instance, offer some Association 101 sessions that give them the basics of your organization. You can also host a networking event where nonmember attendees can mingle with industry leaders and association staff. And much like you would do with a conference buddy program, pair up these attendee prospects with long-time members who can show them the ropes and help you with your membership marketing efforts at the same time.

Offer a post-conference discount. While some associations build a one-year membership into conference registration fees for nonmembers, this often results in these attendees becoming passive members and not renewing. Instead, consider following up with your nonmember attendees after the event and offering them a special discount on membership.

Or, if you want to woo them some more and show them what else your association has to offer, offer a discounted (or even free) registration to an upcoming webinar, networking event, or one-day conference. This could help you make a more convincing argument for membership later.

Don’t let them forget about you. Identify ways to keep your association top of mind for nonmember attendees. Send a wrap-up email that highlights conference takeaways and includes links to handouts and session recordings. If you can personalize this message, even better.

For example, if you know they attended certain sessions, include recommendations on other resources that your association offers related to those topics. And if some of these resources are members-only, consider extending a free 30-day membership to this group.

While it’s unlikely that your association will bat a thousand in converting nonmember attendees into members, a well-thought-out strategy will likely reduce your number of one-timers. And I’d also encourage you not to write off those one-timers. In fact, I’d ask them why they decided not to become members and what your association could have done to bring them into your member community.

What strategies have you found successful in turning a one-time attendee into a member? Please share in the comments.

(solarseven/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!