We all know that in relationships, if you want to make a meaningful connection you really have to get to know someone. Think about your last first date, whether it was years ago or just last weekend, I’m sure you can remember it was full of questions flying back and forth between you and your date. 

As an association professional, you should approach the relationship with your members the same way. If you want it to last, you really need to dig deep and get to know them. In Abila’s recent Member Loyalty Study we learned that while 84 percent of members feel satisfied with their membership, only 55 percent feel connected to the organization. One of the keys to building and maintaining this connection is engaging with your members on a more personal level.  

The data you collect from systems like your association management system (AMS), learning management system (LMS), marketing tools, and member community is crucial to helping you customize your member experience. But the hard data only tells part of the story. Hearing directly from your members, in their own words, can give you invaluable information to aid in your efforts to personalize. 

Start with conducting a survey to understand how your members prefer to interact with your learning offerings. Ask them: 

  • Technology comfort level 
  • Preferred learning methods 
  • Communication preferences 
  • Content interests 
  • Educational requirements
  • Preferred interactivity features 

Our research shows there is a lack of consistency in terms of what organizations request, and whether they use that information effectively. So make sure to store this data and use it to target communication and personalize content 

To get even more information on your members, incorporate focus groups to gain qualitative feedback on a particular initiative. Here are a few recommendations on focus group topics: 

  • Value propositions: 18 percent of the members in our Member Loyalty Study say they see little value in the organization to which they belong. If you find yourself in a similar position, it’s time to rethink your value proposition. Conduct a focus group to identify challenges and pain points your members face. Consider how your organization can help and what tools are needed to be successful, while taking into account their member experience and expectations.  
  • Programming evaluation: About 60 percent of the members we surveyed in our Member Professional Development Study turn to the associations to which they belong for education and training. Nearly 90 percent rate their association’s professional development programs as excellent or very good. Use these numbers as a benchmark and see how your programming stacks up. If you are under performing, get your members together and dig deeper into the reasons. Is the format off? Is the content not useful? Are the programs too long? 
  • System feedback: Freestone LMS client, The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA), conducted a focus group on its Obesity Medicine Academy portal where it hosts its educational programs. Focus group moderators asked how learners prefer to receive their CME, how often they purchase, and what their experience has been like with the Academy. The results allowed OMA leaders to make updates to their offerings to better meet the needs of their members. 

Asking the right questions and taking action on the responses is a sure way to keep your members connected with your organization. For more information on member retention and preferences, check out Abila’s Member Loyalty Study.