Engagement looks different depending on a department’s goals. For example, a social media manager looks at engagement as the number of likes, comments, and shares their posts receive. For member onboarding, engagement might be measured as the open rate of a new member introductory document. When using digital credentials to represent association membership, engagement is measured as the number of opens, clicks, and shares the member’s credential gains.
Metrics may differ between departments but tend to share the same goals of ensuring members are getting the most out of their membership, that members feel inspired to engage, and efforts are being made for retaining members. To determine which metrics should be tracked to show successful member engagement, first measure the current membership engagement baseline.
Measuring the Membership Engagement Baseline
Knowing what needs to be measured and tracked across member engagement is the first step to successfully setting a member engagement strategy. The best way to get a baseline of member engagement to track against, is to determine the current level of membership satisfaction. This can be achieved by sending out a membership satisfaction survey that covers general satisfaction, membership benefits, topics of interest, meeting feedback, participation barriers, and suggestions or areas for improvement. The survey can also measure what activities current members are most engaged with, what activities they get the most or least value from, and types of activities they would like to see in the future.
A membership survey can help associations to better understand how groups of members differ, such as:
- Do new members engage more compared to older members?
- Do new members go through a period of high engagement before dropping off?
- Do members in different lifecycles of their membership engage differently?
- Do groups of members respond to available certifications differently?
- Do current certification offerings meet the needs of both new members and loyal members?
- Can members be segmented into different groups based on their engagement levels and life cycle status?
- Do different member groups engage in different ways? I.e. more email opens, meeting attendances, social media engagement, or events.
By collecting data around member engagement, associations can better align their strategy to target outcomes based on what they learn about their member’s current level of satisfaction. This also enables the association to make SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound). This ensures that strategic goals are distinct, can be quickly actioned, and have a measurable outcome to track. Here are a few examples of SMART goals that can be used to increase member engagement:
- Get 75% of new members to attend an activity once a month for the next 12 months.
- Increase long-term membership renewals by 25% over the next 6 months.
- Get 50% of new members to take at least two certifications in the next 12 months.
How to increase member participation using digital credentials
Digital credentials are versatile awards that are used across a variety of industries to recognize achievement, reward affiliation, and represent membership. Associations use digital credentials to engage their member base by offering shareable, portable, and embeddable digital badges and formal digital certificates for membership, certification, and participation.
Digital credentials are adaptable depending on the intended outcome and fully customizable in design and the accompanying contextual information. This allows associations to use digital badges or digital certificates across their membership lifecycle without worrying that the award is misunderstood or doesn’t convey value. Learn more in the engagement tactics and strategies below that explore how associations use digital credentials to recognize member contribution to increase participation.
Engaging Members from Onboarding
Becoming a new member is an exciting time and membership organizations have a short timeframe after enrollment to engage the new member and ensure a good onboarding experience. Formal digital certificates are a popular way to represent membership and offer verification from the dedicated credential page on which the certificate is hosted. Designs can include a scannable QR-code that allow members to print and hold a physical copy of their proof of membership that can be easily verified as authentic.
One of the most popular features of digital credentials is their shareability, allowing recipients to share their digital badges and digital certificates to their social media networks. Encourage members to share their membership credentials to their social networks, add them to their LinkedIn profile, and embed them in their email signatures. Not only do they get to showcase their new membership but this increases visibility of membership opportunities to potential members that fall within the association’s target audience.
We recommend including guidance for sharing and embedding into the digital credential delivery email that is automatically sent out once the member has enrolled. They receive this guidance and are more likely to share their credentials to their preferred networks. The association should then engage with member posts as they are shared. A simple congratulations for effort or a welcome to new members goes a long way to encouraging future engagement and involvement from members and promotes member retention.
Engaging Members at Events
Fundraising, AGMs, member community building, networking; these are all kinds of in-person or virtual events that an association might host for their members. There many ways an association might engage with their members at events, from getting new members to introduce themselves to providing dedicated break-out areas for further discussion and making connections. Engaged members are more likely to get involved with future events and are willing to volunteer their time or services to ensure the event is a success.
Associations use digital credentials to engage their members through events by rewarding their level of involvement. For example, an association may offer all their attendees an attendance badge, speakers get a speaker badge, volunteers a volunteer badge, and so on. Each of these badges can be made unique through custom design and includes detailed context on what the member did to earn the badge and what the badge represents in terms of value. It’s important for associations to plan what details their digital credentials include as this is the best way for a third-party to determine what value the digital credential conveys. The more detailed the contextual information, the more value it conveys, and the more likely members are to want this credential for themselves and take the necessary steps to earn it.
Engaging Members in Online Communities
Online communities exist in a variety of formats including Slack and Discord servers, online forums and message boards, and dedicated social media groups. Active members use these communities to connect with other members and mentors within the association. They are also used as a source of information. For example, online communities provide dedicated areas for discussing member benefits and perks, upcoming, past, and annual events, upcoming or recorded webinars, details for referral programs, and directing members to other available communication channels and member resources.
Digital credentials are used to engage members that participate in online communities regularly or go above and beyond. For example, members that provide assistance and guidance to new members receive a digital badge that rewards their commitment and can be embedded in their forum and email signature. Digital badge awards may also be awarded to members that regularly contribute content, that take on moderation roles, that contribute to a regular newsletter, that regularly post about the association’s success and goals on social media, or have successfully organized community events or meet-ups using the online platform.
Engaging Members in Offline Communities
Community is an important part of being a member of an association. Many individuals join because they’d like to network with like-minded people that share common interests both professionally and personally. Connecting face-to-face is extremely rewarding and helps to build relationships between members and the association. Ways to engage members offline include encouraging members to meet-up for casual coffee chats, promoting opportunities for volunteering, creating a referral program to incentivize members, and working with local brands to offer additional member experiences such as discounts.
Digital credentials are used in a similar way to engaging members in online communities by issuing digital badges or digital certificates to members that are regularly contributing and participating. Associations that are interested in recognizing member efforts in this way should consider a digital credentialing platform like Accredible, that offers per-unique recipient pricing. This allows associations to issue an unlimited number of credentials to an individual within the contract year at the cost of a single issuance credit. This is a great way to recognize and reward members regularly throughout the year and incentive them to increase participation without increasing costs by having to pay per credential issued.
Member engagement is a continuous initiative that needs to be monitored to ensure your members are getting the best experience possible. This means trying new strategies and regularly checking in with members to measure their level of satisfaction. Your association members are the heart of your organization and without their engagement, participation, and support the association may struggle to deliver value.
It’s important to reward members for their efforts and contributions as this is a great way to deliver additional value to members and help them feel a part of something bigger. Every time you use digital credentials to recognize and reward the contributions of your members, the association also benefits from increased visibility to their target demographic through shares and embeds. This increased visibility helps to attract non-members to the association, which in turn grows the membership and drives revenue.
For more information on using digital credentials to reward and recognize association members and see digital credentials in action, book a platform demo with our team today.