Accredible - Certificates and Badges

How to Keep Members Engaged After Your Certification Program Has Ended

Once your certification program comes to a close, you’re faced with an important question:

How do you strengthen your business relationship, demonstrate value beyond the certification program, and keep those members engaged?

This question is even more pressing if your newly certified member is also new to your organization. In this post, we’ll discuss several key engagement strategies to increase member investment and satisfaction.

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Start With a Plan for Engagement

Before delving into engagement strategies, let’s start with a basic engagement plan. What should newly certified members do immediately after completing your certification course? How would you like your members to interact with your organization? Do you have a solid plan for onboarding these new members into your organization?

If not, create a 6- or 12-month engagement roadmap for everyone who completes your certification program. While your individual roadmap will look different, here’s a template you can follow:

Month by Month Member Engagement Roadmap

  • Month 1: Send out onboarding emails immediately following the end of your certification program. Introduce new members to your organization and show them other benefits you offer to your members.
  • Month 2: At the beginning of this month, reach out to your members with a phone call. Find out about their experience with your organization over the last 30 days of membership and ask if there’s anything you can do to help them in the future.
  • Month 3: Invite your member to join your referral program via email. Explain the benefits of joining.
  • Month 4: Ask your members to participate in a case study.
  • Month 5: Send out an email to promote your annual conference.
  • Month 6: Make a follow-up phone call.
  • Month 7: Via email or social media, share testimonials from other members. Also, provide a list of personalized metrics to show how the member has benefited from joining your organization.
  • Month 8: Remind your members about your annual conference.
  • Month 9: Highlight important membership benefits and invite the member to partake of these benefits.
  • Month 10: Send a free and valuable ebook or other gift (a t-shirt, a coffee cup).
  • Month 11: Send a personalized email where you discuss future goals. Ask the member to mentor other, newer members.
  • Month 12: Invite members to participate in a survey or a case study. Also encourage renewal with an expiring promotion.

While creating your month by month member engagement roadmap, be sure to consider holidays. You can run special holiday promotions, and highlight in-person social activities that create higher levels of engagement.

Score Members Based on Engagement Level

The next step is to score your members based on their level of engagement. Make a list of all potential member actions, such as:

  • Blog reading
  • Blog sharing
  • Downloads
  • Email opens
  • Email click throughs
  • Event attendance (webinar, in-person)
  • Referrals
  • Social media participation
  • Social media sharing

You’ll need to assign scores to the activities that you deem most important for your organization.

With that out of the way, the next step is to group your members based on their score.

You may create three categories for your members: Active and Engaged, Moderately Engaged, and Not Engaged. Members in the second category, especially those with waning engagement levels, should receive more attention. You’ll also want to reach out periodically to the Not Engaged members, too.

Create a Content Marketing Strategy

Blogging is great for SEO and helps to keep members engaged. Through your blogs, you can create pertinent and valuable content that your members will look forward to reading.

When creating a content strategy with a special focus on member retention and engagement, make a list of ideas that empower your current members. Too often, blog posts are written with the intent of wooing prospective members. That’s important also, but don’t forget about your current members in the process.

Members will stay connected to your organization if they believe you’re providing relevant resources to meet their current needs.

To create an effective content marketing strategy, take an inventory of your members’ needs. Survey your members to ask what content they’d like to read. Then create more of that content.

Your content marketing strategy doesn’t focus solely on blogging. Although blogging is the centerpiece of most content marketing, it’s not the only way to reach your members. Videos and podcasts are other options for communicating with your members.

Focus on Email Marketing

Don’t depend on bookmarks and the member’s intention to return to your site. Even if your member bookmarks your website, he or she will forget to come back. Enter email marketing.

Email marketing is a brilliant way to stay in touch with your members. Once you’ve created a blog or video post, you can then advertise it to your members through email.

Fortunately, you can gently remind them through a well-planned email marketing strategy. Email allows you to stay in touch with your members, and also gives you another opportunity to score their engagement levels.

When email marketing, follow these best practices:

  • Stay in touch consistently – Send an email on a predictable schedule (i.e., every Friday, or the second Tuesday of each month).
  • Segment your list to personalize your interactions – Group your members based on demographics, location, behavior, goals, etc.
  • End with a call to action – Drive traffic back to your blog (or other desired action).

Create In-Person Events

Host in-person events. Even if you’re a small, web-based organization and can only manage to host one in-person event per year, do what you can. In-person events, such as workshops and conferences, can help foster more engagement and a greater sense of community.

You can also use these in-person events to increase activity on your social media channels. Encourage attendees to post live videos or photos of themselves with branded hashtags.

Encourage Members to Refer Others

If you haven’t already, now’s the time to set up a referral program. By issuing digital certificates through Accredible, you already have built-in brand exposure and referral power. However, if you create a referral program, you’ll have an opportunity to both extend your reach while also keeping your members engaged at the same time.

Reward referring members with special perks, such as:

  • A month of membership
  • Branded office supplies (clothes, pens, mugs, etc.)
  • Special recognition (referrer of the month)

Continue to Evolve With Your Member-Base

The needs of your members will change as the years pass. The last thing you want is for your organization to stay stuck in the past. However, many organizations make the mistake of being complacent.

Commit to evolve with your members.

[bctt tweet=”Commit to evolve with your members. Here’s why:” username=”accredible”]

Another mistake is focusing entirely on new members without thinking about the growing needs of your current member-base. As your members mature and develop in their careers, they’ll continue to need guidance. Here are a few ways to ensure that you’re a perennial resource for your members:

  • Take surveys often to determine the needs of your members
  • Develop new courses and material to meet those needs
  • Create a mentorship program for ongoing direction

Final Thoughts

Keeping your members engaged requires careful planning and a commitment to evolve with your members. Use our tips above to ensure member engagement and retention.

Before you go, check out these related posts:

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6 Must-Do Membership Retention Strategies

Need help retaining more of your members?

While most businesses spend a great deal of time and resources into recruiting new members, it’s crucial that you sharpen up your retention strategy as well. Retention requires just as much, if not more, attention as recruiting because what good is getting new members if you can’t keep them?

The goal is to create an engaged community of members who are invested in your organization. Committed and excited members attract even more members through social proof and word of mouth marketing.

So how exactly do you create such members?

In this post, we’ll take a look at 6 amazing strategies for improving your membership retention. These time-tested strategies will work across multiple types of organizations. Let’s get started.

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1. Market to the Proper Audience

Start by asking yourself, who will benefit the most from my organization?

A common mistake to avoid is incorrect targeting. Instead of narrowing down their scope, many organizations market to a wide variety of prospective members. This eventually leads to churn. Why?

New members join up with the wrong expectations. Perhaps drawn in by well-meaning but somewhat inaccurate marketing promises, the new member quickly becomes disillusioned with your organization because it’s not addressing their true needs. They’ll eventually leave and you’ll be left wondering why you couldn’t retain them.

To put it simply, your organization wasn’t the right fit. It’s a painful truth but ultimately freeing once you realize that by not targeting everyone, you’re able to actually target the perfect prospects.

It’s important that you market to those who are most likely to:

A)See the value of joining and aligning with your organization
B)Get active in your organization

To find these prospects, you’ll have to get clear with your marketing message. When marketing your membership, explain the following:

  • Who you are
  • Why you are
  • How you help
  • Who you help
  • What you do

2. Focus on Benefits

Connected to the above point, emphasize your membership benefits to both current and prospective members.

Start off by writing a list of benefits that your members enjoy. List everything from mentorship to special discounts to exclusive access to your large library of resources.

Next, decide how you’re going to highlight these benefits to your members.

For prospective members, you’ll use convey benefits through your marketing materials. For example, you may push them to download a case study from your website. Such a case study would show the benefits of your membership in action in a real life situation.

[bctt tweet=”The best way to keep members engaged is to keep them informed.” username=”accredible”]

For current members, you can gently remind them of your membership benefits by sending congratulatory emails whenever the member reaches a specific milestone. In this email, celebrate the progress your member has made and tie this progress back to membership in your organization.

3. Segment Your Members

People join an organization for different reasons. Make a list of the reasons you think people would join your organization. (Hint: These reasons are likely to mirror the same benefits listed above.)

Here’s a partial list of the end goals your members are hoping to accomplish by joining your organization:

  • Network with other professionals in the industry
  • Have access to a library of relevant resources
  • Obtain an industry-valued certification
  • Get exclusive discounts
  • Marketing helps and resources
  • Become a member of an active community

Once you’ve made an exhaustive list of reasons why prospective members would be attracted to your organization, turn it into a survey. Ask new members why they joined your organization and present this multiple choice survey. Be sure to include a space for “other” along with a prompt for them to elaborate because there may be a reason you hadn’t considered before.

Allow them to self-identify based on their individual needs and interests.

This survey is key to your retention strategy because it allows you to set the member on the right path. For each reason, you’ll create a member journey and profile. This will inform what type of emails you’ll push to the member. For example, if your member wants to network, you can send local or regional events and offer advice on how to successfully connect with others.

While you may also send emails from different categories (i.e. promotions for your certification course or special discounts), you’ll focus on providing targeted resources that help them accomplish their end goal.

Remember that your goal is to help the member reach their goal, and to do this successfully, you’ll need to be completely focused on what content you provide. You definitely don’t want to send irrelevant content. It translates to inbox clutter and eventually member churn.

4. Make Onboarding a Priority

To retain more of your members, you must focus on onboarding. Get them acclimated to your organization. Set expectations for how often you’ll be in touch and what type of content to expect.

The best way to do this is to create a starter kit for new members. This starter kit may be a downloadable PDF file, a dedicated “start here” webpage, or a set of resources that you actually mail out to your new members.

Your starter kit is likely to vary based on each member’s intended end goal. You should create multiple starter kits based on each type of member that you anticipate and also a general starter kit for members who click “other” in your self-filtering survey.

Here are a few ideas on what you may include in your starter kit:

  • A brief history of your organization with emphasis on your vision and how you help members succeed
  • A tutorial of how to use your website, including how to access your member resources
  • An overview of what courses you offer
  • A list of ways to contact you (i.e. email, phone, social media)

5. Ask for Testimonials

Testimonials are the lifeblood of every organization. They provide much needed social proof for prospective members.

However, testimonials are also great for retention purposes. Consider sending a new batch of testimonials to your members every six months or every year. These testimonials should be selected for their diversity, showing the multiple ways that your members have benefited from your organization. These types of testimonials are inspirational and it prompts your members to think of how they’ve also grown and progressed by becoming a member of your organization.

6. Create an Easy Renewal Program

Is it easy for members to renew their membership?

A complicated renewal process is a major contributor to member churn. Here’s a few renewal reasons that may lead to churn:

  • Not keeping a credit card on file and then asking the renewing member to re-enter their credit card information
  • Asking the renewing member to choose their membership plan for the upcoming year
  • Asking members to upgrade or tack on additional benefits
  • Taking too many steps or pages to renew

Every question you ask will increase resistance to the process, so simplify your approach. Instead, consider continual enrollment. When new members join, inform them that you provide continual enrollment (i.e. their membership will continue in perpetuity and you’ll charge their card on file automatically).

This way, you won’t have to interrupt the experience with your organization to ask for dues or if they’d like to continue with their membership.

Final Thoughts

To be successful in the long run, your organization must develop a retention strategy. Before you go, be sure to download 11 additional retention strategies below.

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