The July Associations Matter Poll examined member engagement with online communications, if it is easier or harder to capture attention, the impacts to associations as a result, and the strategies being deployed to maintain or increase engagement.
Overall, there was a 50/50 split between associations finding it harder to engage their members online, and those who believe there is either no change to engagement (47%) or it is easier to attract attention (3%).
The impacts for associations finding it harder to engage members with their online communications is largely felt in lower attendance at in-person events and professional development (49%), and increased workloads or inefficiencies because messages have to be constantly repeated (39%). This leads to reduced revenues and productivity. Associations with lower online engagement are also noticing lower overall member satisfaction (33%), and greater difficulty reaching potential new members (27%).
Conversely, associations who find it about the same or easier to capture members attention online are experiencing higher open rates, click throughs and content sharing (62%), resulting in higher overall satisfaction (48%), more new members joining (37%) and increased internal efficiencies (33%).
When asked what strategies have been deployed by those who indicate it is easier or about the same to engage their members online, 50% have improved the visual appeal of their communications, and 44% invested in website improvements to make it more intuitive and user-friendly.
A further 31% went directly to their members through online surveys or focus groups to seek their feedback about how to improve online engagement. Some associations indicate that personalisation or targeting of their messages to specific member profiles or using member-generated content and contributions has helped retain online engagement (both 23%).
With comments that it is “hard to break through the noise when instinct is to delete everything …” and recognising “members are increasingly time poor and swamped by so many channels of information in their day-to-day”, cutting through the online “clutter” is increasingly challenging.
By considering even small changes to online communications, like ensuring consistency of timing, improved visual appeal and a documented communications strategy may help improve engagement with members.
“There are a couple of specific communications pieces we use with Members, and they are very effective. We've learnt not to fiddle with them too much! We are also cognisant of how we use them as not to take advantage and lose the very good traction we have with them.” Membership Director, Professional association.
About the Associations Matter Monthly Poll
The Associations Matter Monthly Poll is an initiative by AuSAE and Survey Matters. We think it's important to stay up to date with the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities facing associations. The Associations Matter Monthly Poll aims to provide insights into the thoughts and opinions of association leaders, giving them a better understanding of how others are responding to current situations and developments. The Associations Matter Monthly Poll is conducted by Survey Matters, experts in association and membership research.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Associations Matter June 2023 Poll. You can register to receive future polls here.