For associations, understanding what drives member retention is a major key to both their success and survival. But many organizations aren’t reaching their full potential when it comes to engaging and connecting with members.
Amanda Myers, director of product marketing, membership solutions, at Community Brands, is one of the co-authors of the recent Member Loyalty Study: A Deep Dive into Member Retention and Preferences. This report has findings to help organizations understand why members stay—or leave—and the most effective ways to connect with them.
In this episode of the Leading Learning podcast, Celisa talks with Amanda about key findings from the report, ways to increase member connectedness, where segments of members fall within the loyalty spectrum, and the implications all of this has on learning and education.
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00:18 – Thank you to YourMembership the podcast sponsor for the third quarter of 2017. YourMembership’s learning management system is specifically designed for professional education with a highly flexible and intuitive system that customizes the learning experience. YourMembership’s LMS seamlessly integrates with key systems to manage all of your educational content formats in one central location while providing powerful tools to create and deliver assessments, evaluations, and learning communities.
01:14 – Highlighted Resource of the Week – Member Loyalty Study: A Deep Dive into Member Retention and Preferences
[01:58] – A preview of what will be covered in this podcast where Celisa interviews Amanda Myers, director of product marketing, membership solutions, at Community Brands.
[03:06] – Introduction to Amanda and some background information about Community Brands, who they serve, and her role there.
[05:30] – I’m particularly interested in talking with you about the Member Loyalty Study. Before we dive into some of the specific findings in that study, would you give us a little background on the study, its origin and purpose? Amanda shares that a little over a year ago they initiated some research to understand what membership organizations were prioritizing and what members were valuing most in their relationships. Previous research never really asked both audiences the same questions and compared the answers. This gave them tremendous visibility and some interesting trends around member engagement and helped discover unique differences around engaging members—and at different stages of their career. Although the Member Loyalty Study was originally started as a way to answer some internal questions, they decided to publish the research because they realize it has value for the market they serve.
[07:46] – One of the findings from the study is that while overall retention metrics are strong—84 percent of respondents are satisfied with their membership—fewer members (only 55 percent) feel a connection to their professional membership organization. What do you see as some of the key reasons that more members don’t feel connected to the organizations they are part of? Amanda says ultimately their level of satisfaction and level of connectedness measure two related, but slightly different things. She sees satisfaction as a measure of how well a membership stacks up against your expectations. Connectedness, on the other hand, is really more of a measure of engagement, or how well membership stacks up against what that member really wants and what they really value. Amanda notes that connectedness is ultimately more influential and important in sustaining loyalty moving forward.
[10:30] – What are some ideas for how organizations might boost that sense of connection members feel about their association? How might organizations get more members feeling a connection? Amanda recommends talking to, and understanding, what your members are looking for on a regular basis. In addition to engaging individual members, she points out there is an opportunity to look at them as a part of a segment and group them in a way that’s going to be meaningful to your organization. That segmentation is going to give you insights into what’s keeping members engaged. Amanda explains how you should highlight some of the opportunities you’re missing. There’s also opportunities to align your content and communications with the preferences expressed by that segment.
[14:23] – One of the things you advocate in the study is that organizations identify their “loyalty segments.” And the study outlines three loyalty segments: super members, rank and file, and value seekers. Would you share what differentiates those segments, and why you see such segmentation being useful to organizations? Amanda explains how they looked at the loyalty spectrum and the segments using 4 key metrics: satisfaction, connectedness, how likely they were to renew, and how likely they were to recommend to a friend (NPS score). When they grouped these people together, they found 3 groups:
- Super members – most connected, value what the organization does for the profession, want a high degree of communication, most engaged in your social media, rank training as a benefit higher than any segment, want to take advantage of a lot of the education opportunities, appreciate that content is targeted, more likely than other segments to be engaged with content presented as a podcast, more involved locally, and more likely to be in a leadership role.
- Rank and file – satisfied but feel less of a connection, value a mix of the personal and professional benefits, may not engage as frequently on social media, have a preference for email, more likely than the other segments to be engaged through video content, want to hear a story. They represent perhaps the greatest threat and greatest opportunity. Typically, they are the biggest segment in any organization and you may not hear from them much (good or bad), which presents a lot of opportunity.
- Value seekers – a majority are critics, share feedback, more likely to have lapsed in the past year, most focused on tangible benefits, most interested in certification as a benefit, engaged by an organization’s magazine or journal, fine line in communicating with them. They tend to be highly critical because of a lack of personalization.
[21:06] – Amanda talks about how these segments can be helpful in a number of ways. First, if you want an overall way to safeguard your loyalty, it’s worth understanding the different loyalty segments, what they value, and their content preferences. It can also be helpful in strategic planning.
[23:16] – One of the study’s questions focuses on how important different benefits and services are in people’s decision to remain a member, and some of the more obvious learning and education related options—certification (41%), training (40%), online CE (35%), in-person CE (30%), and conferences (27%)—weren’t among the single most popular choices, but each was still ranked very important by more than a quarter of respondents, and sometimes well over a quarter (certification is 41%), and so if you put all those options under the learning and education umbrella, it seems collectively they are a very important driver of loyalty. Would you agree with that assessment, and/or what role do you see education and learning playing in loyalty? Amanda agrees and emphasizes that education and learning are such a huge part of the value organizations provide. She notes that other research done in the spring showed that members across all generations reported they chose their association as their go-to for professional development/training/education 60% of the time. The research also showed 84% of the members rated the professional development and training they receive from their associations as either excellent or very good, while only 73% of associations said the same about their own educational program.
[26:39] – Another major finding from the study is that personalization isn’t happening all that often (47% of respondents say the typical content they receive from their professional membership organization is not personalized). And this despite the fact that organizations are usually collecting at least some data and preferences which they could use to personalize content and communications. Will you talk a little about the content mistakes or missed chances the study reveals, and, if you can, offer suggestions for organizations looking to make sure the content they provide is relevant and valuable to the specific members receiving it versus the membership at large? Amanda explains how targeting your learning and education to members interests and preferences (in terms of content or the way you’re sharing it) can really pay huge rewards for loyalty.
[29:32] – As far as content, Amanda talks about how in the study, only 23% of respondents reported receiving content that’s targeted to them based on their career stage. She points out that information about where people are in their career is something most organizations have so many are missing an opportunity to segment learners and share content relevant to them. Regarding format, Amanda points out this can be another opportunity because different segments likely prefer different formats for learning/training.
[32:48] – As you were working on this study, was there a particular data point or finding that you found particularly interesting or noteworthy, maybe because it surprised you or maybe because it confirmed a hunch? Amanda shares that it was the codes of ethics that got her the most. When asked what the top benefit was to retain them, most members said it was codes of ethics. It’s often a benefit that nobody thinks about so you may want to consider offering them for discussion as part of your training and learning.
[35:55] – What is one of the most powerful learning experiences you’ve been involved in, as an adult, since completing your formal education? Amanda admits her post-collegiate education has been more meaningful in many ways. After college, it was the opportunity to learn in context that made it really relevant and more impactful to her. She also shares about a workshop that was one of the most powerful learning experiences she’s had because the presenter challenged her thinking of how we present information and how to improve the presentation of information, which opened her eyes and perhaps changed the trajectory of her career.
[39:13] – How to connect with Amanda and/or learn more about Community Brands:
[40:18] – Wrap Up
Thanks again to YourMembership for sponsoring this episode of the Leading Learning podcast.
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[41:53] – Sign off