Posted by DIvya Tandan on Aug 16, 2017
Engaged members are more satisfied, see value in their membership, and participate in more activities. But, how do you create an experience that’s truly meaningful to your members?

Why a Communication Strategy Matters

Your communications strategy is the essential first step in understanding your members. It's the basis on which  you can provide content that educates, informs, and inspires them. In order for it to be successful, it's important to note that:
 
  • You need to have a consistent, repeatable approach to communicate with your members.
  • You must identify your members’ needs and ensure your communications meets those needs.
  • You must be able to measure the effectiveness of your communications.
  • You do not want to have a piecemeal, ad hoc approach to communications.
Used well, a good membership communications strategy will create trust, attract members, improve your Public Relations, and drive member value. A great digital communications strategy is built on several elements.
 

The Purpose and Principles of Communicating

First of all, you need to define what you want your communications to do. Is it to spread the word about your association, attract visitors to your website, promote member benefits and value, or share more about your organization? It could be all of these and more, but these purposes will shape the rest of the strategy.
 

The Desired Outcome from Communicating

Next, you’ll want to establish how you expect your communications to influence your members. What do you expect to happen as a result? In other words, how do the purpose and principles you have created translate into the outcomes you need? An effective communications strategy should explain what success looks like, so you can understand when you’ve achieved it. Perhaps you were looking to increase open rates of your emails, or higher click through rates on your Call to Actions. That's why it's also important to have a way to measure the effectiveness of your communications. Reports to give you a better understanding on your ROI will enhance your strategy.
 

Proper Segmentation of Your Audience

You can only communicate effectively when you know who you’re communicating with, and what your readers want to receive. Targeted messaging is key to any communications strategy, and it's imperative that you are able to break down your distribution lists based on criteria to filter your communications on, such as:
 
  • Demographics — distribution lists broken down by region, age, gender, and more
  • Interests — distribution lists based on interests specified by members
  • Interactions — distribution lists based on engagement and interaction within your online communities
Audience segmentation is all about sorting everyone you want to communicate with into particular groups. 
 

Personas to Engage Members Better

Once you have begun to segment your audience you can use techniques like tagging individual members with certain criteria to help you communicate better. This allows you to tailor not just how you send a message to that user (the communication channel) but the content itself. This lets you create “audience personas” — particular types and niches of members so you can really focus the content of your messages to maximize engagement.
 
For example, if you have a persona of “Older audience member with dislike of online transactions,” you can ensure that your membership committee always gives them a call a month before their membership is due to talk about your offerings, how you have helped them, etc.
 

An Understanding of Communications and Marketing Channels

A large part of your digital communications strategy also has to be with the platforms you use, in order to reach your audience, and being able to monitor conversations where possible. It's also important to ensure that your message is consistent throughout these platforms. The content you email can be shared on your community forum groups and social media. At the same time, these platforms can be monitored for keywords related to your association, giving you the opportunity to keep your finger on the pulse.
 

Using Data from Your Association Management Software

Many organizations and associations opt to you use several different solutions to manage their membership data and communications, which because aren't integrated, don't give associations the opportunity to strengthen their communication strategies based on interests, personas, etc. This is where having an integrated AMS solution such as MemberNova gives you the ability to tie your membership information directly into your broadcasts. Whether you want to tailor communications to areas like event attendance, participation in the community, length of membership, donations, feedback, or more, it becomes possible to do so, ultimately allowing you to create truly unique communications that really connect with your members.
 

Communications Nurture Your Members and Increase Engagement

The way we communicate is changing, and your association needs to keep up with the trends, and using the right technology and communications strategy will help your association thrive. When you take the time to truly understand your members so you can interact with them well, it makes them feel valued. As you continue to nurture those relationships, you will build trust in your association, which has all sorts of other benefits. It all starts through developing the right communications strategy on an AMS platform that can bring it to life.