Tips for Making Your Member Communications More Personable

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It goes without saying that member-based organizations rely on members for critical support, from dues revenue to marketing to network development. However, actually keeping them engaged over time can be a more difficult task.

The best way to build long-term relationships with your members is to win their trust and get to know them personally. That’s why making your member communications sound genuine is so important for your organization’s growth. 

In this guide, we’ll explore how to convey your organization’s personality and authenticity in your communications so you can achieve your goals. We’ll discuss how to:

  • Focus communication with segmentation
  • Highlight fellow members
  • Implement feedback loops
  • Leverage less formal channels

As we explore these tips, consider your current communication strategies and how these tactics would supplement them. Keep your members’ preferences in mind, as every organization’s community is unique. Let’s dive in!

Focus communication with segmentation

Your organization may have hundreds of members to stay in touch with. Creating fully original messages for each member isn’t an efficient use of your time, but you can implement personal elements so each message still stands out.

Double the Donation’s guide to digital marketing suggests combining automation with insights about member preferences to conduct focused outreach without expending lots of time or resources. This process, known as segmentation, is a great way to write messages that resonate with groups of members with shared characteristics. Here are some common segmentation groups that can help your member-based organization boost personalization:

  • Duration of time as a member
  • Age
  • Focus industry
  • Role within your organization (e.g. committee head)
  • Preferred communication method

To make segmentation possible, UnionWare suggests using software that can store custom fields and information for highly focused outreach. 

For instance, let’s say a union wants to ask members to sign up as volunteers for their upcoming new member open house. You might collect information in your database about which members are involved with volunteering outside of the union, which members signed on from attending a new member open house, and which members have been with your union the longest and can tell your story to others. With a segmented approach and the right data fields, you can send personalized communications that appeal to each group’s interests.

Highlight fellow members

Social proof is the idea that more people will engage with your organization if someone they respect also respects you. For your organization, social proof might come from testimonials from existing members. Testimonials are a powerful marketing tool to secure new members, but that’s not all — they can be used to prove your organization’s authenticity to existing members.

By incorporating your members’ stories into your communications, you put them on equal footing with your staff and can more effectively forge personal connections. You might try the following natural ways to feature fellow members in your outreach:

  • Highlight an organization-related achievement. Let’s say your union just rolled out a new app that a fellow member coded. Feature quotes from them to make it feel like an anecdote instead of a project readout.
  • Spread the word about personal milestones. For an organization with many members, a great way to do this is by highlighting all of the members who share a milestone in a certain month. For instance, you could mention all members who have a birthday or retired in a given month.
  • Show appreciation. Your members empower your organization to achieve its goals, so you can boost engagement with a variety of member appreciation ideas. Celebrate member achievements publicly, send personal appreciation messages, and more.
  • Address messages from members. Receiving a nameless, faceless email is less likely to elicit an emotional response. Instead, address some of your messages from members themselves and include an image of their signature.
  • Use multimedia elements. You can surmount the barrier to emotional connection that digital media presents by incorporating more personal types of messages into your strategy. For instance, you could have members film dynamic short videos instead of sending a static email to increase engagement. 

No matter how you incorporate members’ voices into your messages, always get their permission first. Explain exactly what the message will be used for and who it will be sent to, and let them preview it before publication. The same is true for members in photos; providing a photo release form when members sign up is crucial for preserving privacy.

Implement feedback loops

Even seasoned professionals managing your member-based organization can have blind spots, which is why it’s important to keep communication open with feedback loops. Asking for member feedback gives you insights into your communications’ effectiveness. Plus, the act of providing feedback can be a way for members to make their voices heard and strengthen their personal connections with your organization. 

To implement feedback loops, use these tips:

  • Ask all members for feedback. Every member has a unique perspective about what your organization can improve on. Open the floor to everyone who has opinions on your organization’s communications by sending out a survey to all members. 
  • Ask relevant questions. Ensure you inquire about relevant topics, such as the mood of your communications and if they make your organization appear trustworthy.
  • Express a desire to grow. During feedback sessions, emphasize how your managerial team is continually learning and adapting techniques to fit member needs. Being honest and transparent about the fact that your organization isn’t perfect makes members trust and relate to you more.

Don’t forget to thank members who provide their feedback, as well. They’ve taken the time out of their day to try to make your organization better, so you should acknowledge that action and show them you value their time with heartfelt thanks.

Leverage less formal channels

Ultimately, though your members might be involved in your organization for professional development and networking, you should always strive for authenticity and relatability when communicating with members. This way, they’ll associate your organization with being fun and exciting — and want to renew their memberships. 

One way to cultivate a friendly, relatable mood in your communications is to use less formal channels for outreach. For instance, these might include:

  • SMS (text messages)
  • Social media
  • In-person coffee chats
  • eCards

By offering these options, your members will get more comfortable with your organization and will want to stay involved. Plus, these options provide a great chance to get to know your members better through casual conversation and gather insights that can improve future marketing messages.

Whether you represent a professional association or a hobby group, your members need to be able to trust you at the end of the day. Infusing your messages with your unique personality encourages like-minded people to get involved with your community and stay engaged long-term.

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