Recruiting Association Members: 3 Strategies to Try

As an association professional, you understand the importance of acquiring members. By building up your membership base, your association can grow to achieve its goals and establish itself as a leading community in its respective space. At the same time, you know how much work and effort goes into member acquisition, and without ample planning, you may fall short.

So, how can you continue to get new people excited about your organization and eager to enroll as members? Your association needs to create an acquisition approach that is specific to your unique audience and goals. By creating a robust plan tailored to your association’s current state, you’ll be well positioned to expand your membership base and develop a strong sense of community that anyone would be ecstatic to join.

To boost your recruitment efforts and attract new members to your organization, use these essential tips:

  • Reflect on your existing recruitment strategy. 
  • Optimize your association’s website. 
  • Create a referral program.

With a strong recruitment plan designed to bring in ideal new members, you’ll be able to increase the quality of networking within your association and attract diverse ideas and perspectives. Then, through consistent engagement and by offering valuable opportunities, you can retain their support for the long run. Let’s begin.


Reflect on your existing recruitment strategy. 

Take a deep dive into your current approach to recruiting new members and its success rate. If your current recruitment events or strategies see low conversion rates in turning prospective members to applicants, it’s time to update your acquisition efforts.

In your recruitment strategy, consider the following elements:

  • Your target audience. Who is the ideal member of your organization? Are you looking for individuals with years of experience in their respective fields? Once you nail down who you want to recruit, you can tailor your recruitment efforts to their interests and preferences. 
  • How you articulate your mission and association’s value. What makes your association different from other organizations? Explain to prospective members your association’s purpose and the various benefits of enrolling in your organization over another that serves a similar audience. 
  • Your resources. What tools do you have on hand to expand your recruitment efforts? To reach prospective members, you’ll need a multichannel marketing strategy that presents your association in a positive light and reaches your target audience. From a robust association website to a social media presence, there are many different resources you can tap into to attract members. 

Consider the weaknesses and strengths in your existing approach to recruiting members. Once you identify how you can improve, like revamping your website or generating marketing content that more accurately reflects your association’s perks, you can then roll out a more strategic approach to recruitment. Let’s take a look at the specific ways you can enhance your strategies.


Optimize your association’s website. 

When prospective members land on your association’s website, they’ll be eager to learn more about your organization’s identity and what you can offer them. If your website fails to meet their curiosities or is simply difficult to navigate, prospective members will more than likely click away and put another association on their radar. 

To avoid this from happening, use the following association website best practices to successfully acquire and retain members: 

Brand your content. 

A generic website is less likely to excite prospective members or show them that your association is credible. Make your website unique to your association by incorporating branded elements, including fonts, color scheme, theming, and messaging across your website. You’ll also want to show off images of your current members and events so prospective members get a better idea of what your organization can give them. 

Create a strong About page. 

Your About page is a prime opportunity to highlight your association’s mission and the various benefits of being a part of your community. This is your chance to grab your audience’s attention and convince them to apply for membership, so take the time to develop high-quality content.

For instance, you can briefly speak to your various membership packages and the different perks that come with each—from exclusive networking opportunities to e-learning classes that allow members to collect and show off digital badges. Then, provide links to your membership or pricing overview pages so users can receive even more information and are likely to spend more time exploring your website.

Plus, try including a video that features your association’s staff and members to humanize your organization and show the people that comprise your community. For instance, create and feature a compilation video of existing members explaining why they chose to join your association and how they’ve grown professionally since.

Prioritize accessibility. 

Your website should provide a user-friendly experience that will leave prospective members with a positive association with your organization. Ensure that members can easily engage with all elements of your website, from navigating to your different webpages to filling out your application form.

Putting these web design strategies into practice can be difficult, especially if you don’t have previous web development. This is where an association-specific website builder becomes an essential tool to have on hand.

According to Morweb’s guide to membership website builders, a CMS can streamline the entire web design process so you can easily add and arrange content on your site without working on the technical back-end of your website with coding. Conduct research to find a user-friendly website builder that provides all of the features your association will need, like exclusive members-only pages and customizable forms.


Create a referral program.

One of the most effective ways to bring in new members to your organization is by leveraging the connections of your existing members. After all, your existing members will likely know people with similar interests and backgrounds who would be eager to join your association.

Develop a referral program so current members will take initiative and introduce people in their personal network to your organization. To market your program, develop a landing page on your website that describes your referral program and add incentives for existing members to refer new people to the association.

For example, you can offer members: 

  • Discounted monthly membership fees
  • Branded merchandise
  • Discounted or free event tickets
  • Social media shoutouts

You can also provide members with more specific prizes relevant to their interests in your organization. Consider surveying members ahead of time to ask about what would most inspire them to take part in your referral program. 

Your association has a lot of value to offer members, from providing networking opportunities with like minded individuals to interactive learning experiences to spur professional growth. To communicate these opportunities to prospective members, develop a strong marketing strategy and take advantage of your resources at hand, including your own members. 

As you roll out new recruitment strategies, pay attention to what approaches work best for attracting new members and rework your recruitment plan as needed. Good luck!

February 8, 2023

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