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Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees

Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees: 4 Tactics to Try

Of course you want to provide an exceptional experience for ALL of your conference attendees, but ensuring that happens for your first-time attendees is particularly important. Their decision to attend future events (and possibly even renew their membership) depends heavily on that first experience, so going the extra mile for those folks, in particular, is certainly worth it.

What does “going the extra mile” for your first-time attendees look like? Here are a few tactics worth trying:

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How to Customize Your Member Experience (With Limited Time and Money)

Posted by Callie Walker

Custom Member Experience.jpg

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could customize everything little thing you did for your members? We’re talking content, meetings, events - the whole member experience.

Yeah, that would be great (just think of the engagement!), but even for staffs of 100+, that’s pretty difficult to do. And for staffs of 1 - 2, it’s virtually impossible.

But that’s not to say you can’t customize your member experience at all. There are a few things you can do to make your members feel special, even if you are only a staff of 1 - 2.

Take a look:

1. Utilize technology

If you’re pressed for time AND looking to create a custom member experience, technology is going to be your biggest helping hand. With the right technology in place, you can:

  • Customize your emails - With some software, such as association management software, you can personalize your 100+ member emails. Often, those systems are tied to your organization’s database meaning you can populate certain sections of your email with personalized member information - names, dates, prices, etc. You can also play around with who will receive what message and when. For example, let’s say you want to remind your members about an upcoming meeting or event. Well, you can set your emails up to where people who’ve already registered will receive one message and people who haven’t registered will receive another. That way, the content is more relevant (and personalized). There’s nothing worse than asking someone to register for an event (multiple times) only to find out they already have - a week ago!
  • Customize the messages your members see upon logging in - Again, with the right technology in place, you can also customize the messages your members see upon logging into their individual profiles. So rather than hitting everyone with the same generic copy, you can customize that copy based on their interests and involvement. For example, if a board member logs in, maybe they see the agenda for their next board meeting. Or, if a student logs in, maybe they see a link to your job board or a listing for a new internship opportunity. The more you’re able to customize that content, the better your members’ overall experience will be.

2. Be personable

Here’s the thing: The bigger your organization gets, the harder it is to learn (and remember) everybody’s name. And at a certain point, it becomes virtually impossible (unless you have some kind of superpower we don’t know about). That said, just because you don’t know people personally doesn’t mean you can’t act like you do.

I have a friend who excels at this. She treats everyone she meets like they’re a long-lost friend. She’s happy, interested in what they have to say, interested in how they’re doing - the whole nine yards. And it makes the person she’s talking to/meeting for the first time feel special and unique.

Why not do that with your members? Be genuinely excited when you see them at meetings and events. Ask them what’s new, then ask plenty of follow-up questions. You may not remember their answers three weeks down the road, but they’ll remember that interaction. (And chances are, because you did make them feel special - like a friend - they’ll want to show up time and time again.)

3. Go the extra mile, when possible

Like we said early on, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to customize every little thing you do for your members. But you can customize some things (e.g. emails, member profiles, etc.), and sometimes, you can even take it a step further.

If you come upon instances where you can go the extra mile, go the extra mile. For example, let’s say you have a good conversation with one of your members at a meeting or event. Send them a handwritten thank you card referencing something in particular you two talked about. Or, let’s say one of your members briefly mentioned a pain point they’ve been struggling with. If you come across an article referencing that pain point, send it to that particular member. They’ll be floored you thought of them, but more importantly, delighted.

Sure, these things only apply to a few of your members, but this is how word-of-mouth marketing (AKA the BEST type of marketing) all begins. And really, a few custom experiences are better than none at all.

At the end of the day, creating a custom member experience is all about boosting member engagement. The more you’re able to cater to people’s specific likes and interests, the more value they’ll find in your association - and the better your members’ overall experience will be.

Want more tips for boosting member engagement? Check out our free guide, Membership Engagement for Small-Staff Associations, below!

Membership Engagement  A comprehensive guide to engaging your organization's membership Download this guide

Topics: association management, member engagement, membership management, Small Staff Chatter

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