Six Ways To Identify Trends Affecting Member Engagement
Retaining your members has everything to do with keeping them happy. It also involves looking down the road to see what trends could lead to more, or less, member engagement and re-enrollment later on. How can you track trends that might affect your member retention strategies in the future? Here are some tips.
1. Look for Market Oversaturation
Too much of a good thing can sour the best of good things. It happened with the dot-com equities, it happens when too many restaurant delivery services exist in a city, and it can happen in your industry, too. Are there too many of a certain business, or even too many of your kind of association? You need to set yourself apart with a strong brand identity to assure you come out of this situation on top. Never forget that all the marketing strategies that apply to retail and B2B also apply to the association industry.
2. Keep Up with Industry Leaders & Trendsetters
Marketers call them "thought leaders." Every industry has a handful of "movers and shakers," the rest primarily serving as their followers. Identify those leaders and trendsetters. Read their blogs. Buy their books. Seek them out at the next industry trade show. They'll share emerging trends that may be ready to impact an industry before anyone else. If there's one lone voice crying in the wilderness, don't tune him out! He might be the next prophet of revelation.
3. Track Changes & Trends Via Alerts & RSS Feeds
You can't judge an entire industry's future by a single blog post, no matter how thought-provoking. But when you see numerous such predictions coming down the pipeline, pay close attention. Google Alerts is an easy and free way to do this. Or set up other options for news alerts and RSS feeds.
4. Investigate Recent Grants Being Issued
Depending on what industry you're in, grants being issued for study and research are a good indicator of what trends are upcoming. By studying the grants, you'll be able to spot a trend coming much quicker than those simply waiting for results to be released in the trade journals. If your retention strategies are forward-thinking, it's unlikely another association is going to sneak up and unseat you.
5. Watch for New Technologies Related to the Industry
Many of the disruptive technologies that have rocked the world as of late are cross-industry. Cloud, mobile, and analytics are reshaping every business in every industry, from the consumer level to B2B to government and international. But you need to be aware of technologies coming down the pipeline that could impact your industry. In other words, don't be the poor sap who was stuck with a full inventory of wagon wheels when Mr. Ford rolled out his horseless carriage.
6. Keep an Eye on Prices & the Economy
Sometimes, retention strategies fail, not because there is anything wrong with them, but because economic conditions change. You're probably thinking of the dizzying dip your association took in 2008-2009, but it can go the other way, as well. Say your annual membership fees are $100, and the economy is going strong. People might think it isn't worth that much. Keep an eye on the economic forecast so you know when it makes the most sense to bump up your rates and when to start cutting those great deals.
There will always be changes that affect how you should handle your engagement and retention strategies, but if you're watching for new trends, you won't be caught off guard. You can adjust your strategies before the trends adjust the size of your association.
About Jennifer Barrell
As the Director of Content, Branding & Buzz at Aptify, Jen oversees the strategy and execution of brand management and content production across the organization’s global offices. She thrives on bringing compelling content and useful information to associations to help them grow and engage their membership. She's also an avid fan of mid-century modern design and all things science fiction.