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How to Personalize an Association Member Portal — In 3 Steps

Use these 3 proven tactics to leverage intelligence from your association software system to deliver greater member value and increase renewal rates.

Engagement = Retention 

Getting members to engage with your organization is vital: engagement leads to retention; retention leads to increased financial resources; financial resources lead to greater long-term viability for your organization.

Infographic showing that engagement leads to retention; which leads to increased financial resources; which leads to greater long-term viability.

Your most powerful engagement tool is your online presence, which includes your:

  • Website — where the public views your organization’s news and activities
  • Members-only portal — where you provide exclusive benefits
  • Event microsite — where important event information and resources are
  • Year-round mobile app — where you can quickly and efficiently get time-sensitive information out to your members
Personalizing the member experience helps make your association indispensable.

Your members are consumers and consumers expect a personalized experience. Many will get frustrated with a one-size-fits-all approach to information and resources. Delivering a dynamic, engaging environment can help make your association indispensable — which is critical, particularly at renewal time.

But how do you maximize the experience to ensure members feel welcome, Informed, prepared for future challenges and — most of all — valued? It’s all about the data.


Data-Driven Organizations are More Successful

To provide a truly personalized environment for your members, you need access to in-depth intelligence about them — their interests, priorities, career goals, and challenges. This data should inform nearly every decision you make. You must use what you learn to tailor your online environment for them. And to do this, you’ve got to have association software that’s designed to give you a real-time, 360° view of every interaction with your members. Every. Single. Touchpoint.

89% of marketers see a positive ROI when they use personalization in their campaigns. Source: Adobe Personalization Survey 2020

By allowing you to monitor and track all member interactions — from the initial web visit, through onboarding, mentoring, product sales, event attendance, and renewal — the right association software will help you become a data-driven organization. It will empower you to:

  • Map the member journey — from acquisition to renewal and beyond 
  • Identify important trends 
  • Communicate about the issues your members most care about 
  • Build member personas that will impact how you relate to your members 
  • Predict your members’ behavior 
  • Recruit new members more efficiently and effectively 

Team members collaborating


3 Ways to Use Data to Personalize Your Association Websites

A Single Source of Truth (SSoT) is critical to your efforts to tailor your online member environment. You’ll want to start by benchmarking where you are and setting goals for your personalization initiative so you can track your progress along the way. For example, you may decide you need to:

  • Increase web traffic, page views, or duration on the site by 10% 
  • Grow online joins by 10% 
  • Boost member engagement by 15%

Once you know where you’re starting, you can use the following 3-point plan to improve the member experience.

Complimentary Whitepaper
Data silos are the enemy of data-centric organizations.

Download our It's Not You, It's Your Data Silos whitepaper to learn how to eliminate them.


1. Create Member Personas

Member personas are representations of members with specific characteristics, such as: 

  • Behavior patterns
  • Backgrounds and skill sets
  • Goals and challenges
  • Beliefs/attitudes/opinions
  • Personality types
  • Communication preferences (text vs. email, etc.)

Personas are incredibly helpful at every stage of the member journey — from recruiting new members, acclimating first-time members, encouraging volunteerism, boosting event attendance and continuing education, and understanding the motivations behind your members.

Each of your members is unique; you must know what they need and how they prefer to get it.

But it’s nearly impossible to build effective personas without association software that can gather the data, help you analyze it, and then effectively use it. With the right system, you’ll discover:

  • Why the members joined in the first place 
  • Pain points they’re experiencing 
  • Which issues matter to them
  • Their career aspirations
  • Why they might not plan to renew — and what to do about it
Complimentary Guide
Get the latest tips for creating your member personas in The Ultimate Guide to Association Software whitepaper.



2. Anticipate Member Needs and Wants

Your online presence should track your members’ history with your organization and automatically tailor content based on past behavior. It should accomplish two primary objectives:

Support the Member Journey 

  • Onboarding: You should be able to automate new member welcomes, build profiles, ask for communication preferences and key interests, and help members acclimate to the organization.
  • Ongoing Strategic Engagement: In concert with your member journey maps, your members should encounter personalized communications when they access your member portal, including special offers based on their past behavior, volunteer opportunities, special networking events, important industry trends, and relevant continuing education courses. Remember to celebrate milestones, such as their birthday and membership anniversary date, certifications earned, etc. This is also a great time to poll them to learn how they feel about key issues.
  • Mentoring: New members as well as members with less career experience will benefit from a mentoring program that helps them learn the ropes, find useful resources, and ensure they reach their career goals.
  • Renewal: The renewal process starts immediately after the join. Everything you do should be with an eye towards ensuring the member finds your organization indispensable. Send renewal notices promptly and provide flexible payment options (such as budget-friendly recurring memberships that are paid by credit card each month vs. yearly).

Large group of people

FOMO = Fear of Missing Out. This can be a great motivator, particularly at renewal time. Use your personas to remind members of the important events, resources, or inside industry news items that matter to them - and can only be accessed if they renew.


Motivate Members to Act

Your online environment should serve up highly tailored offers, discounts, and reminders to make it as easy as possible for members to act. You want to anticipate their needs before they even know they have them — this is how your organization becomes an asset that they can’t possibly do without. Personalized notifications can include:

  • Special offers for an upcoming event they might appreciate
  • Discounts on resources that would help them reach their career goals
  • Invitations to participate in advocacy efforts that will impact your industry
  • Learning path recommendations to help them attain and maintain certifications
  • Forum posts that are relevant to their interests

A person using a laptop and mobile phone


3. Introduce New Sponsorship Opportunities

This is a win-win-win strategy that benefits your members, your organization, and your partners. Sponsorships and advertising opportunities can help you achieve two important goals:

Provide invaluable resources to members

Armed with member persona intelligence, you can offer very targeted sponsorship opportunities to your partners.

  • Your members will benefit from valuable information on the latest goods and services on the market.
  • Your partners will appreciate the increased visibility within your industry — and will be very willing to invest their dollars to communicate to qualified prospects (and to reap the resulting ROI).
  • Your organization will appreciate the additional revenue and the ability to deliver high-quality resources to members.


Generate Non-Dues/Non-Membership Fee Revenue 

You can generate advertising revenue from your online presence, such as through banner ads, splash screens on start-up, and other advertising. The targeting you do will ensure members only receive the offers and advertisements that pertain to their interests.

A year-round mobile app is a particularly quick and easy way to share urgent or highly tailored information. It’s easy, convenient, and your members — and sponsors — will love it. Learn more about the advantages of a year-round mobile app.

Piggy bank with coins around it



How Purpose-Built Association Software Makes All of This So Much Easier

A purpose-built member engagement management system will be critical in building and maintaining your data-driven initiatives. An SSoT can help you:

  • Manage your website, member data, and accounting in one system
  • Access a 360° view of all your member interactions, such as new-member joins, event registrations, continuing education, and more.
  • Ensure top-level security
  • Easily integrate to Best-of-Breed applications (with two-way, “no-code integrations” that don’t require IT help)

Effective, affordable SSoTs are available to organizations of any size or type. Your members will love:

  • A centralized hub with everything they need in one place 
  • Convenient self-service options to update their profiles and access your resources 
  • Easy but secure access — they only have to remember one password for your systems with “Single Sign-on” 
  • Automated, personalized communications tailored to their needs

Providing a dynamic online presence is easy with the right association software. Here’s a great resource you can use to learn more about member engagement management systems and how they can help you and your members: download your complimentary copy of The Ultimate Guide to Association Software.

Complimentary Guide
The Ultimate Guide to Association Software

In this guide, you'll learn how to:

  • Build and optimize a tech stack that works for your organization
  • Spot the attributes to look for
  • Utilize six best practices for digital transformation

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