The Membership Engagement Ladder

A membership engagement ladder could be the missing piece to your membership recruitment, engagement, and retention. But what is it? In an ideal world, someone who knows nothing about your association can move straight into membership after one interaction. Unfortunately, that’s not how the majority of professionals make their decisions. An engagement ladder is the idea of walking someone through steps that will eventually lead to membership.

An engagement ladder helps demonstrate the value of membership. As you can see above, these are examples of “rungs” for someone to climb towards membership. What existing rungs do you already have? What are some simple things you can add? Options to engage with the association helps potential members decide to join.

Potential members don’t have to hit every rung, or even do them in order. The point of having the ladder is allowing someone to step closer to membership on their terms. It’s up to the association to offer opportunities for people to learn about the association and engage with it. The graphic above gives some ideas of how your association can build a ladder, but it is not an all inclusive list. Each association is going to have unique opportunities for its potential members. To come up with a ladder, it is best to have a board meeting to assemble it or have a task force brainstorm for it. When the ladder is complete, keep track of what potential members are doing before they join. This will give you an idea of what they are looking for in an association and help you possibly develop more opportunities for potential members.

Once your association develops an engagement ladder, it doesn’t go away once someone decides to join. It can also be used as a retention ladder. It’s important for members to stay engaged with an association, so the same ladder that convinced them to join can also be used to retain them. Most members place value on engagement opportunities with the association and other members, so it is crucial to keep the ladder in place for existing members.

Could an engagement ladder be what your association is missing? Maybe retention is the main issue for your association instead of recruitment. Either way, a ladder with engagement rungs can only help your association. Take time to figure out what is already in place, what potential members and members want from engagement experiences, and develop some ideas to implement.