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November 16, 2023

What We Learned from the 2023 Association Member Experience Survey

Learn what association members care about most in Higher Logic’s annual Association Member Experience Report.

Stop guessing and find out what members really want

Things have changed a lot in the past year. New technologies are coming onto the scene and the way people, especially younger people, work and pursue their careers is far different from what it was just three years ago.

Your members and potential members have changed – from the way they pursue information, to their attention span, to their levels of trust. What hasn’t changed is the need to keep members at the forefront of everything your association does.

As you consider the programs and services you offer and the format of your resources, you should always ask yourself (and ideally measure) what members want and how they like to engage. The path to member retention and growth lies in truly understanding your members and not just guessing or doing things the way you’ve always done them.

So, how relevant are you to your members heading into 2024?

Higher Logic’s 2023 Association Member Experience Survey collected information directly from association members, asking them direct questions about what matters most to them. The resulting report shares valuable information about member preferences and viewpoints.

350 current association members from across the United States were surveyed. Most respondents have been members of their association for five or more years. Respondents were 65% female, 35% male. 20% were 18-29, 29% were 30-44, 29% were 45-60, and 22% were over 60.

2023 Association Member Experience Report

The Most Valued Member Benefits

A lot of staff time and money is sometimes spent supporting member benefits that, frankly, members don’t value or use. Knowing what members want helps an association achieve more focus and efficiency and less wasted resources.

In the 2023 Association Member Experience Report, we asked members to rank their member benefits…

Top 5 Most Important Benefits to Members in 2023

  • Email Digest and/or Email Newsletter
  • Publications
  • Member Discounts
  • Events (virtual)
  • Events (in-person)

Our respondents rated email digests or email newsletters as their #1 member benefit, followed by publications, member discounts, and events. Not surprisingly, these are also the benefits they claimed to use and interact with most.

Surprised? Maybe you should be. These are markedly different responses than we saw in last year’s survey. In 2022, certification, online networking, and industry news were the highest-ranked member benefits and virtual and in-person events were among the lowest-ranked. Clearly, there’s a resurgent desire to connect!

That being said, remember to back up your event strategy with year-round opportunities to connect in your online community. Your community can help you take the spark of engagement from events and fan it into a flame, deepening the connection between your audience, your association, and other attendees before, during, and (crucially) after the event. In your community, you can create ongoing networking opportunities, Q&A, discussion threads, and a resource library of event materials so members have a reason to keep coming back to learn from your association.

If You Know Them, Prove You Know Them with Personalization

Here’s something that hasn’t changed from the 2022 survey results: personalization increases the quality of the member experience.

56% of members shared that having a personalized experience is important to them but 50% said they aren’t getting it.

Think about it. Members’ email inboxes are full of generic emails. They’re also hearing every day about the astonishing things that can be done with AI, machine learning, and automation. So what will they think if they’re still not even getting yesterday’s basic personalization from their association – like seeing their name in an email, a reminder of their membership expiration date, or targeted emails that highlight programs that match their interests? Worse yet, what if you’re still emailing them about an event they’ve already registered for?

Today’s technology can make it a lot easier to tailor member experiences. Higher Logic Thrive, for example, breaks down silos so you can leverage member data and trigger personalized communications according to member segment, community interests, attributes, behavior, and more.

Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Here’s some feel-good news.

Most members (63%) are happy enough with their association that they expect to maintain their membership for the next 5 years.

Unfortunately, this is down 8% from members answering that same question in 2022. This means fewer members are finding compelling reasons to stay.

So why are members leaving their associations? When asked, they said the main reasons are lack of engagement and lack of value for the dues they’re paying. Other answers included employers not helping pay for memberships, other associations looking more appealing, and disagreeing with certain stands the association takes.

So your engagement strategies throughout the member lifecycle are still critical to keeping your members.

That’s Only a Sample – Read the Whole Report for More!

This report once again showed us that members sincerely value their associations. It’s essential that associations, in return for that investment and trust, keep learning about what their members need and keep improving on the value they provide.

The best advice is to simply listen to what members are saying. And they’re speaking to you in this report.

The 2023 Association Member Experience Report is FREE and contains many more revelations than the few we’ve touched on here. But as insightful as it is, the report should be only the beginning of a broader commitment to member awareness.

  • Step 1: Get the report.
  • Step 2: Ask these same questions of your own membership to see if the answers line up.
  • Step 3: With those answers in hand, reevaluate your current products, offerings, and strategies.
  • Step 4: Don’t let yourself grow complacent and unaware. Put the tools and processes in place to consistently monitor members so you can react ASAP to ever-changing hot topics and priorities.

2023 Association Member Experience Report

Higher Logic

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