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10 min read

The Psychology Behind Getting Members More Involved

How to Lead Members Up the Member Engagement Ladder

Tags: Community Strategy,Marketing and Communications,Member Engagement

You Want Your Members to Be More Involved and Engaged


Member engagement helps you:

-Create happier, more satisfied members
-Keep member retention high
-Encourage more volunteering
-Gather valuable feedback from your members
-Grow non-dues revenue
-Attract new members to your thriving association

But how do you actually implement a member engagement strategy that works? Especially when everyone isn’t starting at the same level of involvement, and personalized outreach with the perfect content or opportunity for each member is time-consuming.

Meet the Member Engagement Ladder

The Member Engagement Ladder demonstrates the ideal member journey. You can achieve your goal of getting members more involved and invested by deepening your relationships with members, one step at a time.

It’s not about moving them directly to the top from the bottom step in one go. But it is about talking to your members as if you know who they are, with the right message, to the right person, at the right time. This is
how you move them up from one step to the next, repeatedly, until you get them to the top.

the member engagement ladder

3 Simple Steps to Lead Members up the Engagement Ladder

Every segment of your member base needs an experience that will take them to the next level. Of course, the journey won’t be the same for everyone. It’s all about knowing where your members are and then personalizing their experience.

We’ve developed our engagement philosophy from almost two decades in the association industry, and these best ractices are reflected in the Higher Logic Thrive Platform.

Our online community and marketing automation tools are built with all these steps in mind to help you implement scalable member engagement strategies. See how you can use these tools to really connect with your members in an efficient yet personalized way.

1. Build Your Member Hub

The first step toward a personalized journey that leads members up the engagement ladder is to build a digital destination for your members. Get everyone into one place. When they gather in your online member community, you have the structure and tools you need to start nudging them to the next rung of the ladder.

Your online community becomes your members’ best resource. They can connect with peers to problem-solve, learn, and share resources – not only with other members but also with your staff.

Be sure to choose an online community platform that’s built for engagement, and create a strategy that invites and rewards members to come, participate, and return to the community regularly. The more your members engage with the community, the greater value they receive and the greater value your organization will get in return. We call this Return on Engagement.

With smart, member-centric community strategies, you can make your community a destination that members want to come and return to.

Unlock Member Insights Encourage Participation
Community helps you unlock the knowledge of the group, getting firsthand insights from members about their needs and feedback. The data you’re able to gather in your community can then be applied across your organization. Try out tactics that incentivize members to hop on the community. For example, hosting an Ask the Expert session in your online community can help you get unengaged members to log in (and even post). It also creates shared knowledge about an industry topic that members can reference in the community moving forward.
Streamline Management Attract New Members
Even if you don’t have the luxury of being a full-time community manager for your association, the right community platform and an organized plan can help make managing your online community a breeze. Use online community tools like Higher Logic’s automation rules to get users engaged in your community, then invite them to officially join your association as members. Engagement ladder here you come!

2. Member-Centric Content

Behind a great engagement strategy is a great content strategy. And this means more than just the content items
themselves – it involves segmenting and personalizing who gets what.

Engaging members in your online community is a fluid process. They might come for one reason, but then stay for another. Identifying how you can point members to the content they need and lead them from one resource to the next is a great way to keep them engaged. This is where community data comes in handy.

In Higher Logic Thrive Community, you can see the top searched terms. This enables you to react to what members are talking about to guide your program and content strategy.

“The number one benefit [of Community] for internal staff is learning what is important for our members in their day-to-day jobs. And that’s incredibly helpful when we’re trying to think of new content ideas – we can pull what’s popular from the community and create resources and guidance around it. Without that, you’re guessing, or putting out surveys, or asking at conferences to try to figure out what members want, and in contrast this is a real-time download of what is working, what is not, and what our members are dealing with.”
Joey Martelli, SHAPE America’s Advocacy & Public Affairs Manager


3. Take Them on a Personalized Journey

Using Email Segmentation to Personalize Communication

When you connect with your members via email, sending relevant and personalized content is what keeps them engaged and gets them more interested in your communications. This happens via targeting and segmentation, which is possible when your email campaign platform is fueled by data from your online community platform and member database.

“Professionals Australia had over 40 diverse member segments, and they were struggling to engage with each segment in a personalized way due to technology and staff limitations. However, once they started using Higher Logic Thrive Marketing, they were able to comprehensively review member behavior and set up automated, responsive email workflows based on that data. Now, they have automated campaigns for onboarding and engagement member journeys, enabling them to acquire more members, increase renewals, and reduce member resignations. This approach is also perfect for helping members get more involved.


Using Community Tools to Personalize Member Experience

Getting members more involved – both in the community and with your organization as a whole – is a lot easier when you know your members and can act on what you know.

Higher Logic Thrive Community offers a special segmentation tool called security groups that allows you to use information from your member database and set up personalized community member views. For example:

  • You can give members who purchased a course or completed certification special access to that discussion group or sub-community.
  • You can categorize top-tier members and only allow them access to your top-tier member resources in the community.
  • When someone enters the community for the first time, you can show them content for their membership level or tenure with your organization – perhaps showing new members a “getting started” menu, while a longtime member sees quicklinks suggesting content based on their previous activity.

Higher Logic Thrive Community also includes a tool called automation rules, which enables you to trigger certain actions based on user activity, inviting different segments of your membership to get more involved.

See What This Looks Like in Action

Leverage community and marketing strategies to engage with members at each stage of their journey.

New Member

Create an informative and welcoming onboarding strategy for new members. This might include using security groups to display new-member resources, setting up an automation rule that encourages new members to complete their community profile, and enrolling them in an automated email onboarding campaign where you showcase benefits, resources, and ways to get more involved.


welcome campaign

Growing Member

Find your members who have logged in but never posted with an automation rule and invite them to make their first post or invite them to contribute a question for your Ask the Expert event. Share tips, examples, and resources that will help members make the most of your community, products, and services.


member engagement

Supportive Member

Identify your top posters in the community with automation rules and invite them to speak on a community webinar. Reward them with a special badge on their profile. Interweave top-poster session content into any event registration email campaigns you run.


rewarding member involvement

Membership Fan

Spotlight your raving fan with a community member spotlight. Invite them to be part of your community ambassadors program, volunteer program, or a special committee-members-only community to continue involving them and inviting feedback.


celebrating members
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Encourage Members to Climb the Engagement Ladder with Powerful Tools

So what’s the takeaway? Online communities, coupled with personalized and automated email campaigns, help you get members more involved in your association. And it’s mission-critical for your association’s success. Higher Logic's tools are purpose-built to help you build relationships, foster engagement, create advocates, and increase revenue for your organization.