7 Ways to Source Members for Your Associationís Online
New member acquisition is an important element for
sustaining online customer or member communities. Hereís how you can start implementing plans to increase
member acquisition right away.
members will leave your online community. Though you might be throwing down
some serious online community strategy,
abandonment is unavoidable. By changing jobs, losing interests, retiring, or
other inevitable life events, people simply lose the need that your community
after abandoned members isnít a solution, nor a productive and scalable use of
time. Instead, proactively counteract the decline of old members by focusing on
acquisition is an important element for sustaining online customer or member communities. A rate of
decline in active members due to abandonment will create a noticeable void in
community participation and engagement over time.To avoid this scenario, new active members must be acquired at a rate
equal to or greater than that of member abandonment.
into this specific question.
seven primary ways to source members for an online community, though not all
may apply to your specific target audience or online community lifecycle stage. Here are definitions explaining
each of the seven sources to help you identify which options fit your association
and how you can start implementing plans to increase member acquisition right
Method #1) Direct member acquisition
member acquisition is great for new communities, when micro-level tasks are a
regular part of day-to-day community management activities. In this option,
community managers use 1:1 outreach to invite members, customers, or potential
audience members to join the online community.
are creating a private
member community (i.e. associations), youíll find people to target in
your CRM system or member database. Segment your records to identify the
members that are most likely to convert on your offer to join in the community.
When you are starting an awareness or industry online community, members
are usually found via public social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn or
Facebook, or via relevant conferences and events.
Method #2) Organic acquisition
member acquisition tends to drive a majority of community member conversions in
public or semi-private online communities. Potential members are referred to
the community via search engine-indexed content and usually convert via on-site
member acquisition is usually the number-one source for new members in fully
indexed public online communities.
Method #3) Paid sourcing
sourcing can refer to a few different avenues. The most common paid method for
sourcing members is search engine marketing. Organizations set up Google
Adwords or Bings Ads campaigns by providing a monthly budget, targeted keywords
potential members would be likely to search for, and a relevant URL that will
take the individual at the end of the keyboard to a page within the community,
where they will hopefully find value and convert into members.
most common method is third-party advertising. This usually appears via box and
banner ads on websites that work with ad partners, such as Google, to sell ad
inventory to place ads. The paying organizationís ad spot then appears on relevant
sites. Using retargeting (also known as remarketing) campaigns, community
managers can also have their online communityís ads shows up on various web
pages if the end user has a cookie in their web browser that tracks a previous
visit to your communityís web domain.
options are generally used by both open and private online communities that are
at a mature stage of the community lifecycle, as scaling micro-level member
acquisitions become less practical.
Method #4) Viral acquisition
acquisition occurs when current community members directly invite friends,
family, or colleagues to join the online community. In some instances, members
can execute this action directly from their account, which helps to encourage
viral member acquisitions over time.
Method #5) Social acquisition
online community members via public social networks is relatively common and
straightforward. Count the individuals who were referred to the community via
social media channels and converted into a registered member as a result of
their visit. This is a great word-of-mouth channel for communities at all
stages in their lifecycle.
Method #6) Partnerships
create brand awareness to drive referral travel and consequential member
conversions. Partnerships describe a mutually beneficial deal between similar
organizations, such as agreeing to post logos on one anotherís websites or
trading media sponsorships at upcoming events.
Method #7) Special campaigns
acquisitions via special campaigns account for any strategy that does not fit
within the six other tactics outlined above. This could include list rentals,
special events, or members directly ported into the community from another
should always have more than one source for new member acquisition. In the
beginning, refining tactics to grow new-member volume will require patience as
well as trial and error. Be sure to test various forms of communication and
record results to optimize your process over time.
Bapple is a
senior online community strategist at Socious who works
with businesses and nonprofit membership organizations to develop customer