2023 Association Membership Marketing Report


This will help you understand your association membership and better market to them.

Membership marketing serves as the lifeblood that sustains association growth and relevance in an ever-evolving landscape. The 2023 Association Membership Marketing Report stands as an invaluable compass to help you light the pathways and strategies you need for the success of your association.

Check out the full episode of the membership marketing report podcast with Tony Rosell here.

The episode uncovers the core strategies and tactics that drive membership organizations, focusing on their recruitment, engagement, renewal, and reinstatement efforts, and was obtained from asking associations about how they go about their marketing, onboarding, retention, and challenges.

Association Membership Marketing Lifecycle

The membership lifecycle is the complete journey your members go through from when they are prospects to when they become valuable members. The different stages include:

  • Awareness: The aim is to make the membership program known to the target audience by highlighting its benefits and value. Marketing efforts focus on creating compelling content and campaigns to attract and convince potential members to join the association.
  • Recruitment: After creating awareness, the next goal is to persuade potential members to join. Marketing focuses on presenting offers, incentives, and persuasive messages to prompt the audience to take the next step, such as signing up, making a purchase, or joining an association
  • Engagement: Keeping members engaged is essential post-recruitment. This requires consistently providing value, fostering community, and delivering personalized experiences. Marketing maintains active engagement through targeted communications, personalized experiences, and consistent delivery of value.
  • Renewal: Here, the focus is on encouraging current members to renew their membership by emphasizing ongoing value, benefits, and perks. Offering incentives can significantly impact renewal rates.
  • Reinstatement: Involves strategies to re-engage former members by encouraging their return through special offers or new features.

Understanding Membership Growth Drivers

As an association executive, It is important to know what is driving membership growth for others so that you can replicate and do better.

Despite the impact of COVID-19 and its challenges, associations not only weathered the storm but sailed in new and innovative ways.  This reflects the resilience and adaptability of these organizations.

The major membership growth driver  was reported as the following:

  • New Member Acquisition
  • The Value Proposition
  • The Association Innovation rate

The associations that have been successful in the past years blend a mix of innovation, value, and the pursuit of new connections as the engine propelling them forward.

The Power of Value Proposition and Innovation in Associations

The reason why some associations shine brighter than others has been duly attributed to their compelling value proposition and touches of innovation.

Value Proposition: The heartbeat of Associations

A compelling value proposition does not only offer membership, it articulates and delivers a value that resonates with your intended audience. It is the magnet that draws potential members in.

Associations with a value proposition labeled “very compelling” or “compelling” are like magnets for new members. The goal is to spur associations to indulge in creating better value propositions that articulate and deliver the most member benefits for your associations.

Association Innovations: The Steering For Growth

Your association’s ability for adaptability in a rapidly changing environment correlates greatly with the growth level it will attain. Associations that are experiencing declining membership are a result of their ability to pivot with changing times and adapt to trends. 

The higher the innovation level of your association, the more likely you are to experience growth.

Mastering Effective Membership Marketing

The report highlights the importance of understanding who your potential members are, what they need, and how your association can fulfill those needs. It’s not mind-reading; it’s strategic empathy.

You should also understand the golden rule; that one size does not fit all. It is always important that you understand the best practice and tailor it to your member’s particular needs

Here is what associations are doing according to the MGI report, what’s worked, and how you compare:

  • Top associations first try to understand your target market and why they join
  • They develop and articulate a compelling value proposition
  • They develop effective membership offers
  • They find marketing channels where they can reach their prospects
  • Budget: They invest in membership recruitment. 

Effective membership marketing is not rocket science; it’s just understanding, articulating, developing, identifying, and budgeting to create an experience that potential members can’t resist.

So, whether you’re sending out invites, crafting messages, or deciding where to be seen, remember—it’s not just about the activity; it’s about making it unforgettable.

Blueprint for Building Irresistible Memberships

Having a membership program that not only attracts but captivates individuals is a strategic growth indicator. The following blueprint will help guide you

Understanding Why Members Join and Why Some Don’t

Your first step in building a growing membership is to understand why members join and why they do not. Have you ever wondered what makes people say “yes” to joining your organization and why some keep their distance?

Members are drawn in by opportunities for networking, continuous education, and learning best practices, others come in seeking a professional experience that aligns with their aspirations. 

Conversely, potential members may opt out if they fail to perceive sufficient value, lack brand awareness, or face financial barriers when employers don’t cover dues.

Recruitment Offers For Building Your Memberships

Recruitment offers play a crucial role in enticing individuals to join a particular organization, association, or community. Understanding the dynamics of these incentives can significantly impact the success of your membership growth

The following are offers that you can and the percentage of associations that use them:

Conference or Convention Discount (45%):

  • Why: Appeals to those seeking professional development and networking.
  • Who: Particularly effective for associations.
  • Impact: Attracts new members and fosters a sense of community.

Dues Discount for First Year (19%):

  • Why: Addresses the initial financial barrier.
  • Who: Effective for those hesitant about long-term financial commitments.
  • Impact: Increases initial conversion and showcases value for future renewals.

Additional Months Free (18%):

  • Why: Provides immediate and tangible value.
  • Who: Versatile across sectors.
  • Impact: Offers extra time to showcase value, increasing long-term engagement.

Product Discount, Coupon, or Voucher (17%):

  • Why: Adds tangible and immediate value.
  • Who: Versatile, suits organizations with relevant products or services.
  • Impact: Creates instant gratification and showcases quality.

Recruitment Channels/Strategies For Building Your Membership

The MGI survey reveals that email (85%), organic social media (67%), and association-sponsored events/meetings (66%) are the most prevalent channels for membership recruitment. These methods are complemented by digital advertising, direct mail, content marketing, and personal sales calls.

To attract more members, use a combination of two or more to achieve the best results.  like email, social media, and events. Also, make it easy for people to join on the website and talk about the benefits clearly. 

Try different ways to get people interested, like having special offers and personalizing messages. The main thing to do is use a mix of methods and make joining simple and appealing. This way, associations can reach more people and keep them involved.

Mastering Effective Membership Marketing

When the association provides good value to members, we see an increase in member engagement. And the more members feel the value, the more engaged they become.

Key metrics like attendance at meetings, participation in young professional programs, and visits to the member-only section of the website are the vital signs of a healthy, engaged community. The higher these metrics, the more vibrant the association.

Mastering effective membership marketing requires strategic outreach through channels like email and social media, coupled with a user-friendly online experience. Associations should also emphasize tangible benefits and offer various enrollment options to help new members.

Other strategies would involve regular campaigns and tailored messaging based on member segments. This mastery is sustained through ongoing member research, ensuring a dynamic and responsive approach to recruitment efforts.

How To Sustain the Momentum Of Your Growing Association

Effective renewal is about staying on top of mind and according to MGI report, email is the go-to channel, with 82% considering it highly effective. But aside from sending emails, here are very important things associations should do to sustain member renewal and keep the association growing:

  • Keep your focus on what makes your association successful.
  • Always give members something valuable.
  • Change and improve based on what members need.
  • Communicate benefits effectively
  • Utilize digital platforms to engage members.
  • Plan fun events to keep members interested.
  • Make members feel like they belong to a community.
  • Implement scalable processes
  • Listen to what members say and make things better.
  • Prioritize member satisfaction, innovation, and adaptability

Please note that Sometimes, even if you try your best, members may choose not to renew for reasons like not feeling involved, not finding enough value, or just forgetting and this is ok.

Market Changes And How You Can Use This Report Article

The Association Membership marketing data also reveal additional trends that highlight market changes and, in some cases, a continuing recovery for associations. All data and information in this report were obtained from the Marketing General Inc Benchmarking report. Get it Here

The evolving market changes highlighted in this report offer a roadmap for association leaders seeking to navigate the shifting landscape effectively.

Leveraging this report article equips association professionals with the foresight needed to adapt strategies, revitalize engagement, and reposition value propositions. 

Look at what other associations are doing well, tailor, optimize and proactively capitalize on these changes to enhance your member experiences and reinforce long-term sustainability.

The Member Lounge Effect

Membership remains a powerful tool to connect individuals and companies to a community of mutual support that provides critical information, networks, and advocacy.

Member Lounge puts all of these into our platform and we have been helping associations automate their membership marketing over the years, setting everything on autopilot.

Need to set your membership marketing on autopilot and grow your association? Check out Member Lounge Now.


Farhad Khan, CEO

A tech entrepreneur specialized in creating membership websites for professional associations to increase member engagement. My background is as an engineer for Nortel and Ericsson. I started my own tech company in 2009 to help associations and nonprofits solve their challenges with my digital technology skills.