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8 Rewarding, Easy-to-Implement Ways to Engage Your Member Base

Creative ideas to catch members’ attention and get them involved

Avg. Reading Time: 5 min


We’re all inundated with communication right now. Our inboxes are full, there’s a lot going on at work and at home, and it’s hard to balance. Consequently, we go through phases of ignoring email or communication from the organizations we’re part of. But when you’re on the other side and you’re sending those emails and trying to get your members engaged, you must realize what you’re up against. It’s time to adopt some creative strategies to reach your members with communication that will catch their attention.

It’s time to cut through that noise and get to our members

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Create a New Member Welcome Campaign

A welcome or onboarding campaign is a great way to get members involved right from the get-go. Members receive a series of personalized emails that run for several weeks, walking them through bite-sized benefits and opportunities for involvement and engagement.


" I worked with a membership team to create a member onboarding campaign. I use Higher Logic’s marketing automation software to send out 13 emails over a span of 13 weeks, each featuring a video from a staff member about one of their member benefits. "

Helen Taylor, digital marketing manager at the Public Affairs Council


They’re getting results:

2 x

their typical email engagement


success rate toward their goal


time saved

When to use:

  • A great onboarding process gets members engaged right away. As soon as they join, send them the first email. If you use Higher Logic Thrive, adding this data automatically is easy! Use our member management feature or our strong third-party integrations to have your campaign quickly check for new members and add them to the campaign for you.


  • Keep your onboarding emails short. Link out to other areas they can check out.

  • Focus on one topic per email.

  • Send your emails from actual staff addresses vs. a “noreply” email address.

  • Focus on the benefit to the member and use member-centric language.

Run a Member Survey

How do you know what your members want? Ask them. Try running a survey to get feedback on your overall member experience, what they enjoy, what could be improved, what challenges they face that your association doesn’t currently assist with.


When to use:

  • If a member lapses, send them a survey or schedule a personal phone call to hear about why they decided not to renew

  • Use a survey at a conference to gauge their satisfaction with the event

  • Survey the same group of members no more than once per year


  • Try surveys, focus groups, or 1x1 member interviews to get different and detailed perspectives

  • Interview members that represent a wide range of your audience – both active and inactive, and pick a selection of young professionals, retirees, board members, committee members, etc.

  • When you start hearing the same feedback, you’ve conducted enough interviews

Create Member Spotlights

A fun way to get members engaged is to start showcasing their work. Create a form that you can promote on your social channels or within your community where members can nominate each other for the great work they’re doing. If you have an online community, you have a great starting point to gather member nominations. Get members to nominate each other! You could also reach out directly to members who are very active in your community and tell them you’d like to feature them.



If you use Higher Logic Thrive Platform, you can automate your requests, but still make them seem personalized. Just create an automation rule: Choose who you want to contact, e.g. members who post in the community 3x a month, and then write your message – anyone who meets that criteria will get a personal email from you, automatically.

When to use:

  • Once a month


  • Make sure you ask questions on your form that will help you create valuable spotlights. For example, what would other members like to know, or what might help them in their work? What would make the member you’re spotlighting feel valued? For example, could they share their proudest accomplishment from the last year?

“Our Member Spotlights get great traction. In our community, members nominate each other to be spotlighted, and their reason for nomination is included in the introduction to the Q&A. The nomination process provides an opportunity for members to express their appreciation for a mentor or colleague, and it reinforces our ‘by members, for members’ sense of community. What's really great is that spotlighted members don't have to be rockstars in the field - they just need to have had a positive impact in some way. We've shared some tremendous personal stories.”

Emily Cowan, Online Communities and Social Channels Manager, American Society of Anesthesiologists


Gather Seed Content

Seed content is a way to collect questions from your members, create organic conversation, and inform marketing content. It helps you find out what members are interested in. Just like in the last section, you can use automation rules (a Higher Logic Thrive Platform Community feature) to automatically email your members and ask them what they wish they could ask other members.


When to use:

  • If you see a lull in your online community conversations, use a seed question to get some discussion going

  • If you’ve noticed your membership is being quiet or you’d like to know what’s going on with members lately, try asking for seed questions

  • Send your seed question email only once or twice a year


  • Send to disengaged members. If you can segment your list, either with automation rules in the community or data from your email campaign platform marketing software, send the email just to disengaged members. This can get them involved and help them feel heard

  • Keep your prompt broad so you get more responses

  • Ask for permission to post the question on the member’s behalf so that you can use Higher Logic Community’s Thrive Platform’s community impersonation feature to post it for them

  • Prioritize posting responses from members who have historically been inactive

Host Casual, Virtual Get-Togethers

Host a casual, virtual get-together for members. Call it curated networking, happy hour virtual roundtable, office hours - whatever you want, but the main point is to get members together to talk about common issues or interests. The topics could be work-related or social.


A sense of belonging is a big member benefit and draw, especially if you know your members are in an industry where they don’t interact with others during their day jobs. This is a great way to gather like-minded individuals together and give them a way to connect. Plus, it gives you visibility into valuable peer-to-peer conversations. If you’re using Higher Logic Thrive Platform, you can run the event and accept registrations right through the platform.

When to use:

  • Once per month or once per quarter


  • Include a moderator from your staff in gatherings you’re hosting

  • Make promotion even easier by setting up an automated campaign to remind your members to register at the 30-day, 14-day, 7-day and 1-day out mark (be sure to build in decision steps to exclude those already registered)

  • Continue the conversation in your online community. This helps encourage long-term engagement and gets other people involved who couldn’t attend. This also creates multiple touchpoints between you and those members

  • Don’t over-Zoom your members! You may see a drop in attendance if you schedule these too frequently

“Curated networking with peers has been a personal favorite and provided the best feedback from participants. Being able to share and learn with others looking to tackle similar problems develops synergy and creates growth through meaningful connections. It's an engagement activity that can continue to create more ongoing value.”

Ellie Wu, Senior Director, Customer Experience Transformation, SAP Concur


Host a Member Contest

A fun way to get members engaged is to give them a contest or a challenge. Think something like the ice bucket challenge or a contest where they have to write a poem about your industry in only 7 words. Have everyone share their video, idea, post (whatever the contest is) in the same discussion thread in your online community so people keep following the thread.

  • check_circle_outline

    When to use:
    No more than once per quarter

  • check_circle_outline

    If you have a prize, don’t forget to send it! Follow-through here helps create credibility. Encourage your winner to post a picture with their prize in the online community!

“So far our single most successful engagement activity has been the ‘Write a Happy Story’ contest we held over the Thanksgiving holiday. It had been a long, hard year for everyone, and we all needed a little pick-me-up. The challenge was to write a happy anesthesiology story in five words or less, and the winner (drawn at random) received some ASA swag. It was our best-performing thread for the month! What's great about this is that it's quick, anyone can participate, and it applies to virtually any interest or group.”

Emily Cowan, Online Communities and Social Channels Manager, American Society of Anesthesiologists


Start Engaging Members Personally – And Easily – with Higher Logic Thrive

Higher Logic Thrive, the industry-leading member experience platform, gives you a robust suite of easy-to-use engagement tools so you can draw your members in and engage them in a personalized way throughout their member journey.


Have a “Ask the Expert” Virtual Session

Try hosting an Ask the Expert virtual session. Members submit questions on a certain topic, and an expert answers those questions live. We typically see these done in an association’s online community. You may have seen this type of thing called an “Ask Me Anything” on Twitter or on Reddit, so this is a very similar concept, just tailored to your organization and your members.


When you run your session in your online community, you can also use it as a lure to get members engaged. People see a member exclusive event in your community with 100 replies and think, “I want to be part of that!” Plus, you can pull the answers together to create a new piece of marketing content.

When to use:

  • Host an Ask the Experts session no more than once a quarter

  • You notice a topic being heavily discussed in your online community, on social media, or among staff

  • You want to offer a virtual event that doesn’t involve Zoom


  • Stick to hosting events once per quarter when targeting the same group

  • Pick a topic your members value, not just one that you value

  • Ask for questions in advance so that your expert has a little time to prepare and can have a sense of what they’ll be asked about. This also helps you gauge how popular the event will be. If you don’t receive many questions in advance, it may indicate that you need to promote more, or that the topic you chose didn’t resonate very well with your member base

Enlist Volunteers

Your association probably has a pool of members who would love to volunteer. Giving them tasks helps both parties – you get to delegate some projects, while your volunteers can do something to support your organization.


Consider creating “micro” volunteering opportunities that don’t last 6 months – try 6 days. You can expand your pool of volunteers while giving a busier member a small way to get involved.

When to use:

  • Rotate your volunteers 1-2 times a year


  • Make sure that you develop a plan and a timeline around this program. For example, set a 6-month commitment instead of leaving it open ended

  • Don't ask volunteers to do anything that you wouldn't do yourself

  • Reward your volunteers! Send them a thank you note and think of something they’d value to give out as a prize, like a badge on their profile in the online community, some association swag, a box of treats, etc.

  • The Participation Expansion Pack component of Higher Logic Thrive makes enabling valuable participation opportunities throughout the member journey easy.

Are you ready to get members engaging?

Find out more about Higher Logic Thrive Platform, the industry-leading member experience platform. With easy-to-use tools like dynamic community, powerful marketing, and integrated membership management, you can create a personalized, relevant experience for members.