Strong Engagement and Clear Calls to Action Go Hand-in-Hand
Some of the time, your association communicates with its membership just to keep them in the game – to stay on their radar. However, the majority of your communication efforts will most likely be looking to stimulate some sort of specific action from your members. It’s a very rare scenario when you aren’t interacting with the intention of affecting a particular outcome.
Engagement is a two-way street. If it’s always association representatives and administrators attempting to stimulate return from members, and there is no return (or there is seldom a return), that’s not engagement. That’s just people talking with themselves. Engagement is a back and forth, an ask and an answer.
So, if true engagement requires cause and effect, how do you ensure that almighty effect is achieved? How do you consistently motivate the intended action? There’s no ironclad answer for this. However, if you employ a specific set of principles that govern your calls to action, and you stick with your program long enough, you should see a positive impact regarding return on engagement. Below, we have provided some of these principles that should be considered when triggering engagement opportunities with your members.
- Confusion is the enemy of effective communication, and effective communication is the only way your association is going to achieve meaningful engagement from your members. So, with that granted, there must be no doubt or misunderstanding of what you’re asking of your members when you’re calling for their action. Clarity is the name of the game. Don’t get fanciful – just state what you want of them in plain language. A call to action should smack the reader in the face. There should be no room for varying interpretation or linguistic misappropriation. Just say it.
- Your written content is crucial – of course. However, as much as people are literal, they are equally visual. If your call to action gets easily lost in a jumble of other content, chances are members will never even lay their eyes on it. The call to action is usually the first thing people will look for in a piece of content. They’re trying to identify how this communication implicates them – if at all. It sounds self-interested, but it’s something that everyone does. So, you need to empower the reader to scan and find the call to action lickety-split. Otherwise, they won’t even read the correspondence. Whether you employ colour blocking techniques to trap the eye or pedestal the call to action with surrounding white space (making it stand out) – make sure you are visually drawing attention where it needs to be.
- Don’t be unnecessarily wordy. With your calls to action, you should be looking to get in and get out in the least amount of words possible – while still being clear with what you’re asking for. To act on a request, people don’t need every little detail or piece of information. They just need the broad strokes. Those few who want more information, prior to action, can be afforded what they require to make an affirmative decision. For most, more information than they need will only serve to delay or deter them from taking the action you need them to. Keep your content crisp, so your members’ decisions to act can be equally swift.
- One of the more common mistakes organizations make when crafting their call to action is leaving out the “why”. In this scenario, you’re most likely keeping the content nice and concise, so thumbs up to that. However, you’ll need to add just a few more words so readers are motivated to make an affirmative decision. People need to know what the proposition being presented is – what’s in it for them? Just asking them to do something isn’t going to inspire them to follow through. What is the intended outcome? How will the association be impacted from the effort being asked? Why does their involvement matter? What value will they experience because of their participation? Certainly, keep your calls to action concise and punchy – but make sure it’s clear to the reader there is value to be derived from the effort that is being requested of them. People tend not to respond when there is no easily identifiable reason. So, give them a reason.
- Your member communications regimen has to be frequent and consistent, if you want strong engagement with your calls to action. If you haven’t conditioned your membership to habitually interact with correspondence originating from your association, they won’t be in the practice of acting on requests made within your content. You have to build interaction equity. Having members come to expect regular communication coming from your association will make it more likely that they review your content, identify calls to action and follow through on them. Sending off-the-cuff emails here and there and expecting strong follow through on calls to action is an unrealistic expectation. Your association earns strong uptake by building a frequent and trustworthy communication schedule.
- As much as you want to be consistent in your communication efforts, your association has to make sure things don’t get stale through repetition. With a strong content strategy, you should have no issue asking the same thing a million different ways. Repackaging your call to action content so it reads fresh and seemingly new will ensure members do not become bored or tired of it. If you hit your readership with the same one-two over and over, eventually, they will write it off as spam. You never want your content arriving in your members’ inboxes to prompt the exclamation – “it’s just them again”. What’s more, not every call to action you craft is going to resonate with each member. So, by repackaging the same ask several times, you increase the odds that more people will follow through. Fortunately, coming up with creative ways to portray an idea is fun. So, ensuring your call to action content is continually rejuvenated will be an amusing endeavour, at the very least.
The engagement your members offer up to your association is prompted by the calls to action you communicate (and their ability to stimulate follow through). Give serious consideration to your content strategy and think on what will motivate your members (in particular) to participate in the ways you’re looking to achieve.
Communicating with and stimulating engagement from your membership is made much easier with the use of a comprehensive AMS. Guild’s association management solution was made with the user in mind – connecting administrators and members in the most supported environment on the market. If you’d like to learn more about what Guild offers, or would like to schedule a live demo of the system – please click here.