Long ago, I was a membership director in a couple of different trade associations. And as any membership professional knows, the most difficult members to retain are first-year members, those who have joined in just the past year.

The reasons should be obvious. Unless you have several programs designed especially for first-year members, most first-year members don’t have a lot of ways to immerse themselves in your association.

And to top it off, we tend to communicate with first-year members in the same manner we communicate to long-term members. And that’s a mistake.

The good news is, you can use your data to communicate with first-year members differently. Here are just a few ideas:

  1. When you’re doing an “all-members” communique of any kind, segment out the first-year members and alter the message to fit them. Even something as simple as “Since you’re a first-year member we wanted to point out some important news in this message especially for you.”
  2. Create a separate set of messages that are designed only for new members. Each message can begin with a note that says these messages are specific to them.
  3. If you’ve collected any data about the members (e.g., demographic information) use that data to tailor your message. “As a first year member interested in X, you should be aware of these programs that address X.”
  4. Create an internal report that identifies all first-year members within 90 days of expiration and shows all of their engagement the past year, and make sure you’re communicating with any members showing low engagement.

With today’s technology, identifying who first-year members and communicating with them is easier than ever. You just need to take a little time to tailor your messaging.