5 Low-Cost Strategies to Acquire Members to Your Community


Building a thriving community is integral to the success of any organization or cause. Yet, the challenge often lies in drawing new members in a way that is both effective and cost-effect.

The team at Circle recently published 2024 Creator Community Benchmark Report which had great insights and findings based on a detailed survey with 682 professional creators, entrepreneurs, and influencers who built communities around their audiences.

One of the many interesting sections that I found useful was how their “Platinum creators” – owners of the top 10% best-performing communities – used low-cost strategies to grow their community.

Attracting new members to a community, particularly for small groups or those in their early stages, presents unique challenges. Limited resources necessitate cost-effective methods for growth.

Many creators who are just getting started in building a community may not have money to invest in campaigns that are expensive. So they resort to low-cost member engagement strategies can be particularly advantageous for associations, non-profits, and businesses alike.

However, there’s a trade-off for not investing money in member acquisition – and that’s time. According to the report, more than 50% of the creators found it to be very time-consuming.

Growing a community can be time-consuming
Growing a community can be time-consuming. Source: 2024 Circle Creator Benchmark Report.

Growing a community does not have to be costly

Small communities and organizations at the outset often grapple with the balance between maintaining low operating costs and investing in strategies to grow their community.

With finite budgets, it becomes crucial to identify and employ methods that maximize outreach and engagement without draining finances. According to Circle’s Creator Community Benchmark Report, more than half of their community members don’t spend any money on acquiring new members.

Percentage of budget spent on member acquisition
Percentage of budget spent on member acquisition. Source: 2024 Circle Creator Benchmark Report.

The optimal tactics are those that leverage existing tools and platforms, encourage member-to-member promotion, and utilize digital channels that offer wide coverage for minimal expenditure.

Here are 5 strategies that were recommended in the report:

1. Leverage existing members

Tapping into the strength of current community members can be a game-changer when growing your membership base. By harnessing their networks and willingness to share experiences, communities can expand their reach effectively.

Community members often have vast personal and professional networks that can be invaluable for promotion. By encouraging members to share their positive experiences, organizations can amplify their message across various social platforms. This could include:

  • Word-of-Mouth Referrals: Members sharing with friends and family.
  • Online Shares and Testimonials: Active dissemination of membership benefits through personal stories or posts.
  • Rewards for Referrals: Offering incentives for members who bring in new sign-ups.

Participation in relevant online spaces can significantly increase a community’s visibility. Members can act as brand ambassadors, engaging in conversations and:

  • Sharing insights from the community.
  • Addressing questions that showcase the community’s value.
  • Highlighting exclusive content or events that might interest potential members.

By nurturing these strategies, communities can harness the power of their members to foster growth.

2. They invest and share high-quality content

Investing in and sharing high-quality content helps in sifting through to find members who will be genuinely interested and engaged.

This strategic approach serves as both a magnet and a sifter for your community, drawing in potential members with valuable insights and establishing a taste of the comprehensive expertise available within.

They focus on crafting and distributing content that is not only relevant but also practical for their audience.

This content is specifically designed to draw in individuals who need the information, solutions, or connections that the community offers.

By doing so, they ensure that members who sign up are already inclined towards active participation and contribution.

3. Foster Partnerships and Collaborations

By engaging with “Amplifiers” — those with an audience that shares interests with your community — as coined by Darnell Brown, you tap into a new pool of potential members. These partnerships allow you to leverage the trust and audience that these partners have cultivated over time.

Guest posting and co-hosting events could be great ways to go about doing this.

Guest Posting

  • Write valuable content for a partner’s blog or website. This is an effective way to showcase expertise and redirect their audience to your community.
  • Benefits:
    • Increased visibility: Your community gets in front of a new, but relevant audience.
    • Authority by association: Their established trust can rub off on your community.

Co-Hosting Events/Workshop

  • Organize events with partners to share knowledge, networks, and resources. Events can range from webinars to live Q&A sessions.
  • Benefits:
    • Shared effort: Both parties benefit from reduced individual investment in resources and promotion.
    • Engagement Opportunities: Live interactions create a genuine connection with potential members.
Co-hosting live workshops
Co-hosting live calls and workshops is a cost-effective way to grow a community.

4. Consistently add value to the community

Consistency is key in nurturing a community. Top community builders recognize that smaller, regular contributions can have a significant, lasting impact. Below are strategies to add consistent value:

  • Regular Content Creation: Sharing valuable content such as blog posts, videos, or podcasts fosters engagement.
  • Active Listening: Engaging with members through comments or surveys shows attentiveness and shapes a responsive community culture.
  • Educational Resources: Providing tutorials, webinars, and Q&A sessions supports member learning and growth.
  • Exclusive Offers: Giving members access to special deals or early product releases makes membership feel rewarding.

Experts understand that the path to a thriving community is a marathon, not a sprint. They commit to actions that can be performed reliably, building trust and anticipation among members. For instance, posting on social media or sending email newsletters keeps members informed and connected.

A well-executed strategy doesn’t rely on grand gestures but rather on the cumulative effect of ongoing, valuable interactions. Community leaders prioritize long-term engagement over temporary spikes in membership, believing in the compounding effects of their sustained efforts. This approach encourages a robust and active community, where members gain consistent value.

5. They Shamelessly Self-Promote

Gaining high visibility is critical for community growth, and self-promotion plays a vital role in this process. Top-performing creators understand the importance of confidently spreading the word about their journey, behind-the-scenes and even tangible results they deliver to their clients. Whether it’s during a podcast, newsletter, or live event, they seize every opportunity to highlight their community and what it offers.

They maintain a regular schedule for sharing their community’s updates, which keeps their audience engaged and informed.

By employing self-promotion tactics, creators can effectively turn passive audiences into active community members. It’s not just about shouting into a void, but rather about strategically placing crumbs that lead individuals to discover the value of their community proposition.

Other cost-effective strategies that you consider

To enhance community membership on a budget, the article pinpointed actionable strategies including:

  • Creating Contextual Content: Tailored content can address specific member interests and needs, ensuring higher engagement.
  • Dedicated Community Spaces: Establishing a special area for members fosters a sense of belonging.
  • Strong Welcome Experiences: A warm and clear induction process proves crucial for member retention.
  • Member Compensation: When applicable, fair compensation for community engagement can incentivize participation.
  • Engagement Through Storytelling: Members are more likely to engage when encouraged to share personal narratives.

Communities differ greatly, and what succeeds for one may not for another. Leaders should:

  • Be willing to test various approaches to discover the most resonant strategies.
  • Observe their community’s response and adapt strategies accordingly to enhance community growth and involvement.

Through these cost-effective methods, communities can enrich member experience, driving both growth and sustainability.

Access the benchmark report to learn more about building and growing your community.

Circle Community Benchmark Report


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