How to Create Value Using Membership Software
Are the services your association offers actually providing your members with the value it requires to get them to gleefully sign up year after year? Excellent member services increase member engagement and make it extraordinarily easy to get new prospects to "sign on the dotted line." How can you develop better services—services that wow and impress and, most importantly, convince members to engage with you? Follow these (reasonably) easy steps to use your membership software to create value.
Utilize Member Segmentation
You've likely already developed a membership profile—a profile of your average member, who they are, what they like, etc. Take that profile to the next level by following a lead from our friends in B2B and B2C marketing. Develop member segments or sub-profiles that more accurately depict your various member groups. No association is comprised of a completely homogeneous membership base—each one has subsets. Your members have demographics and preferences (and, yes, even quirks) all their own. Use the data in your membership software to define these subgroups. Through segmentation, you can more accurately see what each of these groups want and need. Then you can develop targeted services for these unique sets.
Switch Things Up
If you've offered the same training, certifications, conferences, and newsletters for years on end, you can expect boredom to creep in and members to creep out. Release a new set of training materials, or update your certifications. Add new networking opportunities, and look into new special causes to support. What are you providing in terms of job advancement or job placement services? You can improve and update what you've got—if those are well-received—or opt for entirely new services to make your association more attractive to prospective members.
Leverage the Special Skills of Your Members
No matter what industry your association serves, there are almost certainly some specialists among your members that have rare and interesting skills. For instance, maybe one of your doctor members provides a state-of-the-art laser technology that only three physicians in the country are using. Or perhaps one of your members holds some type of record, such as the first-of-a-kind successful procedure. Most of these professionals love the chance to share their knowledge and experience with others in their field. See if that member would agree to a webinar or podcast, or perhaps be your keynote speaker at your next meeting or conference. Or, simply have them contribute to your next newsletter, providing your members with ready access to new information and skills. Scan the data in your membership software for interesting members who you can partner with to deliver great services.
Stay in Touch with Former Members and Opt-Outs
Don't assume that once they decline your membership offer that they're out of the picture forever. They can still fill out surveys, receive your newsletters and announcements, and keep up with your association from the sidelines. What benefits do these non-members offer? Plenty. Their insight tells you what you might need to do to earn their dues. Plus, you can keep them informed so that when you have new services to offer, they know about it and are likely to be interested in signing back up. Use your membership software to create a special campaign for reaching and keeping in touch with cold prospects and former members.
Partner with Other Organizations
Are there other associations or organizations that have some cross-interest with yours? Probably not a direct competitor, that's just weird. But maybe a group with similar, parallel interests? Partner with them so that both of you can offer each other's members your own special services. That makes your membership fee look more like a two-for-one deal. If their members are willing to pay their dues, they might be willing to pay for yours, as well, so in addition to getting access to an entirely new set of services, you might also have access to a ready-made group of prospects.
Of course, without an effective way of measuring member engagement, there's no way to know whether the value you're creating is really moving the needle. Check out the Part I of the Scoring Member Engagement Series to start gauging your members' engagement today.
About Jennifer Barrell
As the Director of Content, Branding & Buzz at Aptify, Jen oversees the strategy and execution of brand management and content production across the organization’s global offices. She thrives on bringing compelling content and useful information to associations to help them grow and engage their membership. She's also an avid fan of mid-century modern design and all things science fiction.