For membership associations to grow and stay relevant, they need to adapt to the evolving needs and expectations of their members. Each new generation of members expects more from their subscription fee. This means your association must be prepared to embrace change, and actively seek digital transformation if it’s going to win the battle to attract, engage and retain members.
Providing tangible value
Membership is vital to the function and sustainability of associations. It is not enough for members to feel satisfied simply by being associated with an organization or membership body. They want to feel they gain true value from their membership fee.
Long-term, sustainable growth for associations requires a perception of tangible worth for members. This might include access to professional development opportunities, support solutions, subsidized training courses, regular industry news, conferences and events, and help for members to improve their work/life balance.
In addition to these individual benefits, this value must also extend to the industry as a whole. There must be clear value in the association’s existence on a wider level and a perception among members that it brings benefits to their field. These industry-wide benefits might include the promotion of the profession, advocacy, and the creation and protection of certain industry standards.
To provide continued value, your association needs to develop new products and services that reflect the personal and professional interests of its members. This will grow the number of memberships taken out.
However, it would be a mistake to focus only on short-term membership acquisition. For sustainable growth, an association needs to concentrate on providing members with a significantly valuable experience to increase engagement and retention over the long-term.
Rising expectations from advancements in technology
The increase in member expectations is closely linked to a greater engagement with technology in all areas of life.
People are constantly engaging with mobile apps, information-rich websites and social media. Social networking allows members to find one another and collaborate, while huge amounts of free online information can be accessed at the click of a button.
We can now access in-depth analysis, insights, statistics, and training courses that were previously only available via trade conferences and paid membership associations.
These advances in technology mean that users expect immediate, interactive, personalized engagements with every organization or service provider they are involved with. They also expect to be able to customize and control their experience on any device.
If members can have this kind of relationship with their online bank, shopping site, social media channels and media streaming services, why not with their association?
These demands can feel overwhelming for some membership bodies, especially those concerned with issues completely unrelated to the tech industry.
However, as technology is a main driver of this dramatic increase in the expectations and demands placed on membership associations, technology can also be used to meet them.
A digital transformation
Associations can respond to the increased demand for sophisticated digital engagement by enhancing their service and delivery.
Your website is one of the first representations of your association its prospective members will see. By ensuring the design is attractive and user-friendly, and optimizing the content for mobile navigation, this will give a positive first impression. Adding subscription sign-up boxes, effective call-to-actions (CTAs) and optimizing the site for search will further improve your website performance and user experience.
Other digital transformation projects that could enhance new and existing member experience and engagement include the development of a mobile app, the provision of eLearning tools, increased social media engagement, and personalized services.
An association’s digital provision might also include online surveys and ballots, events registration, webinars and video conferences, live streaming of seminars, community forums, job boards, and resource libraries.
Alongside these tangible service benefits for members, you can use tech behind the scenes to transform every aspect of your association’s management and service delivery. For example, a well-designed membership database can organize and store all important member details, a referral program can encourage members invite their contacts, while technology can also be used to overhaul and modernize all aspects of your marketing strategy.
Market segmentation and profiling
Membership associations may have diverse audiences, yet an effective marketing strategy needs to be specific and targeted to the individual.
Simply because two individuals are members of the same association does not mean they will have exactly the same reasons for joining. One member might only use their membership to stay in touch with the latest news from their industry; another member might be actively involved in volunteering for the association.
If a message tries to engage with two dissimilar groups of people, it will result in not speaking effectively to either. Members who are not fully engaged with the association will be discouraged by the receipt of irrelevant communications, while some may unsubscribe or leave altogether.
For a marketing campaign to speak to individuals, you need to use efficient segmentation and profiling.
Marketing segmentation and profiling divides your members into groups that share a certain demographic, such as age or gender, or behavioral pattern, such event attendance.
By using technology to segment and profile your membership database, you will gain a stronger understanding of your target audience. It will then be possible to use this knowledge to deliver content that is highly personalized and relevant to your members’ interests.
The more in-depth the profile of each member, the more reliably you can predict the user’s propensity to certain behaviors, such as their likelihood to respond to an offer. This helps your association to guess what type of content a certain member will engage with, when they will engage with it, and how active they will be over their membership period.
As part of your marketing strategy, it is also crucial to be able to accurately measure the engagement levels of your members. Customer relationship management (CRM) technology can help you gather and analyse the data from your email marketing campaigns to discover which users opened the email, clicked through to your website or closed the email without acting.
By gaining an in-depth knowledge of member interactions, you will be able to pinpoint not only the preferences and actions of your engaged members, but also those members who are not engaging, and are therefore at risk of unsubscribing. This enables you to target these inactive individuals with appropriate communications in order to re-motivate them and avoid losing their support.
Associations can also improve their marketing efforts by introducing marketing automation technology. This can be used not only for creating and distributing regular email newsletters, but also for sending special offers and automatic subscription renewals at the right time of the subscriber’s membership life cycle.
Sophisticated CRM software can be used to help track and analyse all these aspects of your marketing communications. For non-tech associations, it’s easy to take advantage of the latest state-of-the-art technology by hiring the right people.
Indiez can select a team of tech experts to integrate this kind of solution into your existing website to ensure smooth marketing automation and easy tracking and analysis of your campaigns.
By understanding and responding to the evolving needs and expectations of members, embracing the changing digital landscape and implementing the latest tech solutions, your association will boost its membership base, and engage and retain its supporters across the generations.
Talk to Indiez today about how we can help you boost your membership acquisition, engagement and retention through the power of technology.