29 November 2017 Ben

5 steps to increase your membership

We’ve been working with membership organisations long enough to know that the primary objective for most is to increase membership. Although all organisations are different; we’ve identified some key aspects and created a step-by-step guide on how to increase membership, starting with…

Identify your potential members

Although it might seem obvious, creating a visual representation for who you want to target can really help focus decisions throughout the recruitment process. The questions we ask our clients when tackling this objective are:

  1. Commercially, what is your most successful membership type?
  2. What percentage of the market do you currently have? (split by membership category)
  3. What are the reasons someone would join? (split by membership category)
  4. What are the reasons why someone might not join? (split by membership category)

By answering these questions, you can start to formulate which category of membership/ member benefits to push to the forefront of your marketing. Identifying trends within those markets and acting on it quickly can dramatically effect exposure and lead to increased membership enquiries.

Get prospects to your website

Your website is the most powerful marketing tool in your membership recruitment utility belt; but when attracting the wrong or few people it’s rendered useless. As a digital agency we’re always trying to get the right people to our site and the three ways that we have found most success with are:

Fresh content: Unfortunately, you can’t just write website content once and hope it’s remains effective…Your target market evolves and with that so should your content. Not only will your visitor be more engaged but Google loves regular updates and will likely increase ranking and exposure within other search engines.

SEO (organic): Organic traffic is normally the leading source for visitors to a membership website so making the content on your website optimised for search engines is definitely something to think about. MOZ have produced a brilliant beginners guide to SEO giving insight into keyword analysis and research, factors affecting ranking, myths and misconceptions and tracking success.

Email marketing: Perceived as the easiest and sometimes the most fruitful way of getting visitors to your website, and something you’re probably already doing. Email marketing is only as good as your mailing list. Ensure your contacts are kept up to date and similar effort goes into the content of emails. Depending on the email, it may be better to try plain text emails.

Print: Believe it or not the second most popular source for traffic to a membership site is direct traffic; that’s someone just typing your web address into their browser! This is normally through effective print marketing; creating a well-executed offline marketing campaign and promoting the value of membership will drive prospect members to your site. Where you should…

Showcase the benefits of joining

One of the most underappreciated pages on a membership website is the ‘benefits’ page; normally a bullet point list of features, services or promotions that are highly unengaging. The ‘benefits’ -or- ‘why join’ page of your site should be bursting with enthusiasm. Use a combination of graphics, content and even videos showing the value of membership with your organisation.

Remember, don’t push your benefits page too far. If you add too many, you’ll end up diluting key benefits and have a negative effect on enquiries. Stay concise and keep the benefits clear. The list below gives you a couple of things that you could add to improve enquiries from your benefits page:

  1. Larger/ bolder fonts for titles
  2. Links/ callouts to join/ application forms
  3. Perceived/ representative value of benefits against membership
  4. Testimonials from members that prospects could relate to
  5. Animated/ interactive areas to break up content

Provide exclusive content for members

You might be thinking ‘isn’t this just a member benefit?’ – The simple answer is yes. But the reason it has its own section is because it’s one of the best ways to recruit new members (and reduce churn). Most professional organisations are representing an industry/sector; so the knowledge, expertise and authority that is carried by your organisation is probably one of the main reasons people join.

Offering resources, events and products either exclusively to members or for reduced rates can emphasise the value of becoming a member. One of the latest features we’re finding more and more membership organisations are offering as a member only benefit is CPD management. Which is the reason why our latest product RiverCPD was born.

If by joining your organisation a member will receive perks that makes their day-to-day job less stressful it starts to become a no brainer! Once it becomes a no brainer, there’s just one last step; and one that so many organisations forget about…

Make the application process EASY!

Before your prospect member gets to the application form, they will have a rough idea about how long the application process might take, so don’t worry too much about the number of steps required to get to the end of the on-boarding process. First, focus on the application form:

For you:

  1. Collect and record their name and email as the first part of the form: Once you’ve got their partially completed application you’re able to contact them at a later date should the application not progress much further.
  2. Set up email reminders based on time spent completing the application. This will prompt the applicant to complete their application without taking up valuable admin time from staff.

For your members:

  1. Clean and well-structured form fields will help make the applicant to get through the application quicker, and whilst thinking about speed, try to just ask the questions you really need during the application process. Some elements of a members’ profile can always be completed post sign-up.
  2. Use tabs or pages to break up large application forms into more manageable sections, and where possible allow your member to save and revisit at a later date should it take longer than expected.
  3. Highlight how far along the application form an applicant is. This will then mean they know how much time is required rather than getting to the end of each section and finding more fields to complete.
  4. Send confirmation emails and information on ‘next steps’, this should ideally be accessible through a logged in area of your website and will offer peace of mind and a portal to check for updates.

For the rest of the application process, the key is communication, try to keep the applicant member as informed as possible. Making them feel welcome will make them more likely to go through the process again, or even recommend to others. Using a flexible membership database like RiverCRM can automate a lot of these processes and ensure that you never miss a trick. Get in touch with your CRM/ website supplier and see how they can help implement some of these steps.

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