To truly focus on members means using a member-centric philosophy to guide your association’s activities.
Here’s how to keep members at the heart of everything your association does.
By Michelle Schweitz, Marketing Manager, Community Brands
Your association is all about members, right? After all, it’s a member-based organization. But, what does that really mean? How does that inform how your association operates?
To truly focus on members means creating a member-centric culture. Everything from your association’s strategy to day-to-day operations must drive a great member experience. That’s what will bring in new members and keep them around year after year.
Here are three effective ways to build a member-centric culture at your association:
1. Know your members.
Creating a great member experience starts with understanding your members. What are their needs and interests? What are their communication preferences? What would make things more convenient for them? Here are a few ways to get to know your members better:
- Ask for feedback – Send members a survey at least once each year to ask them about their member experiences. Consider setting up a member advisory group and meet with them to get their input on how to improve member benefits. Establish a team that meets regularly to review member feedback and determine how to fine-tune the member experience.
- Collect and use member data – Use your association management software (AMS) to collect and analyze data about your members’ career stages, interests, and behaviors to provide them with personalized communications and benefits. For example, based on your members’ interests, recommend new industry reports or new services offered by your organization that will help them in their specific career stage.
- Set up a preference center – Give members an easy way to let you know how and when they want to hear from you: set up a preference center. A preference center is an online portal that gives your members an easy way to control what communications they receive from your organization and how often they receive them. It also gives you another way to gather more of the data you need to improve member communications.
2. Consider the member journey.
Your members’ needs and expectations evolve as they move through their careers and their membership with your organization. Make sure you’re doing all you can to give them a great experience every step of the way. For example:
- Make it easy to join – When potential new members land on your website, make sure there’s a clear and compelling path for them to become a member. Then, when prospects are ready to join, make sure the process is simple by streamlining your online form. Keep in mind that lengthy forms are a turn-off so be sure to ask for only what’s necessary in your online membership application to process their membership. You can ask for more data later.
- Provide a great member onboarding experience – Make your new members feel welcome right away. Start by thanking them for their membership. Then, give them a short, simple list of what they can expect next and where to go for information. Get new members involved right away by asking them to connect with your organization and other members. For example, invite new members to a discussion forum for new members in your online community.
- Inspire and enable members to get connected – Connect your members with industry information as well as education, volunteer, networking, and job opportunities by offering an online community. An online community helps you elevate and encourage networking among your association’s members. At the same time, it can make your association a part of your members’ daily social networking habits.
- Offer members help through each stage of their careers – Think about what members need in each stage of their careers, and how your organization can support them. For example, offer students, new grads and early careerists opportunities to find internships, connect with mentors, and find their first jobs. Provide mid-careerists with networking and learning opportunities and connect them with their next great jobs to grow their careers. Connect late careerists with interns, mentees, and new hires.
- Engage members throughout the member journey – Be sure to communicate regularly with members to keep them connected with your organizations. Keep member communications – from your website to member emails – focused on members and their needs.
3. Work more efficiently.
Working more efficiently is a member-centric activity when you consider that it gives your members a smoother member experience and frees your staff’s time to focus on delivering even greater member value. Here are some ideas:
- Automate email communications – Automating process-related emails will free your staff’s time to work on more strategic email marketing campaigns. For example, automate email communications to members based on member actions, such as joining the organization or paying membership dues. Then, when members join your organization and pay their annual dues, they can receive an automated email confirmation for joining that includes a receipt of payment.
- Provide an auto-renewal option – Community Brands research shows that 13 percent of lapsed members simply forgot to renew. An effective way to address this issue is to offer an option to automatically renew membership, with the membership fee charged to the member’s credit card. This approach makes things easier on your members and helps reduce the number of lapsed memberships, so your staff will spend less time on the renewal process.
- Automate reports – You can schedule important, timely membership reports to send automatically via email to yourself or executive management. For example, set up workflow in your AMS to automatically send a monthly membership summary to your executive director and board of directors.
Learn how building a member centric culture and top tips to increase membership by watching the webinar on-demand: Blueprint to boosting association membership.