Membership marketing is a tricky thing to get right. Many associations struggle to gain new members or retain existing ones. There are a thousand ideas to try if you do your research, but they won’t necessarily work for your organization.
Let’s make it clear: there’s no silver bullet when it comes to improving your membership marketing program.
Like anything worth pursuing, membership marketing is a process, rather than a button you press and suddenly you have 1000 new members. It takes time and as an organization you’ll gradually hone your process so it can reliably generate new members.
There’s no single idea that’s going to overnight net you loyal new members. Until your organization embraces this, you’ll keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, without much results.
Many organizations also seem to forget that their existing members are the most profitable, and should be a prime focus. Delivering value to them like creating a members only website using MembershipWorks is an example of this.
For organizations who feel they absolutely need new members, there are a lot of things to consider. However, we won’t get too deep into all of that.
Here are a few fundamentals to focus on to ensure your membership marketing program is on the right track:
- Understand your membership
- Attract new members to your organization
- Retain existing members
Understand Your Membership
Before you go searching for ‘best membership marketing ideas’ on Google, take some time to learn what your organization and its membership program is all about. Here are a few questions to think about:
- Who are the members?
- What problems do the members face?
- How does the organization solve these problems?
These questions are essential to answer since you need to know who’ll be looking to get your membership. Without a customer / member profile to look at, you’ll be shooting in the dark when it comes to marketing efforts.
To make this easier, you may conduct a survey among existing members of your organization.
To understand who are your members, look at demographics such as age, income, education, geographic location and title. Of course, there are other things to look at as well, but these are fundamentally good demographics to consider.
To understand what problems your members face, make an effort to actually ask your existing members this question. Your members likely face these problems on a routine basis and having knowledge of this is essential.
To understand how your organization can solve these problems, look at your strengths and the solutions or services you offer. Ask existing members how they’re using these services to solve their problems.
Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to judge whether your membership program is doing enough for these people. This will allow you to improve your membership program and that will lead to increased retention of existing members.
Recruiting New Members
You’re probably familiar with the usual ways of recruiting new members – direct mail, telemarketing, referral programs and so on. But doing any of these without due consideration of the demographic you’re targeting will be a waste of time and resources.
At this phase, the information you gathered during understanding your membership will become useful.
Execute the following steps carefully to determine which recruitment strategy will work best for your organization:
- Analysis: Look at the data and determine what’s your current member retention rate. If it’s poor, then that’s what you should be focusing on instead of getting new members. Just consider the situation your organization is currently in, and then think whether recruiting new members will improve it.
- KPI: How many new members will it take for your organization to profit? Establishing goals will help your marketing efforts.
- Strategy: What recruitment strategy works best for your demographic? Do some research and understand your demographic. If you aren’t sure which strategy to use, develop short tests for each one and go with the one that performs best.
It’s easy to get caught up in acquiring new members and forget about the existing ones your organization already has. It’s easy to understand – acquiring new members is exciting and the chance to test new strategies sounds fun.
But the concern here is that if your current members aren’t happy with your services, how long before the new members start feeling the same way?
Acquiring new members is more costly than retaining your current members, that’s just how it is. And let’s not forget, it’s your existing members who’re giving you their money, not prospective members.
Your organization should be spending more on member retention than on acquiring new members. If that’s now how it is currently, then you need to seriously rethink your priorities.
An organization’s goal should be to convert existing members into lifelong loyal followers. Building a deeper affiliation is a great way of achieving this. If your member retention rate is following, your members clearly don’t feel any connection to your organization.
An organization should be in tune with the needs of its members. And needs are always changing, as new challenges and solutions keep popping up. Staying on top of these should be a top priority.
Providing value and going above and beyond what you promised will ensure that your members stay loyal to your organization.
Another aspect to think about is how your members get treated on a personal level. How is your customer service? Do your members feel like their issues are addressed timely?
You must commit to your existing members so there’s a higher chance that new members will feel the same way. Ensure that every interaction between your organization and existing members is a positive one, so the affiliation grows deeper and better.