Membership associations, defined as organizations that provide membership and subscription opportunities to their supporters, are getting more popular each day. This article will provide 4 association practices to implement in your business.
In a December 2020 study, 93% of participants stated that they found it important to be a member of an association –over 6% more than a study conducted in 2018! It is clear that there are many benefits to membership associations, both as an organization and as a participant. Association practices are vital to running a successful organization, with members that are content with their membership status.
Many associations focus on bringing in new members to their platform so that they can grow. But some forget this is only one half of the challenge: It is equally vital to keep existing members to successfully manage a membership-based organization. After all, there is no use in gaining potential members if you cannot build loyalty and grow your program through it.
We at Raklet have compiled the best association practices to increase and guarantee lasting memberships:
#1: Have valuable benefits in your membership plans
In general, one of the main reasons why people join associations is to improve themselves in a certain field. The ability to network with others, attend courses, workshops, and seminars, and the chance to earn certifications are all at the top of the list. One of the most valuable association practices is learning how to advertise your credentials accordingly. Potential association members will be convinced easier if they see how they can benefit from joining your organization.
Membership-only access to some of those features might be why most stay subscribed to your association membership plans. Consider having free access attributes and adding more tiers to your memberships to add value to your organization. (You can try a sliding scale membership method so people can choose which specific attributes they want. Personalization always helps!)
#2: Stay up-to-date on current topics and issues
Moving and changing with the times is important to attract new members, no matter how small your organization may be. Keeping up-to-date with your members’ needs and providing for them are essential to guarantee their long-term stay with your association. Taking their members’ needs into account is the number one priority of any membership association. Among their personal problems and questions, this also includes more general subjects.
One of the leading questions that possible members might have is about your organization’s ethical views. Nowadays, a large majority of people (especially of the younger generation) refuse to support associations and businesses if they find them unethical.
Be clear with your core values whenever possible. Even though it might not be among your association’s field of work, these matters are significant to many people. Demonstrating yourself as an ethical association helps build appreciation and respect among members, and even non-members. Your stance on issues such as sustainability, diversity, and equality might play a much bigger role than you think to increase memberships.
#3: Engage with your past, present, and future members
For newcomers, joining a new association might be nerve-wracking and stressful, especially if there is a membership fee involved during sign-up. This is why, for a smooth onboarding process, it is crucial to be available to relieve them from stress as much as you can. Try engaging through personalized welcomes (emails, conversations, etc.) from the very beginning –it helps members feel more seen and valued.
Besides building personal connections, the readiness to help solve issues plays a crucial role in membership retention. Both pre-existing and new/potential members can always have new questions, needed alterations, or there might be some problems they need help solving. A strong support and help system is key to managing the membership process. Never be afraid to ask how you can improve your business and adapt to their needs if needed.
Also, don’t admit easy defeat on canceled or expired memberships! Oftentimes they simply had an issue that could be fixed with further communication. Ask them what caused them to move away and what you could have done to stop it. Listen to their concerns and take them into account, consider it as an opportunity to help improve your membership acquisition. You can even offer discounts or a certain free period to help convince them to come back. (But of course, wait a reasonable amount of time before you follow up after they left.)
All these different types of personal communication might be difficult to maintain strictly in person, though. This ties into the next and final practice on our list:
#4: Build a strong online presence
Even if your association is a small group that strictly meets face-to-face, the need to expand to online measures is increasing every day. Growing your platform and reaching out to more people is almost impossible without the Internet with its advertisement opportunities. Its ease in collecting membership fees digitally is also undeniable. Not to mention how the ability to communicate with non-local members might increase the number of your memberships.
In addition to company-wide concerns like marketing, most individuals these days also prefer to complete more tasks and to attend more things online. In the same study mentioned previously in the article, 85% of the 1,000+ participants stated that they preferred online and online/in-person hybrid options for communication among their associations. This is not a number to take lightly if you want to grow exponentially, especially after these past pandemic measures.
Some things to particularly include for a wider digital reach are:
- Clean, sleek, easy-to-use design,
- A mobile-friendly interface optimization,
- Options for digital networking among members (i.e., online membership communities, discussion boards, virtual meetings, etc.)
- A strong communication feature for members to be easily able to provide feedback and ask questions to your association,
- The ability to easily collect one-time and recurring membership payments,
- Ensuring privacy and providing data protection,
- Online marketing and events (like fundraisers, speeches, etc.) to increase accessibility.
An all-in-one association platform to maintain the listed association practices will make things easier –both for your association, and its members. Raklet provides all of these and more, with an easy-to-use interface and a free starting option.
If you’d like to learn more about association management software, check out these articles below: