Launching a successful membership organization requires more than the ability to attract users to learn more about your products, services, or content. When you want to attract new members to your organization, understanding your audience and various digital marketing tactics is a must before you get started. Once you are familiar with the basic structure of membership organizations and how to appeal to your target audience, launch a campaign that is sure to result in more registered users and new members.
What is a Membership Organization?
A membership organization is an organization that provides individuals with an opportunity to become exclusive members, usually for an ongoing subscription fee or a one-time entry fee. Individuals who join exclusive and paid membership organizations are often provided with exclusive deals, offers, or access to additional products, services, or information that is unavailable anywhere else.
Whether you are launching a business with a membership program for a local gym or if you are creating an online startup that offers a subscription-based membership program, membership management and retention strategies are equally as important to focus on.
What is Membership Management
Membership management involves the process of overseeing, strategizing, and managing the marketing and acquisition plans you have launched for your organization. When managing a membership program, it is not only important to track and monitor membership numbers, but also working acquisition and retention strategies. Having a keen understanding of which marketing methods and techniques resonate most with your target audience will go a long way when attempting to attract new paying members to your organization.
Steps To Member Acquisition
Acquiring new members for an organization is not always as simple as sharing information on your organization and what you have to offer. In order to truly succeed as a membership organization, it is essential to have a deep and thorough understanding of the prospective members and clients you are looking to obtain.
Define Your Audience
The first step to building a membership organization is to define your target audience and the demographics you want to reach. Consider the gender, age, and even the location of users you want to target based on your organization’s goals and current marketing goals. It is also highly advisable to consider the type of hobbies and interests your prospective members have in common with one another while developing your membership acquisition strategy.
Create Good Content
Once you understand the audience you want to reach, you can then begin developing your content marketing strategy. Content is still king and one of the biggest marketing methods used by both startups and giant corporations today. Developing and launching a relevant, unique, and informative content strategy is essential as you establish your organization and attract new visitors to become potential paying memberships.
When you have a paid membership organization, sharing high-quality content is a way to establish and build trust among visitors, current members, and prospective members simultaneously. Develop your content strategy to provide your website’s visitors with in-depth information on unique and interesting topics that is difficult to find anywhere else on the internet.
Collect data and information from your website visitors to learn more about who your content is appealing to most online. Utilize services such as Google Analytics for in-depth metrics and data regarding your website’s visitors and the traffic you are currently receiving. If possible, it is also highly recommended to launch an online newsletter for your website and organization. Collect email addresses, names, and even information such as phone numbers with a newsletter sign up system in place.
Master the Right Platforms
Targeting and mastering the right platforms for your business can ultimately mean the difference between failure and success with any online venture. If you are a business that is targeting the elderly, utilizing social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram may render you less than satisfying results.
However, if you are targeting the elderly, implementing an email newsletter and an ongoing blog can keep your users interested and not confused about the prospect of your membership organization. It is imperative to remain in touch and in tune with the audience you want to reach, especially if you have additional intentions to garner paid members for your company.
Stay in Contact With Your Prospects
Staying in contact with prospective customers or registered members is key to a truly successful marketing campaign. Most businesses do not generate sales based on one email marketing strategy alone. Instead, they choose to implement a retargeting and remarketing campaign, contacting visitors repeatedly, even after they have completed a purchase or left the website altogether.
Staying in contact with your prospects is possible by sending direct emails, launching an email newsletter, or even creating a blog that allows you the ability to respond and communicate with your online visitors. In some cases, it is even possible to stay in contact with your prospective customers, clients, and registered members by building and developing an online presence with the use of social media.
New Member Onboarding Process
Acquiring new members for any organization often requires an onboarding process. Each onboarding process for membership organizations likely will vary to suit the target audience and type of prospective customers you intend to reach.
Send Out a Warm Welcome Message
First, it is important to send out a warm and welcome message to users who have recently subscribed to your website, blog, newsletter, or even to your social media pages. If your website allows users to register as a member directly on the site itself, be sure to include a warm and welcoming message to users immediately following their registration.
Sending a welcome message to your new members or subscribers is not only a way to build a bond and relationship with your members, but it is also a way to keep them interested in your organization and what you have to say or offer.
Create Content That Caters to Newcomers
Create content that caters to new visitors and newly registered members of your organization. Focus on topics that are difficult to learn more about anywhere else online. Create in-depth and informative articles that are sure to keep your users and paid members coming back for more.
Create a New Member Community
Launch your very own new member community on your website or with the social media platform of your choice. Providing new members of your community with an exclusive area is a great way to increase engagement while improving your overall retention rates. By ensuring all members of your organization are tended to and cared for, it is much easier to keep them interested in your company and what it provides as a whole.
Check In Often With Your Members
Even if you believe your organization is running smoothly, it is important to check in often with all of your members, regardless of how long they have been with your business. Communicating with your subscribers and paid members not only ensures that they maintain their membership with you, but it is also a way to create an even stronger sense of community in your organization. Building a strong, loyal, and supportive community is a key element in building any paid membership organization, regardless of market or industry.
Utilize Brand Ambassadors
A great way to attract new members to an organization is to develop a group of brand ambassadors. Brand ambassadors are typically consumers or loyal members of a company, organization, or entity that are interested in spreading and sharing the word of the business itself. Brand ambassadors may be long-time customers or simply loyal online followers who have amassed a following and now have influence. Creating a group of brand ambassadors is a great way to take advantage of the excitement and support you are receiving from your most dedicated fans, followers, and paid members.
Membership Engagement Opportunities
Once you have garnered new memberships and received sign-ups, you may believe the difficult part of managing a membership organization is over. However, knowing how to ensure members remain engaged and interested in your organization is another facet of membership-centric businesses that simply cannot be ignored.
Create a website just for your members to access. Exclusivity is one marketing tactic that can help keep users coming back for more content in the future.
Launch an email marketing campaign not only for prospective members of your organization, but also for current and paid members. Create separate newsletters to provide paying members with content that is not accessible anywhere else. Use your exclusive newsletter for paid members of your organization to share promotions and discounts that are not available to those who are not paid members.
Create a presence online with the use of social media for your organization. Businesses and brands that are not present on social media often appear less credible, authentic, and legitimate than those who take advantage of the platforms. Create a social media presence on top platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Pinterest depending on the target audience and demographics of your organization.
Develop social communities with the use of social media and your organization’s presence. Use social media platforms such a Facebook to create groups that are available for all of your followers as well as exclusive groups for paying members online.
Host both local and online events to promote your membership program and organization. Use brand ambassadors to promote events and to generate buzz and hype surrounding the goals and operations of your organization.
Non-Dues and Incremental Revenue
While most of your organization’s revenue is likely generated by subscriptions and members themselves, there are alternative ways to generate revenue that do not require additional fees or dues from your current members or subscribers.
Education and Workshops
Host educational workshops to generate revenue while sharing special skills and abilities relevant to your organization’s purpose and goals.
Host local live events with musicians, artists, and other entrepreneurs in your area while spreading the word of your organization, ultimately encouraging sign-ups and registrations.
Launch local and online advertising campaigns using newspapers, billboards, radio ads, social media ads, and even third-party ads or sponsorships online.
Consider seeking out a sponsorship opportunity with the use of local celebrities or online influencers. Sponsoring another individual to endorse your organization can help to quickly spread the word.
Provide new and current members with the ability to donate to your organization at any time. It is also advisable to provide this option even for users who choose not to subscribe or register as a paying member of your organization.
Membership Renewals and Retention Strategies
It is imperative to emphasize the value of becoming a paid member of your organization if you want to retain users over time. Consumers simply want to feel as if they are receiving what they are paying for with each of their bills or subscriptions.
Begin Your Renewal Efforts Early
Planning your marketing strategy ahead is key. Plan renewal efforts months in advance to remind users of your organization and not to allow their membership to lapse.
Make Renewals Easy
Make renewals for user memberships as easy as possible. Remove the guesswork from the process and allow users the ability to renew their membership with just one click if possible.
Offer a Grace Period
Always offer a grace period to users whose memberships have recently expired. Instead, send an email automatically to users who have allowed their memberships to lapse while providing additional incentives or discounted membership prices.
Always review and monitor analytics you receive for each individual marketing strategy and campaign you launch. Reviewing analytics provides in-depth insight into the wants and needs of your users along with your paying members.
Survey Former Members
Send surveys to former members to learn more about how you can improve your services and membership platform in the future.
While launching and running a successful membership program for any business requires plenty of hard work and a solid strategy, it is much easier to launch a program once you are readily prepared. With a complete understanding of your program’s goals, purpose, and message, and a strategy to hone in on your target audience and demographic, maximize your online reach and your ability to garner new members with ease.
Thanks for reading "The Ultimate Guide to Membership Management and Retention", by the Linchpin Team in Chicago, Raleigh, and Wake Forest.