Chapter 3: Maximizing Your Membership Experience - Tips and Strategies

Looking at a diagram of memberships

[fs-toc-omit]Chapter 3: Maximizing Your Membership Experience - Tips for the Foundation of Membership Programs

It’s good to have you back on the third and final chapter of the Join It comprehensive guide to membership organizations! So far, we've covered the basics of membership organizations, from common use cases and structures, to how to start your own membership business. Then, we discussed how to ramp up your membership management, from best practices for consistent communication with your membership base to proactive techniques for ongoing membership renewal and continuous program evaluation.

Now, with expert tips to master membership management under your belt, we can finally begin to optimize the most critical aspect of your community — the membership experience. The membership experience refers to how your community interacts with and provides value to your program. Here's how to enhance your member experience, from onboarding through renewal.

What is Membership Experience?

Membership experience encompasses how an individual participates within an organization, how they quantify the benefits and features of an organization, and how they provide value to other members of the community. It refers to both member satisfaction and community involvement.

The importance of an optimized membership experience cannot be overstated enough. A positive member experience not only helps to keep current members engaged with your community but also encourages long-term retention that will attract the attention of prospective new members.

5 Steps to Improve the Membership Experience

When it comes to crafting a great member experience, it's crucial to cut no corners. Here are five steps to enhance every facet of the membership experience in any membership program.

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1. Identify Areas for Improvement

To enhance the membership experience, you'll first need to identify areas of improvement. Consider these tips to assess and refresh each stage of the member experience, from onboarding to renewal.

Map the Membership Journey

Membership journey mapping refers to charting the course active members must take from their first interaction with the group to the moment when the initial membership agreement is signed through eventual renewal. Developing a journey map helps identify existing friction points across the various steps to becoming and remaining a member, which can negatively impact the experience.

Once any bottlenecks are identified, membership programs can take the necessary steps to improve the journey, such as making changes to the website or onboarding process, enhancing communication, or addressing any pain points members may be experiencing. Such improvements enable organizations to ramp up membership engagement and, ultimately, retention.

Look at Engagement Metrics

Through the use of membership management software, your member experience managers need to keep an eye on various membership engagement metrics, including event attendance, social media interaction, and website traffic. Poor engagement levels can indicate that members struggle to find value in the community or lack a means to participate, which is a major red flag.

By routinely assessing engagement metrics, membership programs can quickly identify when member interaction begins to decline and pinpoint exactly which areas of the community fail to engage members. From here, elements of minimal participation can be addressed or updated to improve the membership experience and encourage members to stick around long-term.

2. Improve Communication with Members

A lack of communication is often a point of friction in the membership journey that drives poor engagement metrics. Remember that you should constantly personalize member communication.

Tailor Your Communications to Different Member Cohorts

With the use of a membership CRM solution, membership programs should consider developing multiple member cohorts based on factors like demographics and specified interests. Access to various like-minded member groups will allow you to tailor your communication efforts to be more relevant, such as including relevant resources or upcoming event details for particular groups.

You can also use factors like levels of engagement and member preferences to identify different communication channels for different groups. For instance, certain groups may prefer community updates via email newsletters, which leads to higher email open rates. However, other groups may prefer SMS messaging to email, which means you should utilize both in your communication plan.

Create Two-Way Communication

As discussed in Chapter 2, communication and the membership experience go hand-in-hand. To drive member interaction and satisfaction, your membership organization must allow for two-way communication — meaning you empower each community member to share their ideas and opinions just as much as you provide your own.

Create opportunities for members to participate in decision-making through online forums and satisfaction surveys. By collecting members' feedback in a way that they feel heard and are of high value to the group, you generate a true sense of community and camaraderie members can't find elsewhere.

People standing around white board discussing membership benefits

3. Offer Value and Incentives

Beyond two-way communication, organizations must be able to communicate the value of their membership. Use these tips to offer valuable incentives that support the member experience.

Offer Exclusive Access to Members-Only Content and Events

Organizations must consider offering access to members-only features to generate the feeling of an exclusive community. As a valuable benefit that will work to enhance the membership experience, inclusions such as member-only events, special interest networking opportunities, and exclusive mentorship programs are great options to help increase membership value and continuing interest.

Exclusive access to various member benefits helps establish and maintain a sense of prestige in the community. Members-only access to such resources helps increase current engagement within your organization and attracts prospective members' attention.

Create a Rewards Program

In addition to exclusive content and member-only events, a rewards program is another incentive to keep members engaged long-term. With the membership rankings and personal details in your member database, tailor your rewards program to identify relevant value incentives for your community.

For instance, as part of a rewards program, organizations can offer incentives such as merchant discounts, special perks, and early access to events to recognize a member's active participation. Be sure to track involvement in the rewards program to assess member engagement over time.

4. Build a Sense of Community and Belonging

What would a successful membership program be without a sense of community and belonging? Elevate your membership experience with these two techniques for community building.

Create Opportunities for Member Interaction

Building a solid sense of community and belonging across membership organizations often starts by fostering social connections between members. One way to fuel connections within your organization is to create opportunities for members to interact with one another, such as at in-person networking events and virtual events or in online forums and social media groups.

Consistently encouraging members to connect via these methods will shape a strong sense of camaraderie within your organization. Over time, more members will view the group as a comfortable and inviting space to share ideas with one another. While this feeling certainly boosts the member experience, it also creates inherent value for the entire membership community.

Recognize and Celebrate Members

As organizations work to build long-term connections among members, building a sense of community and belonging can also be supported by celebrating members' achievements and contributions. From professional accomplishments to consistent activism for a cause, highlighting members' efforts helps showcase the impact and diversity of an organization.

To showcase members' achievements (and active engagement), consider creating member-of-the-month newsletters, highlighting winners publicly during gatherings, and featuring them on your membership website. Annual member appreciation events are also an excellent way to recognize members and reward them for their long-term loyalty to the member organization.

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5. Enhance the Membership Process

Hard-to-navigate membership management and sign-up processes can have some of the most significant negative impacts on the overall membership experience. Here's how you can simplify all the above.

Streamline the Sign-Up Process

Before addressing ongoing membership management needs, it's vital to first streamline the sign-up process and reduce common entry barriers associated with outdated methods. Today, members prefer an easy-to-navigate, online sign-up process that outlines all membership benefits alongside easily submittable forms that you can quickly fill in with the necessary member details.

The same goes for processing membership fees. To reduce complications when requesting membership dues, offer individuals multiple payment gateway options, including bank transfer, credit card, and PayPal, through a safe and secure payment processing platform.

Improve Member Self-Service Capabilities

When it comes to managing memberships, organizations need to offer their members digital self-service capabilities from the sign-up process through eventual renewal. In support of each member's experience, many associations will provide individuals with a central hub where members can update contact information, view billing history, and exclusively access content online.

For instance, a well-designed online member portal can be integrated with an active membership calendar, so individuals can easily register for members-only events to boost active participation. Likewise, an online portal enables individuals to access their impending membership expiration data to streamline the renewal process and enhance long-term membership retention.

Wrapping Up

The bottom line is a membership organization structure is ideal for gathering like-minded individuals to earn recurring revenue or power productive partnerships. And whether within the local community or on a national scale, effective membership management will be the key to engaging members and retaining them for years to come.

To achieve effective membership management within your organization, begin with trusted membership management software like Join It. Powerful membership management software can streamline and automate the many processes of a membership organization, from personalized communication at sign-up to an organized member database and simplified payment management.

Sign up for a free trial to discover how Join It can take your membership organization to the next level!