Chapter 2: How To Master Your Membership Management
Chapter 2: Master Your Membership Management with These Expert Tips
Welcome to the next chapter of the Join It comprehensive guide to membership organizations! In our previous chapter, we laid the groundwork to create a member-based business model in six simple steps, complete with the most popular use cases for membership organizations and the most profitable membership structures to drive member engagement, education, and entertainment.
Now that we've established the foundation for your member-based organization, it's time to maximize your effectiveness with expert tips for membership management. Membership management encompasses every facet of your operations, from ongoing member recruitment and retention initiatives to recurring business management tasks like member database management.
By the end of this chapter of the Join It comprehensive guide to membership organizations, your group will learn how to communicate with members properly, optimize membership renewals and updates, manage inquiries and complaints, and implement an evaluation program to improve your operations continuously. Let's get started with the basics of effective membership management!
The Importance of Effective Membership Management
Membership management refers to a collection of processes that streamline how a membership organization maintains a member directory, monitors membership payments or donations, and markets its mission to new members. It encompasses various administrative tasks ranging from storing and editing member records to communicating with current or potential members.
Whether you're operating a national cooking club or a local Chambers of Commerce, all member communities require a membership management solution. Effective membership management simplifies key operational elements for membership organizations of all types, like content development, event registration, marketing initiatives, and payment processing.
Similarly, a membership management solution eliminates the need to spend hours sifting through membership expirations and other piles of paperwork, so you're free to spend that time engaging with members and enjoying the community. With the help of membership management software to reduce repetitive manual tasks, your community can remain productive and profitable.
Tips for Seamless Membership Management in 4 Key Areas
Between fielding questions from your online community and handling financial transactions across multiple membership levels, various everyday community management challenges can pose significant operational roadblocks to your membership program. Consider these expert tips to achieve seamless membership management in four key areas of your community.
1. Communicating with Members
Communication and customer relationship management go hand-in-hand. To effectively alert your community of upcoming events, resources, or expiring memberships, timely communication is a must. For top-tier membership management, implement these communication best practices.
Create a Consistent Communication Plan
Membership managers need to establish a thorough communication plan to keep community members consistently informed and engaged. Member communication can take several shapes — like sending regular newsletters, posting on community forums, or hosting member events, in order to cater to different member preferences and ensure your message reaches each one.
With the help of a membership management software solution, take the time to develop a recurring schedule for emails, SMS messages, social media posts, and other member communications, and be sure to stick to it. Consistent communication develops a strong sense of predictability and reliability for your members, ultimately driving engagement and long-term community participation.
With 86% of consumers claiming transparency from businesses is more critical than ever, honesty is mandatory to scale a membership organization. Achieve transparency in member communications by routinely sharing the decision-making process and rationale behind updates to your membership levels, membership features, upcoming events, or financial status.
Bear in mind complete transparency is reliant on your organization's openness to member feedback. Allowing members to share candid opinions and community recommendations gives membership managers the details they need to create beneficial updates to the organization's operations that support higher rates of recurring membership renewals and ongoing participation.
Personalized communication helps members feel valued and connected to the community. Fortunately, personalized communication isn't restricted to your own branded mobile apps or community forums — it can actually be quite straightforward. You can customize emails and text messages with a member's name and interests with just the details in your membership database.
Leverage communication tools, like membership management software with built-in marketing automation, to sync with your member database and create personalized communication unique to each member. Personalized communication can even segment member data into related groups to deliver targeted messages that are more likely to be of interest to each portion of your community.
Utilize Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing
When it comes to member communication, you cannot deny the power of email and social media marketing. Email marketing is a powerful channel for regular community check-ins, like involving members in event planning or informing them of upcoming event registration. To stand out from the clutter in members' email inboxes, be sure to personalize each email with the member's name, make it visually appealing and clear to read, and include a clear call to action to drive engagement.
To interact with your online community in real-time, turn to social media marketing. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even TikTok effectively communicate with members and generate a sense of true community. Leverage membership management software with built-in marketing automation to share consistent social media updates or to create a private group for members to connect and engage with one another seamlessly.
2. Handling Membership Renewals and Updates
Among the many everyday community management challenges in a membership program are membership renewals and cancellations, two common obstacles to an organization's profitability and participation. Master your membership dues management with these four expert tips.
Communicate Your Membership's Value
In Chapter 1 of the Join It comprehensive guide to membership organizations, we discussed how to define your group's mission and determine the value proposition you intend to deliver to your current and future members. When it comes to improving membership renewal rates, it's imperative to demonstrate how you provide ongoing membership value in your communication plan.
For instance, nonprofit organizations can create newsletters to inform their community of a members-only event or the total of recent online donations. Similarly, professional associations can remind members of the value they receive from their membership — like discounts on supplies, access to exclusive content, and networking opportunities — through SMS or social media posts.
Make the Renewal Process Easy
There's nothing worse than learning that a decrease in community members is due to complications in your renewal process or online registration. So, what's one of the simplest ways to improve your member management? Make your renewal process easy! Allow existing community members to renew online and provide clear instructions on your existing website to streamline the process.
If you have a fee-based membership structure that incurs recurring payments for membership renewal, be sure to also utilize a convenient payment processing tool. Your membership organization can invest in a website builder or membership management software with a payment gateway to ensure payment options for membership fees are equal parts simple and secure.
Encourage Early Renewal
Okay, maybe we lied: the only thing worse than learning a shrinking community is due to a complicated renewal process might be finding out that members would have renewed if your organization successfully reminded them. When it's time to collect online memberships from existing community members, incorporate early renewal reminders into your communication plan.
Send your first renewal reminder email or text message at least two months before the membership expiration date to allow each member the maximum amount of time to prepare. Consider offering incentives or discounts for early renewal, such as a percentage off monthly membership dues.
Use Automation Tools
If the manual tasks involved in the membership renewal process have become an obstacle in your operations, consider using member management software to streamline the renewal process. Membership management software can automate most aspects of the renewal process, from sending membership expiration reminders to expediting membership payments, so your organization can focus less on the administrative responsibility and more on the community.
3. Managing Inquiries and Complaints
Though member communication and renewal are integral components of a cohesive membership community, they're just a fraction of the member experience. Effective member management will also include established processes for monitoring and responding to inquiries and complaints.
Proactively Address Common Inquiries
The best tip to manage inquiries and complaints is to remain proactive in your efforts. Whether they're from past, current, or potential community members, answering questions and criticisms as soon as possible is imperative to demonstrate that member satisfaction is your top priority. It's here that your membership management efforts and website management efforts must combine.
Leverage your own website to provide answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), such as your various membership levels or features. If you choose a popular website builder, like a WordPress website, you can easily combine your membership management and website management efforts with a dedicated resource section for common FAQs, community blog posts, and video webinars.
Establish Clear Communication Channels
Aside from remaining proactive in your communication efforts, it's equally as important to establish clear communication channels for members to interact with your organization. These channels can include but are not limited to an email address, telephone number, and social media profile.
It's also imperative to ensure the various communication channels for your membership community are clearly advertised and easy to access. Use your existing website to embed clickable links to each social media profile, and create a Google profile for members to search for your number and email.
Acknowledge and Respond Promptly
With established communication channels to receive questions and complaints, it's time to implement a responsive customer service team or singular point of contact. This membership manager or membership management team should be trained to handle various issues and be available during regular business hours through a dedicated email address or phone number.
By creating a singular point of contact for member concerns, you enable your membership organization to acknowledge the inquiry or complaint as soon as possible. With the addition of membership management software, you can further empower your organization to respond promptly with a plan to resolve the issue. If a response or solution takes longer, membership software can even automatically alert the members of when they can expect to hear back from you.
Be Transparent and Follow Up
Like general member communication, effective membership management of inquiries and complaints relies on transparency. Above all else, always remain transparent about the process of resolving a member's issue and keep the individual informed of any progress along the way.
Take advantage of membership management software to automate member updates so no complaints fall through the cracks. You can also use membership software to automatically follow up when an issue has been resolved and to confirm the member is satisfied with the resolution.
4. Evaluating and Improving the Membership Program
Once you've applied the above tips for membership management, you can begin to truly maximize member participation. One time-tested method for encouraging member engagement is evaluating current member management system performance and implementing any necessary improvements.
Analyze Program Metrics and Data
To evaluate the effectiveness of your membership management system, assess metrics such as member retention rates, churn rates, and satisfaction scores. These metrics will help you understand how well your program is fulfilling its value proposition, as well as help you identify areas for improvement — from how you manage members to how you price membership dues.
Next, access your membership database to analyze general member details, like standard engagement, behavior, and demographics, to understand who your members are and how they interact with your organization. Then, harness this information to identify trends in your member database that can influence communication tactics to ultimately increase member engagement.
Seek Feedback From Members
Aside from the readily available details in your member database, feedback from actual members is the next-best method to evaluate and improve your membership program. As your community grows, ask past and current members for feedback on their experience with the program, including their opinion on available membership tiers, benefits, resources, and price points.
One option to collect feedback from members is through your membership management software. Use your membership software to automate recurring email satisfaction surveys or to create a membership portal for members to leave comments and concerns. You can also use focus groups and one-on-one in-person interviews to seek actionable feedback from your community.
Don't forget to leverage the feedback you receive into tangible improvements to your membership experience. We will go more in-depth on how to improve your membership experience in Chapter 3: Maximizing Your Membership Experience.
Implement Changes and Communicate Them to Members
With program metrics and member feedback in hand, you can identify areas for improvement in your community. Common member-reported elements for enhancement include revising membership benefits, updating the onboarding process, and improving member communication.
As with any change made to your organization, it's critical to relay any updates to your program or processes, so members know what to anticipate. It's also beneficial to follow up with the individuals who noted any specific issues so they're confident their feedback matters.
Test New Ideas and Continuously Evaluate
The more your community grows, the more you can experiment with varying membership tiers, communication strategies, and benefits types. To avoid becoming stagnant or losing member engagement, continuously test new ideas to find unexpected ways to improve your program.
Stagger when changes are implemented to be able to accurately track the effectiveness of each update over time. You can track progress via the metrics found on your membership management software and leverage membership software to automate surveys that gauge member satisfaction.
Effective management relies on time-consuming communication and mistake-prone manual processes when it comes to membership programs. Fortunately, leading membership management software has enabled communities just like yours to ensure seamless membership management from onboarding through renewal. The best membership management software, like Join It, even streamlines digital membership cards, payment processing, and marketing initiatives.
Ready to elevate your membership community even further? Head to Chapter 3, Maximizing Your Membership Experience: Tips and Strategies, to support ultimate membership satisfaction.