Leverage Digital and Technology to Keep and Growing Members
Membership organisations have a real challenge right now. What is the value and purpose of a membership when it can’t be used or where services aren’t available?
Digital and technology is critical to driving better value for members and the their continued support and engagement – now more than ever.
Some organisations will be in better positions of course – depending on the offerings and services – but everyone can do something to replace the value and purpose that is lost through lockdown, social distancing and financial uncertainty.
And if it’s done right it will create a legacy for the future.
Understand What Your Members Want
You know your members better than anyone. But right now things have changed, and they are not going back to the way they were anytime soon, if at all. Your membership demographics will have an effect on how they use digital and technology but one thing is for certain, the use of digital solutions has gone up significantly. Not only that, your members expect digital first and you need to be there to serve them or you will lose them.
Demographics are important, and understanding the needs of different membership personas will ensure you have an offering suitable for everyone. If you have not developed personas then this is a great place to start to understand your membership better and to build digital solutions to meet their specific needs.
Align The Teams – Business First with Great Leadership
This can get a little blurred in many organisations. Where does digital, technology, content and social media, analytics, user research begin and end? It is very important that the business gets real clarity on this. Now is not the time for in-fighting and it requires exceptional leadership to enable teams to work effectively together.
However your business may be organised, all the moving parts need to be working together to deliver additional value to the members.
Technology (IT) has historically focussed on back-office features, but now more than ever the ability for teams to interact directly with members is essential. It should be seamless. However members want to connect with you (web chat, telephone, video, social media) should be enabled and it should be made simple for all parties, and conversations and interactions captured in a CRM.
Digital – the front-facing services, with fresh and relevant content should be providing an experience to members digitally without the physical need to be there. For organisations where members are paying for being physically there, enabling this experience as much as possible is crucial. Every membership organisations needs to be leading in it’s sector with content that drives engagement and retention.
Make sure digital and technology teams are aligned and working with content, marketing and social media teams.
Creative Content and Near Real-life Experience
Digital and technology should not just be enabling but encouraging creative content and near real-life experiences. They should be bringing new technology ideas and innovations to the business to enhance the membership experience.
Fresh and interactive content relevant to your members should be accessible digitally from any device and it should be simple and easy to access. With the right digital platforms the experience will add real value to members with content that is carefully curated. This will not only retain members but also enable a platform for future growth, including:
- Live events and appointment to view experiences
- Pre-recorded tours and content
- Interactive training, courses and qualification
- Galleries and searchable content
- Flexible payment gateways for renewals and membership enhancements
As much as possible, content should be integrated into existing digital platforms. Now is the time to think about the digital and technology strategy even if it’s a work in progress. It might require a few tactical solutions, but at some point things need to be integrated and aligned to ensure costs don’t get out of control in the years to come.
Proof Of Concept vs Right First Time
Right now we have the advantage that people want things digitally and members are all too aware that things are different and more challenging. With the right communication you will be forgiven for something that isn’t quite perfect. Make sure you have the right support structure in place and process to support new developments.
Agile methodologies are your friend here – so everything should be developed in an agile way. Don’t lose this opportunity to innovate.
Reporting and Analytics
Understanding why members renew or don’t renew is crucial. The more analytics available that provide insights into your individual members, what content, digital experience and engagement they have made will help you focus your marketing efforts on retention and re-engagement. Linking all this data together is important. It’s not always easy but with the right tools and consideration during implementation it is possible.
Things are not going to go back to normal – so investing in the new normal now to retain and grow your membership is more important than ever. Membership organisations have little choice to ensure their survival and they need to lead from the front for their membership – and that means careful and targeted investment in digital and technology.