If you’re having trouble meeting your membership registration quota, struggling with member retention or finding it difficult to meet your current members’ ever growing demands and expectations, you are not alone. The digital landscape has shifted massively over the last few years, and many US membership organizations are still struggling to find their footing it today’s digital world.
The fast paced changes in digital technology and multitude of new devices, coupled with a savvy, demanding audience who lives and breathes online, is making it increasingly difficult to provide value for your members.
The fact that many membership organizations have a legacy of membership information stored on systems of varying age, or simply ones that aren’t linked to their website, make it all the more difficult to make the technological advancements needed to keep up with these changes.
But these obstacles are actually also a fantastic opportunity for membership organizations that are keen to take a leap into the digital future.
USER EXPERIENCE – MEETING AND EXCEEDING USER EXPECTATIONS
The average user today spends no more than 15 seconds on a web page (Based on a study conducted by Chartbeat). Users are most likely to be searching for your organization from their mobile (with mobile searches officially overtaking desktop searches in May 2015). This means that having a responsive site that is clear and engaging is the first in a series of steps aimed at helping your members navigate your site effectively.
Once a user has landed on your site, they expect to be able to register online (for membership, events, qualifications or anything else your organization offers), pay securely, view personalized information and interact with others within the ecosystem of the site in a simple and user-friendly way.
Providing all of these options and optimizing the user journey for your site audience (or multiple audiences) requires your organization’s database, CMS, billing or other systems to be integrated with your website.
Having a website that is seamlessly linked to your organization’s internal systems provides a multitude of opportunities for improved user experience and ways to achieve member satisfaction.
YOUR ORGANIZATION’S LEGACY SYSTEMS PROVIDE A WEALTH OF INFORMATION
One of the biggest challenges of many membership organizations is that their legacy database, CRM, billing or other system is out of date. The nature of membership organizations is that many have been around for centuries, and the data collected on these systems is vast and invaluable. But the systems that are out of date or simply not integrated with the organization’s website do not allow the organization to utilize this important data in an effective way.
If you focus on the data your organization holds, and disregard the technological obstacles for just a second, imagine the possibilities both for your members and for your internal team:
Providing Value for your Members
If your database contains member information, you could provide an online member zone with each member’s details, photo, hobbies, preferences etc. You could then allow your members to update their information online (for example their address or interests).
You could personalize this member zone and display information and content based on their selected interests or previous site usage.
If you have member billing details, you could allow your users to easily sign up or renew their membership online in a secure and simple way with the click of a button. You could manage the renewal process automatically so that their membership is always kept up to date.
If you have member emails you could create a recurring newsletter linking to your blog or other content on your site.
If you hold events or courses for your members, you could allow them to easily sign up for these on your website, or to directly take part in an online course or webinar.
You could build an area on the site that allows and encourages members to participate and connect with other members online, thus helping to form a vibrant, lively community.
Providing Value for your Internal Team
Many of your employees probably have an increasing involvement with your site, whether it be around marketing, member retention, billing, events or membership updates. If your site was linked to the other systems in the organization it would make transactions seamless. Members could update their information online and all information entered on the site would be stored in your organization’s database. Payments could be made online and invoices issued, printed and sent to your client’s home address with the push of a button. You could be able to update content on multiple sites or platforms with one click. Here are just a few tasks your digital assets could make easier for your internal team:
- Online billing
- Up to date information on memberships due for renewal
- Marketing Automation
- Managing member information
- Providing updates or information to your members in a segmented way
MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR DIGITAL ASSETS
The massive changes in technology and the shifts in lifestyle habits require membership organizations to create or re-evaluate their digital strategy and solutions. Membership organizations should be asking themselves questions about how they fit in the digital landscape and how they can provide value to their members – value that exceeds expectations and delights their members in such a way that will ensure their return to the site again and again – and the renewal of their membership when the time comes. Although this might seem daunting, and in certain instances might require a fair amount of work behind the scenes (for example in system integration), this will always pay off in a major way in the long run.