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Communication – The 8 Elements of Member Success Management

Memberships Matter – Make the most of Your Membership Program.

Communication

It’s obvious that a major part of Member Success Management is to communicate with the member (including users, Brand champions or evangelists, Raving Fans®, and other personas).

Perhaps it’s proactively guiding the users to take the next logical step, giving the champion a status update, or scheduling the next Quarterly Business Review (QBR: if you do those, and maybe you should as a part of your member messaging framework) with the executives or other appropriate personas.

Or maybe it’s intervention with the member – there are several forms of this. There is Passive Intervention – this is support when the member reaches out to the organization or the Member Success team for help with a particular resource, Proactive Intervention – this is identifying and correcting issues before the member has felt any impact from them – before they contact support, Reactive Intervention when the member hasn’t taken the action necessary to reach their next Success Milestone, and Predictive Intervention – this works on the basis that your team can predict where your member is going to run into a problem. This is only possible when you have a system in place that will recognize member behavior with your various resources; it is complex and data-driven, and it takes a lot of insight into client behavior before it works, but it is possible to use this type of communication effectively.

These are the rather obvious times when member communication is critical; but one type of communication with the member that’s not so obvious is Member Marketing, of which there are two types:

Marketing to your existing members to drive adoption and increase the breadth and depth of use (my friend Mo Bunnell refers to this as ‘land and expand’), including upsells, add-ons, etc.

Using your members in your marketing (case studies, testimonials, etc.)… combine 1 & 2 for a Member Marketing power play!

Member Marketing should be the responsibility of – or heavily influenced by – Member Success Management. The former is ideal, but in organizations that also have a communications manager or director, these two should work together for these marketing initiatives.

There is a fourth type of communication that Member Success Management is responsible for and that is Internal Communication.

It is critical that the Member Success Management organization communicate what they’re learning from members, how they’re impacting members, and the value they’re bringing to the organization by getting members to stay longer, buy more, bring our organization into other parts of their company, and advocate for our organization externally.

Not only does that internal communication enrich the rest of the organization staff with member intelligence, but it also lets the rest of the organization know just how valuable Member Success Management really is. You’re Welcome.

Now to quickly recap the four types of Communication:

  • Proactive Guidance
  • Member Intervention
  • Member Marketing
  • Internal Communication

Member Engagement

Let’s talk about Member Engagement, specifically one part of the Communication Model, which is APM’s BEAST Message Framework for creating messages that actually engage members.

It’s really interesting that we communicate all day long – with our friends, with our peers, with our members – but when was the last time you actually thought about what goes into communication?

Most of the time, we simply never stop to consider what needs to go into communication… we just do it.

If we do spend any time at all thinking about communication, we only focus on the message itself. But it’s truly imperative that we spend time thinking about all of the components of the communications we send.

Whenever we try to send an email, have a call with a member, set up a meeting with a member, etc., we need to be thinking about communication and what goes into it.

Quick Communication Model Overview

Briefly, the communication model is made up of six different pieces: Goal, Receiver, Method, Sender, Action, and Message.

Goal. Why are you communicating?

Receiver. The member or entity who’s actually getting the communication – the message – from you. This is the person you’re setting up a meeting with or actually having a meeting with or that individual you’re going to have a phone call with.

Method. This refers to how you’re communicating. Is it in a meeting? Is it through an email? Is it a phone call or an in-app message?

Sender. The source of the message – who’s actually sending the message, setting up or hosting the meeting, etc.

Action. This is most commonly referred to as a Call to Action, the action is what you want them to do because of the communication. So, you have a goal, but then you also have a specific action you actually want them to take.

Message. The contents of the email, the content of the pop-up in the app, the actual content of the meeting or even the meeting request, what you’re going to talk about on the phone call, etc.

Of the six different elements of the Communication Model, the one that we tend to think about the most is the message. We really honestly don’t think about those other things that much, but even then, when we think about the message, we don’t really think about it – at least not in the right way.

Introducing the BEAST Message Framework

We don’t know who came up with the acronym for this message model, but it’s appropriate given that communication with your members can be a beast of a thing to do and succeed at. The BEAST Message Framework is made up of five different elements: Brief, Efficient, Actionable, Simple, and Thoughtful.

BEAST Message Framework: Brief

Be brief.

Something we have a hard time with is being brief. But you do want to make sure that your message is short and to the point.

That’s all relative, of course. The message doesn’t have to be one line, but you want to make sure that you’re being as brief as possible, which means we go back to what the communication framework is all about.

What’s your goal, and what’s the action that you want them to take? If you know those two things, it’s very simple to create a message that is brief.

However, if you don’t have a Goal, and you don’t know what the Action is that you want them to take, it’s very easy to go on rambling and/or just try to get them to do too many things.

Don’t have too many calls to action because then, instead of having one very simple thing that you’re trying to get them to do, there’s a whole bunch of different things, and they’re not going to do any of it.

How many times have you received an email or had a meeting with a whole bunch of takeaways but then nothing gets done? So don’t have too many calls to action. Keep it short and to the point.

BEAST Message Framework: Efficient

Be efficient.

Just because you can write a lot or just because you can talk for a whole hour doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing, right? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Be very careful in the way that you choose what you’re going to talk about. Choose your words carefully. Edit. Always go back and say is this all necessary? In fact, one thing you could do right now is to go audit your meetings – those you have scheduled, those that you have that are part of your checklist, and those like your Quarterly Business Reviews with members.

Look at the emails you’re sending and the calls you’re going to make. How many of these don’t have a goal or one clear call to action associated with them? Maybe they don’t even need to happen, right? So efficiency is also just asking does this need to even happen?

And if it does need to happen – if this message needs to be sent or if this meeting needs to happen – how can we make it as efficient as possible?

BEAST Message Framework: Actionable

Be actionable.

Have your call to action in mind and build everything around that. If you can’t do that because you don’t have a call to action, then why are you attempting to engage with the member? Having members read random, nonsensical emails from you is not engagement.

Member Engagement is all about getting the member to take action. Member Engagement is about moving them in the right direction. That’s it.

So if you don’t have an action that’s associated with what you’re trying to do here, why are you even messaging them? Why are you even having a meeting? Why are you even having a call? Why are you popping something up in front of them in their app?

If you don’t have a call to action for Receiver, and you don’t know what the goal of this communication is, why are you even doing it? If you do know, then you want to build everything around getting them to take that action. Be actionable.

BEAST Message Framework: Simple

Be simple.

Tell them exactly what to do. Don’t make them think. This is not about members being unable to comprehend your messages. Members are busy. They’re distracted. You may not be the center of their universe (we’d all like to think we are), it’s just about getting to the point.

Be simple.

Tell them exactly what you want them to do – what they need to do. Maybe justify it a little bit so they understand the reason why it’s happening. Get to the point and get them to take action.

This idea of being simple is very easy to follow if you do the first thing – be brief – which goes back to having a goal and understanding what the action is that you want them to take.

BEAST Message Framework: Thoughtful

Last, but certainly not least, be thoughtful.

This applies to communication, not only with your members but with your peers, with your family, with your friends.

Where do you fit into their world? Be honest about that.

When you’re asking them to do something, you might be asking them to do something inside of the resource they are working with, but is it really only that? Are there things outside the product, – outside of the scope of your engagement – that they need to do?

So think about that. Be thoughtful. Be thoughtful with your words. Be thoughtful about your requests. Be thoughtful with their time. Be thoughtful in general.

Hopefully, this system of thinking about your messaging and Communicating with your members will help you to better engage with them.

“Memberships are the most important asset in our industry today.  Are you making the most of your membership program? Is it growing your organization? Are you putting enough resources into growing your member base? Do you have a targeted plan for Recruiting, Engaging, and Retaining your members? We can help.” – Andrew McElhannon, CEO – Association Project Management, LLC®.

APM® helps member-based organizations & professional Trade Associations achieve Member Success, stabilize their member retention and guarantee membership growth through Prospect Development and Member Recruitment, as well as Member Engagement and Concierge Onboarding.

Organizations implement APM’s® programs to sustain their current revenue, reduce losses due to Churn (member non-renewal) and generate new revenue by creating Raving Fans® who evangelize new members that over time becomes automatic, organic growth. “Members begetting Members”.

Association Project Management, LLC® also provides a list of other project management and project completion services through a virtual staff member – a committed, trusted expert who helps to reduce costs, lower risks, improve efficiencies, meet deadlines, solve challenging problems, support strategic initiatives and produce better outcomes for your association staff. Visit them today at www.associationprojectmanagement.com

Expansion (and Renewal) – The 8 Elements of Member Success Management

Memberships Matter – Make the most of Your Membership Program.

Expansion (and Renewal)

It’s typically said that Renewal and Expansion (upselling or cross-selling of resources and tools outside the ones included with membership, etc.) happen because a member is successful.

Renewal and Expansion are simply part of a member’s success; in order for the member to achieve their ever-evolving Desired Outcome, they’ll likely need to stay past a renewal and they’ll also likely need to consume more of your core product, adjacent products, etc.

This is part of Member Success Management.

Traditional Account Management fails because it treats members like Accounts… numbers. It’s focused on Renewal and Expansion from the organization’s perspective only. Traditional Account Management doesn’t care if the member is “successful”, only that they will take the latest resource you’re trying push to the member -whether they are ready for it or not.

Traditional Account Management doesn’t work anymore, but Member Success-driven Growth absolutely does; which is why this function should sit within, roll-up to, or otherwise be governed and monitored by Member Success Management.

Trust should be there with every member – across the board.

If you’re doing things that could hurt the member’s trust that we have their best interests at heart, it doesn’t quite matter whether it’s the Member Success Coordinator that’s hurting trust with the member or the CEO that’s hurting trust with the member; your organization is hurting trust with the member and that’s a bad thing.

What you want to make sure of is that you’re doing things that are member-positive.

When we first started talking about this concept, we would say that Renewal and Expansion came from the success of the member.

That’s not wrong because the reality is a member that is not successful is not going to stay with you. They’re not going to renew, at least not for too many years, if one. They might do that while they’re looking for another solution, but that’s even highly doubtful.

It’s not wrong to say that expansion and renewal come from a successful member, but when we first spoke of that with clients originally, what we started hearing, unfortunately, is that some organizations  would say, “Well, okay, if that’s the case, then all we have to do is find a successful member and we can promote and sell product and services to them when they don’t need it.” No, that’s not it at all.

Think of it this way:

In order for your members to be successful, to achieve their ever-evolving Desired Outcome, they have to renew, they have to consume more of your services, buy more of your add-ons, etc.

They have to – at some level, at some point – expand their relationship with you. Your members are always evolving and growing. That’s what you want. You shouldn’t ever want a member to be the exact same today as they are in a year; that doesn’t make any sense.

Your members should be growing and evolving. Your relationship with the member should be growing and evolving as well.

That, by the way, is the definition of Member Success-driven Growth.

In order for your members to be successful, they may have to consume more of your product. They may have to take other services. That’s just part of their growth. That may or may not happen in that arbitrary time box that you call an annual membership, but it should happen over the lifetime of the member.

That means in order to achieve their Desired Outcome, your members will have to go past a renewal. They will have to go through some expansion. That’s just the way it is. And that’s awesome.

If you are here to make your member successful, you have to be comfortable with having the conversation about expansion, having the conversation about upselling.

With upselling, it’s actually relatively easy to make that something that just happens. It’s all about orchestration. It’s all about managing expectations.

Ultimately, these things – whether you separate them out into various functions within the organization – it’s all within that relationship that you have with the member.

It’s all about making them successful.

 

“Memberships are the most important asset in our industry today.  Are you making the most of your membership program? Is it growing your organization? Are you putting enough resources into growing your member base? Do you have a targeted plan for Recruiting, Engaging, and Retaining your members? We can help.” – Andrew McElhannon, CEO – Association Project Management, LLC®.

APM® helps member-based organizations & professional Trade Associations achieve Member Success, stabilize their member retention and guarantee membership growth through Prospect Development and Member Recruitment, as well as Member Engagement and Concierge Onboarding.

Organizations implement APM’s® programs to sustain their current revenue, reduce losses due to Churn (member non-renewal) and generate new revenue by creating Raving Fans® who evangelize new members that over time becomes automatic, organic growth. “Members begetting Members”.

Association Project Management, LLC® also provides a list of other project management and project completion services through a virtual staff member – a committed, trusted expert who helps to reduce costs, lower risks, improve efficiencies, meet deadlines, solve challenging problems, support strategic initiatives and produce better outcomes for your association staff. Visit them today at www.associationprojectmanagement.com

Measurement – The 8 Elements of Member Success Management

Memberships Matter – Make the most of Your Membership Program.

Measurement

There are two types of measurement that must happen in a Member Success Management organization:

How are the members doing?
How are we doing?

If the second one (How are we doing?) is not based on the first one (How are they doing?), you’re doing it wrong.

When it comes to Member Success, you actually want to pay attention to a financial metric (usually Net Revenue Retention or NRR) and a Member Success-specific metric like Success Vector.

Every trade association or sales organization wants predictable revenue; most turn to new memberships or business sales to get it. They create a goal they want to hit – essentially a target number the CEO or Board wants to see – and then they try to figure out how to hit that number.

The “predictable” part of all of this comes down to ensuring your pipeline is loaded with (at least) 5x more leads than your target goal so you can hit it with a 20% close rate. Math!

While that may be “predictable” in a spreadsheet, in reality, hitting that goal requires a lot of work, coordination, effort, hustle, incentives, and even a bit of luck. Yet, historically, this is where companies look for new revenue by default.

That’s changing as companies realize it doesn’t get more predictable than being able to look at your existing members. Now, say these 100 members will reach a particular Success Milestone in the next month, that milestone has a logical upsell associated with it, the value of that upsell is $500/ARR, and the percentage of members that should take the upsell based on their Success Vector is 90%.

That means, for that cohort, we’ll add $45k/ARR next month. Then, by combining the expansion value of all of the milestone cohorts, an accurate prediction can be given of the revenue generated from our existing members.

That’s actual, real predictable revenue.

Historically, the Member Health Score was a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for Member Success, but it doesn’t give what we need in this new world of Member Success-driven Growth, so APM went into a sort of Research and Development mode and tore the idea of a Member Health Score apart with the sole purpose of giving a real way to see not just what’s happening with members today, but where do we think they’re going in the future.

And the Success Vector was born. Now, let’s dig into the real concept behind the Success Vector.

 

Why “Vector” instead of “Health”

Aside from the reasons already stated above, the term vector appeals to us – the idea of having something that doesn’t just tell us where we are, but where we’re going, seems so much more powerful – and appropriate in the context of Member Success-driven growth – that it’s the most logical progression.

Vector is defined, according to a quick Google search, as “a quantity having direction as well as magnitude, especially as determining the position of one point in space relative to another”. That’s exactly what we’re looking for – Direction + Magnitude.

It All Starts with the Member

One of the biggest mistakes we see in Member Success is when the CEO of a company hires a Member Success Manager declaring they (the association) are now member-centric, and then telling the Member Success Manager to “figure it out” without giving budget or resources. Though sometimes, if any resources are given, it’s to buy the software. Because software solves all the problems.

Look, people are a huge part of  Member Success Management. Systems are absolutely necessary. Processes and Software tie all of those together for efficient scaling. But if the implementation of those things isn’t predicated on a deep understanding of the member – and knowledge that the member will evolve over time so your understanding must, too – then the people are going to be set up for failure, the systems won’t do what you “designed” them do, and the software will fail to deliver a real ROI.

If we want our members to grow with us over 1, 3, 5, 7, or even 10 years, ensuring the member is engaged and continues to achieve their evolving Desired Outcome is critical. In fact, it’s why your organization actually exists in their world.

Before you can Orchestrate, Operationalize, Instrument, and Intervene – or develop a Success Vector – you need to be clear about the Desired Outcome for each of your discrete member segments.

And remember, Desired Outcome has two pieces: Required Outcome and Appropriate Experience.

Required Outcome is what they need to achieve; there are some things that must happen otherwise you know they couldn’t possibly be achieving their Required Outcome.

So you measure their progression through the required activities and Success Milestones (are they making progress; completing the right activities to move them forward?), check on Joint Accountabilities (are they doing what they need to do, are you doing what you need to do?), look at Ascension Velocity (are they buying more, expanding use, etc. ? Because if they are, they’re likely finding success), and other things that indicate whether they’re actually achieving their Required Outcome.

Appropriate Experience is how they need to achieve their Required Outcome, so it takes some of the previous measures into consideration, as well as satisfaction & confidence, support interactions, and other contextual inputs… including the gut feel of any human interactions/interventions that took place with the member.

Together those make up the core of the Success Vector of the member and will tell you if the member is on track, needs help getting back on track, or is heading out the door.

 

Key Success Vector Inputs

The inputs that are 100% required for Success Vector to be meaningful are:

  1. Success Potential
  2. Success Milestones
  3. Joint Accountabilities

Success Potential

If a member doesn’t have success potential, that’s something you’ll need to address (possibly by actively separating from those bad fit members).

When it comes to Success Potential, there are several things you’ll need to look at:

  • Technical Fit – What this means is that you must look at each member and determine if they are or aren’t using or do or don’t have (and possibly can’t / won’t acquire) a key piece of technology needed to succeed with your tool or resource
  • Functional Fit – this may mean that your resource or product is missing a key piece of functionality for them, and it may not even be what they need. Do you have another, a better solution for them?
  • Resource Fit – They can invest – beyond simply paying for membership – in what’s required to be successful as our member
  • Competence Fit – They have – or can acquire – the expertise internally (among their staff) required to be successful
  • Experience Fit – They may not have the experience internally and cannot get/are unwilling to source or train resources that have the necessary experience to be successful with your product
  • Cultural Fit – They have beliefs, morals, attitudes, etc. that you know aren’t in line with the association’s ideals for success

If we can’t check all of the Success Potential criteria, then we can be absolutely sure that those members are not going to achieve their Desired Outcome – both their Required Outcome and the Appropriate Experience – so you’re setting everyone up for failure if you keep them around.  We’ve stated this before – you DO get to choose your members.  Keeping members that drain your resources for them and monopolize the staff’s time is counter-productive for everyone.  This can be avoided early-on in the membership courtship process before they become a member you don’t want.

Success Milestones & Joint Accountabilities

The biggest problem with Member Health Scores is they rarely include whether or not the member is actually doing the things necessary to put and keep them on the path toward achieving their Desired Outcome.

For Success Vector, knowing where the member is on their path toward success – including whether they’re holding up their end of the bargain on the joint accountabilities you agree to – is the main input.

In fact, if you don’t pull in any other contextual data and only look at Success Milestones and Joint Accountabilities, you’d be better off than most organizations that pull together complex Member Health Scores.

If the member does have Success Potential, but they aren’t doing what needs to be done to achieve success, then there is still a problem, and we need to intervene.

If those things aren’t included in the Success Vector, then what purpose does it really serve? It’s like creating a Member Success strategy without starting with the member (which, sadly, is pretty common still).

When it comes to predictable revenue, this is where it gets good.

Some Success Milestones will have a logical Upsell or Advocacy opportunity associated with them. Based on which Success Milestone our members will hit in the next month we should be able to accurately predict the revenue expansion from our existing member base. Here’s a roadmap:

Revenue Ascension Pipeline vs. Expansion Quotas

When you can build a revenue forecast model based on actual member Success Vectors, then you can manage against that rather than the other direction where we have expansion quotas. You can say “according to Success Vectors, this group of members should deliver $45k/ARR in the next month.”

When you have Success Vectors in place, internal expansion quotas are not needed, which means you won’t be trying to promote resources or products to a member when they aren’t ready for them, don’t need them, or are otherwise not in a place where that is the logical next step.

Rather, we can say “this is the expected, logical expansion from this group of members in the next 30, 60, or 90 days” and if you hit that, it means you simply did your job.

However, if you miss that mark, it means the member didn’t hit that Success Milestone, because if they had, according to the Success Vector analysis, they would have taken the upsell. So that’s a fail on Member Success Management; not that they didn’t make the upsell, but because the member who we thought would reach that milestone didn’t.

So there’s no need to quota on expansion; instead, use the Success Vector-based projections to manage the success – or failure – of your Member Success Management team.

Additional Success Vector Inputs

Organizations with more robust Success Vectors also have inputs like:

  • Ascension Velocity – Are they procuring other resources when they’re logical?
  • Meaningful Product Activity – Also known as product usage data. It has to be meaningful activity, though.
  • Adoption (implementing meaningful use of the resource) – Did they meet initial adoption goals? Are they meeting ongoing adoption goals?
  • Advocacy – Are they advocating for us in appropriate ways where logical?
  • Usability Issues – Are there problems or missing features keeping them from achieving success; missing features would indicate a lack of Success Potential and should be noted as such, action may be needed to correct this for them and other members also – be proactive
  • Member Company (Account) – Are negative things happening with the member’s business, are there external indicators, such as lack of business to sustain the company, M&A activity, etc.
  • Support – Support tickets aren’t bad unless they’re not being closed in a positive or efficient way; also if support tickets slow or stop altogether this can be an indicator.
  • Satisfaction & Confidence – NPS scores come into play here.

Success Vector Status Definitions

The Success Vector of a member will change from time to time, but we ultimately want all of our members on a Positive Success Vector. Stagnant members on a Neutral Success Vector simply renewing at the same level is no longer considered good enough.

The new measure of success is members that are engaging, evolving, and expanding.

Positive Success Vector

  • They’re on the right track
  • “the right track” means that they aren’t just static, but are hitting their Success Potential, or are on-track to do so

Neutral Success Vector

  • Stalled or Stagnated
  • Does not fit with the new measure of success
  • Need to get the member back on track to achieving their Desired Outcome and on a logical Ascension Path

Negative Success Vector

  • They’re not on the right track and intervention is needed
  • Come up with a specific plan to move the member into a positive – or at minimum, neutral Success Vector

Ghosts

  • Your key contacts at the member have stopped engaging or responding
  • This member is about to churn

Situational Awareness and Member Triage

If you’re just starting out integrating the Member Success program philosophy into your organization (and, by the way, we’d love to help you do that!), there’s a really good chance you’ll have some members that have gone dark. For the members that are a good fit and should be saved, you need to do what have to do to save them. Just know… that’s not Member Success!

To pull them from darkness back into the light or otherwise save them from churning, you’ll need to reach out to them and implement a plan to rescue them by making good on what was promised to them – as best you can, and it has everything to do with actually helping them achieve their Desired Outcome. They’ve given you another chance, but they should be considered to still be on a Negative Success Vector.

Member Success would have been ensuring they didn’t get to this point, to begin with!

You now have to work to take that member, plus any other member that’s on a Negative Success Vector and move them to Neutral and then Positive.

At first, you’ll have members in each category, but eventually, as you Orchestrate and Operationalize your Member Success Management processes, you’ll get to a point where you only have Neutral and Positive Success Vector members.

Success Vector shares many of the underlying qualities of Member Health Score, but the big differences are what make this the KPI for Member Success-driven Growth.

It doesn’t matter if we’re hitting our retention or expansion goals if we’re doing it in a way that’s not aligned with our member’s success, that new (or renewed) revenue won’t stick around.

If you meet your NRR goals for the time period, but your Success Vector is getting worse, that could mean you did things to meet the financial KPIs in a way that had a negative impact on the member.

 

“Memberships are the most important asset in our industry today.  Are you making the most of your membership program? Is it growing your organization? Are you putting enough resources into growing your member base? Do you have a targeted plan for Recruiting, Engaging, and Retaining your members? We can help.” – Andrew McElhannon, CEO – Association Project Management, LLC®.

APM® helps member-based organizations & professional Trade Associations achieve Member Success, stabilize their member retention and guarantee membership growth through Prospect Development and Member Recruitment, as well as Member Engagement and Concierge Onboarding.

Organizations implement APM’s® programs to sustain their current revenue, reduce losses due to Churn (member non-renewal) and generate new revenue by creating Raving Fans® who evangelize new members that over time becomes automatic, organic growth. “Members begetting Members”.

Association Project Management, LLC® also provides a list of other project management and project completion services through a virtual staff member – a committed, trusted expert who helps to reduce costs, lower risks, improve efficiencies, meet deadlines, solve challenging problems, support strategic initiatives and produce better outcomes for your association staff. Visit them today at www.associationprojectmanagement.com

Intervention – The 8 Elements of Member Success Management

Memberships Matter – Make the most of Your Membership Program.

Intervention.

To operationalize Member Success Management, you must proactively intervene in the appropriate way for that member segment (a mix of technology and human touches; the “appropriate” part will dictate the ratios) in order to get them to do the things they need to do to move from one Success Milestone to the next.  If they do those things, great; they’re on their way to being successful.

If they don’t do those things, however, you need to change-up or escalate your intervention actions to get them to ‘take action’.

Intervention can be done a timed basis (after x number of days send an email, or every three months do a Member Success follow-up – usually a direct call to the member).  It can also be based on data (the member is not doing what they need to do to move to the next Success Milestone), or certain event triggers set off by an action the member does take, but which does not move them toward their next milestone (this may not necessarily be a bad thing, it just moves them sideways, or keeps them satisfied with their membership, while not really moving them toward the goal of their Desired Outcome).

Intervention should really be part of the Member Onboarding experience. Onboarding is key for a couple of things:

Member Success – they reach their Desired Outcome, and it also engages them early with the specific resource or tool that brought them to membership; The sooner you do this, the sooner they reach their ROI with you and become a Raving Fan® which spurs organic growth.

Member Retention – They are more apt to stay members, longer when they see you as the go-to resource for reaching their Appropriate Experience.

 

New Member Onboarding is critical to retention.  Statistics show that it costs 7x more to obtain a new member into an association and that first-year members have the lowest retention rates.

Onboarding is more than simply sending out a welcome packet and adding them to your association’s email list – it’s an ongoing process that relies on deliberate communication and engagement.  It’s not just something you do for the first week – or even month – of the membership. It is a process that covers the entire first year of membership, then continues on for at least the first 3 years to solidify the member and the ROI of membership in their minds.  Look, you MUST treat every member as if they are your ONLY member – make them feel important.

 

Why New Member Onboarding is crucial for Associations

Impact – Members are new, motivated, and excited

Attention – You have their attention and one chance to set the tone

Retention – First-year members have the lowest renewal rates

 

The Onboarding & Touchpoint Schedule:

Onboarding is a process that is worth investing in. Use this timeline as a guideline to help new members become engaged with your organization and build a membership meant to last.

Member onboarding involves more than a checklist. A touch plan to improve onboarding and engagement builds a strong foundation for long-term membership.

Week 1 (first 7 days) –

  • Send a Welcome email.
  • Mail out the New Member Packet.
  • Call the member (even if you’ve already spoken a dozen times) and Welcome them to the association.
  • Enter them into the marketing funnel (if just being in the database isn’t enough).

Week 3 (Days 14-21) –

  • Email them instructions on how to access member benefits*.
  • Call them with an event invitation.

*Remember what the initial reason the member joined for – what was it that brought them to the decision to join? If it was a specific benefit, tool or resource, you’ll need to act on this in week one and get them up and going as soon as possible. This may mean setting up a phone call, webinar, or even a face-to-face meeting to give an overview, instruction, and training on using the benefit that brought them on board.

Week 6 (Day 45) –

  • Make a call-in to the member to see how things are going; Has the primary reason for joining been addressed with a solution/tool/benefit? How is it working for them?  Do they see a marked improvement?  Are there still ancillary needs to be addressed?
  • Email a reminder of the other benefits and resources available to them – be proactive and inquire which one might be the next to tackle?

3 Months –

  • Analyze how they are using their membership; How many times have they logged in? What services are they using?  Have they registered/attended any events yet? What’s not working well / at all for them?
  • Make sure they are receiving ALL association regular marketing: Newsletters, email blasts, etc. DO they need a specific archived article or web link sent to address one of their issues?  Have they been able to navigate around the member website and find what they need?

4 Months –

  • Be sure they have pertinent information about the association’s committees and events. Inquire if they would like to participate soon with a committee or have questions or topics they’d like to have the committee address with them or the membership/industry at large.

6 Months –

  • Send a 6 mos. Member check-in survey; Be sure to include the critical One Question: Would you recommend our association and a membership to one of your peers?
  • Email them a reminder of how to engage in the association’s online community/forum/ social media pages.

8 Months –

  • Contact the member with volunteer opportunities.
  • Extend another personal invite to an upcoming event – Engagement with the association’s events and activities in the first year in which the member can place value in will go a long way to ensuring that they will renew again in the new year.

10 Months –

  • Make a Pre-renewal phone call to the member to gauge their interest in continuing their membership with the association.

11 Months –

  • Mail a membership benefit reminder statement.

12 Months –

  • Send them a membership renewal notice.
  • Send an annual Membership survey*

*It is KEY to send these two items separately – experience has shown when they arrive together, typically the survey is put aside for later, but then it is forgotten about and most times never completed or returned.

The onboarding cycle should continue for Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3+ Members.

Exceeding Member Expectations

  • Be a person, not just an organization, to your members.
  • When it comes to communications, build a relationship with a new member before putting them in the email marketing cycle.

Consider these Questions

  • What was their reason for joining?
  • How did you attract them in the first place?

The answers will guide you in managing new-member expectations and demonstrating your association’s value.

 

 

You’ll likely intervene based on a mix of all of those factors, and the actions or events for intervention (email, call, in-person meeting, etc.) will be determined by the Appropriate Experience of the member (see Segmentation).

 

“Memberships are the most important asset in our industry today.  Are you making the most of your membership program? Is it growing your organization? Are you putting enough resources into growing your member base? Do you have a targeted plan for Recruiting, Engaging, and Retaining your members? We can help.” – Andrew McElhannon, CEO – Association Project Management, LLC®.

APM® helps member-based organizations & professional Trade Associations achieve Member Success, stabilize their member retention and guarantee membership growth through Prospect Development and Member Recruitment, as well as Member Engagement and Concierge Onboarding.

Organizations implement APM’s® programs to sustain their current revenue, reduce losses due to Churn (member non-renewal) and generate new revenue by creating Raving Fans® who evangelize new members that over time becomes automatic, organic growth. “Members begetting Members”.

Association Project Management, LLC® also provides a list of other project management and project completion services through a virtual staff member – a committed, trusted expert who helps to reduce costs, lower risks, improve efficiencies, meet deadlines, solve challenging problems, support strategic initiatives and produce better outcomes for your association staff. Visit them today at www.associationprojectmanagement.com

Orchestration – The 8 Elements of Member Success Management

Membership Mondays – Memberships Matter – Make the most of Your Membership Program.

Orchestration

One of the simplest – and yet amazingly effective – things you can do to ensure your members aren’t just on the path toward success but to know what to expect along the way is what we call Orchestration.

Orchestration is made up of three main elements:

  1. Properly Manage Expectations
  2. Lay out Joint Accountabilities
  3. Tee-up future Expansion and Advocacy

Managing expectations with your members by telling them what to expect in the first 30, 60, 90-days as a member and what the major Success Milestones are along the way are some very simple ways to reduce any anxiety they might have and to build trust in you.

The concept of Success Milestones is a relatively simple one to grasp, but the power and the value of this way of thinking are often overlooked or misunderstood. Let’s fix that.

Since we’ve not yet defined Success Milestones in our previous articles, what better time to do that than right now.

Everyone Gets Success Milestones Wrong

When we ask the companies we work with to come up with a list of Success Milestones for their members, we usually get something like this:

Discovery ==> Membership ==> Onboarding ==> Use ==> Upsell ==> Renewal

Those are phases of the member lifecycle and – if they should even be considered milestones – they’re your milestones as the go-to resource, the association… they’re based around your success.

So just to be clear… we’re talking about the Success Milestones of the member, in the context of your product and their interactions with you.

So how does this differ from “member journey maps” and the like? Let’s explore…

 

Almost every member journey map I see is provider-focused and static.

The “member experience” is almost always based around the product as the center of the universe, making it less a “member” experience and more a “product” experience that the member has.

The problem with that is – from the member’s perspective – it’s always a “Member Experience” … and when you opt to not focus on the member and their Desired Outcome, you’ll instantly be misaligned with them, meaning that whatever experience you orchestrate will be incongruent with the Appropriate Experience they’re looking for.

If that ends up working well for you, just know it’s in spite of your efforts rather than because of your efforts; only the latter efficiently scales.

Most member journey maps or overall “Member Experience” is based on an internally-focused goal; often but around your functionality, feature set, and ultimately your goals… rather than the goals of your member.

You should have a clear starting point and a clear destination for your member. Any map or navigation system requires at least those two inputs to be useful.

And when you sense the member is veering off course, you recalculate and navigate them back on course. Unless they update the destination – which can happen along the way – you need to keep guiding them back toward their Desired Outcome.

And if they do change the destination mid-trip, that’s fine… help them arrive at the new destination.

I’m not sure how organizations that claim to be focused on Member Success or “Member-centric” can do that without baselining members when they sign-up and clearly understanding the members’ evolving Desired Outcome across their lifecycle as a member, but that’s a discussion for another day.

No matter the metaphor, ultimately,…

Desired Outcome is the Goal

Success Milestones are the steps required for a member to achieve their ever-evolving Desired Outcome.

Remember, Desired Outcome has two parts: Required Outcome and Appropriate Experience.

Required Outcome is the member’s goal, the thing your member is trying to accomplish; it’s what gets you in the game. If you can’t help them achieve this, then you’ve lost them from the outset.

Appropriate Experience (or what we sometimes abbreviate as AX) is how your members want or need to achieve that Required Outcome. This is why they came to your organization and became members to begin with, as opposed to trying to build or create their own. It’s why they chose you over a commercial competitor. It’s why they chose you over a different-but-functionally-equivalent product.

It’s called “appropriate” instead of “great” or some other adjective because we’re talking about an experience that is appropriate for the member.

If the member needs a “great” or “polished” or “high-end” or “bare-bones” experience, then that is what’s appropriate for them. Know your member.

So once you know what their Desired Outcome is (point B) – and you know where they are today (point A)- you can more easily come up with the steps to get them from Point A to Point B.

But this requires getting clear on two very important things: the difference between functional and Success Milestones.

Success Milestones

Success Milestones can be product- or member-centric, and it’s critical to know the difference and where they both fit in.

Functional Milestones

The easiest way to think about functional milestones is to label this “product-centric” or milestones that are reached / occur inside the product.

Almost every association or trade organization that provides tools or resources for its members focuses here. Period.

Unless you’re pegging the functional milestones to the success-oriented use of your product, it’s easy to mistake “functional use” for meaningful activity.

Focusing solely on Functional Milestones also exposes the member to Success Gaps which are caused by the Desired Outcome of the member being outside the scope of complete functional use of the product.

Quickly, The Success Gap occurs when your customer functionally completes the tasks necessary in your product to do the thing they want or need to do, but yet they could still fail to reach their desired outcome.

Fixing this requires that you acknowledge their “success” may be outside the scope of your product, which means thinking about your customers and not just your product… and then thinking about how you can help them achieve that desired outcome. The closer you can get to that, the better.

So, in addition to Functional Milestones, you need to also pay close attention to…

Member Milestones

Think of Success Milestones as “member-centric” or milestones reached by the member that may or may not take place within your product but have a direct impact on their relationship with you.

Member Success Milestones will include functional milestones within the product, of course, but they won’t just be activity for activity’s sake. They will be the result of meaningful activity and will be tied to other inputs to ensure we know that the member is actually achieving their desired outcome.

It is critical that you understand what has to happen for the member to be successful – for them to achieve their Desired Outcome – both within your product and outside of it and then operationalize around that.

Orchestrate as much of the process as you can and hold your members accountable for the parts that are within the scope of their responsibility.

3 Reasons Member Success Milestones are Valuable

If it’s not entirely clear why you should go to the trouble of mapping out the Success Milestones for your members, let us show you three very quantifiable reasons to do so:

  1. Conversion Rate Optimization

There will be a point in the Free Trial (if in fact you offer them, and really you should offer some form to some prospects) when becoming a paying member is the most logical next step. That’s a big success milestone itself, sure, but there were probably some things they needed to do before then to get to that point. Those are also success milestones, too, and at certain points in the member lifecycle you’ll need to get fairly granular.

  1. Expansion Opportunities

This is our all-time favorite use of Success Milestones and is really the key to the efficient scaling of your existing member base by orchestrating Upsell and Cross-Sell activity. Some Success Milestones (not all of them; don’t force it) have a logical expansion opportunity associated with them.

It’s at that point that an add-on makes the most sense, buying additional seats because it’s time to invite Project Managers into the mix, or spinning up a relationship with an adjacent department or division is the logical next step.

The sales mantra of “right message, right time” is powered by Success Milestones.

  1. Member Advocacy

When asking your member to be an advocate for you – either internally or externally – doing so after they’ve achieved a Success Milestone is the perfect time to ask.

There are definitely going to be other data-driven times to reach out with an advocacy ask, after a strong NPS survey response, for instance, but there are going to be milestone-based times to make that ask, too. Know what those are and operationalize that process. In fact, start early with small asks and increase the level of ask over time, again, pegged to their success.

Your list of Success Milestones will vary… but if you apply this type of thinking to your business, your success won’t. Or it might.

No guarantees. But thinking this way probably won’t hurt.

 

Giving the member a list of things they need to do – both in the product and outside of it, on their own – and what you need to do – and showing that if both parties hold up their end (that’s why I call it Joint Accountabilities) they’ll reach their goal.

But if they fail to do what they need to – and said they’d – do, then they won’t reach their goal. Of course, you have to do what you say you’ll do, too… and if both parties complete their Joint Accountabilities, the member should reach their goal.

Finally, letting the member know that you rely on word of mouth (maybe you say to keep costs down so you stay cheap; don’t say this if you’re the high-priced option!), and that once they hit a certain Success Milestone, you’ll ask them to give you a testimonial or do a case study. But not right now, obviously, they haven’t gotten any value.

Or that when they hit a different Success Milestone, you’ll “let them know about this add-on that other companies like theirs always buy… but you don’t need that right now.”

Then you can start orchestrating Member Success – manage expectations, define joint accountabilities, and tee-up expansion and advocacy – right now; a very low-cost thing.

 

“Memberships are the most important asset in our Industry today.  Are you making the most of your membership program? Is it growing your organization? Are you putting enough resources into growing your member base? Do you have a targeted plan for Recruiting, Engaging, and Retaining your members? We can help.” – Andrew McElhannon, CEO – Association Project Management, LLC®.

APM® helps member-based organizations & professional Trade Associations achieve Member Success, stabilize their member retention and guarantee membership growth through Prospect Development and Member Recruitment, as well as Member Engagement and Concierge Onboarding.

Organizations implement APM’s® programs to sustain their current revenue, reduce losses due to Churn (member non-renewal) and generate new revenue by creating Raving Fans® who evangelize new members that over time becomes automatic, organic growth. “Members begetting Members”.

Association Project Management, LLC® also provides a list of other project management and project completion services through a virtual staff member – a committed, trusted expert who helps to reduce costs, lower risks, improve efficiencies, meet deadlines, solve challenging problems, support strategic initiatives and produce better outcomes for your association staff. Visit them today at www.associationprojectmanagement.com