Today’s associations – once the singular source for cutting-edge knowledge in their arenas – are battling membership loss and declining sponsorship revenues. To cope, associations must reach above and beyond member expectations.
Paying close attention—and adapting— to these trends will help keep associations relevant and able to meet their members’ needs, wouldn’t you agree?
In a world of customization and instant gratification, the membership model is being forced to adapt. The “Old way of Doing Things”’ or “We do it that way, because it’s the way we’ve always done it” just isn’t good enough anymore.
Understanding what members really want
Associations should ultimately be in the business of Member Success -helping their members be the best they can be at doing what they do – After all, isn’t this why associations really exist?
Your membership person or team should be communicating with them several times a year – at least once a quarter, when feasible – just a quick check in most cases, but it opens the door where they say “You know I’ve been meaning to contact you about an issue I’m having”, or “There’s a resource I have a need for. Can you point me in the right direction?”
Additionally, instilling in members – incumbent, and new – that the ROI of their membership is completely founded from Day 1 is highly important in solidifying in their minds, and yours, that they will return as members next year is critical for the financial health and well-being – and growth – of the association.
What Questions should you be asking your members when you talk to them?
So, what’s the best way to gauge member needs? Let them tell you – they will if you ask them. You must talk to your members regularly; communicate with them and have open discussions about what they need from you – their association – to help them be successful. But, not just once or twice a year, when membership fees are due, when you “run into them” at convention, or at the legislative fly-in.
Some questions you should be asking them to elevate their awareness that you want to help them could be:
- What was the initial reason you joined our association?
- (How) were we able to help you with the need you had when you joined?
- Have we met your expectation, or did you expect more (or less) from us?
- How can we improve in this area (or, on Our Promise) so that we exceed the expectation you had for us?
- Is there another area or challenge we could help you with as you move into the next phase of membership with our organization?
- Which member resource or benefit have you had your eye on taking advantage of that you haven’t yet, and how can we facilitate that for you?
- In this last membership term (month, quarter, year), did you have an opportunity to participate in a class or webinar, or any of our annual events like convention, or our partner/vendor provider expo? Would you like to participate in one of these events in the coming year?
And, probably the MOST IMPORTANT question you should be asking every member – at least twice a-year; mid-year, and about a month before dues invoices are sent out:
- On a scale of 1 – 10, How likely would you be to recommend an Association Membership to one of your industry peers, based on your experience as a member this last year?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Associations may believe they don’t have the resources for personalized member service, but a personalized approach doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming.
That’s where We come in. Association Project Management has developed a system for creating Member Success in associations, that is simple and easy, yet scalable for any size organization – no matter what the industry.
MEMBER SUCCESS FOR ASSOCIATIONS is a program we’ve curated over ten years of working in the association management industry and primarily in the membership recruitment and retention field. We’ve taken every resource we’ve ever encountered, learned, successfully implemented, and refined and put them all together in this cohesive step-to-step system that anyone one can learn, replicate and even customize for their association.
And, speaking of customization – this is the KEY element to creating Member Success in your organization.
Great Member Experience = Referrals = New members
Choose to make the member experience a top priority. It is the only way to guarantee they will remain members and organically grow your association.
Improving Your Member Experience for Member Success
If everything else has clicked into place for your member and they’ve made it all the way up to the enrollment process, you must have made a good first impression! Unfortunately, it’ll be all for nothing if your member resources are hard to use, awkward, inflexible or disappointing over the long term, or if your membership plan’s onboarding isn’t tight.
In fact, a good member experience takes the weight off member support, too. Overall, you don’t want to put a barrier between your members and their tools or resources and most importantly for revenue, you don’t want to put a barrier between your paying members and your benefits.
What’s the link between Member Experience and Member Success?
The idea behind improving Member Experience with Member Success in mind is this:
- If you can make it easier for your members to interact with your resources, they will achieve success more quickly, firmly and… long-lastingly.
- Members should be primed for success from the moment they discover your association and its benefits to them. This means that they should know what to expect by reading your marketing and product overviews. It means they should have great interactions with the Member Success team who should try and teach the members about every feature they’ll need.
- Member Experience — how it feels to be a member, be welcomed into your community, learn how to use your resources and tools to drive their revenue and growth, and interact with your Member Success team — should be optimized to make sure your members want to stick around.
What is Member Success?
Member success starts out as an aim, not a department of people or a group of processes— what we call ‘lower-case’ Member Success.
It starts by recognizing that your members need more than a ‘user manual’ or an automated onboarding flow or email drip campaign for their membership to live up to the promises made on your website’s landing page.
Keeping members close and working with them 1-on-1 is a Member Success style known as Concierge Onboarding. While startups, SaaS companies, and now even associations like yours are starting to focus on it only now, the early results are promising — members who’ve gotten a customized onboarding experience with their membership and have returned year after year to their associations have doubled and reduced churn by 50% over the last several years where Member Success has been more closely measured.
Churn is the annual percentage rate at which members stop subscribing to a service or a membership and the benefits later, and it’s obvious that a member who is staring at the outset of their membership and wondering how they can best measure the ROI for their company – and they don’t have the guidance or hand-holding they need to fully benefit from their membership – that member is likely to cancel their membership and go look for something they understand — something that is easy to see the value of straight away.
Member Success is a system, run by people whose only goal is to help members get the most out of their membership. It happens straight after their joining the association is processed and continues for the life of the member – for as long as they’re a member of your organization.
Member Success is a mindset before it’s a department. It takes an “analytical approach towards retaining existing members and draws on great communication skills to forge long-lasting relationships with members.”
It’s part member onboarding – part member relationship building – part member retention.
Why is Member Success important?
Member Success in Your association is important because competition in the association world is harsh and you need Member Success in place to reduce churn and keep members around for the long haul.
Here are some points to consider:
Member Success connects promise to reality
It doesn’t matter how good your marketing is or how many deals you close, if members experience the disconnect between promise and reality and it isn’t patched up by a Member Success team, you’re going to get a high rate of churn.
You don’t want your member having to work harder to get what was promised by the membership coordinator because your product should be easy to implement for all members and deliver value from day one.
With every member renewal being an opportunity to cancel, it’s obvious that the member success process doesn’t stop after the initial set up. Member Success teams need to be constantly available to keep members from falling out of love with their membership, no matter what.
Member Success should be ‘uncomfortably close’. While an exaggeration, it’s a good way of imagining how easily reachable and responsive your service should be.
Your competitors will steal your unhappy members
Disgruntled members who didn’t get the support (or even explanations) they wanted will seek out your competitors.
If your competitor is smart, they’ll have a great Member Success team who will get them set up with the product the same day the enrolment goes through. They’ll make certain that the member is happy and set up to get the most value they can out of the product.
For now, it’s enough to know that Member Success isn’t just about the unscientific art of making people feel warm and fuzzy. Like all business processes, it’s about making money.
A watertight member success process reduces churn and increases your revenue. Even a churn reduction of 4% can double your Annual Revenue Return (ARR).
Member Success is where 90% of association revenue is. It doesn’t just mean that members keep paying their annual dues, it also means that they will be inclined to promote the member product to others in their industry and become advocates for your association.
With association memberships, successful members compound your revenue massively because they are the ones who encourage their peers to join your association, give you member prospect referrals and are promoters of your products and services.
Once your association becomes the go-to solution for a large company, that one member could be paying your entire Member Success team’s salaries every month!
If you’re ready to Get on Board with a member success program for your association, email us today. We’d love to set up a phone call, get to know you and your organization better, and discuss how in just 3 weeks’ time we get can get your association on the road to growth, ROI, and most importantly – happy members. Remember – you’re not in Association Membership Sales – you’re in Association Membership Success.
 See our Article on the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and how to use it to increase revenue and defeat churn