Increasing your membership base can often seem a hell of a hill to climb and can be quite daunting. Where do you even start? You may have already tried everything you can think of, or already have a large proportion of your potential membership base signed up already.
So where do you go from here? Guaranteed, there will be some actions you can put in place to help increase registrations and bring your membership offering to more people.
The exact steps you need to take to encourage signs ups will largely depend on the specifics around your membership organisation and what you have to offer. However, below we take a look into some aspects all membership organisations should consider.
1. Know your audience
Really think about who your target audience is for your membership organisation. Perhaps go through a User Persona mapping process to get into the nitty gritty of who your members are, how they differ from each other and what their key needs are.
You can also identify who some potential or aspirational members could be in the future. By understanding and empathising with these people you will gain an insight into how you can better attract them, as well as help keeping them engaged once they’re signed up.
How are they likely to know about you? Do you meet their needs? Is there something they need from you that you’re not currently offering? Are you communicating with them in the right way? Or perhaps is there another market segment you’re missing out on that could benefit from your membership offering?
As an example, you could send out a survey to your existing members or arrange a focus group with your committee and a selection of trusted members to gain some valuable insights.
2. Be found
It’s no good having lots of lovely juicy content on your website and fantastic member benefits, if people can’t find you online. Start with making sure the content you put on your website is SEO friendly and has relevant search engine metadata (which is usually managed via your CMS) so that people can find you organically via search engines. All your online activity should revolve around driving traffic to your website so people can find you.
Plan marketing initiatives to get your name out there and make people aware of who you are. Whether it be social media campaigns, Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, stands at Events, printed magazine ads etc. Think about your target audience, who they are, where they’re likely to be and what they’re likely to do, both online and in the real world. At every touchpoint, direct people to your website where the sign-up journey can commence!
3. Clear signposting
Make sure you direct people to where they need to be quickly and efficiently once they’ve made it to your website. Give clear call-to-actions when people land on your website to become a member or find out more about what your organisation has to offer. Be aware that not everyone will land straight on to your Homepage. If they’ve come through Google, they may well have landed on another of your landing pages or blog articles etc. So make sure you have a big button to Join/Sign Up on every page so that people know that’s an option if they like your content.
Maybe get some existing members and non-members to look at the website and give you feedback. What may seem obvious to you creating the content, might not be from the outside looking in! Or get the help of a consultant/web design specialist who will be able to guide you on best practices.
4. Shout about your membership benefits
Make your membership benefits easy to find on your website. Putting them front and centre stage on your Homepage could really add value for people wanting to find out more. Consider having a page dedicated to your member benefits where people can have a deep dive into what your membership organisation offers. Try using infographics, images and video to help people engage with what you’re saying and perhaps use member testimonials for that ‘believable’ factor.
If your membership categories have different benefits in each, consider using a benefits comparison table, like this one we did for Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, so people can self-serve and make an educated decision on what is the most suitable package for their needs.
Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Benefits Comparison Table
We also did a ‘Help me choose’ quiz that allows people to answer questions and it tells people which category best fits their needs.
Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Member Category Finder
5. Eligibility checkers
Do you have certain eligibility requirements for someone signing up as a member? Or do people need to qualify for different levels of membership? Perhaps they need to be a qualified professional with a certain level of training. Or they need to be based in a certain location to be eligible for a specific discounted membership level.
If so, make it super easy for them to self-serve and find out what they’re entitled to. This could be as simple as a line of text stating the eligibility requirements of each membership category. Or for those more complex scenarios, you could have a more in-depth eligibility checker where users can put in their information and the website tells them if they’re eligible and if so, which package they need to have.
6. Up front pricing
You’ve done a great job of selling your membership offering and they’re fully on board with wanting to sign up. However, there’s that niggling feeling at the back of their head on how much your services are going to set them back. Potential members will hate nothing more than having to dig around for those dreaded pound signs, so be upfront from the start on the fees for each membership category.
Make sure they’re aware of any additional fees and be clear on the financial implications, e.g. what membership payment options there are and what to expect during renewals (whether renewal fees will be taken automatically, on a particular date etc).
7. Justify your membership costs
Make sure your membership costs reflect what your members are actually getting. Make their membership worthwhile and justify costs to encourage people to sign up.
- Offering opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals (via online forums, Member Directories and events)
- Valuable member only content access via a Member Portal
- Restricted content
- Offer publications that are of value to your membership base
- Relevant Training/online webinars
- Downloads/resources that offer guidance
- Regular newsletters and Email marketing with insights specific to their area of interest
- Event discounts dependent on membership level
- Offer awards where relevant
- Offer a yearly journal if possible
8. Easy online sign-up process
They’re sold and have decided to click that JOIN NOW button. It’s at this stage you want to minimise any barriers to conversions. You need a simple, easy to use registration form that captures just enough information for you to onboard them, but not too much that it puts them off even attempting to sign up. Here are some things to consider:
- Splitting your registration form into manageable chunks rather than having one long form
- Providing people with flexible payment options – by card, direct debit or invoice
- Ability to save for later so they can come back to it
- Only request mandatory information at the sign-up stage; take further information later on
How to measure if your membership drive was a success
One key thing to bear in mind with all of this it to make sure you set a goal for the success of your efforts to increase membership, right from the start. A trap many fall into is not being specific enough.
There isn’t a solid way to measure goals like “increase membership” or “boost member sign ups”, so you have no idea whether what you’re doing has had an impact or not.
Be precise with your goals. Set an exact figure you’d be happy with achieving over a set amount of time. Implement your strategy for boosting member sign ups and halfway through touch base with your team. If you’re not meeting your goal, you can try new tactics and tweak your plan accordingly.
Get in touch for an informal chat and further information on how you could boost membership sign-ups for your organisation.