WHAT CAN MEMBER MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE DO?
ACCORDING TO FOLA's 2019 ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP SURVEY, MEMBERSHIP ENGAGEMENT IS THE #1 ISSUE FACING YOUR ORGANIZATION. LEARN MORE INSIGHTS HERE.
YOU'VE GOT THE NEW RECRUIT! SO NOW WHAT?
First impressions matter & you need to take advantage of this opportunity to offer them a guide to membership benefits, resources, & upcoming events.
Plus! we have some quick and easy things you can do to help start your member engagement program, how to start welcoming the newcomer, and how to see results faster.
Are you hosting a Member Appreciation event? Learn how and see other membership tips here.
* 1st THINGS 1st *
Membership surveys are valuable for a number of reasons. They allow you to collect important feedback from your members, make improvements to your association (thus boosting engagement and retention), and at the most basic level, show your members you genuinely care about their thoughts and happiness.
Can’t really go wrong conducting something like that, can you? The key, though, is making sure you ask the right questions - questions that are going to get you the feedback you need to advance your association.
Intentional onboarding makes members feel part of a community and impacts retention numbers, as this study shows. So how does it work?Any good onboarding campaign comes down to a content strategy defined by two things: value proposition and tone. Figure out what your value proposition is, evaluate it, and work out how to communicate it. Integral to this is knowing your members - what do they want and need from your association, at what level of urgency?
Make that member feel like part of your team! Remember the first time you went to an association event and how that felt? Nerve wracking for most! Making new members feel welcome at your association’s events is a smart investment of resources. Do you offer new member receptions? Offer a new member mentor program? These are just two easy and low-cost ideas that can make the newcomer feel looked after.
How do I know it’s working?
Evaluate new member experiences after the fact to keep improving the process. Make appointments to speak with them post show. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions: “How was your experience? Based on your experience, do you plan to attend the next event? What did you like? Dislike? What can we do better?” If you don’t ask, you’ll never know what is working - and what’s not. Then analyze the feedback with your staff and/or Board of Directors.
New member engagement programs work, and they don’t have to be big or expensive. What could you try at your next in-person event to make new attendees feel part of your organization? Start small and iterate over time, and you will be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.
5 QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOUR MEMBERS
Do you remember the last time you had a meaningful conversation with a member? Reaching out to your members with strategic questions can help you improve and strengthen all aspects of your association. Here are few topics to get you rolling.
1. What challenges are you and your industry peers facing on a day-to-day basis?
2. What services could the association deliver that no one else will? 3. Do individuals at your organization need more information about how to utilize the resources and services available with your membership?
4. What is the number-one expectation you have from the association?
5. Are you aware of industry partners who should be contacted about membership? (Ask for Referrals. Mention a specific prospect by name.)
Members are less likely to leave if they feel the association’s management understands their needs.
Ask. Listen. Leverage member feedback.
Your acquisition funnel is a way of breaking down the journey that new members take to become members and is direct from Sales and Marketing 101! This way of understanding member behavior helps you understand where you gaining/losing applicants, so you can focus your energy where it matters! Consider this commonly accepted way to break down your funnel for member acquisition.
Awareness: The awareness stage of the acquisition funnel includes all the potential members who have been made aware of the value of membership in your organization: Those who visit your website, see your ads, read your content, hear about you through word-of-mouth, etc, are all included here. Your goal is to engage them, and drive them down to the next phase of the funnel;
Consideration: As they would with any purchase, potential members will consider membership in your organization against possible alternatives. They want to know if your membership is worth it, so this is where they do a little research. How do you imagine they do so? Do you offer any resources that can help them learn more about you? Offering these resources is often all it takes to drive prospective applicants to the next phase of your funnel;
Engagement: Typically, prospective members enter the ‘engagement’ phase when they fill out an application for membership. Doing so means that they are done with consideration, and are ready to make a decision. However it’s important to recognize that though they are ready to make the decision to become a member, they haven’t yet! Every second between submitting an application and having it successfully approved offers an opportunity to continue consideration. At any moment between application and approval, a prospect might decide not to become a member after all. That’s why it’s important at this stage to focus on driving your applicants to the next stage;
Approval: Membership approval is the final stage in the acquisition funnel, and is the one that membership managers have the most power over, because they get to decide how long it takes to process an application. The longer the process, the more likely it is that you’ll lose prospects from the engagement phase, making short approval periods very valuable!
Studies show that new member engagement plans grow new member renewal rates by an average of 9.7%. Plus, they improve not only new member engagement but overall member engagement too.
However, new member engagement programs are so slow and results may not be evident in the first or even second year.
In fact, studies show that significant results don’t come until year 3 or later. Wow! That is a long time to wait!
Are there techniques for developing a program that becomes successful faster? Maybe!
When you start planning your program, or if you are getting ready to revise an existing program, think about your intention. How do you want new members to feel when they receive your new member messages? Warmly welcomed? Excited for more? Tone plays a big role because the right tone can help a new member feel like they are valued, that they belong and confident that more great stuff is coming their way. Or messaging not carefully crafted can feel lifeless and flat, more like an advertisement than like a sincere greeting.
Programs planned to interact with new members until 7-12 months performed best. Commit to following new members longer. Do not stop at 3 or 6 months, keep sending our most at-risk members messaging designed just for them.
Start with the tactics that tend to work best. The most useful new member engagement tactics are emails, phone calls, and engaging them during in-person events (welcoming committees, conference orientation, buddies, and more). Starting your program with a mix high-performing tactics is likely to boost your results.
Remember: Patience is a virtue!
You do not need a massive, complex, and perfectly polished new member onboarding plan to start engaging new members. Pick any one of these successful tips to engage new members early in order to engage them for life!
*From Smooth the Path
Consider how you can implement these 5 tips to create renewal letters or emails that resonate positively with members and generate more of the outcomes intended:
1. Use a Personal Touch — Everyone wants to be recognized as an individual, so abandon greetings like “Dear Valued Member,” which does the opposite. This should feel like a one-on-one conversation with one member, not all.
2. Know Your Audience — Rather than use a “one size fits all” message, consider different member segments that have specific things in common (e.g., membership levels, length of time as a member, size of company) so you can customize two or three distinctive renewal messages.
3. Remarket the Value of Membership — Renewals are “rejoins” and it’s important to reiterate benefits based on what matters to members (hence the importance of tip #2). Although some join and rejoin because of your mission and impact on the industry/community, most members belong to help them achieve their objectives or to solve their challenges. Provide a brief overview of your recent accomplishments and highlight specific benefits that align with their interests (again, tip #2).
4. Make Members Feel Appreciated and Excited About the Coming Year — Knowing that renewals are optional, provide a genuine note of thanks and let members know you appreciate their support. Mention a few upcoming programs or activities that are on the horizon because of their support. Include at least one thing that doesn’t require them to “show up” (e.g., improvements to the directory, new online resource, partnership, initiative that supports the industry/community).
5. Provide Renewal Options — Offer members convenient and multiple ways to renew. State the different ways such as Online (with a link to their member account and include log-in credentials, if possible), Mail (provide the address) and Phone (give them the number). Offer the option to make multiple payments. And attach the invoice for their review and record.
SHOW YOUR MEMBERS YOU LOVE THEM!
58% of all of Law Association members responding to our survey own their own practice. The above image shows how many lawyers are in our member firms (both owned and operated by a member and those they practice in).
88% of all respondents told us that their Law Association offer some form of Professional Development program (either in person or online). And 82% of respondents tell us their Association charges for in-person events.
At 61%, member engagement is - by far - the biggest challenge facing Law Associations. And FOLA will be working with you over the next year to address this (and other) challenges. You'll find some help on this page as we continue to add content to it.