Membership survey reveals key priorities

Retaining members is the currently top priority of membership organisations, according to a recent survey by PFK Littlejohn.

Every year, PFK Littlejohn undertake a survey of the membership sector, which this year identified the five most popular areas of strategic focus:

  • Retaining current membership levels
  • Improving existing services to members
  • Recruiting new members
  • Reviewing the effectiveness of membership databases
  • Developing new income streams

Our next seminar, in central London on 5th June, will look at the first three priorities in more depth.

How to retain members

It’s logical; there is effort, time and cost invested in gaining a new member that you won’t want to waste. Follow through with the same level of attention by implementing a solid welcome, engagement and retention plan. A CRM system tailored to membership management can help streamline and even automate some of the processes involved. Then, ensure you know the specific interests of your members so you keep meeting their needs.

So, how do you do this effectively? It may not be rocket science, but use our checklist to see if you honestly do the following:

1. Truly recognise your members’ individuality

How up to date is your database segmentation? Do you always send content that you know will be of interest, whether by topic, level of membership or activity type?

2. Communicate on their terms, not yours

Do you know the optimum day to make contact and the preferred method of communication per member?

3. Prove the value of their membership

An Institute we work with gives each member a value statement annually, produced in our Membership Platform, which lists all the resources, events and benefits used over the year – the perfect, convincing accompaniment to a renewal form for a non-compulsory professional membership.

Start improving your existing member services

For non-compulsory memberships, your services are the key to satisfying your members’ needs. Which services are currently used the most, and by whom? Which are hardly used at all and perhaps should be reviewed? Which contribute to your overall mission and the needs of your members? Specifically, what improvements are worth making to each service?

1. Analyse which services are valued and why

You could conduct a survey, but with a robust CRM system, you may already have the answers! If you manage your services from your contacts database and have your system web-enabled (as you can with Microsoft Dynamics CRM), you will be able to report on engagement, attendance of events, uptake of benefits, purchases of publications, undertaking of continuing education, resources accessed, web pages viewed, participation in special interest groups or online forums, member feedback and much more.
This could be more accurate than a survey, as the data is based on actions rather than feelings at the time. Although, survey data can also be captured in CRM if you decide you do want to have that two-way dialogue with your members to gain more detail about what elements of each service are valued the most or disliked.
From this, you may start to see patterns in which types and methods of delivery of services are most popular – or unpopular – and can start to make improvements.
Looking at the uptake and success of each service comparatively can guide you in planning your future offerings because you’ll know what your members really value.

2. Learn from what you find

Your analysis should help to identify changes you can make to your existing services which will increase member satisfaction. Perhaps you can improve a service to the extent it warrants a raise in price, bringing you an increased revenue stream. Or perhaps the improvements will attract new members whose needs weren’t being met previously.
The balance of time and money investing in these services versus the benefits you’ll gain needs to be considered. Continuing engagement and attendance analysis in CRM, comparing before and after your changes, will help you to measure the results of your improvements, justify your decisions and indicate the way forward.

 3. Market the right services to the right people

Yes, back to segmentation! Improving the marketing of services and tailoring your messaging so members get information about the services that matter to them is crucial. If your members don’t know about a service, they won’t – can’t – use it. Equally, if they are inundated with updates about a range of services that aren’t applicable, they will tune out.
In CRM, you can create dynamic marketing lists based on criteria, which auto update when individual records are changed, without the need to move a contact to a new list. You can then market the right services to the right people, whether by region, qualification level, membership level, or however you define your member segments.

How to recruit new members

Finally in the top three – the goal of recruiting members. You no doubt have ongoing strategies and tactics for this; but how easy is it for you, and how much of it is more time-consuming than it needs to be? Can you do all of the following (without getting a headache)?!

1. Profile your “ideal” member (or members)

If you have your data in one place, you’ll be able to profile your members, identifying patterns which can help you to find similar people or organisations who also may wish to become members.

2. Communicate relevant benefits

Don’t put potential members off by sending the same generic email to your whole marketing list. Automate the segmentation of your database based on criteria to easily send targeted messages that will appeal.

3. See what’s working
Keep an eye on the engagement and conversions of each marketing campaign, with a view to tweaking future campaigns once you see what works. Test and refine your tactics.

Want to know more?

The survey can be found on th PFK Littlejohn website. They have also created a downloadable PDF PKF_Littlejohn_Membership_Organisation_Report_-_A_Positive_Outlook_summary.pdf.

Our seminar on 5th June will give detail about how you can achieve these aims using CRM.

If you would like to talk to us further about how technology can help you achieve these aims, contact us via our form, or on 0845 246 2400.

Michael McDaid
Laura Lopez

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