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Going on Tour: Membership Out of the Office

ce4b01101a0811e3aac622000a9f04c6_7 Most associations spend time, as well as financial and human resources, to market their events to members. Understandably a great deal of emphasis is put on getting members to come to events. But when was the last time you went to them? This past fall the North Carolina Technology Association did just that with the launch of its Tech Tour. From the mountains to the coast, select NCTA staff visited with members in their offices around the state. The tour was conceived as a way to commemorate NCTA’s 20th anniversary. The tour’s primary goal was to promote the importance of the industry to the local community: “We hit the road to highlight both the statewide impact of the association and the vibrancy of the tech sector.” About 650 companies make up NCTA’s membership. Highlights from each of the five stops on the tour were shared via Instagram and Twitter as well as on the association’s blog. In addition to actual tours of member companies (both staff-only and staff and members), NCTA hosted networking events in each city. Perhaps, you’re not quite ready for a multi-city tour, but getting outside the office to visit with your members is well worth considering. This kind of outreach generally yields very helpful insights into how members perceive themselves and others. And if you’re using a fully mobile AMS solution such as Fonteva For Associations, you won’t need to wait until you return to the office to incorporate this valuable new information into your database. Fonteva For Associations is completely mobile for staff users and members. Users can log into the database from any Internet -enabled device, and constituents can access the portal and enjoy touch screen navigation from any mobile device. If there’s nothing holding you back on the technology side, what are you waiting for? It may be time to go on tour and get to know your members on their turf.  
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How Many Passionate Members Do You Have?

customer-satisfaction-feedback-formIf you haven’t given any serious thought to this question, you could be out of touch with your members’ needs. The importance of associations categorizing or segmenting their membership data cannot be overstated. All of your members are not created equal in terms of their levels of engagement and their expectations of your association. For example, the highly engaged or passionate member might be defined as someone who:
  • Attends your annual meeting
  • Downloads a minimum of five documents per year
  • Participates in online discussions every quarter
  • Is always current on membership dues
  • Serves (or has served) on a committee (in last 12 months)
Once you’ve identified these key traits, you can determine how best to categorize and track them. The number of segments and the criteria for inclusion in a specific segment of membership will vary from association to association. U.S. Masters Swimming, a national membership-operated nonprofit organization with close to 60,000 members, is a case in point. In 2006, USMS reported on its member segmentation analysis, which was used “to identify groups of USMS members with similar attitudes and behaviors.” After analyzing the survey responses of a little more than 5,300 members, five segments were identified:
  • Segment 1: Serious competitive swimmers
  • Segment 2: Serious swimmers who are not competitive/less competitive
  • Segment 3: Non-serious competitive swimmers
  • Segment 4: All event participants/open water swimmers
  • Segment 5: Triathletes
The report went on to highlight the different attitudes and behaviors associated with each segment. For instance, Segment 1 was most likely to read the USMS monthly magazine from cover to cover. Segment 3, on the other hand, was less likely to read the publication. Similar to USMS, organizations must first determine what segments they want to track and what the requirements are for being identified with each segment. Then, analytics need to be compiled to determine which members fall into the different segments or categories. Likely it will take some trial and error to determine categories and how best to sort the members, but this would be the best initial approach. Depending on your information systems, sorting members by category may be a real challenge or may be simply a matter of creating new reports. In either scenario, it’s worth the effort to gain these valuable insights into your membership’s needs and wants. Sue Froggatt, a membership development expert in the United Kingdom sums this up well in her article “Getting through to Your Members”: If you ask members when they join what it is they primarily want from you, and code your database accordingly, you can then target different types of members and offer them what they most want. This will increase member satisfaction, increase retention and save you money because you won’t be sending them information anymore that they are not really interested in receiving.
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Secrets to Boosting your Association Membership

Wordle-Strategic-Communication_12991574952693Associations in today’s economy need to continually seek new ways to increase membership. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Association Management System (AMS) platforms, analytics, and strategic communications can play an important role in helping associations keep existing members and realize significant boosts to their memberships.

CRM & AMS

Most every association is running some kind of technology, whether it’s a CRM platform like Salesforce or a special AMS. To operate with complete information and gain maximum effectiveness, associations should use one of these platforms as the single environment from which they run reports on their membership and transactional data, and then make strategic decisions.

Dashboards and Analytics Keeps Existing Members

All members are not the same and should be fed the information that is most important to them. Having a CRM or AMS platform in place enables associations to set up and view dashboards and analytics around member engagement and keep existing members happy. These dashboards and analytics give association staff better tools to listen to, understand, and engage with members and their activities. Staff can determine what segments are at risk due to inactivity and need some extra love and attention, especially for renewals. In addition, these tools allow associations to recognize members for special or significant contributions. Furthermore, this information allows associations to pinpoint which events and activities are most popular (and most profitable) among members. By addressing members as individuals and providing what they specifically need, you can ensure member satisfaction for good will, referrals and renewals. Common wisdom is that it costs more to acquire a new member than to keep an existing one. These tools facilitate keeping existing members, freeing resources to focus on new members.

Online & Offline Pipelines to New Members

The first key to gaining new members is having a large ongoing pipeline where prospective members can learn about your association and benefits. Pipelines include having both an online and offline presence. Online platforms include social media, blogs, newsletters and the like. Traditional offline opportunities include trade journals, industry events, educational talks and conventions, and other activities. Armed with CRM/AMS data to keep existing members and target new ones, associations are sure to boost membership in any economic climate.
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Should You Change Your Renewal Cycle To Boost Member Retention?

New research finds that types of cycles, including calendar and anniversary cycles, impact member retention, growth and renewal. A recent article by Associations Now discusses the 2013 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, which shows that anniversary dues cycles were more likely to have an “overall increase in membership.”
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Why Association Management Must Make Member Segmentation A Priority

Blast emails are a highly inefficient way for association management to market the organization. It’s just bad form, reflecting poorly on the organization and highlighting limitations of its technology. According to a recent post on The Membership Engagement Blog, the key to avoiding this blast email problem is to use segmentation.
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