Original Author: JP Moery
In Part I of Thinking Differently About Membership Renewals, we discussed evaluating your renewal process and keeping the renewal messaging brief. This blog will look deeper into considering your renewal process from a modernization standpoint.
For some associations, modernization, or lack thereof, maybe the root cause of membership stagnation or decline. A 2021 Membership Benchmarking Report asked associations why members don’t renew, with 50% stating a lack of engagement and 39% saying a lack of perceived value. Could membership drop-off be caused partly by an outdated website or a “one set dues price for all”? For example, does your contact page have a chat function?
Many associations want to stick to what they know regarding membership renewals and attempt to increase renewal numbers by using the same activities they used pre-pandemic. Remember that the expectations for the new-member experience may be different now than when they were long-serving members. Simply reiterating the association’s offering with words like “Networking! Education! Fun group activities!” ignores the new reality of real digital connection.
Membership Renewal Trend: Modernization
What is membership modernization? Modernization includes, but is not limited to:
- Virtual meetings
- Mobile responsive websites
- Apps drive engagement
- Videos are king
1. Virtual Meetings
The virtual meeting format has become the norm. You probably use Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams to connect with your association employees. But do you use virtual meetings to connect with members? You probably should.
Phone calls to members are more straightforward but consider requesting and sending out face-to-face virtual meeting invites to key members you want to retain, as well as others you think may not renew. It’s much harder for someone not to renew if they feel they have been listened to and spoken to face-to-face. If you practice this modern tactic, send a follow-up thank you within 24 hours.
2. Mobile Responsive Websites
Here’s a statistic from October 2022: 63% of website visits in the United States come from mobile devices. Of the more than 22,000 associations across the U.S., how many have websites that are mobile responsive and easy to navigate…and renew a membership? Hard to say.
Google’s search algorithm highly values mobile responsive, easy-to-navigate websites. Test what Google says about how mobile-friendly your website is here. Your website will get a failing grade if your association’s website isn’t responsive or mobile-friendly. Fortunately, if your association website fails, Google will give you a few reasons why which could include: using too small a font size, buttons too close together, and content being wider than the screen.
Make this a number one “to-do” modernization priority for next year if your association website falls short. Remember, your website is the “front door and lobby” of your association. Members who want to renew should be able to—easily.
3. Apps Drive Engagement
If your association’s mobile-responsive website passes the test from the previous section, then does it get over the next modernization hurdle—having an app? Imagine having your association’s logo as an app on members’ mobile phones. People spend as much as 90% of their time using apps on their phones. Talk about ENGAGEMENT!
While necessary, mobile-responsive sites can see visitors (what Google calls “sessions”) be brief and have a limited engagement. If a member downloads your association app, you can send and receive push notifications with time-sensitive information, such as access to renewal notifications, lobbying efforts, and payment reminders. Push notifications are great for notifying members of upcoming events.
App design isn’t cheap and costs for a mobile app vary from $3,000 to $30,000. But the engagement payoff could quickly make it worth it.
4. Videos Are King
An adage goes, “If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million.”
You may be using videos (or are considering using videos) to tell your association’s story and nothing speaks more to impactful, engaging modernization if you do. From YouTube channels to TikTok, videos have become easy to shoot, edit and post.
When you start making videos, many associations will start with simple information announcements. But as you get more comfortable, consider everyday scenarios your members experience and how your association can help. If you can infuse some comedy and make a viewer smile or laugh, that’s worth another million words.
The takeaway for successful video engagement is the story shouldn’t be about the association but instead about what the association does for others. Invite members to submit a short testimonial video about how your association helped them through education or networking opportunities that made a meaningful connection among members.
Telling your association’s story doesn’t have to be a complicated or expensive video. If you are new to video content, shoot to post one a month. If it goes well, twice a month. Just remember that the story is to tell the association’s story through people and their passion for their profession.
These are just a few tips of the modernization iceberg. We invite you to share your modernization stories with us; what you’ve learned has worked, and not worked as well. If you would like more insight in how to construct a solid association membership renewal process, we invite you to partner with us and see what positive change can happen. We’re here to help.