We know that one of the main reasons businesses join associations and chambers of commerce is to help them grow their business. In fact, it's probably the only REAL reason that they join.
Think about the ways your association helps members grow their business and provides them with value. Despite everything you know about why most members join, the truth is that each member has their own reasons for joining and a certain set of expectations for what value they'll receive from your association. Here are 4 ways we've seen associations prevent their members from finding value in their organization.
1. Not Determining What’s Important to the Individual Members
Many times, associations will "tell" prospective members about the benefits of joining, instead of listening to what's important to them. Your association's staff may talk about educational opportunities, events, discounts, committees, referrals & leads, government advocacy or industry involvement without first asking questions. Ask your prospects what their business goals are and how your association can help them.
Record their reasons for joining in your association management software so you can make sure your staff delivers the benefits that are important to that member. And, having this information in your membership database will help you refer to it during retention calls or to deliver personalized communications. (See #4)
2. Unknowingly Hampering Member Business Exposure
Potential customers of your members will frequently use your website to find a member they may want to do business with. If you do not have a public facing member directory, or if it is difficult to find or use, you are preventing your members from gaining exposure to customers. Make sure your directory pages are search engine friendly so all of your page can be indexed by search engines as well. For example:
- domain.com/attorneys is short, "human-readable," contains a valuable keyword and can easily be indexed by search engines
- domain.vendorname.com/directory/jsp/busdir/SearchResults.jsp;jsessionid=48A06DF3B8E059F9AB275AA96D0E825B is cumbersome, contains no keywords and can be difficult for search engines to index.
Make sure you are frequently updating your website with content that is relevant to your members. This will help improve your site's ranking for keywords related your industry or area and continue to drive more traffic to your site - and additional exposure for your members.
And, if your website isn't optimized for viewing on mobile devices you're turning away members, prospective members and potential customers for your members. Mobile internet use will pass desktop internet use by 2015, if not sooner. This is one reason why all WebLink websites are produced using responsive design so visitors to our customers' websites can easily access information from any device.
3. Lack of Tracking and Sharing Membership Value with Members
It's not enough to know why a member joined. You need to demonstrate the value they are receiving throughout the year. Use your association management software to track the benefits received by your members - assigning a dollar value where you can - and report on those benefits to each member.
Track the exposure and clicks your members receive on your website so you can show your members the value they are receiving. If you refer members over the phone, you should track that in your association management software as well. Track everything. Assign Value. Report it to your members well before they receive a renewal notice each year.
4. One Size Fits All Communications
Associations send lots of email, and rightfully so. Email is the communication preference of many of your members. However, many associations send the same email to all of their members regardless of the specific items that are important to that member.
Segment your communications to members based on business type, number of employees, reasons for joining, past event activities and more to make your communications more relevant and valuable to your members. Yes, this takes more work to create different versions of communications. However, your goal is to provide value to your members so they will renew each year and help you recruit new members.
Utilizing an innovative, intuitive and integrated association management software (AMS) is key to helping your organization avoid these mistakes and provide real value to your members. Your AMS should help you:
- Understand the make-up of your membership base and how it changes over time.
- Identify retention rates by segment and which members have the best and worst retention.
- Monitor engagement levels of specific segments and act proactively.
- Target opportunities to specific members based on their preferences and needs.
Having access to this member intelligence helps your association staff understand your members and deliver more value to them. If you'd like to learn more about WebLink's association management software, contact us today.