The membership economy applies to any organization that acquires and retains members, ranging from traditional associations to for-profit companies like Amazon and Netflix.
Though the membership economy contains many nuances and complexities, all membership organizations share several core qualities — a seven-step framework of standards.
The seven components set any membership organization — big or small, for profit or not — up for success. They are:
- An organization equipped for membership
At a minimum, your organization should meet certain standards before launching a membership program. Membership organizations are built around recurring payments and ongoing benefits. If your organization currently focuses on individual transactions, you’ll need to rethink your business model.
You’ll also need to develop new metrics for success. In the membership economy, acquisition is just as important as retention. A stellar onboarding process and dedicated customer success professionals can make these goals a reality.
- A funnel that brings new members into your organization
To create an effective funnel, you’ll need to identify what products and services your membership offers and how that fits into the overall market. Of course, not every member will fit the same mold. By fine-tuning your product/market fit, you can begin to acquire and retain members with distinct needs, goals and desires.
- Pricing with multiple tiers
When it comes to pricing, there’s no reason to limit your organization to a single tier. Multiple membership tiers can create a customer journey in which members unlock new value by investing more in the organization.
For example, you could offer students an affordable rate that increases as they enter the workforce. With time, these distinct segments can promote long-term retention.
- Freemium content as a powerful acquisition channel
Instead of telling people about the benefits membership offers, freemium content can show them your organization’s strengths in action.
Whether you offer a free membership tier or a slate of publicly available content, freemium products can engage a broad audience. Once you’ve captured people’s attention, you can begin to convert some of them into members.
- A seamless onboarding process
When new members join your organization, they want to gain access to the benefits right away. The onboarding process is your organization’s opportunity to make a lasting first impression.
Too many onboarding processes are sluggish, confusing or lackluster.Your onboarding process should move swiftly and get new members excited on day one. A friendly welcome email with quick links to essential resources is a must, but there’s no limit on creativity. A video tour of your website, a package of branded welcome goodies or an introduction to a current member in their area can all help new members feel the positive impact of their decision to join right away.
- A Proactive Customer Success Team
Practically every organization has a customer support team. But membership organizations need a customer success team. This initiative monitors members’ engagement, scouring the organization for missed opportunities, areas for improvement and gaps. By proactively fixing potential problems, you can increase the likelihood that members will stick around.
- Organization-Wide Technology Literacy
Today, technology touches every aspect of our lives. If your internal teams aren’t tech-literate, your organization could face unnecessary roadblocks on the path to success. Embracing technology can help your membership organization save money, streamline processes, and collaborate seamlessly between teams. If tech-literacy is lacking, it’s time to create robust training programs that can bring your organization up to speed.
Is your association doing enough to engage future members? Download our FREE “Facing the Future” worksheet for tips on finding innovative ways to engage with tomorrow’s members.