Membership marketing can help you get more members, boost member engagement to improve chances of renewal, and increase your reputation by positioning you as an industry leader.
The challenge is choosing the right membership marketing ideas to include in your marketing strategy.It’s so challenging, in fact, that according to the WildApricot 2020 Membership Growth Report, 68% of organizations struggle with membership growth.
To help you along, here’s a list of seven effective membership marketing ideas (examples included) you can use to enhance your association’s marketing efforts.
Establish online member communities, so members can connect remotely and learn from one another.
Create eLearning opportunities like online lectures and webinars.
Build a mentorship program so existing members can find valuable new relationships — and learning — among your membership.
Host in-person events like lunch and learns and welcome events.
2. Create a referral program
While engaged members may be more likely to refer your organization to others, you don’t have to leave it to chance. You can maximize how many referrals you get by creating a referral program.
According to the Wild Apricot Membership Report, 75% of organizations use this tactic and rate it higher than any other campaign.
The idea behind a referral program is simple: provide members with a genuine incentive to refer others, and they’ll be more likely to do so. For example, you could give them a discount on their annual renewal up to a specific limit, e.g., 5% for every member referred, up to five.
Hosting a free event gives prospective members who may be on the fence about signing up a sneak peek into your membership benefits without having to part with their money.
Just make sure you’ve fine-tuned your strategy for promoting your event, ensuring your attendance numbers are high.
A few ways to do this include optimizing your communication strategy (e.g., segmenting your email lists) and retargeting. Retargeting reminds those who’ve visited your site but left without registering for your event.
Partnering with other businesses improves your visibility, drives attendance, and boosts membership. These partnerships are a win-win; you get extra exposure through access to their audience, and the business increases sales through association with your mission and access to your members.
Traditionally these partnerships took the form of corporate sponsorships. For-profits paid to be associated with specific events and have their branding on marketing materials.
But today these relationships are more dynamic, with businesses wanting to be actively involved in offering their skills in volunteer positions.
To initiate an interaction with a business, send a letter, drop an email, give them a call, or — if they’re okay with it and you ask first — drop by their office and introduce yourself.
6. Use a targeted advertising campaign to drive awareness
Social media advertising, geofencing, and search engine advertising are a few other ways to create awareness for your membership program.
Driving awareness with these tactics never guarantees a conversion, especially as most people rarely part with their cash at the first touchpoint.
But it’s an essential step in moving prospective members through your sales funnel. You’ll have to supplement any campaign with engagement tactics like webinars and other marketing materials to drive them further down your funnel and closer to the purchasing phase.
Tiered membership levels are one membership model for collecting dues from members. They give members flexibility in how they engage with your organization while boosting your revenue by upselling existing members on more premium tiers that offer more benefits.
You can organize tiers by:
Career stage (e.g., student vs. career professionals)
Donation levels (e.g., major donors vs. infrequent ones)
Value (members pay based on the benefits they want)
When organizing by value, a common approach is to offer three membership packages next to each other. Each subsequent package offers incrementally more value at a higher price point.
For example, you could offer a:
Tier 1 (basic) package that gives members access to your membership directory and learning system
Tier 2 (popular) package that provides all the Tier 1 benefits plus registration discounts
Tier 3 (premium) package that offers all Tier 2 benefits plus networking opportunities and access to a magazine
The bottom line on membership marketing ideas
The right membership marketing ideas like referral programs, free events, and membership campaigns can help you get more members and boost member engagement.
Choosing the right marketing ideas can, of course, be tricky. But if you take the time to get to know your members and what appeals to them, you’ll be able to take a more strategic marketing approach and reach out to these individuals in a way that truly resonates, leading to more positive responses and membership sign-ups.