08 Nov Membership Research for Greater Growth
Without members, your organization would look fundamentally different altogether.
Yet, even when you understand how critical your current members are, sometimes it is easy to focus on the products and services your business provides above your member's interests.
Your team may be focused on improving your products to generate more memberships. And the dedication to improvement is admirable if you consider that a satisfying member experience can lead to an ace member loyalty program.
Nevertheless, if your member does not like the current experience you offer or thinks you don't care about them as an individual, they can quickly move on to your competitor. The same is true if they feel they share the same values as your association.
To truly align your values with your core customer, it's essential to focus on membership growth while learning how every touchpoint affects the overall perception of your brand.
Member Research is Intelligent
Member research is intelligent and can be hugely actionable. Member research can gather information to align your brand values with your member expectations.
When it all boils down, good member research encourages organizations to take the feedback given by their member - or potential member - and reinvest it back into the organization.
Businesses that rely on memberships have historically used market research to understand their member motivations and behaviours. For example, perhaps you are a not-for-profit that relies on members for annual funding. Picture your value proposition evolving due to industry pressures coming from new consumer behaviours. Perhaps you are interested in segmenting your member base to ensure the benefits offered are communicated to the right person.
In all aspects, there is a case for member research.
When Marketing General Inc. (MGI) surveyed associations for its Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report*, it was reported that regardless of the membership type, almost half of the associations described a decline in overall memberships in 2019 (47%).
Sadly, but not unexpectedly, many member-centric businesses took a hit to their membership over the pandemic.
Yet despite current events, one in four (45%) associations report that they successfully grew membership in 2020. Moreover, compared to associations reporting membership declines, associations that reported increases in membership over the past five years are more likely to have a specific process in place to support innovation (22% vs. 17%) or are working on developing a strategy for innovation and new ideas (28% vs. 25%).
To try and build on member growth, developing a strategy for innovation and new ideas can come from many avenues of business, including market research.
Personalize Your Member Recruitment Strategy
While it goes without saying, a key driver in any membership growth is an effective membership recruitment strategy.
There are many ways to intensify your member recruitment efforts. However, while most member-driven organizations have established processes for membership growth, these work plans habitually offer little to no benefit, that is, without understanding your member and their needs.
Additionally, even the best marketing strategies require consistent creative modifications to respond to the unanticipated changes in the marketplace – and membership experience (MX) programs are no different.
Communicating Membership Value
Are you effectively getting the word out to members about their benefits? Or does your membership value proposition need some tuning up?
Associations with a focus on membership growth are always trying to innovate membership benefits.
These brands understand the importance of using member feedback to learn about the interests and the behaviours directly from the source. As a result, these organizations build MX programs that are often well-targeted by different segments. These programs, in turn, offer their membership the type of products and services specific to them and their needs as a member.
When an organization is genuinely member-centric at its core, its values and business values align with its member base. Potential members can sense marketing fluff from a mile away, and it is not enough to assume who your core member is or what they like.
Society is changing, and so is your member profile. Communicating value to your member can no longer fit into bullet-point lists on on-site pamphlets – they must be expressed in a way that your members understand and the way your members can appreciate.
Members Come First
Organizations that rely on members for their association to succeed must genuinely believe that the member comes first.
Treat your members the way they want to be treated – like valued members. But more than that, they want to know that you value them as real human beings, not just another number.
Invest in your members by getting feedback directly from them. Understand their needs instantly from them. It's critical member-centric organizations implement feedback into their communication to show that you've listened and you've heard what they've told you. Members want to belong to your organization, and it is essential to let them feel the emotional engagement, which builds loyalty.
Being a member-first organization is not something you fulfill through marketing messaging. It is something you live, breathe, and do.
Market Research for Credit Unions
For more information on the work that Insightrix does in this area, please get in touch with us. We would love to discuss the extensive work in this area – with associations, not-for-profits, post-secondary, and financial institutions and banks.
While you're at it, check out our new whitepaper on how member-driven institutions like financial credit unions can use research to personalize their member experience program.
Get your free whitepaper here.