Signs your membership growth strategy needs a new management system

Signs your organization is outgrowing its current association software

Rethinking Your Membership Strategies

When it comes to setting goals for your association, how to grow membership is one of the critical considerations. Your association’s members are at the heart of your community — they’re the reason your organization exists. Having the right membership growth plan is critical to the success of your community development and mission. 

With a thriving membership community, you can offer more opportunities for professional networking, make a more considerable impact on your industry and reach a broader audience. Your members are the foundational piece of your association — ensure you have the best tools to keep your membership thriving and growing with association strategies to bring new people into your community.

Follow these steps to keep your membership strategy strong:

  • Create a plan. Develop a detailed approach for reaching out to potential members and encouraging them to join your association, following up with relapsed members and motivating current members to continue participating.
  • Maintain your strategy. Follow through on your plan, boost marketing efforts, offer incentives and sustain your marketing plan for membership growth.
  • Revisit your approach. Periodically review your strategy and assess its effectiveness for your association and members’ needs. Evaluate successes and areas for growth, and find ways to move forward.

Why Is Our Membership Flat?

When your association is experiencing flattening membership rates, the first step you can take is to analyze what is happening and why. Once you have a comprehensive picture of your situation, you can address potential challenges and develop the right solution.

A variety of factors may cause your organization’s membership to be flat. If you’re creating or updating your membership growth strategies, carefully analyzing your situation and identifying areas to strengthen your approach can be invaluable. Consider some common reasons membership becomes flat for associations.

Lack of Follow-Through

Often, organizations forget that membership is more than a singular transaction — it’s an ongoing process. Invest in members at all stages in the process, from onboarding to renewal and long-time membership. As you move forward, ensure that your members still feel appreciated and a valued part of your association. 

At each critical juncture in the membership journey, reach out and show your members your association is thinking of them. Pursue relapsed members and non-renewals — bringing back former members can be more cost-effective than acquiring new members in many circumstances.

Missing Relationship Building

At the crux of membership is a meaningful connection, which is why relationship building is so critical to your membership growth and retention strategy. Reach out to people personally, offer them relationships that matter and create a community they can engage with regularly. It’s essential to consistently reach out to your members and continue building a trusted community.

Offering the Wrong Incentives

Over time, what members want from an organization changes, and it’s important to keep delivering what they’re looking for. Professionals early in their career are often looking for different things than those later in their career, and that’s something to keep in mind as you move forward. Are you offering incentives such as networking for younger professionals? What about ethics standards that members in a later career stage might value more?

Build Association Membership Growth With the Right Software Solutions

When your association is growing, it can be an exciting time. But while you’re enjoying growth, your association management software (AMS) may not be keeping pace.

As your association grows in size and complexity, you need technology that grows with you. Otherwise, your growth may flatten out.

If you don’t put in place a solid system as your organization grows to the next level, it becomes more difficult to accommodate the evolving needs of members. And if you aren’t responsive to members during periods of growth, you stand to lose them when it’s time to renew their membership. With these challenges in mind, here are six signs that it’s time for a new membership management system.

Sign #1: Your members’ expectations are increasing.

As for-profit companies provide increasingly personalized experiences using technology like artificial intelligence (AI), you know your members expect the same in more areas of their lives – including their experience with your association. You need ways to meet, and ideally exceed, member expectations. Otherwise, there’s a good chance their membership will lapse as they take their business elsewhere. But your current membership management system doesn’t have the capabilities you need to deliver a great, personalized member experience.

TECH TIP: AI is attainable for every association through Salesforce platform-based Nimble AMS, which enables point-and-click AI using the Salesforce Einstein AI technology. Einstein can give guidance and make predictions on things like which members are likely to renew or not renew and then, most importantly, empower staff with tools to act upon what it finds.

Sign #2: Your membership processes have become more complex.

Over time, your membership management processes have matured. They’ve also become more time-consuming. Your team is spending time on manual processes that could be better spent developing member programs and benefits. You need a system that can automate manual processes so your team can focus on serving members.

TECH TIP: Through Nimble AMS, you can use Salesforce Process Builder to save valuable staff time by automating complex business processes. Without code, you can identify process criteria and automatically update or create new records, emails, and tasks or submit approval requests in a few simple steps.

Sign #3: The demand for member reports has grown.

As your association has grown, so have the executive staff and board member demands for information. You’re being asked for more detailed reports on things like member acquisition and retention. You’re finding it increasingly difficult and time-consuming to pull those reports. You need a system that allows you to set up dashboards and reports for quick and accurate access to key metrics and details.

TECH TIP: Nimble AMS allows you to see the future of your association more clearly, with easy-to-build detailed reports and personalized dashboards that help you visualize key business metrics and spot trends to identify opportunities and solve issues before they surface.

As your organization grows, it may be time to look at new technology to support your evolving needs. Uncover best practices for getting approval for new budget from your board.

Watch the webinar

Sign #4: You need a more complete view of your member data.

To provide a great member experience and to work efficiently and effectively, your association needs to connect your AMS system with other technologies, such as learning management, career center, and event management. But, integration efforts have been challenging.

TECH TIP: Nimble AMS is part of the Community Brands integrated software suite for associations. Nimble AMS integrates with Community Brands’ solutions for learning management, career center, events, and more. That means the products work better together to help you deliver a connected member experience. In addition, since Nimble AMS is built on the Salesforce platform, Nimble AMS customers can access the Salesforce AppExchange for thousands of apps that can be integrated quickly and without code. Learn more about Community Brands suite of solutions

Sign #5: Your association struggles with costly product upgrades.

In the past, upgrading your membership management software has been painful. Challenges have included:

  • Paying as much as tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for each upgrade.
  • Waiting years between upgrades due to availability and costs of upgrades, resulting in outdated software.
  • Dealing with broken integrations after upgrades, resulting in system downtime and requiring new, costly software customizations

TECH TIP: Nimble AMS offers continuous delivery, a painless way to implement new features and functionality at no additional expense to your organization. Nimble AMS is the only enterprise-level AMS to offer continuous delivery. Using this method, the Nimble AMS team provides a continuous stream of upgrades and innovation so that all our customers are always using the same version of the latest technology without hassles and extra costs.

Sign #6: Your revenue growth has started to flatten out.

Revenue growth has been strong, but it’s starting to slow. Raising the cost of dues is one option, but it may turn away prospective members and cause memberships to lapse. It’s time to diversify your association’s revenue sources beyond membership dues. You need a system that supports activities that boost non-dues revenue, such as:

  • Setting up an online store – for example, offering everything from branded merchandise and event registrations to donations and other non-dues items. At the same time, you can promote and manage membership dues within the convenience of the online store.
  • Beefing up your job board – so you can not only attract more members and improve member retention, but also increase non-dues revenue.
    • Offer employers more sophisticated options that maximize exposure of their job postings to improve their return on investment and, in turn, your revenue.
    • Increase engagement and job views by recommending opportunities to job seekers based on their prior searches.
    • Automatically send jobs to interested, relevant job seekers via email.
  • Delivering the offline learning experience online – by taking the great content you’ve already pulled together for in-person events and extending it online. This provides a convenient, affordable option that many of your members may be seeking. In turn, offering online learning experiences – whether they’re one-day seminars or multi-day conferences – will help your organization bring in revenue that you otherwise would not capture from members who are unable to attend your in-person events.

How to Create a Membership Growth Strategy

One of the key aspects of creating an effective membership growth strategy is to cultivate an exceptional member experience. From acquisition to retention, ensure you have a plan that addresses every stage of membership engagement. 

Know Your Mission

To get started with developing your strategy, work with your team to articulate your association’s vision and mission. Know your goals and where you want this campaign to take your organization. Having a picture of your fundamental values and what your association can accomplish will also help you share your mission more effectively with members.

Be Member-Centric

As you develop your strategy, focus on your members’ needs. Make plans to optimize their user experience on your website, social media and other key platforms. Viewing your organization from their perspective, find ways to market to their preferences and values.

Plan for Each Career Stage

Think through your members’ needs in each career stage, and create a plan to guide them through each step. Consider what content would draw in potential members, what onboarding steps would make joining most straightforward and what ongoing experiences would keep members interested and engaged. Develop solutions catering toward what would help your members most.

Take the next step

If one or more of these signs sounds familiar, it’s time to move to an AMS that’s built for associations at your stage of growth. Taking this step can help your team operate more efficiently while improving member engagement and enhancing member value.

Building the business case for a technology change starts early — well before you put a software contract in front of your board. Join Nimble AMS and Community Brands for strategies to get your board on board for approving budget for new association technology. Watch the webinar.

Strategies to convince your board its time for new budget for new association technology

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