27 Tips for Building a Successful Membership Organisation

27 Tips for Membership Organisations using Digital Marketing

Membership organisations face unique challenges and hurdles in their quest for success and profitability. Many of the rules that apply to conventional businesses do not apply to membership organisations due to the unique structure of the business-customer relationship.

As such, many membership organisations fail to overcome hurdles such as fostering trust with potential new members or even retaining current members over time. This results in declining profitability, and can also affect your membership organisations reputation, hastening the defection of yet more members. In the end, failing to address these areas of concern could destroy the very foundation of your business.

There is good news here, though. A number of essential business practices can enable you to overcome those hurdles and successfully meet industry-specific challenges. Let’s take a closer look at some of the more important digital marketing practices and steps you should be following in order to meet organisational goals and build successful membership organisations.

  1. Email Lapsed Members and Invite Them Back: One of the most significant challenges for membership organisations is recapturing lapsed members. Getting them back into the fold can be challenging, but a brief email campaign targeted at members who have been inactive for a specific period of time can yield good results. Reach out – you might be surprised at just how many of those members respond positively to a “we miss you” email. You might even want to think about incentivising the email. Offer them something of value to renew their membership, including a discount on the membership itself.
  2. Turn Current Members into Brand Ambassadors: There is no more valuable asset in your marketing arsenal than your current members. Not only are they important for the revenue they contribute to your business, but for their ability to reach other people, particularly through social media. Give your current members a way to become brand ambassadors – branded profile picture frames and filters are a good example of this, but there are dozens of other options that can help your customer base show their loyalty and convert others.
  3. Reach Out to Potential Members: Email marketing remains one of the single most effective marketing tools, and your database of potential members is an incredibly valuable asset. Put them together and you have a sure-fire, one-two punch that can help swell your member’s ranks. In most instances, you will need to offer something of value to potential members to get them to convert, of course. Think free membership trials or discounts on the price of membership.
  4.  Explore PPC Ads: PPC, or pay-per-click, ads remain a powerful force in the world of digital marketing. They can and should be used to supplement organic traffic to your website. Of course, you need to strike the right balance with PPC ads – incite curiosity without blatantly selling memberships.
  5. Offer Valuable Rewards to Sign Up for Email: Want to build your database of potential membership names and contact information? Offer a reward to entice people to sign up. That reward could be just about anything – a one-time coupon, for instance, or access to a product that will only be available for a limited time. It just needs to have value to your audience.
  6. Find an Incentive That Matters: In the vein of the tip above, find an incentive that matters to your potential and current members to entice them to sign up, or make a purchase. Again, coupons are perennial good performers here, but you can do any number of other things. Free accessories, exclusive products, and “door-buster” deals are just some examples.
  7. Hold a Giveaway Contest on Social Media: Want to build interest in your membership organization? Hold a giveaway contest on social media. Use your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts to drive interest to the contest. What should you give away? The sky’s the limit. Offer something that won’t break the bank, though. Discounted products, free items, even free limited memberships, can all be good ideas.
  8. Create an Online Referral Contest: Again, your members are invaluable assets, and it’s not just their business and membership fees that matter. Their connections to other people also offer value. Create an online referral contest to help drive new member signups, while rewarding your current members.
  9. Use Facebook Events: Facebook offers a number of important tools that can drive interest in your offerings. One of those that you might not have thought much about is the platforms event feature. You can create events, write descriptions, and even invite people to attend. When your members click that they are interested or going, it shows to their friends and family members, expanding your reach exponentially.
  10. Conduct an SEO Audit of Your Website: While content marketing and social media marketing are both vital components of a successful digital campaign, you cannot neglect the foundation of your online presence – your website. If you’re not getting the traffic that you should be, conducting an SEO audit can show you where your site is falling short, and allow you to make improvements with better-targeted keywords, richer content, and more.
  11. Track Your Results with Analytics: All of your digital marketing efforts should be tracked. Google Analytics is one of the single most important things to master. This tool can give you immense insight into what campaigns are performing well, which ones are underperforming, which sites consistently deliver traffic to your landing pages, and what pages on your site perform best, in addition to a wealth of other information. It can be hard to master Google Analytics, but it is vital that you do so.
  12. Find Where Your Members Congregate Online: 90 per cent of businesses around the world are using social media to build their success. Yours should not be an exception. However, not all social networks are the same, and they will not all offer the ROI you need to see. Find where your audience spends the most time online and then focus your efforts there. Is it Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Instagram? LinkedIn?
  13. Offer Special Deals to Social Media Followers: Want to build your social network followers? Of course, you do. One of the best ways to do that is to offer special in-club or online deals to social media followers.
  14. Offer Website Exclusives: One of the goals of your digital marketing strategy should be to drive more traffic to your website. In order to do that, create website exclusives and then promote those through email and social media posts. Website exclusives can be powerful draws, encouraging current and potential members to visit your site where they can make a purchase, sign up for your newsletter, or purchase a membership.
  15. Build an Online Community around Your Brand: We touched on brand ambassadors in a previous tip, but we need to expand on that. One of your most important goals should be to build a thriving online community around your brand. To do that, you need to first define what your brand means to members, and then ensure that your online content and even the pictures used on your social media profiles reflect that meaning. In addition, you need to be committed to being part of the conversation. Reply to comments. Answer questions. Generally, be responsive to your audience and you’ll find your community almost builds itself.
  16. Make Use of Social Media Ads: PPC ads can be powerful traffic drivers in the SERPs, but they do you little good in the world of social media. This is where social media ads come in. Take Facebook’s suite of tools for instance. You can target any demographic you might want, in any area of Ireland, the UK, the EU, or even worldwide. Targeted advertising helps to ensure the best possible return on your investment, while also making sure that you’re sending the right message to each audience segment.
  17. Create and Maintain a Blog: Blogging has been around for a very long time, but it is no less effective for that. As a membership-based organization, your blog can be a good way to establish the voice of your brand, to communicate important information, and to make specific announcements. It can help establish thought leadership in your industry, introduce your members and potential members to new products or services being offered, highlight key partners and a great deal more.
  18. Poll Your Followers: Today’s consumers expect to have a real relationship with the brands they patronise. They also want to have a voice in what happens within your business. You can achieve both goals by conducting polls. Polls can be fun, but they can also help you gain access to critical information about your audience’s preferences, likes, dislikes, and even what your business is doing right and wrong. Consider delivering polls through Facebook, where you can automatically create and share them with your followers, but also through email.
  19. Create Infographics: Infographics can be incredibly popular, and they are frequently shared online. How might you turn this to your advantage? Highlight what sets your organisation apart in your industry. Or, create themed infographics that tie into in-club happenings throughout the year.
  20. Get Your Members Talking: If you’re looking for membership growth, the single most powerful tool is your current membership. Get them talking about your business on social networks and you’ll see a spike in new signups, as well as member renewals. Every single @ and tag will lead others back to your organisation’s page. How do you build that conversation? Get involved in a charitable event. Promote going green. Give back to the community in a specific way. Give your audience something to talk about and they will.
  21. Produce High-Quality Video Content: Want to build interest in your organisation and increase your member base? Video content can be the key. Video is the single most frequently consumed type of content online, and almost every demographic watches online video on a daily basis. You can create product showcases, informative videos about your service, walk-throughs of your location, and more.
  22. Survey Your Current and Past Members by Email: Again, today’s consumers want to feel connected to the company’s they support, and this can be used to both build your success and help you adjust to better meet member wants needs, and expectations. Surveys allow you to dig deeper into the conversation than polls, but you may find that you need to offer an incentive to get your members to commit to participating.
  23. Feature Products Online: Often, something as simple as highlighting the products or services your organisation offers can make the difference in someone signing up as a new member and clicking away. Show off what makes your organisation special.
  24. Allow Website Purchases: If you’re not yet allowing e-commerce transactions on your website, you’re doing your members and your organisation a disservice.
  25. Get into App-Based Ads: While social media can be a great option for advertising, don’t neglect the rise of mobile devices. We spend a great deal of time on our smartphones today, and in-app advertising can help you build your audience.
  26. Ask for Feedback: Want to really encourage ex-members to sign back up? Ask for their feedback about why they cancelled their membership, and then take steps to change those things. Email is the best way to do this, but you can use social media tools, like Facebook’s Messenger to do this, as well.
  27. Make It Simple and Obvious to Sign Up for Your Email Newsletter: Is your email database lagging behind? It might be that website visitors don’t know how to sign up. Make sure your signup call to action is prominently displayed and clearly defined.


Keep reading for an additional three bonus tips!

28. Personalize Digital Marketing Content: Go beyond the pale by offering personalized digital content – address your members by name. Tailor content to their specific interests and past buying behaviour

29. Test, Test, and Test Again: There is no silver bullet. Digital marketing is a powerful suite of tools, but you need to find what combination of tactics, websites, and content types works best with your audience. Test, test, and test again

30. Position Your Organisation as a Problem Solver: What pain points do your members face? What is it that they get from their relationship with your organisation? Position your organisation as a problem solver in all your digital marketing efforts, from email marketing and newsletters to social media posts.

Are you a business owner who is struggling with the challenges facing membership organisations? Whether it’s a question of building trust with your audience, retaining current members, recruiting new members, enticing current members to re-up, or something else, we can help. We invite you to call us today on 01 808 1301 to learn how we can help you build successful, profitable membership organisations.

Richard Coen

Richard Coen

With over 17 years experience in Digital Marketing, 25 years in sales and 22 years business development, Richard assists companies develop key growth strategies on a local or international basis. He can assist marketers achieve balance in their approach to key areas affected by the growth in digital marketing.