Digital member acquisition strategies for marketeers

6 min read

We know one of the main concerns keeping membership organisations up at night is the constant challenge to acquire and retain members. Especially in the current economic climate this can seem like a daunting task.

Added to that, findings from our recent membership whitepaper ‘How to Bridge the Value Gap Disengaging your Membership’, highlighted a growing value gap between members’ perception of the benefits they get from their membership organisation, and the benefits and opportunities actually provided to them.

With these challenges in mind, we wanted to share our insights from working with a variety of membership organisations to support you with tangible tactics to boost your member acquisition.

Tactics to boost member acquisition

Know your audience

It’s crucial to know exactly who your target audience is as you can understand what motivates them, where you can reach them and what messages would resonate with them. To pull this data together we would recommend creating a persona for your target member so you can be laser focussed in your targeting.

The data to create the persona can be internal insights you already have on your members, surveys to provide quantitative data on your target members, and a whole host of other sources in between. For more information on creating personas, visit this great article by HubSpot ‘How to Create a Buyer Persona.’

Use a multi-channel approach

When aiming to boost your member acquisition, it’s key to maximise all the channels at your disposal. It can be easy to focus your efforts on one area, but ensure you are utilising all aspects of online marketing from social media, to PPC advertising to email. And layer these with offline marketing channels such as print publications and advertising.

Don’t be afraid of trying different channels such as podcasts, which according to a recent Statista article have seen an increase in listenership in the UK year-on-year, reaching an estimated 15.6 million listeners in 2020. With all the tools now available, this can be a very effective channel to reach your target audience and boost your member acquisition. But of course, before starting any new channel, ensure you have a strategy for it with KPI’s so you can measure how it’s supporting your overall member acquisition strategy.

Ensure whichever channels you are using you can report on their effectiveness and ultimately ROI. This is where reporting tools such as Google Analytics, Hotjar and Google Data Studio come in handy to test what’s working and what’s not. You will then be able to see where you need to make changes and adapt where needed.

Content is king

When prospective members interact with you, whether it’s by visiting your website, reading an email you’ve sent or watching a video on your social media, they are looking for valuable content that solves an issue they have. Regardless of the medium your content is distributed on; ensure it is created with your target persona front and centre and provides them with real value.

From a website perspective, this will greatly support your Google EAT rating (stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust) which are the three factors Google uses to measure how much trust it should place on a brands website. As one of the main components of the EAT rating is Expertise, providing valuable, trusted and insightful content for topics your target market is actively seeking will greatly improve your SEO rankings for these topics, and therefore get you more exposure to your target members. For more info on E-A-T, visit this useful article from Moz.

Another valuable type of content to incorporate into your member acquisition strategy is user generated content (UGC) which is content created by your members. When prospective members see content that has been created by your own members showing their experiences first-hand, it provides unrivalled credibility to your organisation. This type of content is very impactful to be used on social media and even integrated into your website via member videos, testimonials or social media feeds.

Optimise your user experience

We all know your website is the shop window of your organisation. Once a potential member has landed on your site, what user experience do you want them to have? What information do you want them to find? What journey do you want them to have through your site? And what action do you want them to take? These are all important questions to ask yourself when creating your website, so you create something that supports your organisations goals and provides an outstanding user experience.

If you are thinking, I already have an existing website, so this doesn’t apply to me. Oh, but it does! You can still ask these questions of your existing website and make changes to improve your customer journey. This could be in the form of adding links to other related content on your pages, adjusting your menu structure so it’s simpler to navigate, and updating the look and feel of your website to better appeal to your target market.

We would recommend carrying out a website audit which can be very useful to highlight any areas that could be improved on your site. Take a look at our recent article on SEO tactics. very helpful to keep in mind during your audit.

Finally, if you are making changes to your existing website or starting from scratch, do your research first. Use all available data on how users are currently interacting with your website, carry out research and user testing to understand what type of functionality your target audience requires and test. That’s the beauty of digital. It allows you to test, learn and adapt. Which is vital in helping you stand apart from your competition.

Use website self–service content

When prospective members are nearing the buying phase, there may be various questions they still need answered to assure them they are making the right decision. Why not simplify this process and create this content as self-service on your website? This could be in the form of FAQ’s with questions you know prospective members will be asking. A live chat function on your website to answer member queries in real time and speed up the conversion process. Or harness the power of AI to display suggested content based on a user’s search history to provide a more personalised experience.

There are many ways you can integrate website self-service content into your website to support your member acquisitions strategy. We dive deeper into this subject in our article ‘How self-service can improve website experience.’

Use an integrated CRM

An integrated CRM is a powerful tool to support member acquisition as it enables you to nurture potential members from being interested in your organisation, to members when the time is right for them. There are many CRM systems out there, and the one you choose will largely depend on the type of organisation you are, what functionality you are looking for, your budget, and what you are looking to achieve from the system.

A partner of Granite 5, Silver Softworks recently shared a great article on ‘Acquiring and retaining members with Salesforce’s membership CRM’ that shares tips on how to maximise the Salesforce CRM. Take a look if you are currently using Salesforce or are considering it.

Another great CRM provider is HubSpot, who is also a partner of Granite 5. Their system provides some great tools that can support your lead acquisition strategy. Examples include their user-friendly workflow function which allows you to build intuitive nurture programmes, to the integrated SEO function that allows you to map out content based on your target keywords. Another great CRM to consider.

Regardless of the CRM you choose, ensure it’s an integrated part of your lead acquisition strategy and forms the foundation of your marketing infrastructure.

Simple & consistent joining process

The final tactic to boost your member acquisition is to keep your joining process simple and consistent. Start by reviewing your current process and mapping it out to see where improvements can be made. If this is done online, how easy is it for a potential member to join? If they have questions about how to join, do you have self-service content on the website that answers these questions? Or someone on hand to support them?

If your joining process is done offline, is there a way you can incorporate a digital alternative to make it more accessible and quicker for potential members? And give them alternate options for completing the joining process to suit their preferences.

You also need to consider whether your joining process is consistent across all devices. Recent data from stat counter revealed the device split in the UK is 45.73% mobile, 47.69% desktop and 6.58% tablet. Therefore, it’s essential you consider what your joining process is like across multiple devices. However, before making any changes, confirm your user device preferences, by checking your Google Analytics devices report to confirm if this split is similar or wildly different for your industry.

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