Acquiring and retaining members with Salesforce’s membership CRM

6 min read

Our guest author is Zak Crammond, Nonprofit Practice Lead at Silver Softworks. Zak has extensive knowledge in supporting the nonprofit and membership sectors with CRM integration and maximising the value from their salesforce systems.

Membership CRM with Salesforce

In the current climate, membership retention and acquisition is typically dwindling as the year goes on. But what can you do, as a membership organisation to identify, nurture, maintain and grow your member base?

By utilising Salesforce, the globally leading CRM platform as the baseline of your membership processes you would gain insights into how your members engage with you, and couple this with their Pardot marketing platform, gain insight into those potential members that simply never convert.

Let’s start with some of the basics…

What is Salesforce?

Salesforce isn’t just a membership CRM application, it is an entire platform and ecosystem. It is utilised by over 150,000 organisations worldwide, from the smallest charities to the largest enterprise organisations.

It provides powerful, connected products which help drive your business forward by providing your business with the data-driven approach to customer engagement.

Why the Salesforce membership CRM is an excellent choice for membership organisations

One of the largest differentiators between Salesforce and other platforms is the Non-profit Success Pack (NPSP) – the tool of choice for all non-profit organisations looking to utilise Salesforce. The NPSP alters the base configuration of the platform to provide a more relevant data structure for, you guessed it, non-profits.

From fundraising, to grant management to membership processes, the NPSP is the perfect foundation for anything that any non-profit does and can be configured easily to meet any additional business processes.

If you are a registered non-profit with your local authority you will likely qualify for the Salesforce Power of Us programme wherein not only do you get access to Salesforce and NPSP but also 10 free licenses, forever.

How do I run my membership organisation on Salesforce?

First, let’s assess what a typical membership organisation looks like from a very high level:

  • Membership application process
  • Membership base capturing relevant information
  • Membership benefits (events, collateral, portal access etc)
  • Membership renewal

Those four bullet points largely cover a membership organisation – granted there are other elements that are more industry-specific, but these are the bulk of most requirements.

However, none of them covers the following important points:

  1. How do you get potential members into your application process?
  2. How do you keep your members engaged during their membership duration?
  3. What are you doing to ensure the benefits are sufficient to make renewal an easy decision to make?

These questions are really important for all membership organisations as without these answers, your member base simply won’t grow over time.

How can Salesforce help?

Ok, so you’re convinced Salesforce is the platform you need, how do you get from signing up for the free licenses, to having a fully-fledged membership management system?

Well, first you should probably engage a Salesforce partner (ahem!) who can walk you through the process and understand where you want to start and get building in incremental phases, after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

The partner will help to get Salesforce configured to house all of the great data you’ve been capturing about your existing members and all of your business processes that you need to centrally manage your members/events etc.

Then we are onto the fun stuff, identifying potential members and member retention processes.

Website integration?

Believe it or not, your website isn’t just a flashy business card, it can be used to help influence people to become members – utilise the power of integration to push data captured via online forms directly into Salesforce, and fire off internal tasks/notifications to your teams to engage with the new contacts.

By coupling your website with Salesforce, you can drive content to your site to spark engagement and acquisition of potential members. Including a tertiary overlay on this in the sense of Pardot which allows you to track website visitors and capture insights into how people are interacting with your website for you to be more informed in your marketing strategy.

With these areas of technology working for you, you’re able to see a deeper level of engagement and drive that engagement further with processes that can be triggered from the Salesforce platform to keep the momentum up.

So, what about those unanswered questions?

Salesforce Membership CRM

How do you get potential members into your application process?

Utilise your website to drive people to a call to action page where they can simply enquire about becoming a member, or a fully-fledged membership signup process with payment gateways ready to accept their payments. Feed that directly into Salesforce for internal processes to kick in.

How do you keep your members engaged?

This is a pretty widespread question as there are lots of ways to engage members on the platform, but a typical approach would be to utilise marketing processes to move members onto specific journeys that are tailored to reminding them of the benefits they have access to and how to use those benefits.

For larger membership organisations, we are seeing more and more need for an online collaboration platform for members to consume. Having the ability to grant your members access to a ‘members-only’ area of your Salesforce platform, a sanctum where you can encourage peer to peer conversations and groups which people can join to discuss their specific needs is proving invaluable in member engagement and in turn, retention.

This online community can also be utilised to drive some of the benefits a member is paying for, articles, direct access to your organisation, an open forum for discussions, member-only events and document/collateral access as well as bespoke benefits from your organisation.

By surfacing this all within the Salesforce platform, you are able to further enhance your insight into membership engagement and apply scoring to this engagement for further segmentation and marketing purposes. You will be able to identify those members who are logging in the most, engaging with other peers, answering questions, providing valuable feedback etc. The ability to then send these individuals down a specific automated journey to thank them, or to increase their membership level and provide them with even more benefits only increases your exposure and this potential revenue.

What are we doing to ensure members renew?

Well, simply put, if you’re providing your members with a return on their investment, they are more likely to renew when the time comes.

The crux to this question is being able to identify those members who are not actively engaging or partaking in their member benefits.  Use this data to drive your efforts in engaging them, getting them involved so that when renewal time comes around, they can make an easy decision that the proposition you offer, is worth the financial outlay.

This can all be tracked and reported on easily within the Salesforce platform and processes can be put in place to automate that engagement plan so that the platform is working for you, to actively pivot those members who are less likely to renew.

It might also be a great opportunity to engage even more with your most active members, identify them via the same process and thank them in ways specific to your organisation – a gift, an invite to a VIP event etc, these gestures go a long way and will be remembered.

How are we seeing this in the real world? Do you have any examples

2020 has been an interesting year for all sectors, verticals, organisations and individuals. We are seeing our own clients who have identified ways to engage members in a more meaningful way actually retain a large portion of their membership base throughout these, the hardest times where everyone is worried about the economic future.

A lot of membership organisations, similar to fundraising organisations, have seen a dip this year in income generation. However, those that were more prepared and had already established methods of engagement and benefits realisation have fared better in their retention rates. However prepared (or unprepared) you were, it’s now time to review your processes, your platforms and identify if there are things that could be done better, or slight alterations to improve the efficiency of your internal staff or for your members themselves.

If you are interested in learning more about Salesforce, please contact [email protected] and let me know that you read my article.

Alternatively, drop [email protected] a note.

About Silver Softworks

Recognised by Salesforce as an expert Nonprofit consulting partner, Silver Softworks have a wealth of expertise within the nonprofit sector. Salesforce and Silver Softworks provide free licences to Nonprofit organisations. There are also significant discounts on a number of services and platforms to ensure N4Ps are getting the resources they need at a price they can afford.

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