2 Concepts All Membership Managers Should Know: Engagement Channels, and Application/Renewal Funnels.

Membership Management is a profession as complex as any other. Unlike professions like Sales and Marketing, it’s a lot more difficult to learn!

Textbooks aren’t written about membership management. Classes are not offered in school. Membership Managers generally have to learn on the job, making communication between them difficult.

Other professions have an accepted jargon, and a library of concepts, that make learning and communication easy. The same can’t always be said for Membership Managers. We inherit words and concepts from those who trained us, or we make them ourselves on-the-job when we need them.

This makes it difficult for us to share our knowledge, and build on it together.

To change this, it’s important that Membership Managers agree on the words we use to describe the concepts that are central to our success. By doing so, we’re better able to share our knowledge and experience – contributing to the development of our own careers, and our entire profession!

Lets get things started with these ones:

1) Engagement Channels

If you’re a regular reader of the Member365 blog, you might recognize this term from an article we published awhile ago on multi-channel member acquisition strategies. This article used the idea of an engagement channel specifically with respect to member acquisition.

Generally speaking, your Engagement Channels are all the ways that members or non-members can engage with your organization. Typically, these engagements have an associated metric that can be used to measure them.

Knowing what your engagement channels are, and having a way to measure engagement for each of them, is a powerful way to develop your understanding of what your members and non-members are interested in, helping you give them more of what they want – and less of what they don’t!

Here are some examples of engagement channels, with associated metrics.

Member Portal: Your member portal counts as an engagement channel because every time a member (or non member) accesses your portal, they are engaging with your organization.

Member Portals offer a plethora of possible metrics to measure engagement. Logins, clicks, sessions, and more, can all be measured and analyzed to help you understand how audiences are engaging with your organization.

Events: Events are often a central engagement channel for member-based organizations, but it’s important to be mindful of the way we measure engagement for them. This channel is a big one, and should have an entire profile of metrics. Ticket purchases are an easy way to understand if members engaged with your organization, but what about how they engaged? Finding clever ways to understand which activities they engaged with, and what brought them to purchase membership, giving you a clearer picture of event engagement.

Emails: Something as small as someone opening an email from your organization counts as engagement. Opens and clicks are easy to measure, and can be used to understand how your messaging impacts member engagement!

What are your engagement channels?

Every member-based organization is going to have it’s own, unique, profile of engagement channels – and each ought to have it’s own profile of metrics that can be used to measure and refine their performance.

Do you know all your engagement channels, and the metrics that can be used to measure their performance? If not consider taking 10 minutes to brainstorm a few, writing down ways you can measure engagement across them. Even if you aren’t comprehensive, this work can have a major impact on improving your understanding of measure engagement.

2. The Acquisition Funnel

Your acquisition funnel is a way of breaking down the journey that new members take to become members. Borrowed from Sales and Marketing, this way of understanding member behavior helps you understand where you gaining/losing applicants, so you can focus your energy where it matters! Consider this commonly accepted way to break down your funnel for member acquisition.

Awareness: The awareness stage of the acquisition funnel includes all the potential members who have been made aware of the value of membership in your organization. Those who visit your website, see your ads, read your content, hear about you through word-of-mouth, etc, are all included here. Your goal is to engage them, and drive them down to the next phase of the funnel:

Consideration: As they would with any purchase, potential members will consider membership in your organization against possible alternatives. They want to know if your membership is worth it, so this is where they do a little research. How do you imagine they do so? Do you offer any resources that can help them learn more about you? Offering these resources is often all it takes to drive prospective applicants to the next phase of your funnel:

Engagement: Typically, prospective members enter the ‘engagement’ phase when they fill out an application for membership. Doing so means that they are done with consideration, and are ready to make a decision. However it’s important to recognize that though they are ready to make the decision to become a member, they haven’t yet!

Every second between submitting an application and having it successfully approved offers an opportunity to continue consideration. At any moment between application and approval, a prospect might decide not to become a member after all. That’s why it’s important at this stage to focus on driving your applicants to the next stage:

Approval: Membership approval is the final stage in the acquisition funnel, and is the one that membership managers have the most power over, because they get to decide how long it takes to process an application. The longer the process, the more likely it is that you’ll lose prospects from the engagement phase, making short approval periods very valuable!

3. The Renewal Funnel

You can use the concept of a funnel for more than just applications. For example, it’s just as useful to break down the journey that a soon-to-lapse member takes to successfully renew. Consider:

Awareness: What triggers a members awareness that they’ve got to renew, and how do you measure how many members are in this stage of your renewal funnel? It’s often as simple as measuring renewal reminder opens.

Consideration: Members consider the cost of renewing, as they would the cost of any other purchase. Are you doing anything to remind them of the value of their membership? Offering a few quick bullet points regarding the benefits of membership in a renewal reminder is a small way to have a big impact on a members thinking during this important period.

Engagement: If a member clicks a link in your renewal reminder to renew their membership, you can safely consider them as having made their way to the ‘Engagement’ phase of your renewal funnel. Now all that’s required is for them to fill out any applicable renewal forms, process payment, and wait for approval (if required).

Approval: The final stage of the renewal funnel, this is where it’s useful to think of everything that a member wanting to renew must do to successfully remain a member. How many forms do they have to fill out? How long/complex is the payment process? The faster and easier you can make this process, the fewer members you can expect to leave your funnel!

More to Come!

This is only 3 of a wide range of concepts and ideas you can use to better understand your members, and drive the success of your organization. Stay tuned to the Member365 blog to learn more!