in Business

How to optimise online new member acquisition

Memberships Direct Debit

In the first of a short series of GoCardless sponsored blog articles (by MemberWise Network Founder, Richard Gott) we investigate why your website is key to improving new member acquisition and retention.

In an increasingly virtual world many prospective new members will find out about your organisation either by searching for and/or visiting your organisation’s website direct. It will almost certainly be their gateway into membership. Let’s consider what might be on their minds when they visit your website:

  • This membership organisation may be of interest to me
  • I want to find out more now
  • I expect to see a clear online and offline member value proposition (MVP)
  • If I see value I want to join online now and I want immediate access to content
  • If I don’t see value I will either seek an alternative or I won't bother

For many organisations, this critical online membership journey needs optimising and, for many, has not been sufficiently considered/mapped.

Call to action 1 - Has the online joining journey been truly optimised?

In the first instance it might be helpful to consider your website as a shop. The shop needs to have a window and prospective shoppers (prospective members) need to be tempted inside via rich content, effective hooks, incentives and clear, intuitive navigation.

The shop door (online joining/payment processing) needs to be open and once inside (following successful online joining) the shelves need to be well-stocked (i.e. content should be interesting and immediately accessible).

From member outputs (benefits) to positive outcomes

Many organisations use practical case studies to enable prospective members to establish the value of membership. These case studies ordinarily mirror key member personas and are much more powerful than listing member benefits alone (member outputs). The key is to clearly communicate one or more positive member outcomes. This membership marketing approach is much stronger.

Case study: The Caravan and Motorhome Club

In 2017 the Caravan Club rebranded to The Caravan and Motorhome Club and underwent a radical change, shifting from member outputs (benefits) to outcomes. As an organisation it went from ‘we are a club for people who own caravans’ to ‘we are a club that enables our members to go on adventures’. This powerful approach will impact positively on new member acquisition.

Consider the online joining process and opt-out payment options

The online joining process should be simple and straightforward. It requires clear instructions and a growing number of membership organisations are using illustrations/videos/images to prospective members to join.

Two thirds of membership organisations have their websites connected directly to their CRM (membership database) and this can help massively with the online joining process/administration. It can also be the reason why online joining journeys for some organisations can be clunky and unintuitive. In real terms this will impact on the number of abandonments and you need to actively work to reduce these.

A number of membership organisations are now providing live web-chat functionality that can be accessed by the joiner at any stage of the online joining process. Some organisations are now actively tracking online joiner behaviour. For example, if the user starts to move their mouse to the top-left of the screen relatively quickly this may indicate a potential exit (I.e. pre-empting the browser screen being closed) and so ‘Can we help?’ is displayed. Similar content may also be displayed if there is a level of inactivity on an online joining page/form.

Critical to the online joining process is online payment functionality and it is now industry-standard for the joiner to have the option to pay either via debit/credit card, Direct Debit or offline via invoice.

Call to action 2 - Consider online subscription and opt-out payment options

Opt-out membership subscription payment options will massively help existing member acquisition, so this option should be provided as ‘the way to pay’. Many organisations also provide the opportunity for members to pay in recurring monthly/quarterly payments.

I hope you found this article interesting - and I look forward to sharing my second blog article on futureproofing your membership organisation. Watch this space…

GoCardless is bringing Direct Debit into the digital age, offering our professional membership organisations a streamlined and fully-automated payments service. With GoCardless you can set up new members online within minutes - leaving them to fully enjoy the benefits of your organisation hassle-free.

Optimise your new member acquisition
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