- The most successful membership organisations are those which have understood the unique needs and desires of their members.
- Building and nurturing a strong membership community requires crafting a user experience based on truly understanding the individuals in your community.
- Your members want to engage with and be engaged by, other members. When you enable that engagement to occur, they’ll stick around.
In What is “Community” and Why Does It Matter?, I explained that a community is much more than a simple group of people. Communities enable and encourage ongoing engagement and support between individuals. They are also intentionally designed and nurtured to increase communication, build trust, and create a sense of belonging.
We’ve already written about some of the top benefits of having a membership platform in a more broad sense, but here I want to hone in on what a strong community offers to membership organisations in particular.
It can be summed up in this one simple statement: genuine community connections are what will make members keep their memberships. When membership organisations are looking for ways to keep their members engaged, creating a member community can be a great strategy.
Membership communities are all about connection
In the case of membership organisations, you won’t necessarily have pre-existing connections to your members. Your members are neither your students/staff nor your employees and so you lack those automatic connection points to your organisation. Membership organisations instead draw people in with the promise that they will be able to connect with other members sharing a common (often professional) interest, thus increasing their opportunities to engage with others in their field.
Lest it seem as if the lack of existing connections to your organisation feels like an impasse, these common interest-based bonds between members can actually make it much easier to craft a user experience catered to your members. Association memberships are not trying to engage the general consumer, attract a potential employee or student, or engage an alumnus. They’re focused on creating a space that serves the needs and interests of the members.
Excellent user experiences are part and parcel of forming a community where people can genuinely connect with each other. And, to return to our central simple statement: genuine community connections make members keep their membership.
Membership retention is essential to revenue
Because membership associations are all about connecting people to each other based on their shared (often professional) interests, one of the best ways to maximise those connections (and thus make people want to keep their membership) is to create a community experience.
It goes without saying that paying members who renew their membership generate an increasing amount of steady revenue for the membership organisation. 70% of over 500 top business leaders who were surveyed by Global Banking and Finance indicated that subscription models hold the key to growth.
So the key question here is: how do you keep members engaged and thus wanting to renew their membership? Here’s how building and nurturing a strong community can help.
Here are 3 ways that a strong community attracts and engages members:
Members want to be enabled and encouraged to network with each other.
A study by Marketing General showed that 57% of individuals who join a membership organisation do so because they want to connect with their peers. When you provide genuine connection to their peers, it makes it hard for them to leave.
When individual members are satisfied with their community experience, members will tell others about it, thereby growing your membership.
69% of new members are recruited through word of mouth. Indeed, more than any other type of community out there, a membership organisation survives by giving their members continuous value.
Individuals value membership communities that offer them new, up-to-date, relevant industry knowledge.
The same study by Marketing General revealed that over 50% of individuals participate in membership organisations because they either want to increase their knowledge of the industry or access specialised information. A thriving membership community that amplifies the voices of sector experts and thought leaders can deliver timely and cutting edge intelligence beyond the traditional newsletters and magazine publications.
These are just a few of the ways in which building a strong community will engage your members. And remember: genuine community connections are what will make members keep their memberships.
Have you built a strong membership community?
Professional membership organisations around the world are recognising the value of developing and nurturing an engaged community that allows its members to truly engage with each other.
If you would like support in building your own community, in a way that will make your members want to remain actively involved with your organisation, our consultancy team is available to help with early-stage community strategy development or growth stage community scale-up projects. We’ll work with you to better understand your community and to build and sustain deeper interactions between all your members.