Associations like yours can’t just rely on outdated association management software for membership management anymore. Your needs are far too complex — you have events to plan, renewal letters to automate, and membership fees to collect, not to mention a vibrant member community to maintain.
What if you could do it all within one solution?
The right membership CRM will provide your association with myriad opportunities to engage your members — improving the member experience and increasing recruitment and retention — without leaving the platform.
To get you started, we’ve put together a list of seven strategies to engage your members through your membership software solution:
- Invest in a true-cloud membership CRM.
- Segment members into communities and chapters.
- Automate membership renewal and fee processing.
- Set up membership levels.
- Host members-only events.
- Send feedback surveys to members.
With these techniques on your side, you’re sure to bring your members closer together than ever. Let’s jump into them!
1. Invest in a true-cloud membership CRM.
When choosing membership software, you have two main options for hosting.
As we cover in our essential guide to membership software, those two options are local servers and cloud servers. Your choice will depend largely on your need for a scalable solution:
- Locally hosted solutions rely on your own servers, whether they are in your office or at a hosting center. Going with legacy AMS limits the amount of data you can store because you can only use the space you have on your own servers, unless you add more hardware.
- True-cloud solutions store membership data in the cloud. Because cloud servers are decentralized, there’s no practical limit to the amount of storage cloud-based databases offer.
Though your administrative staff will definitely consider the storage space issue when selecting a membership management database, your members might not have that issue in the front of their minds. Instead, they’re much more likely to notice when problems don’t get fixed right away.
If you invest in a cloud-based membership management system, updates are resolved as soon as they’re pushed out. You don’t have to buy any new hardware or manage your own software installation process. The system takes care of itself and presents you with the most accurate, up-to-date information whenever you need it, allowing you to improve the member experience. Updates in Fonteva, a true-cloud solution, are easy to view and install:
Choosing a membership CRM that like Fonteva is based in the world’s largest cloud-based CRM platform, Salesforce, offers another benefit to enterprise-level associations: flexibility.
Salesforce services more than 23,000 companies, organizations, and associations, all of whom have access to AppExchange. When you invest in a Salesforce-native membership database software solution, you can find solutions to any specialized needs not covered by the program’s own features in point solutions on AppExchange. Your members will appreciate staying on the same platform they’re familiar with even as you add new modules to accommodate your association’s growth.
2. Segment members into communities and chapters.
One of the most efficient ways to get your members invested in your association is to foster a strong member community that sustains itself independently of your staff’s efforts. Give your members the agency to make their experience their own, and they will invest in the areas and projects that they love the most.
A great membership CRM will afford your members the capability to manage their own experience through features such as communities and chapters. These online communities foster camaraderie among members through features like:
- Intuitive, easy-to-use interfaces that encourage social interaction
- Custom permissions based on member profile
- Communication features between members and administrators
- Options to update membership profiles, renew membership, and pay fees
- Member-created subgroups and subcommittees
Even if your members are spread out across the country or the world, you can encourage them to see themselves as active participants in your association via the virtual social spaces of communities and chapters. These types of online communities are especially useful for associations whose members need to coordinate plans with one another, such as volunteer-based associations, Greek alumni, or student organizations — just check out this alumni chapter in Fonteva:
By incorporating these intuitive virtual chapters and communities, your association can encourage its members to interact with the membership CRM, each other, and your association.
Look for a software solution that is already geared towards your particular type of association or membership group. This way, the segmentation process can be that much more specific. For example, a Greek organization choosing a database software solution targeted specifically for Greek organizations will find it easier to segment their communications by categories such as members who are active, associate, inactive, or alumni.
3. Automate membership renewal and fee processing.
It’s impossible to engage members who forget to pay their membership fees and fall off the map. Everyone forgets a deadline now and again, even invested members who want to stay in the program. Make sure you invest in a membership CRM that can keep you updated on your membership renewals, like Fonteva:
To ensure that the members that want to stick around have every chance to do so, you should automate your renewal process as much as possible. You should also take the opportunity of automatic renewal reminders to ask your members to upgrade their membership!
Program your membership software to send automatic messages to your members when:
- Their membership is coming up for renewal, giving them plenty of time for them to submit their member dues.
- Their membership has been renewed, thanking them for renewing or upgrading their membership.
- Their membership has expired, letting them know you would love to have them back someday.
The top membership and association management software solutions will offer renewal automation as part of the package. Some will offer more customized solutions than others, so to ensure you’re implementing the right solution for your association, check out Double the Donation’s ranking of the top membership software.
4. Set up membership levels.
Enterprise-level associations offer multiple membership levels to accommodate as many members as possible. Higher membership fees earn your higher-level members more benefits, special access, and a greater stake in your mission.
Why shouldn’t your membership CRM reflect those membership levels? A membership management system that can automatically recognize membership level will actually increase member engagement through:
- Badges and certificates on member profiles.
- Priority registration for events.
- Authorization to join communities and committees.
- Automatic benefits applied to online purchases.
Software that automatically recognizes and applies the benefits associated with higher membership levels makes upgrading to those levels more appealing to your members. Plus, with Fonteva, their membership profile will display their membership level to anyone who sees it:
Think about it from your members’ point of view: if they can automatically register a day earlier, earn a special badge, or get a higher percentage off their online purchases just by upgrading their membership, without any other hassle, why wouldn’t they? These kinds of customizable features should definitely be taken into consideration when you start comparing different membership software solutions.
5. Host members-only events.
Nothing makes your members feel special quite like an exclusive invitation to a members-only event. The more spectacular the event, the more your members will want to participate.
Of course, more intricate events are harder to plan. As much as you want to host amazing events to strengthen your member community, is it worth the effort?
With the right membership CRM, the answer is yes, absolutely! Just look at how much control you have over your events when you use Fonteva’s membership CRM event planning features:
Just think about the benefits of managing events within the same platform as your membership CRM:
- Data: Eliminate the need to manually transfer data between systems by centralizing event participation data in the same place you house your member profiles.
- Local events: You’ve already organized local committees and chapters, so why not invest in software that empowers them to organize their own events?
- Registration: Automatically apply member permissions to the registration process, including member discounts and early registration.
- Upsell: Do nonmembers want to attend your event? Upsell memberships at registration and automatically apply any member benefits to the same purchase.
- Payment: Save time and startup fees by using the payment gateways you’ve already set up for membership fees for event ticket purchase.
Membership management software built in a flexible platform such as Salesforce can integrate seamlessly with the top event management features offered by the platform. That integration will save you and your members time and energy in planning a spectacular event.
6. Send feedback surveys to members.
Membership engagement is a two-way street. Your association could spend hours planning blowout fundraising events and organizing online communities, but that would be time wasted if you’re not giving your members what they want.
To ensure that your members are getting what they need and want from your association, incorporate feedback surveys and polls into your operations. Use your membership CRM’s communications features, like Fonteva’s Chatter, to establish a direct line between you and your members that you can use to ask for feedback when needed:
Consider soliciting feedback:
- Immediately after events.
- Surrounding a membership drive.
- Along with membership renewal notifications.
- At the end of the calendar year.
- During a fundraising campaign.
In your feedback surveys and polls, be sure to ask what your members enjoy about your membership program as well as what they would like to see change in the future. You can use their positive feedback in future marketing materials — just be sure to ask their permission to publish their comments!
Constructive feedback benefits your association on several levels. On one hand, your membership program gets better every time you incorporate feedback from members who care about its future. On the other, your members feel validated when they see that their feedback has been taken into account.
Now that you’ve got your members engaged through your membership CRM, learn more about what your membership software can do for your association by clicking on the links below:
- Membership Software: The Essential Guide. It’s time to become your association’s resident expert on membership software. Check out our ultimate guide to learn about the features, benefits, and concerns to be on the lookout for.
- Essential Features of your Membership Management System. Gearing up to make a membership software purchase? Make sure you make an informed decision with our list of the essential features you need from your membership management system.
- Best Membership and Association Management Software. If you know what you want in your membership database software, you need to see what’s out there. Read Double the Donation’s reviews of the best membership and association management software to get your bearings.