While you might already encourage membership renewals with email marketing and tracking member experience trends, utilizing digital credentials for professional associations can jumpstart this progress in a previously inconceivable manner. The ability to provide trackable success markers throughout their member journey with digital badges and certificates will re-enforce loyalty and enthusiasm for the community that you have built.  

Why do associations need to encourage membership renewals?

The latest 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report says, ‘Last year’s Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report shared drastic declines caused by the pandemic and the resulting recession. Only 26% of associations had reported that their membership had increased in 2020. This year, we see a substantial turnaround, with 38% of respondents indicating an increase in total membership counts during 2021.’ This slow increase is charted to continue for the associations who commit to constant improvement and adaptability surrounding the following tactics. 

Pinpointing tactics that promote membership renewal will ensure business continuity and help crystallize the core values of your association. When tasked with reassuring members regularly of your commitment to their advancement, it’s important to focus on a specific set of items. When you focus on your association’s unique benefits, keep a pulse on the membership experience, simplify your renewal process, and track your progress along the way, your renewal numbers will see a major increase. Additionally, the option for members to share digital credentials that automatically expire is highly motivating for membership renewal. With an intuitive digital credentialing platform, administrators don’t have to worry about keeping tabs on members who haven’t updated their credentials because the platform will notify members automatically.  Encourage your members to share digital certificates for continued learning credits, proof of attendance, or association membership with their online communities to foster engagement and new member signups. 

1. Focus on your association’s unique benefits

What distinctive assets do you offer that keep members coming back? Do you offer member discounts for conventions or cultivate a particularly robust networking environment? These are items to showcase on your website and email campaigns. Remind your current members why they signed up in the first place and don’t be afraid to put that information in multiple locations, including landing pages on your website, emails, and social media. Different people consume information in different ways and by creating content for each of these channels, members are more likely to engage with it. 

2. Keep a pulse on membership experience

The best way to ascertain member experience is to ask them directly and offer the option to respond anonymously. Members are paying for this service, which means that nine times out of ten they will be honest if something isn’t working for them. Ask direct and concise questions that can be answered quickly, such as:

  • Are you satisfied with the number of emails we send monthly?
  • How do you feel about the pricing model that we offer? 
  • Do you believe that our association stimulates your career?

There is always something to improve on, and setting the tone for openness and honesty will inspire sincere feedback. That feedback does not have to be positive! Negative feedback might be even more valuable to help discover a blind spot your staff might be missing. Keeping the door open for all types of feedback will establish the dialogue you need with the people who you want to help and serve. Positive feedback is used as a tool for featuring members within your association communication.

3. Simplify the renewal process

It’s easy to forget the renewal dates for everything from a magazine subscription to an association membership renewal. The key to consistent membership renewals is to orchestrate a foolproof process for achieving that. This starts with reminders at least a month in advance included in all of your marketing materials. Is your user interface intuitive? Pop-ups help notify members that renewal time is fast approaching. Automating the process is critical, so streamlining the checkout cadence will be the icing on top of your members’ renewal experience. 

An excellent customer experience team will contribute to a seamless renewal experience. Where there is technology there are technological issues, and some members will need more help than others. Include your customer support service in the email reminders so that your members know how to reach out if they encounter any issues.

4. Track your progress

As you monitor your member experience and refine it accordingly, be sure to take notes for future reference. Which members are not renewing their membership, and are there any trends you can decipher from that data? This will help to identify the ‘high-risk’ members and target your marketing toward that group. Creating membership ‘personas’ will also be a helpful compass for where to focus marketing attention. Demonstrating empathy for each of your members’ unique learning styles will lay a firm foundation for your marketing OKRs in the long run. When you create fictional personas based on real member data, you can diversify your marketing approach and broaden your audience in previously unimaginable ways. 

5. Increase incentives with digital credentials

Digital credentials introduce your members to a whole new world of networking possibilities. Your members are able to share their accomplishments with the click of button to various social media platforms without creating an account. It is invaluable for members to be able to share both big and small wins with their community utilizing an easily accessible digital badge or certificate. This can outline everything from proof of membership to the completion of a unique course offered by your association.

When you offer the option to obtain a digital credential, be it a badge or certificate, you are assigning increased value to your services as an association. Not only will members want to engage in a thriving community to further their careers, but they can also now share accreditations related to any aspect of their involvement. The variety of those accreditations is dependent on you, the association, and how resourceful your credential offerings are. 

The option to have your credentials expire automatically is a game-changer for ease of member communication. As the expiration date approaches, members receive an email reminder notifying them of their credential (membership) expiration. This increases visibility and probability that they will renew in a timely manner. 

When credentials expire, a red banner will appear at the top of the credential notifying the recipient that their credential has expired, can no longer be verified, and giving them the option to ‘Renew My Credential.’ This will put recipients immediately in touch with their provider so that the renewal process can begin. Without the current credential, members will not be able to include their credential in their email signature or download their certificate without the red expiration banner. 

Digital credential platforms offer networking opportunities that go beyond simply sharing digital credentials to social media. A digital wallet card allows members to download their credentials to a mobile phone at any time to share with colleagues or potential employers. Creating ease of use is essential in helping your members demonstrate their achievements. A mobile credential won’t collect dust or worse, be forgotten.

In Summary 

To reach your member renewal goals, you need to remember why your association exists in the first place. Do you want to nurture a sense of belonging in your members and help them reach their personal or professional goals? Allowing your members to provide feedback and adjusting your goals accordingly will improve their experience and your business model. Creating a community that sharpens its members requires persistence, a commitment to betterment, and a constant refinement of skills. You have more options than you think to display the advancement of your members’ individual and collective journeys, and encourage their membership renewals. 

Help your members seamlessly demonstrate all stages of growth within your association with digital credentials by booking a platform demo today! Our team would love to guide you through the many ways you can publicize your growing community.  

Further Reading

Learn more about recruiting and retaining members with digital credentials by downloading this guide. Use this guide to:

  • Improve visibility of Association benefits to potential members
  • Harness the reach of current members to recruit new members
  • Engage and reward members for their contributions and growth
  • Encourage members to participate and renew their membership
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