Opportunities to drive revenue go beyond simply increasing membership numbers and digital credentials provide the tools for associations to maximize their membership revenue. In this article, we explore how associations can drive revenue by serving different member needs and use association digital credentials to recruit and retain members. 

Showcase Membership Value 

To encourage new members to enroll, associations need to be clear in the value that will be gained through their membership. Members need the ability to solve their problems or gain insight or advice through other members, mentors, or association produced materials. A solid foundation of value makes it easier for the association to scale, improves member retention, and attracts prospective members through word-of-mouth. It should be easy for prospective members to find the value they can expect through enrolling with the association. The association website is the best place to guide prospective members on potential value but this means driving visitors to target landing pages and encouraging them to self-educate. 

Example of an Association Digital Certificate with Digital Badge

Digital credentials provide another avenue for showcasing value. They are hosted on dedicated credential pages that include space for membership and association information, details of membership benefits, and other relevant information that helps drive conversions. Association digital credentials are shared to social media, embedded in email signatures, and uploaded to digital wallet cards on smartphones. Each share of a membership digital credential increases the reach. This leads to increased visibility to individuals within the target audience and helps to drive enrollment by showcasing the value of membership

Audit the Onboarding Process

Sometimes poorly planned or outdated processes can negatively impact the enrollment journey. This can lead to newly enrolled members feeling disappointed and uninterested in using their newly obtained benefits. By auditing existing processes, associations can check there are no disruptions or delays in the enrollment and onboarding processes. They can also check that new members are getting the right amount of attention and know what steps to take after enrolling for the first time. 

One of the most common issues is the delay experienced after enrollment between new members paying their dues and receiving a welcome pack and their membership credentials. Digital credentials help to streamline this process by reducing the time between enrollment and members receiving their credentials. Rather than have to wait, association digital credentials are received instantly by new members via email. This provides another benefit - the credential delivery email which can be used as an instantly receivable welcome pack. The association can plan the email to include a personal welcome to the new member, include written instructions or a video on using their membership credentials, and provide relevant links to useful content about membership benefits.

Retain Members, Prevent Churn

Retained members are a core part of association membership revenue. New members are great at creating a short-term boost to revenue but long-term members produce reliable, recurring revenue for associations. If members feel neglected, they are likely to cancel their subscription and choose to enroll elsewhere. To better retain members, associations need to create ongoing value and communicate regularly with their members to identify gaps in their value or missing benefits. They also need to remind members as their membership expiration date approaches. If reminders aren’t a part of the re-enrollment process, members are more likely to forget to renew their membership and that revenue is then lost.

Example of Expired Digital Certificate Page Banner

Digital credentials for associations allow issuers to build reminders for renewal into the credentialing experience. By setting the digital certificate or digital badge to expire at a set date after enrollment e.g. a year, two years, three years, etc. members receive timely reminders via email that their membership is due for renewal. If they choose to renew, their digital credential can be updated with a new expiration date. If the member fails to renew, they can still view their membership digital credential but it is now updated with a clearly visible, page-width banner. The banner states that the digital credential has expired and can no longer be verified, making it impossible for the member to fraudulently present their membership as valid. 

Drive Awareness of Memberships

Awareness for the association, membership, and member benefits directly impact how much revenue the association can generate. The more individuals within a relevant, target audience that know of the association and its membership, the more members the association is likely to attract. However, marketing carries a cost and if it is done poorly, this can create a lot of lost spend. There are many channels available for increasing association awareness, including social media platforms, email newsletters and outbound marketing, paid ads, and the association membership site. Each channel takes time to create, optimize, and manage but is important for establishing the association as an authority within the industry. 

Example of a shared digital certificate from the ASU+GSV Summit

Associations use their digital credentials as another tool for increasing awareness for their brand and membership by encouraging their members to share. Each share of a digital badge or digital certificate from members to their social media platforms increases the reach to prospective members and individuals within the target audience. The followers see the membership digital credential and click to learn more about the association and membership. They see the benefits offered and the opportunities that their friends and peers who are members have gained, and want to achieve this for themself. By encouraging members to share their credentials, associations reduce their time and spend for other marketing channels. This allows the association to reinvest this spend in other areas and work towards maximizing their revenue. 

Create Upsell Opportunities

Associations can create additional revenue streams by offering more value to their members through one-to-one mentoring, training and certification programs, and member exclusive events. These can be offered as individual chargeable products, included in increasing tiers of membership subscriptions, or available to all members as part of the membership offering. As associations position themselves as industry leaders and authorities in their space, these kinds of offerings greatly appeal to members and prospective members that are wanting to improve their employment or promotion prospects. 

Accredible digital credentials support associations in offering upsell opportunities through our pricing model of per unique recipient, rather than per credential. This allows associations to issue an unlimited number of both digital badges and digital certificates to each recipient within their contract year. Members can receive their membership credential, a mentoring credential, an event attendance certificate, and a certification credential, all for the cost of a single issuance credit. 

Offer Different Subscription Models

Members may be put off renewing where subscription is taken annually, especially in today’s economy where wages aren’t stretching as far as before. By offering different subscription models, not only does this appeal to existing members when it comes time to renew, this also attracts prospective members that may be unable to justify a high annual subscription cost but can better afford regular monthly or quarterly membership fees. Pricing membership in this way makes it more accessible to members from all kinds of backgrounds. 

Build Talent Pipelines

Associations that position themselves as market leaders have the opportunity to build talent pipelines for their members and employment partners. Members that receive training, certification, or mentoring from the association have industry specific knowledge that is valuable to organizations working within the same or similar industries. Associations can build browsable directories of member profiles with indication of their depth of knowledge, experience, and skill sets, their location, contact details, and whether they are looking for employment. Employers browse these directories to find suitable candidates for their open roles and can trust they hold a minimum level of industry knowledge. 

Example of Spotlight Directory

Accredible’s Spotlight Directory enables associations to build branded, browsable directories of their association credential holders. They can set custom criteria for profile details and filtering, and allow members to manage their own profile information and set their employment status. Associations can generate revenue using Spotlight in two ways. Charging employers for access to their directories to find suitable candidates, or charging members an additional fee to include their profile in the directory for employers to find.

In Summary

Associations that are struggling to drive revenue in today’s economy need to consider adding diversified streams of income. Using their industry leading position and thought leader status, associations should be able to expand their offerings to meet the needs of their members while providing additional value. Digital credentials, including digital certificates, digital badges, and blockchain credentials, help associations to drive revenue and deliver value through:

  • Instantly receivable membership credentials via email
  • Easily shareable membership credentials that drive awareness
  • Increased control over validity and expiration of membership credentials
  • Frequent email reminders when membership is nearing expiration
  • Methods of recognizing achievement, skill acquisition, affiliation, and involvement
  • Protection for association credentials to prevent risk of fraudulent use

With Accredible, associations can also create branded, browsable directories of their credential holders, fully brand their membership credential experience, and reduce the time and costs of issuing physical credentials. To learn more about Accredible, our digital credentialing solution, or digital credentials for associations, contact sales or to see digital credentials in action, request a platform demo

Further Reading

Gain insights and actionable advice for using digital credentials as an association in our free to download Digital Credentials and Professional Associations guide. Explore how digital credentials better support associations and their members and learn more about:

  • Identifying concerns and challenges associations have around credentialing
  • How to research solutions for secure, verifiable credentialing
  • Implementing easy-to-manage, scalable digital credentials
  • How to plan effective digital credentialing programs that engage members
  • How associations use digital credentials to drive and protect revenue
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