Growing and Maintaining Association Membership with Digital Credentials

As more organizations undergo digital transformation, those who don’t adapt risk falling behind and failing to engage with their members. There are a number of solutions that associations can utilize to make growing and maintaining their numbers easier. In this post, we explore using digital credentials to support association membership.  

There are two types of digital credentials, the digital badge and the digital certificate. While physical certificates and badges are commonly used for display, they can be difficult to verify and easy to misplace. Digital membership badges are a portable, verifiable, and fully customizable solution that can be delivered to members at a fraction of the cost. 

As a digital credentialing platform that works with over 1,000 clients issuing over 1 million credentials each month, we know what it takes for associations and organizations to succeed. We’ve collected our findings to offer insight into how digital credentials support the digital transformation of associations.

The Cost Saving Benefits of Digital Credentials

Membership cards are the traditional representation of membership and convey the sense of being part of something special. However, each individual membership card also carries a set of costs:

    • Manufacturing and Materials
    • Packaging, Postage, and Delivery
    • Environmental Impact 

 

The environmental cost is often hidden but unavoidable, and plastic cards are one of the biggest contributors to annually generated plastic waste. In 2019, the National Trust recorded 12.5 tonnes of plastic waste that was being generated each year from the 5 million membership cards they issue. This prompted a change in the way they deliver membership credentials and encouraged the organization to move to a sustainable solution. 

Progressing from physical cards to a digital badge for association membership greatly reduces issuing costs, without compromising the benefits that a physical card traditionally offers. The Digital Marketing Institute experienced this first-hand. Before switching to digital credentials, each paper credential carried an average cost of $9.12. After making the switch, this cost dropped to $1 per credential, saving over $50,000 across 6000 issued credentials. 

Utilizing Word of Mouth Marketing

The greatest marketing resources an association has are their existing members, and the interest they generate through word of mouth. Digital credentials support this by improving the user experience and encouraging members to speak favourably about the association and their interactions. With a solution like Accredible, it is easy for members to share their new certificates and badges straight to their preferred social media platforms. Accredible also provides webpage and email signature embed functionality. 

The credential page provides another avenue of marketing and referral generation. Credential pages provide space for a link to the association’s website, details about the association, and analytics support to track referral clicks. If the association offers members a referral link or code, it can also be included on the credential page.

Simplifying the Renewal Process

Managing expired membership is its own process, made complicated by differing membership lengths and exit dates. Manually contacting members due for renewal is inefficient and easy to miss, which makes it a common point of failure. Automating the process saves time and money, and is guaranteed to improve engagement and generate interest. Additionally, automation simplifies member database management, freeing extra time to focus on contacting members that didn’t renew. This enables associations to find out the reason behind member drop-off, and where possible, tailor an offer to entice their return. 

Rewarding Engaged Members

The popularity of an association is directly tied to the value they offer, and greatly impacts the churn rate of members. Regular engagement is a key part of encouraging long-term membership. That engagement usually takes place through regular newsletters, social media platforms, and by issuing rewards for getting involved.

Those rewards are an opportunity to leverage digital credentials. For example, if the association holds events throughout the year for members to attend, recognise their attendance with a digital badge. If members get involved with these events as speakers or sponsors, acknowledge their engagement with another digital badge exclusive to speakers and sponsors. 

In addition to member engagement, badges are also a method to generate awareness. With one-click sharing, members can proudly display their badges on a social profile for the public to see. Then, those social shares and visits to the badge drive traffic back to your site, and your event calendars. 

Reducing the Cost of Member Recognition 

Every time associations offer members recognition for their engagement, their membership duration, or their interactions, there is a cost involved. For instance, a thank you card sent through the post carries a cost for purchase and delivery but also requires time for design and copy. 

Using Accredible’s digital credential platform drastically reduces the cost of recognition, and goes further by only charging you for unique recipients. This means you can issue John Doe a badge for attending events in February, March, and June – and only have the initial badge count against your plan total. Should the same John Doe volunteer to speak at one of these events, you can issue a dedicated speaker badge – and again, only the initial badge for his attendance will be taken from the plan allowance.

Furthermore, the Accredible Credential Management System simplifies the process of managing members. Save time for administrators, email specific member groups (e.g. longest serving members), and track referrals from credential pages, all through Accredible. 

Key Takeaways

Association membership is more than a sign up and forget process. These days, associations need to be present on the platforms their members use and provide value in the relationships they build. Members are more likely to engage with and talk about an association that recognises their interactions. As individuals see the personal value in their membership, their connection to the association grows, and they are more willing to offer their own time to support it. 

Digital credentials support the efforts of associations by:

  • Providing a cost-effective platform for issuing membership badges and certificates
  • Streamlining the process of member renewals with automated emails
  • Enabling members to share their association rewards to social media platforms
  • Saving administrative resources with an efficient, secure platform for managing member data
  • Automating the process of rewarding members for sign-ups, event attendance, and meeting referral targets
  • Scaling seamlessly to meet the needs of growing associations 
  • Offering an easy to understand analytics dashboard for tracking referrals, clicks, and engagement
  • Supporting the efforts of associations looking to become environmentally friendly
  • Protecting the integrity of membership by ensuring digital credentials are easy to verify or revoke

Accredible is an industry-leading digital credentialing platform that simplifies and automates the process of issuing membership credentials. We work with thousands of businesses, industries, and associations to issue, track, manage, and verify memberships and high-stakes credentials. 

Further Reading

Learn more about how our team uses their experience implementing digital credentials to make your digital transformation successful.

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