From my perspective, marketing to customers (members) in the digital age has become an entirely different experience than what it was just a decade ago. Customer funnels have turned into customer lifecycles, touch points have expanded across multiple channels, and consumers are researching companies on mobile and through social media every day before interacting. In this article, I discuss findings from a recent report from Forrester and elements of membership systems needed to connect today.
For non-profit associations, the goal is not necessarily to “sell” a product per se, but to attract new members, retain members through providing valuable services and further their common missions. The concept of meeting the needs of connected members is still similar to traditional marketing.
Connecting Your Members with Membership Management
As mentioned, I read a recent Forrester study which looked at the behavior of consumers and how companies can adapt to changing patterns. While the study focuses on marketing for companies, the findings relate to non-profit associations nonetheless. In my opinion, the goal is the same whether company, nonprofit, or association: understanding your audience (connecting) and how to interact with it.
The study found that moments when you engage with your customer, known as touchpoints, are not longer isolated to a single channel. Google states that 90% of customers use multiple devices and platforms for shopping and other tasks. The same goes for non-profit associations. Attracting new members and interacting with existing ones shouldn’t be limited to just one platform. Your website should be easy to explore, whether on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop.
Consumer Behavior in 2016
What used to be known as the sales funnel has become the customer lifecycle. Companies need to inspire consumers to take steps in the journey, not push them down the funnel. This means catering your strategies to specific audiences and delivering the type of content they need when they need it most. As applied to non-profit associations, this means you need to develop an in-depth understanding of your member profiles, much like a for-profit company would develop buyer personas. By understanding the needs of your individual “customers,” you can identify how to best address them.
Understanding Your Members, Donors, & Constituents
How are associations supposed to understand their members and what they want as a customer experience? The same way a traditional marketer would but perhaps with a twist and some help of a membership system as well. Here are some thoughts:
- Your membership manager needs to help analyze key decision points in the lifecycle of a member. Where are your members finding out about you? What is it that makes them “convert” and join the association? Don’t worry – an analytics platform within the membership software may likely (should) collect this data for you.
- Membership Software for Nonprofits should offer simplicity and navigability in web design through a content management. This is important no matter the industry. Members want a streamlined experience that is aesthetically pleasing and easy on your website. Your membership site should be intuitive and should adapt to mobile effortlessly. Membership Management Software can and often does provide an integrated content management component (or integrates with one).
- Nonprofit Membership systems should help your nonprofit manage it’s content. There is no changing the fact that content will remain king and needs to be treated as such. By understanding your members through data, you can create compelling, informative, and engaging content that they will find valuable. Progressive profiling, personalization of messaging, & storage of documents pertinent to your audience can be obtained in membership management software.
As the customer experience continues to change, so will marketing best practices. Though associations may not be trying to sell products or widgets, you’re still trying to sell something; events, services, education & training, & advocacy. Understanding how to engage with your members effectively with an association management software system will allow you to do just that.
Find out which member engagement software is right for you – contact us today. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.