member retention
user experience
email marketing

Top 4 Tech Impacts on Membership Organisations

Julie WhitingOctober 3rd 2019

Technology is impacting membership organisations more and more and with this, they need to understand the main challenges that they will inevitably face. These tech impacts can affect member retention and member experience, and the importance of data and analytics will increase in aiding your membership organisation to adapt and embrace necessary changes.

There are technological impacts that are affecting membership organisations and we’ve done some research and found the top four impacts which are going to be addressed in this blog- lucky you. Now, you’re probably thinking that you know what these are and if you do, that’s great- we’re not here to patronise you! However, we are here to make sure the challenges are fully understood as we want to help your organisation take advantage of the benefits that are available to you. One of the main issues is understanding who your audience is- these days, people are becoming more digitally savvy, and so organisations need to embrace this change and adapt so that they can deliver the quality and engagement that so many people demand. The downside to not doing this is that, you’ve guessed it, your organisation will struggle to be efficient and you will find it challenging to compete against others. So, with that being said, let’s break it down and get into the top 4 tech impacts that are affecting membership organisations.

Let’s cut to the chase and address the elephant in the room- Member Retention

Member retention is a vital component of any organisation, even more so if you are a membership organisation, but what is the actual effect of losing members? The main impact is the cost of gaining new users- research shows that it would cost 5-25 times more to gain new members than retain current ones. Yikes. Now, it would be easy to just say, ‘hold onto your users’, but that’s not very helpful. So,our advice would be to look at your users and understand what they want, how accessible your platforms are, is it modern and easy to navigate around, and more. Understanding the end user and their journey is key in being able to deliver a positive experience and therefore retain members. Surveys and other forms of communication are ideal ways to gain intel, be this via telephone, email or social media- it depends on the audience you are addressing and what their preference of communication is.

Member Experience...what do your members want?

What do we mean when we talk about experience? The word ‘experience’ is officially defined as “an event/occurrence which leaves an impression on someone”. With this in mind, we need to take into consideration the user’s whole journey, from viewing the organisation’s site on any device, its design and ease of navigation, to the personalisation and the opportunities for engagement. With good experience comes positive evangelism, and positive evangelism opens the opportunities to gaining new members. It all sounds simple however, it revolves around technology and if this is not up to date, the site will be difficult to utilise, and people will start to look at other organisations to move to in order to gain a better experience. Self-service is a frequent requirement and something that is demanded after by users. The ability to be able to change their details, make a payment, talk to someone, or easily enrol on a course is highly valued and ultimately, it saves having to ring up and complete these tasks through someone at the other end of the phone. So, time is saved at both the user’s end and the organisation’s! UX Design is heavily relied upon in cases like this and so to ensure that everything is at its best functionality, the UX Design needs to ensure that the underlying wireframes and infrastructure allow for the specific features and actions to be available and working. So, let’s consider the sections that make up the experience for users: 

Engagement: Communication within the work environment is just as important as communicating with the users. Engagement is a key factor for retention of members and these days, the social media platforms are in high demand, along with chatbots on websites. Quick and easy communication is the expectation of many people in today’s world and If that can’t be delivered, it is seen as an inconvenience and hassle. So, by using these channels more, you’ll keep more members content that the organisation is making the effort to let them know about events or renewal of their memberships, or even just the offer of help if required. Email and telephone are preferred by some and so having the wide variety of platforms will enhance the ability to engage. 

Personalisation: Now, let’s not confuse personalisation with customisation. As similar as they are, personalisation in this sense means understanding the data for each individual user and tailoring the adverts to their preferences or membership type. This can include membership renewal, suggestions of relevant content and topics, any learning opportunities and more. This will make the experience of the member more specific and personal and there will be less irrelevant adverts taking up their webpage. For example, as much as a Great British Bake-Off fan that they may be, a recipe for Mary Berry’s Sweet Victoria Sandwich won’t help them when it comes to enrolling on a marketing course. 

Design and Presentation: We mentioned UX Design earlier and the importance of having someone with the right expertise to carry out the necessary tasks to make sure all required actions would have the correct functionality and outcome. Self-service is valued by many people, for example, how many of you opt for the self-service checkouts at supermarkets (I appreciate it is a different playing field but the idea is the same)? When given the option, some people feel happier and more in control when they can complete the tasks themselves and so this would increase time efficiency for both the user and the organisation, as not as many people are required to help with the action.  

Looking at it from another design angle, a fresh, modern looking website will automatically draw a member into exploring the organisation more, ask anyone. We’ve all been there when we like the look of something, we are attracted to it. It’s even better when it’s easy to navigate around, simple to use and able to efficiently complete the task in hand. It can be frustrating when you are trying to search for something online on your mobile, and the webpage doesn’t fit, so making sure that the webpages are rendered to the likes of laptop screens, tablets and mobiles will make the experience for the user more positive. If errors should occur, although everyone hopes they won’t, it’s also a good idea to have a good 404 error page- it's already a dark moment when the error occurs so your backdrop doesn’t need to negatively enhance that. Creativity in these situations can make the error seem less of an inconvenience and again, it will improve the experience for the member. In addition to these features, having the ability to change details online, pay online, renew memberships online and perform any other tasks required, is a massive positive in the eyes of the user who just wants to be able to complete any action quickly and easily. Not everyone has the time to call up and listen to holding music if the organisations are busy... 

It’s growing more and more popular, but do you understand data and analytics?

When it comes to analytics, 87% of organisations use analytical tools but less than 50% actually review and understand the data received. However, by not taking the time to understand and utilise this data, you are reducing the opportunities to improve the customer experience and more. Other opportunities include mitigating risk and fraud, optimising personalisation and service, delivering products relevant to your visiting and target audience, and they can also be used for anticipating any needs and being proactive. All this really can be gained from understanding your data! With more people using digital devices these days, it is easier to personalise your customer’s experience and another aspect of doing this is via social media. Using this as a popular form of communication will help to meet the heightened digital expectations of millennials and other generations and demonstrate that you are embracing the technological changes to communication and experience.  

So, how does this add into your membership management system? If you have a Dynamics 365 solution, we can easily integrate social media platforms into this in order to create cases that are raised. This automation will of course improve time efficiency and minimise the amount of manual and repetitive administrative work. So, data will be used more effectively, and it will save time, money and will help to retain members. As well as answering questions raised and more, social platforms can be used to complete polls and surveys to find out preferences of the users and gain important analytics that will aid in promoting relevant content and information for that individual user. Due to the demand and high usage of social media, more and more people are focusing and spending time on social media to promote their organisation further and relate to the audience targeted. However, not many regularly and consistently monitor the channels- if you are consistent with these platforms, you will see an ROI as long as you have a strategy in place to ensure that goals are met and achieved. Without having a strong understanding, it will be difficult to move forward and effectively implement a strategy to improve experience for the members and enhance the opportunity for personalisation. 

Email marketing- it's time to get online

As a key feature within the D365 solution, email marketing can be a useful tool if used correctly. What do I mean by correctly as surely everyone has their own voice and brand personality? This is true, however how do you know if the email you have sent has been opened, read and is well received? The answer is A/B testing, available within D365. This testing allows you to send out two emails (for example) and compare the results as to which one was opened more, and which content was more enticing to the receiver. Having these results would then allow for you to create the best and most effective email for your users, and so the information you are sharing will be properly digested. Data analytics will definitely help with this personalisation of emails and here’s a fun fact- 61% of organisations use targeted content based on special interests, so let’s get you into the majority.  

Another point worth mentioning is that as technology advances, most members have access to their emails via desktop and mobile devices which requires the webpage to be rendered correctly. If not rendered correctly, it can become frustrating for the user to find the correct information they need or take more time to compose that email due to half of the buttons being off the screen. Only 64% of organisations actually focus on rendering the email on a mobile device. It’s amazing how simple aspects like this can have such an effect on the member’s experience.  

In addition to email marketing, there are many other effective features available in D365 Marketing, such as automation and being able to create user journeys. This will not only enhance time efficiency, but it will also allow personas to be created and therefore, a better experience for the customer can be designed. You also have the opportunity to simplify event management where you’ll be able to have capabilities such as managing registrations and sessions, interaction with speakers, have an attendee-facing web portal, and be able to integrate with other webinar providers. All of these features, when used correctly and data is understood, can aid in creating better strategies and resulting in better experiences and outcomes.  

So, there we have it, the top four technological impacts on membership organisations. It’s not always a complex technical error that taints the experience for the member, it could be as simple as making sure the page looks good on all devices. We’ve given you quite a bit of information in this blog which we hope has been helpful, but as a refresher, let’s re-cap. When it comes to retaining and losing members, it’s always less expensive and more effective to retain than maintain. This can be an unnecessary cost and the ways highlighted can easily help in the retention rate increasing. If your organisation uses the data analytics acquired, this can help you with your strategies and will also aid in using your social media more effectively, therefore resulting in better collaboration and engagement with members. The analytics gained can also be stored safely and securely in a Dynamics Membership Management System and will help towards the creation of each individual user’s personalisation. Of course, all data received would be and remain GDPR compliant and it would provide you with a single view of the member.  

We at cloudThing have an abundance of experience and knowledge in the membership sector and can easily integrate the necessary tools required to enhance your organisation and help to embrace all opportunities available. Dynamics 365 is a great system for this, with the ability to integrate tools and create cases from conversations had, meaning that time is spent more efficiently, and the more mundane manual repetitive tasks are completed automatically thanks to AI. We have enough knowledge to also be able to create bespoke software applications and tools from the ground up to integrate with your systems, whether they are Dynamics 365 or not. If you are a membership organisation and want to ask us any further questions on how we can help enhance your organisation to perform at its full potential and minimise these disruptions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today! 

© Julie WhitingOctober 3rd 2019



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