Membership Management Guide: Part Two

September 8, 2021

By Mitch Colleran

Software Developer / Founder at @JoinIt, membership software NGOs & SMBs.

View other posts by Mitch

This post is part of a series! Interested in the whole thing? Click here to download our Ultimate Guide to Membership Management.

For most people who run a membership program, email communication is a top three activity driver. It’s up there in importance with an organization’s revenue and growth strategy, not even an entirely separate entity. It takes time, and rightly so for some emails, but membership management software can automate much of this communication.

As a measure of its importance, email communication touches every component of a membership program. It’s a foundation.

Let’s map out some of the core components that nearly every organization considers when managing their group:

  • Finances: Payment processing, member discounts, donations.
  • Membership offering: Gold, silver, bronze? Group memberships? 
  • Pricing: Annual or monthly memberships? Subscription-based or one-time payments?
  • Membership status: Cohorts of members at any time are at different places of their member cycle, whether they’re active, expired, pending, etc.
  • Hosted events
  • Newsletters

This list isn’t exhaustive but illustrates that each action or touchpoint requires a different type of communication. Let’s dissect a typical membership cycle, from beginning to end, with a lens towards how you can optimize each.

Prospective Member

Definition: Not full members yet, but they have expressed interest and ended up on your radar. 

Goals: Help a prospective member understand the value of joining your organization. Get them to join!

Optimization tactics

  • Grow your mailing list: Use a service that automatically syncs your sources of prospective members to this list. This list should be synced with your member database.
  • Create content-rich emails: Services like MailChimp and Constant Contact will help you construct well-designed newsletters. 
  • Make it shareable: Make it easy for existing members to share digital content with their friends. It’s hard to replace word-of-mouth with any digital tool. 

Recently Joined Member

Definition: A brand new member! Congrats!

Goal: Let a new member know important information and reduce the administrative burden to reach out to every new member.

Optimization tactics

  • Payment received: Automatic payment confirmation emails should be configured to send every time a payment is received.
  • Automatic welcome email: These are different from payment confirmations, and should include fun and important information regarding their membership like upcoming events, the benefits of their new membership, and essential contact information.
  • Personal emails: It’s hard to replace a personal touch. Depending on the size of your organization, reaching out to each individual may make sense!

Members Only

Definition: Email communication intended for active members only.

Goals: Share relevant information that is intended for your active members. This information can be a significant source of added value to your membership offering.

Optimization tactics

  • Segmenting: Target members based on membership type; different email content may be appropriate for each tier.
  • Keep it updated: Automate the syncing of active memberships to an email marketing provider, like MailChimp, to make for content-rich emails. Conversely, expired members should be automatically removed from an active member list.
  • Upsell when appropriate: Inform members in lower tiers of the benefits from upgrading their membership.

Member Cohorts

Definition: Members (or non-members) that share a common thread, like membership tier or status.

Goal: Send targeted, valuable content to segments of your membership database.

Optimization tactics

  • Status updates: Automatically sync membership type and member status (for example, Expired or Pending) with an email marketing provider.
  • Segmenting: Use your member table data to send targeted emails that apply to segments of members, whether by membership tier, activity level, or other demographics. 

Near Expiration

Definition: Memberships that are about to lapse.

Goals: Encourage members to renew before their expiration date. 

Optimization tactics

  • Automatic reminder: Let members know their membership is about to expire.
  • Make it easy: Include a simple renewal button in the email to make it as easy as possible for members to renew as soon as they open your email.
  • Expiration notice: Automate sending expiration notices as membership lapses and include steps to reactivate their membership.

Outside of the email strategy outlined above, rooted in a membership cycle, your organization will need to reach out to members on other occasions. This standalone communication can include event updates or monthly newsletters. 

Either way, all communication should start with a tightly synced mailing list and a member database. This will allow you to accurately grow and target the people you need to reach out to regularly.