The key to membership retention? Attaining members in the first place!
While it’s obvious, it’s not nearly as easy as it sounds. First impressions are notoriously important. When you meet somebody face to face, you can read their body language, answer questions, and give them a custom sales pitch. Online, you really don’t have any of those options.
That’s the challenge with membership signups, and also the opportunity.
The smoother your online sign-up process is, the more members you’ll convert and/or steal the occasion from competitors. Now, increasing membership retention by creating a superior signup process doesn’t necessarily mean you have to redesign your entire website or process—there are several relatively easy things you can do that prospective members will appreciate.
Are you interested in other ways to increase member engagement at your organization?
Check out the complete list in our latest ebook,
“50 Ways to Boost Your Association Membership.”
The ability to eliminate things that frustrate users and provide them an experience that exceeds their expectations can make all the difference in the world.
With that said, let’s jump into five ways to level up your membership sign-up process!
1. Keep it simple.
If your sign-up process is more like a logic and critical thinking problem than a mildly satisfying experience, you’re in trouble. The goal is to get people excited about joining your association, not testing their patience like applying for a job with the state government.
To keep things “stupidly simple,” we recommend considering the following actions:
Create as few steps as possible
How many different pages does a prospective member need to load or submit to get through your application? Each step is an opportunity to lose that person.
Ask yourself: Why do we need a separate section for this info? Could it be condensed?
Additionally, how much fine print do they have to read? Anything that’s not totally relevant to the sign-up process should be vetted carefully before including—you can use follow-up emails and communication to cross those bridges when you need to.
Limit Form Fields
The balance between attaining the necessary information to serve your membership and irritating a new user with too many form fields is tricky. The first step is to ask yourself:
Is it absolutely necessary to have this info to qualify and sign up this member?
The fewer form fields you have, the more likely the user will submit the form. Asking too many questions can feel like an invasion of privacy or that you’re wasting their time with irrelevant questions. Perhaps you can save the secondary info for a future communication piece!
Don’t just expect people to be able to figure out what to do because you feel the process is intuitive—tell or show them with clear instructions!
For example, can your application be completed on a mobile device? If not, consider mentioning that the user should wait until they have access to a desktop computer or laptop. Bonus points for instructing them to bookmark the site or giving them an option to send it via email to themselves or a friend/coworker.
2. Use a sign-up incentive.
You want to start their membership off on the right foot, so give them something valuable as soon as they sign up. How valuable that is, in terms of monetary value, is up to you and your association.
The key in this step is that it happens immediately. Users need to be instantly rewarded for taking the initial action. Of course, you’ll want to keep this momentum going throughout the life of their membership—check out 50 Ways To Boost Association Membership for even more ideas!
3. Send a (good!) welcome email.
The reason people sign up for memberships is to improve some part of their life; to become part of a community. If you simply sign somebody up and then let them figure out how to get all the benefits of your membership own their own, they won’t feel either of those things.
Optimize this process by sending a welcome email that reinforces their decision to become a member and gives clear actions for what they should do and what’s to come. Try to be as specific as possible, providing dates and linking to additional materials that they can derive instant value from.
In addition to building rapport and increasing member engagement, you’ll also start a relationship with the whitelist of their email inbox, which is an extremely valuable thing for somebody who receives a large amount of email and spam!
4. Use personalization.
While using personalization in your emails has proven to increase open rates, a vast number of marketers are still underutilized this feature.
Email, of course, is only a small part of the membership experience when it comes to software. For a deep dive on personalization for your membership software, check out this case study showing how we used member data to create custom newsletters and content.
5. Offer resources and tutorials showing them how to use their membership.
While your membership software may be intuitive for you to use, a brand new member may feel different. Use automated emails and in-app prompts as an onboarding process for commonly used features and troubleshooting. If you have your membership process mapped correctly, you can start slow and send tutorials and workflows with increasing complexity and utility of the system.
Additionally, if possible, ensure that customer support is easily reachable via live chat, phone, or email support—don’t make them go digging through old emails or on the public-facing site!
To re-cap, here are the five tips to improve your membership sign-up process:
- Keep it simple at every turn
- Limit form fields to only what’s completely necessary
- Provide clear instructions with no room for interpretation
- Use personalization in your emails and software
- Offer resources and tutorials to educate how to use the membership
If you follow these simple tips, your members will be off to a great start—reassured that they made the right choice and excited about what’s to come.