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Your 2023 Checklist: Modern Membership Growth Strategies

Discover 11 ways you can modernize your membership-based organization by harnessing the power of an Engagement Management System.

As CEO of the Union Innovation Hub, I’ve helped many union executives strategize their membership growth by utilizing the power and flexibility of the iMIS Engagement Management System. It’s not about doing the same things out of a new database – it's about doing things differently.

By harnessing the full capability of an Engagement Management System (EMS), I’ve seen how membership organizations can revamp their operations, which allows staff to unlock new strategies and achieve real results for the membership base.

To help you drive real and meaningful growth, I’ve outlined 11 ways that you can modernize your member-centric organization with an EMS.

  1. Be Relevant & Personalized
  2. Be Valuable
  3. Excellence User Experience
  4. Be Data Driven
  5. Improve Engagement
  6. Improved Tools and Accountability
  7. Easier Identification of Potential Members
  8. Improved Backend Efficiency
  9. Best Practice Saving of Lapsed and Dropped Members
  10. Increase Recruitment
  11. Create a Culture of Innovation


1) Be Relevant & Personalized

When you are relevant, you meet what your members need and want. And, as members increasingly desire personalized content and services, you can flexibly meet these expectations.

Tactics to consider:

  1. Segmentation by industry, career stage or job
  2. Surveying to understand needs and wants
  3. Define personas
  4. Audit or create content and services for each segment
  5. Track engagement and interactions
  6. Tailored member portal to contain information and services that are relevant 


How an EMS facilitates this:

  • Member portal with segmented content and information
  • Improved website offerings
  • Dynamic member portal utilizing segmentation
  • Members can change their details and see personalized information:
    • Information/news relating to their sector, career stage etc.
    • Their contact details
    • Services offered to them
    • Content tailored to them

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2) Be Valuable

As Union leaders, we see many competing providers of services to workers. We need to strengthen the value of membership to make it worth joining and remaining. The same is true for associations and membership organizations who must compete for a member’s time and attention.

Tactics to consider: 

  1. Know what each segment needs and wants
  2. Assess the member offering and improve value to each segment
  3. Be relevant every step of their working lives
  4. Bring together services that are both directly supplied by the organization or by enabling convenient access to other services 


How an EMS facilitates this: 

  • Easier to see and access services via the member portal
  • Access to professional development education
  • Access to member benefits
  • Option to access a suite of career and development modules/videos
  • Access to online communities
  • Access to member offers and deals


3) Excellent User Experience

By providing convenient, easy access to your resources you’ll satisfy your membership’s needs and wants. And the more interactions you provide, the more opportunities you have to identify trends in their preferences and ways to provide improved benefits.

Tactics to consider:

  1. Meet member needs in a convenient way
  2. Enable easy and trackable access to information  


How an EMS facilitates this:

  • Personalized member portal 
  • Enhance the member’s perceived value of the organization through relevant product, event, and other promotions
  • Make existing services easier to access based on the member’s preferences


Five stars


4) Be Data Driven

Are your staff making decisions based on their gut or data? How well you understand your membership base and their entire relationship (or lack thereof) with your organization directly correlates to your own success.  Can you anticipate needs?  Are you able to reward participation and catch members slipping away...before they slip?

Tactics to consider: 

  1. Capture member interactions and engagement
  2. Use dashboards to help see trends and analyze
  3. Easily look at data by segments and area (such as location, industry and age) 


How an EMS facilitates this: 

  • Measure and track engagement scores 
  • Dashboards on staff, company, engagement, and more 
  • Sophisticated business intelligence dashboards with drill-down


5) Improve Engagement

Reduce turnover and improve retention of members through more relevant contact.

Tactics to consider: 

  1. Improved and targeted communication
  2. Identify at-risk members who have low engagement
  3. Drive future upsell opportunities
  4. Targeting campaigns for at-risk members
  5. Easier awareness and access to union services
  6. Create a personal experience with relevant content and services
  7. Targeted industrial campaigns by workplace or industry 


How an EMS facilitates this:

  • Targeted communication with attractive template emails 
  • Monitor engagement scores to see trends 
  • Automated onboarding journeys 
  • Ability to integrate with survey and campaign action tools


Person on a laptop, cog graphic in background


6) Improved Tools & Accountability

Provide your staff and volunteers with the ability to keep you in the know, 24/7/365.

Tactics to consider: 

  1. Give staff a clear picture of the progress of their campaigns and efforts
  2. Break work into focused sprints
  3. Allocate and track key activities
  4. Implement tools that streamline day-to-day activities
  5. Enable easy access while remote or on-the-road
  6. Establish a better picture of member interests, including by chapter or site 


How an EMS facilitates this:

  • Alerts against member records 
  • A web-based staff portal 
  • Dashboards membership trends 
  • Campaign management and tracking, including access to integrated campaign tools and surveys 
  • Conference and meeting attendance
  • Email templates
  • Emails and documents linked to member and company


7) Easier Identification of Potential Members 

By building and capturing a large potential member list, there are more people to engage and show how membership will benefit them.

Tactics to consider: 

  1. Build a list of potential members using reverse and other marketing
  2. Capture non-member participation in digital activities
  3. Easy join with a dynamic, online form
  4. Capture drop-offs during the join process
  5. Identify like-audiences
  6. Contact former members 


How an EMS facilitates this:

  • Integration with survey and campaign action tools to enable quick identification of potential members who participate 
  • Automatically track survey responses 
  • Monitor email campaign engagement through opens and clicks 
  • Attendance at meetings 
  • Registration for attendance at webinars or digital meetings
  • Automated journeys to win back of former and potential members
  • Open up your events and webinars to potential members




8) Improved Backend Efficiency 

Map and automate manual processes, making your staff more efficient, freeing up their time to provide more value to your membership.

Tactics to consider: 

  1. Automate many membership processes 


How an EMS facilitates this: 

  • Automated payment processing 
  • Easier member management including:
    • Membership details
    • Membership fees
    • One off or ongoing fee adjustments
    • Data integrity tracking:
      • Duplicate members
      • Bounced/invalid postal/email addresses
  • End batching
  • Matching of payroll deduction returns


9) Best practice saving of lapsed and dropped members 

It’s inevitable that a subsection of your membership will drop out for a variety of reasons — some of which you can control, others you can’t. If your attrition numbers are rising, pinpoint the reasons behind the decline and develop a successful counteractive strategy.

Tactics to consider: 

  1. Track turnover of members by segment
  2. Measure lifetime value
  3. Urgent follow-up of dropped-off and resigned members
  4. Automated texts or emails to attempt quick and low resource follow up
  5. Automatic retry of fee processing
  6. Personal follow-up assisted by scripts and member profile
  7. Identify at-risk members to avoid loss


How an EMS facilitates this: 

  • Access data in easy-to-understand dashboards
  • Develop call campaigns with scripts and automated email outreach to lapsed members
  • Review members based on their demographic and engagement data to identify critical win-backs
  • Automated email campaigns for dropped off members
  • Automate payment retries


Calendar Alert


10) Increase Recruitment

Help more potential members see the benefits of joining through targeted efforts. 

Tactics to consider:

  1. Larger funnel of potential members
  2. Lower cost engagement and follow up
  3. Clear outline of benefits for each segment
  4. Establish potential member journeys
  5. Make it easy to join 


How an EMS facilitates this:

  • Automated journey to efficiently convert potential members identified to paying members
  • Journeys around specific events, times of the year, or general membership offerings
  • Targeting of potential members around industry campaigns
  • Improved website
  • Easy online join form
  • Automatic follow-up of drop-offs from online join
  • Remarketing campaigns (follow-up of potential members who have not converted)
  • Win-back campaigns (former members converted back to membership)


11) Create a Culture of Innovation 

As stated at the start of this article, it’s not about doing the same things out of a new database – it's about doing things differently. Take a step back to understand your member’s journey with you and how you can add real value, through streamlined processes and automation, with a modern Engagement Management System at the core of your tech stack. 

Tactics to consider: 

  1. Low-cost, proof-of-concept trials
  2. Keep iterating pushing until you achieve progress
  3. Meet members needs rather than expecting them to fit you
  4. Invest in technology
  5. TrainingIdentify valuable training opportunities for staff
  6. Staff change management Establish smooth processes for change of staff 


How an EMS facilitates this:

  • New infrastructure and tools available 
  • Opportunity for new processes and proof-of-concept trials 


Office desk


Your membership is the lifeblood of your organization. What are you doing to ensure that you can continually exceed, not just meet, demand? Now is the time to see how a modern Engagement Management System, purpose-built for the way membership organizations work, will modernize your operations, empowering your staff to grow and achieve real results for members.


The Union Innovation Hub helps unions achieve growth, efficiency and impact by fast-tracking progress and reducing the cost of digital and other innovation. With over 30 union clients in Australia and New Zealand, we've guided digital transformation strategies from inception to evolution by utilizing the power of the iMIS engagement management system. 

Contact us today to see how the Union Innovation Hub can modernize the way your staff, organizers, and members work together.


This article was originally published by the Union Innovation Hub as part of their Hub Accelerator Series, Growth Through Innovations. The content has been adapted with permission. 

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