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Maximizing the Value of Membership with Segmentation

Discover the power of segmentation for membership growth. Tailor value, communicate benefits, and enhance member experience effectively.

Unions are consistently engaged in the challenging task of recruiting and retaining members. Individuals, both existing members and potential recruits, constantly evaluate their options, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of different choices. This decision-making process is not unique to unions but extends to various membership organizations, associations, and clubs. While the work performed by these organizations is undoubtedly valuable, there may be individuals who opt not to join for personal reasons or other considerations.

As CEO of the Union Innovation Hub, I’ve helped many union executives strategize their membership growth for future success. In this article, we'll explore methods to enhance the segmentation of your members and potential members. By doing so, you can tailor your membership value to cater to their specific wants and needs, ultimately showcasing the true value of your membership and gaining their trust for joining or renewing.


Segmentation is the Key to Understanding Your Members

A Better Member Experience

Over the past decade, with the rise of personalized services in various industries (e-commerce, social media, entertainment, and more) consumers have come to expect personalized experiences. The prevalence of targeted advertisements, tailored product recommendations, and curated content has contributed to the growth of this expectation among the general public.

Numerous studies and research papers have been conducted on the impact of personalization on customer engagement and satisfaction. These studies often show that personalized communication and offers lead to higher customer retention, increased loyalty, and improved overall customer experience.



Sending the Right Message to the Right Members

Think about these membership groups and your communications:

  • Would you send a student member a promotion about retirement discounts?
  • Would you invite a seasoned member to a new member orientation?
  • How about sending professional development session related to a different occupation?
  • Send industry or occupational information to a member that does not work in that industry or occupation?

Different segments want to realize value and connect in different ways so effective segmentation is critical. Membership organizations and associations need to understand the kind of value people want now, and what value they will need in future, so they can legitimately claim to be a partner for the lifetime of that person’s work life.

Technology enables this. It’s time to invest in data analytics, content creation, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and targeted marketing strategies to cater to the diverse needs and preferences of their members. Deep analysis of your membership and potential market is an important step towards understanding the benefits each of your market segments requires to extract value from their membership.


Examples of Member Segments

There are numerous ways you can segment your membership. Some of the top-level segments include:

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Stage of the career lifecycle or career stage (not the same as age-based segmentation) 

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Industry or occupation 


Specialization or interest area

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Benefits sought or product usage

Each segment should have distinct characteristics to include the following: 

  • Similar needs, wants, and motivations
  • Similar responses to the same marketing
  • Are accessible through the same marketing channels
  • Are an appropriate size to target
  • Are accessible
  • Are identifiable
  • Each segment selected should be demonstrably different from the next


Understanding Your Segments

The simplest approach to comprehend the value each segment offers is by posing targeted inquiries. For instance, when examining the "younger members" segment, you could ask the following questions:

What do we know about this segment?

This includes data about the segment (e.g. member retention rate, first year retention rate, growth rate, penetration into the available market) and insights from research.

What is the overarching value they are seeking?

For a young member it may be that they want a fantastic career and a great lifestyle to go with it. If they can kick a few social goals along the way that is even better.

What is their problem? What do they worry about at night?

For a younger member that may be a lack of understanding about career pathways, a fear of taking the wrong first step, lack of money, lack of connection to others, difficulty doing the job, or job security.

What value promise would answer those concerns?

For a younger member this could be: “We will help you get ahead in your career."

What product, services, events, publications would enable us to fulfil that value promise?

For a younger member that may be that you will help them: 
  • Understand their career pathway options 
  • Access to training 
  • Access to advice and support 
  • Networking with other members 
  • Access to information on common challenges for new professionals in that industry
  • Save them money (e.g. discounts on items they will need) 



Delivering Tangible Value to Your Members

Membership organizations often struggle to clearly communicate the true value of membership due to its intangible nature, making it challenging to explain. As a result, they often default to discussing the tangible aspects, such as features like advice and representation, rather than focusing on the actual benefits. 

When evaluating the value of membership, it's crucial to acknowledge that prospective members are not simply making donations to the organization; they are making an investment and expect to see tangible benefits. Being part of an organization with others and having a stronger voice is a benefit. Thus, articulating value entails explaining how members will achieve a successful return on their investment.

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To do this effectively, it's essential to identify the specific outcomes that members expect to realize and demonstrate how the organization can assist them in achieving these goals. As different individuals may desire different outcomes, understanding the segment to which a person belongs becomes vital to tailor the message to their needs effectively.

Generally speaking, people join membership organizations with the anticipation of having access to workplace advice and support, gaining networking opportunities, accessing professional development resources, achieving a pay rise, staying informed about current industry trends, , influencing outcomes in their workplace or industry and obtaining professional certifications to enhance credibility, and more. 

To help potential members make informed decisions, it is crucial to communicate in terms of "outcomes" rather than just features. By focusing on the concrete benefits and the ways in which membership can positively impact their professional journey, organizations can better convey the true value of being a member.


Is your tech holding you back from segmenting members effectively?

You may be in a toxic technology environment. Get our guide, written for member-centric organizations, on how to identify and combat toxic tech.



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 unions 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.

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