The plight of an association’s membership manager is finding and signing up potential members. You spend your time combing through industry files, looking for prospects, and trying to attract new members any way you can. One strategy that is becoming popular is inbound marketing. The idea behind it is simple, instead of going out to find people, make it easy for them to come to you. If you have a website and an online registration system, this method is set up easily and could have great results.
New prospects may find your website when they sign up to attend one of your events or they are looking for information on your association online. Once your prospect has found you, make it easy for them to join by placing a button on your page that says “Become a Member!” You can even put this type of button on your event registration forms so that non-members can easily join while they register for your events.
You can use your online registration system to set up an online membership signup form on your website. Make sure that the online form collects information that may be helpful for future events or communication because all this information can be stored in your member database. For example, one group we talked to that works with veterinary medical personnel asked for information about registrant’s specialties, interests in events, and other background information on the membership form. When the time came for their next event they were able to look at the membership file and see which members would be interested in attending. Collecting as much information as possible on an online form can save both membership managers and event managers time because all the information is put straight into the membership database and not just floating around on a piece of paper.
Another group we spoke with uses various forms of membership to classify new members. Their registration form lists different types of association memberships and based on what the registrant chooses they are assigned to that specific membership group. When their membership manager needs to alert a membership group about something, the list is ready to go because the registrants were automatically placed in the group they belong in in the database. Setting up your registration form this way can allow your event system to add people to your membership database in segments.
Think about membership recruiting as an event. Once you have a prospect who is interested, they should be able to register on their own like they would for a conference. You can set up rules for payment or even indicate on the form that the association must review the registration before finalizing the membership. Your online registration system can collect payments, send invoices, and give them a record of what they filled in to close the loop, without having to do more work. Ultimately, the easier you make it for new members to join, the more likely that they will. If you thought your event system was just for conferences and meetings; think again.