Members are the lifeblood of any member-driven organization, and it can be an uphill battle to find more of them!

You work hard to spread awareness of your organization to the people you think would value from membership, but it’s a struggle to bridge the gap from making prospects aware of you, to making them take action and actually apply!

Fortunately, Member365 is here to help with 5 tips to boost member applications.

1. Make Application Easy

It’s a simple idea, repeated frequently on the Member365 blog:

The harder it is for someone to apply for membership in your organization, the less likely they are to successfully do so.

Filling out and submitting forms might not seem like a difficult task, but requiring even a single click more than necessary can have a significant (and measurable!) impact on your applications this year.

Think of it this way. Have you ever gone to purchase something online, only to decide to abandon the purchase while filling out your payment or shipping information? You’re losing potential members for the exact same reason.

Applying for membership is generally a lot more involved than purchasing a product. Not only does a membership application require an applicant to provide more information, but adds friction to the purchase process by often requiring lengthy approval processes.

Do you require an applicant to fill out every one of your fields to begin processing an application? Is it possible to gather that information after their membership has been approved? Paring down your membership application form to what is strictly necessary to extend membership can have a massive impact on successful applications.

2. Go To Your Member, Broadcast Your Message

Potential members have no reason to seek out your organization. Without a strategy to bring them to you, they just wont come.

Your strategy doesn’t have to be complex, but it does have to be. Consider making yours about two things: Finding and talking to your potential members.

You know your members better than anyone else. Outside of your organization, where can you reliably find them online?

If you’re a professional association, you might consider checking social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn for professional groups or common hashtags. See what people are talking about, and consider joining the conversation.

So long as it’s easy to apply for membership in your organization, simply contributing legitimately valuable insight to a conversation online can be all it takes to make a few members. With a link to your (streamlined) application process, membership management software will help you capture value from engagements like these by bringing prospects into your funnel, and driving them towards membership.

3. Streamline Back-end Administration

Membership managers can’t process applications like software can. Membership software can’t manage relationships like managers can.

When you don’t have the right software (or any at all!), membership managers are forced to do work that can be performed faster and more consistently by software. Every second they spend processing payments, updating invoices, creating accounts, managing emails, etc. is a second taken away from the work that they do best – building relationships.

When back-end work is automated by software, membership managers are able to perform the work that produces you the most value. So long as your application process is fully automated, all a membership manager have to do is bring prospects the beginning of your application process, and let the system manage the rest. With no need to shepherd individual members through the process, they can focus on finding more.

4. Measure Results

You can’t change what you don’t measure.

-Peter Drucker

Do you know how many people started an application last year, but didn’t finish?

Do you know how many people applied, but didn’t renew?

If you aren’t measuring these values – you can’t have an impact on improving them. Membership management software can help by giving you the tools to measure, improving your ability to make gains by giving you the ability to see and understand member behaviour.

Having access to analytics is only half the battle however. Measuring everything, after all, is almost as bad as measuring nothing at all!

To get the most out of the analytics offered by your membership management software, valuable measurement starts with a statement of what you want to measure. The more refined your understanding of what you’d like to measure, the better your measurements will be. Lets take a look at an example:

Tracy’s goal is to drive applications. She has noticed plenty of traffic to her website’s application form, but very few actual applications. Somewhere between clicking the form and submitting it, prospects are leaving her membership funnel. To find out where, she has to measure prospect behaviour throughout the application process, and see if there is some common behaviour that might help her explain why prospects are not completing applications.

Using her membership management software, Tracy collects data from prospects filling out her form over a period of time. By measuring how complete a form is when prospects abandon it, she finds that they tend to leave sometime after the halfway point in their application.

Knowing that prospects are leaving about halfway through their application, she speculates as to why this might be. She speculates that her form is too long, and is overwhelming prospects with it’s many fields.

She decides to test this idea to see if she can optimize her application form’s conversion rate

5. Optimize

Once you’re measuring applicant behaviours, you can analyze it as Tracy did in the example above, and use that analysis to optimize your application process.

Above we saw Tracy speculate that her forms were too long, leading prospects to abandon their applications. By reducing form-fields to what is strictly necessary for applications alone, and setting up a post-approval form to collect whatever is missing, she can test her hypothesis by measuring the impact of her changes on successful applications. If her work improves them, she’ll know she’s right!

Of course, this example is only hypothetical, but as we saw in #1 on our list, Tracy’s efforts are sure-fire way to significantly boost member applications. By eliminating as many form-fields as possible, she makes application easy. Less friction separates motivated prospects from membership, making the journey from prospect to member an effortless one. Even better, by setting up an additional form to be sent after application, Tracy ensures that she still collects all the information she needs on her member!