Do your members receive benefits from other members?

If not, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful methods to acquire and retain members.

If you are, do you approach member benefits with a strategy in mind?

By understanding what we want member benefits to do for our organization, developing a strategy to achieve your goal/goals, and ensuring a system is in place to measure progress and the impact of various efforts – you can maximize the impact your member benefits have on the success of your organization.

Member Benefits?

Member benefits aren’t always called member benefits.

For the purpose of this article, member benefits refer to any special offers that members are able to offer other members through your organization.

This includes discounts on products and services, the ability to trade services, members-only free consultations, special networking opportunities, group purchasing opportunities, etc.

For your members, member benefits are about enjoying or offering special value through membership in your organization. Those offering benefits enjoy better business, those exploiting benefits enjoy better value!

For your organization, member benefits have a different purpose:

Rethinking the Purpose of Member Benefits

Most member-driven organizations have member benefit programs that under-perform, though few recognize it.

This is because most membership managers aren’t aware of what a high-performing member benefits program looks like.

At the very least, your member benefits program should be about:

  • Acquiring new members
  • Retaining existing members

Depending on the unique nature of your organization, you can add plenty of specific criteria, including:

  • Driving event engagement
  • Spreading awareness of a cause
  • Up-streaming members to higher membership categories
  • Etc.

Whatever the purpose of your member benefits program, it’s essential that you’re able to state it clearly and confidently. Once you know exactly what you want your member benefits program to be doing, you’ll be able to determine how well it’s doing it, and make the changes necessary to ensure it does so better!

The ‘Benefits’ of a Strategic Approach

More benefits, better benefits, and plenty of awareness about those benefits are the keys to enjoying higher application and renewal rates from your member benefit strategy. That’s why your member benefits strategy should start with the tactics you can use to increase, improve, and spread awareness of the benefits available to members.

Tactics to build your member benefits catalog

Are all your members aware that they can reach out to your organization to offer special benefits to members?

If you can’t confidently say yes, this is the best place to start building the value of your member benefits.

A quick, easy, and impactful starting place to build your member benefits catalog is with an email campaign. Consider building a list of worthy candidates to offer member benefits, and reach out with messaging persuading them to reach out to you or your team.

For many professional or commercial organizations, this process is fairly straightforward. A list of businesses/professionals not currently offering member benefits is easy to build, and the business case for promotional offers, etc. are reasonably straightforward to communicate.

Member benefits for non-profits and purpose-based organizations

For member-driven organizations that don’t revolve primarily around business needs, building a catalog of member benefits requires a bit more creativity and outreach.

For example, if you’re a pet fostering organization. Have you considered reaching out to members to inquire about interest and availability for dog walking, pet sitting, handmade enclosure accessories, etc? You might also consider reaching out to non-member organizations specializing in pet needs. Local groomers, pet trainers, stores, and artisans are happy to rally behind a shared cause and able to enjoy lots of value from the business their members-only promotions will bring.

Are you a club specializing in a special interest or hobby? Consider reaching out to your members to see if any would be interested in offering unique services to other members. Members can offer a lot of value when it comes to offering advice, sourcing parts/products/collectibles, appraising possessions, etc.

No matter what kind of organization you’re managing – member benefits can help you do so successfully! When it comes to non-profits and purpose-based organizations, it just takes creativity!

Tactics to increase the value of member benefits

5% off a purchase of $100 or more for members is a benefit, but it’s not a very exciting one.

Often, it’s uncertainty that leads a business to ‘aim low’ when offering benefits to your members. They’re concerned that offering a deal that’s too good will result in lost opportunity for revenue.

What they rarely recognize, however, is that offering an uninspiring deal/benefit is lost opportunity as well. After all, if nobody engages with the offer, what’s the point of offering it?

Encouraging stakeholders to increase the value of the benefits they offer your members is a matter of articulating the value they can return and ensuring that this value is experienced. Concerned that a proposed benefit won’t lead to member engagement? Share this information with the person/business offering the benefit, and propose one you think would. Let them know you’ll work with them to ensure the benefit returns value, and that they can always ‘dial’ the benefit back if it doesn’t!

Tactics to spread member benefit awareness

You can have the best member benefits conceivable, but if none of your members are aware they exist, they won’t create any impact for your organization or members.

How often are your members taking advantage of the benefits available to them?

If your membership management software supports it, the best way to find out is through analytics. If your member benefits are available through your member portal, compare the number of members visiting your benefits catalog to the number that click through and engage with them.

If your software doesn’t support analytics around member benefits – you’ve still got great options. Picking a few of your member benefits at random, and get in touch with those offering them. A quick conversation might not give you hard data on engagement, but it’s likely to give you all the information you need to make a confident assessment of overall engagement. Consider repeating this process on a regular basis to continually monitor benefit engagement.

Is awareness low?

If you’re finding that your members aren’t even finding your benefits page, making this page more prominent will have a big impact on benefit engagement. Consider making a special post on your member portal driving members to your benefits page, or sending an email to a list of members that have never engaged with the page.

Is engagement low?

If you’re finding that members are coming to your benefits page, but not taking advantage of the benefits they find there – you’ve got to boost engagement. Investigating why members aren’t engaging with available benefits might reveal that available offers are uninspiring, but could also reveal something simple to fix such as out-of-date business information!