Submitted by ronja on Tue, 01/18/2022 - 07:52

5 Reasons to Build an Engaging Membership Site

By Farhad Khan, BEng & CEO on January 18, 2022

This blog comes with a helpful tool to help you get started: 10 User Acceptance Strategies for Your New Membership Site Project & Worksheet.

Your association is growing, and with growth comes the enormous and never-ending task of managing your members and engaging them with your benefits. Data, registrations, payments, downloads, inquiries, ongoing communications and keeping your member benefits fresh and interesting on top of it all!

The Problem: Your CRM & Website Aren't Meeting Your Needs
Your data management is getting out of hand and the number of routine tasks that need automation is growing. The CRM you are using is extremely helpful, but there are gaps between what your association wants to achieve and the limitations of your current website and CRM capabilities. Even though you have a system that can do a lot, your team is still buried under a never ending to-do list to fill in the gaps that can’t be automated.

Your website may not be providing the ideal user journeys for your various stakeholders. Your website may not be equipped to capture leads and help your association grow. The best way to meet the needs of your stakeholders is to divide your members from your non-members with a member portal that is separate from your website. To understand more about the differences between these two entities, you can download the Member Portal vs Website Guide & Worksheet that clearly outlines the different goals and content on each platform.


The Solution: Complexities Require Customization
When you have a large membership, the complexities of your member benefits and the sophisticated ways you want to engage members can only be effectively executed with a customized membership site.

It makes sense to shuffle the budget to move away from admin swamped with routine tasks towards elevating your efficiency and impact by making the smart investment to create a customized membership site.


When do I Know it’s the Right Time to go Custom?
Not sure if you are at the right stage to make the investment in a custom membership site? Here are the top five reasons to make the switch. We are confident that these five reasons will apply to your association, and a custom membership site will revolutionize your reach.

Let’s understand how a membership site will make your association stronger and your members happier.


1. Creates a Hub for Members to Access all Member Benefits
Of the many ways we try to connect with our members, a custom branded membership site trumps them all. A personal login to your membership site sends the message that your members belong and have access to special information, support and content curated for them. The membership site creates interactive experiences and greater connection between your association and your members, and your members to each other, creating that sense of community your members want.

All your member benefits will be centralized on the site; registration for events, watching webinar recordings, discussion forums, continuing education opportunities and volunteer opportunities. Seeing your member benefits all together is impressive and will help with member retention.


2. Offers a Self-Serve Avenue to Members to Perform Routine Tasks
Freedom! Independence! That’s what people want; to be able to do things when they want, how they like it. The back-and-forth of calls and emails to your staff are time consuming and create delays that impede motivation and enthusiasm. When members can browse and engage on the site, they are empowered by their membership access. They can connect with what they are looking for when they are in the mood.

Members can independently update their accounts, make changes to public profiles, register for events, renew their membership, watch videos, read information or connect with other members.

You can download our 10 User Acceptance Strategies For Your Membership Site Worksheet to make sure that you create a membership site that your members want and will use.


3. Streamline Communication
Having a membership site is the best way to communicate up-to-date news with your members. An email or newsletter can quickly become obsolete, but your members can log into your membership site to see the latest and most accurate information. Your members will know what is happening and what’s coming up that they can look forward to.

Your custom membership site can be set up to alert you when members engage on the site (be it to make changes to their accounts, register for events, post on a forum, or any other activity). You can set up additional email automations to follow up with their movements on the site, as needed.

Your membership site can also easily be integrated with your social media channels, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. This allows your members to easily use their preferred channels to connect with your organization and other members.


4. Save Time and Money by Automating Routine
If your admin team is performing the same routine tasks repeatedly, it’s time to automate. With a custom membership site, automation is easy. There are always tasks that are specific to your association that the one-size-fits-all template software cannot perform. With a custom membership site, your staff’s time will be redirected towards effective ways to grow your association, rather than spin their wheels on their usual hamster wheel to-do lists.

Not sure how much time your admin is spending with routine tasks? As the decision-maker at your association, work with your staff to identify frequently performed tasks that can be automated.

Creating automation of routine tasks will save your association money in reducing the hours of manpower required to do these tasks. As a bonus, this will eliminate the human error that is unavoidable.


5. Powerful Member Engagement Reports Make for Meaningful Marketing
Powerful and useful reports are only possible with healthy, detailed data. We recommend using CiviCRM to manage your data because it is the most powerful member management tool available. With a custom membership site integrated with CiviCRM, you can collect all the customized data that is relevant to your association and your members and see trends in the data.

You will save yourself the inherent roadblocks and limitations that other template membership sites and CRMs have with regards to data management, reporting correlatives and viewing patterns in behaviour, donations and identifying any hiccups before they become a problem. You can tag, group and categorize your data into hierarchies and track histories for easy and effective segmentation. This means you can reach the people you want to speak to and they can hear the information that is relevant to them. Putting your finger on what attracts and motivates your members will be key to effective marketing.

Use our CiviCRM Do's & Don'ts Guide as your go-to tool on how to organise the data on your website using CiviCRM.


Automate Where Possible
As much as a custom membership site will revolutionize your association, know that no tool or system is perfect. There will be actions you want to do that even a custom-built membership site cannot do. For instance, changes in your membership site are not captured by tools that are not integrated with your site. Since not every task can be automated and captured by your third-party tunes, manual operations cannot be entirely avoided.

A Wise Investment for Growth
That being said, you will not be disappointed with what a custom membership site can do to take your association to new heights. Your members will be able to clearly see the value you offer, the benefits available to them and be able to connect to your community as a proud member. You will save time and money, and be able to invest those resources into effective marketing and additional member benefits. Your association has a bright future with a custom membership site!

You can use our Website Wishlist Priorities Worksheet to organize your website improvement ideas so that you can strategize for the best Return On Investment (ROI).


No Time for a Rebuild? Need a Faster Solution?
Creating a customized membership site is not a quick process. It requires time and resources from your association staff to monitor the project and make many decisions along the way. For any association that wants to quickly set up a membership site with member benefits that are straight-forward and ready to go, we recommend Member Lounge, a benefits delivery tool that can be set up as an add-on to your current website and CRM. 

Learn More About Member Lounge!

Looking for More Ideas on How to Improve your Membership Site?
To learn more, register for our upcoming webinars and live podcast interviews with experts!

Author information

farhad khan Grype CEOFarhad Khan, BEng, CEO

A tech entrepreneur specialized in creating membership websites for professional associations to increase member engagement. My background is as an engineer for Nortel and Ericsson. I started my own tech company in 2009 to help associations and nonprofits solve their challenges with my digital technology skills.