Delivering Exceptional Digital Experiences to Your Members
The rapid pace of the digital landscape often leaves associations lagging behind as they struggle to catch up with the changes. In this article, we will explore how to stay ahead and create exceptional digital experiences for your membership.
Over the past few years, the digital revolution has profoundly impacted every aspect of our lives, changing how we purchase products and communicate with others. We have had to adapt to meet the changing needs and behaviors of our members. Many key business processes have been digitized, and digital customer interactions have become the new normal.
According to the Digital Excellence Report by MemberWise, an independent international professional network, 95% of membership organizations across the world recognize that members today expect an interactive, engaging, and value-driven online experience. Surprisingly, only 35% of these organizations have a digital strategy in place, and even fewer (25%) have a data strategy. Less than half of them utilize automation tools for important tasks, which is unsurprising considering that 58% still rely on outdated custom content management systems (CMS).
Member engagement has become the top priority. In a digital world where companies are striving to deliver personalized experiences, failing to understand the level of digital experience maturity can quickly lead to falling below expectations.
Let’s delve into the major challenges faced by membership organizations in this digital-first era and understand why improving member experiences has become crucial.
Challenges for Membership Organizations
The membership sector is encountering numerous difficulties but harnessing the power of digital experience platforms (DXPs) can enhance their digital maturity and provide engaging member journeys.
- Sky-high member expectations: Members have become accustomed to receiving VIP treatment from companies like Starbucks and Amazon. They expect their experiences to be engaging, interactive, and tailored to their personal interests and needs. They desire self-service tools and online FAQs that empower them to have more control over their accounts. Unfortunately, many membership organizations lack the necessary systems to provide such experiences.
- Multichannel requirements: Offline channels are losing effectiveness in the membership world, prompting organizations to adopt a cohesive multichannel approach to engagement. However, ensuring consistency across channels and aggregating member data from various sources is challenging, particularly when relying on disparate systems and isolated data.
- Lack of optimized journeys: Members seek instant gratification, and if they can’t find or process something quickly, they may abandon the experience. Hence, membership platforms must be more user-friendly than ever, with technology that doesn’t impede page speeds.
- Neglecting retention: While membership organizations often focus on acquisition, they often experience high dropout rates after the first year. Failing to demonstrate the ongoing value and benefits of membership to existing members undermines first-year renewals. Organizations that lack a deep understanding of their members and their motivations are likely to struggle.
- Lagging behind data regulations: Safeguarding members’ data should be a priority in digital efforts. However, striking a balance between privacy and delivering personalized experiences is a complex task. Organizations without proper compliance tools may find themselves in legal trouble.
- Measuring ROI: Even membership organizations equipped with personalization tools often struggle to effectively measure return on investment. Robust analytics capabilities are necessary to understand what resonates with audiences across all efforts and what doesn’t. A cross-channel approach is vital for linking conversions to their respective journeys.
- Streamlining technology: Marketers burdened with labor-intensive and repetitive manual processes are hindered in capitalizing on opportunities and delivering relevant experiences. Systems should empower marketers to be self-sufficient in creating experiences that attract, nurture, convert, and retain members. A traditional CMS is insufficient for these requirements.
Seven Essential Tools for Delivering Exceptional Digital Experiences
Creating outstanding digital experiences is no small feat. Membership organizations need to adopt an outside-in, value-driven, customer-first approach to acquisition and retention. Supporting digital strategies with robust tools is key to enhancing digital experience maturity. Here are at least seven ways to achieve that:
- Deeper member insights: Understanding the needs and motivations of your audience is vital for driving intent and improving conversion rates and renewals. A comprehensive 360° view of your members allows for accurate message customization as they progress through the membership journey. Seamless integration between systems is necessary to maintain consistent member profiles across websites, ecommerce platforms, mobile apps, event registrations, and social interactions.
- Ease-of-use for marketers: Investing in advanced marketing tools is insufficient if your marketing team struggles to utilize them effectively. Marketers should be self-sufficient in managing, creating, and publishing content across multiple channels without technical assistance. They should also be able to run, automate, test, and optimize campaigns independently.
- Optimized email campaigns: Easy-to-use customizable email templates amplify marketing efforts and engage members effectively. Marketing automation tools enable timely invitations, reminders, and messages to reduce first-year dropouts. Website interactions can trigger targeted email campaigns. Personalization tools ensure tailored communication, while A/B testing capabilities optimize email effectiveness. Built-in privacy compliance simplifies adherence to data regulations, ensuring contact with opted-in individuals. Integration between these tools enhances overall efficiency.
- Personalization through personas: By leveraging comprehensive member data, organizations can segment their member base and provide tailored content. Assigning personas allows for targeted and tactical engagement, meeting ongoing individual needs and nurturing members through renewals. Targeted content personalization supports lead nurturing, enhances member loyalty, and boosts upselling and cross-selling.
- Member-only zones: Members seek a sense of exclusivity and personal care from organizations. Members-only areas provide a dedicated space where they can access FAQs, self-service resources, and gamified content. Engaging members through action-based trophies and rewards enhances their connection with the brand.
- An omnichannel approach: Members desire engagement across various channels and devices, necessitating consistent experiences. They already interact with each other on social sites, presenting an opportunity for organizations to join the conversation. A DXP enables a cohesive member journey across different touchpoints.
- A smooth customer journey: Technology and processes must support engagement efforts. Seamless sign-ins, registrations, and payment processes are vital for a smooth member experience. Fast page loads and clear navigation further enhance the journey. Technology serves as the foundation for digital maturity.
Technology and Strategy is the Key to Digital Experience Maturity
Engaging members should be the top priority, with strategies and technology aligned to enable marketing teams to design and manage exceptional omnichannel experiences that attract, nurture, convert, and retain members. Organizations must assess and potentially enhance their digital maturity and agility to quickly adapt to changes and evolving member needs.
A unified digital experience platform offers the necessary tools to thrive in the digital-first, digital-now world. To learn more about how a DXP can support your membership organization, reach out to us for a smarter approach to membership digital marketing. In the coming months, we will continue to explore how a digital experience maturity model can help overcome membership challenges and guide you in making the right technology investments for your organization.