By Guest Blogger:

Russell Ward

Co-Founder of Meta Capability

Membership bodies are sitting on a digital gold mine, their Professional Framework and content, but are not using it to their advantage to engage and grow membership.

I am relatively new to the Membership world having spent all my life in the Corporate sector working with technology in one form of the other.

Having attended a number of differing Membership conferences I see a common theme of challenges in the industry. Namely engaging, retaining and growing members and how to attract the younger generations that are locked into a digital world, and are baffled by the “old fashioned” or “analogue” membership offerings.

It is a challenge for most membership organisations as the digital age is upon them and they haven’t seen it coming as fast as it has. And it will only get faster.

Even many of the older digitally savvy membership population are demanding better solutions from their institutes and associations. So how is the industry going to move faster to accommodate them?

A digital strategy

It is especially hard when organisations think a digital strategy starts with a CRM system, a website, a content management system or social media. They are all important components that need to be included, but that is not a digital strategy.

The most important thing to keep front of mind when forming a digital strategy is the member. They are ultimately the end user and they will determine whether your strategy is successful or not.  If it succeeds then engagement will be high, members will come back for more, you will attract new and younger members and the word will spread. That will ultimately increase your revenues.

When thinking about the member’s online experience you need to work out their journey from the time they land on your website. What are you going to offer them? Where will they go next? How will you entice them into your world and provide them with such a compelling experience that they come back for more and tell their colleagues?

You already have a powerful asset – make it work for you

The good news is nearly every membership body is already sitting on the biggest asset it could use in a digital strategy – its professional framework, standards or qualifications. The problem is they normally reside in a PDF or similar static document.

They also have a whole array of content in the forms of PDFs or videos or articles. However the user has to trawl through the library to find the content they are looking for, which in this day and age means they give up.

The content is not linked to the framework in any online automated way.

How to make it come alive

Members come to a professional membership body to learn about their industry, develop themselves through reading the best curated or created content relevant to that industry, attain standards or qualifications and understand what good looks like for the roles in that industry (the Professional Framework), as well as finding out what events and networks they can attend.

So if you take the professional framework and enable people to self-assess against it or be assessed against it, and they receive digital badges that they can put on Linkedin to demonstrate their achievements, then you are creating a user journey for the member that is engaging.

If you link content (small videos or PDFs etc) to that framework so that where there are gaps in capability or knowledge, the content automatically appears at the bottom of the page (on a smart phone or any device) in priority of what the user needs to know, then you give them the opportunity to learn from high quality information instantly.

They do not have to search to learn – all the relevant learning material is presented to them and they have an automated learning path that leads them to standards or qualifications.

Now that is a compelling addictive digital and useful strategy for the member.


Russell Ward is a published author and Co-Founder of Meta Capability Ltd which is a cloud based learning and development technology company that changes capability. He helps Membership Bodies engage, retain and grow their membership base by putting their professional framework online. This enables members to self-assess, or be assessed and be presented with content relevant to their gaps to help them learn and attain their standards or qualifications.