What are the top 20 membership sector uses of the web? How are we driving up member recruitment and retention via the web? What has changed since 2013 – In this Blog article we find out!

This year we published our second annual survey summary report (sponsored by ASI Europe) on how the membership sector harnesses the web to increase membership value and growth. Over 425 association and membership professionals took part (a 35% increase from 2013!).

In this year’s ‘Top 20’ it will come as no surprise that we all now have a website providing members with online information and advice. We send out regular member eUpdates and more organisations are polling members than ever before for their thoughts, feelings and opinions via online surveys. However, this year there were some surprises!

Let’s take a look –

Biggest Change since 2013 – We can uncover the biggest change this year is the number of organisations enabling members (and non-members) to register for events online. This has gone up by a staggering 12%. This is followed closely by the number of organisations ‘going digital’ with their journals and magazines (+8%).

‘Digital Only’ Memberships – Last year we reported that 10% of organisations offered ‘digital only’ memberships and 30% were considering it in the future. In 2014 we can report that 12% of organisations provide ‘digital only’ memberships (+2%) and 35% (+5%) will consider it in the future.

Membership Marketing – 75% of professional bodies now actively market membership via email compared with 65% of consumer-focused membership bodies and 63% of trade associations. Interestingly, marketing via social media platforms is similar. The number of professional bodies using paid-for advertising via search engine websites has increased from 14% last year to 20% this year (+6%).

Surprising Result No 1– Approximately 1 in 5 professional bodies (21%) still do not conduct online member research. However comparatively more (79%) conduct online member research compared with trade associations (71%). Interestingly, trade associations conduct more non-member research (37%) than professional bodies (35%).

Online Joining and Renewal – Although we have seen a decrease in the overall provision of this functionality 61% of professional bodies now enable online joining. Amongst trade associations this figure is significantly lower (31%). The ability to renew members online has remained roughly the same for professional bodies; whilst this functionality is much lower amongst trade associations (14%).

Surprise No 2 – There was a 7% reduction in the number of organisations providing members with eLearning opportunities. This remains a bit of a mystery as prior to our research there was an assumption provision of such services was on the increase. We will continue to explore this result!

Summary – The web continues to play a critical role for membership organisations and associations. We are marketing membership harder than ever in order to increase membership revenue. Organisations can improve engagement and retention by gaining clearer member/non-member insight via the effective use of regular cost-effective online research tools. E.g. SurveyMonkey.  The ‘journey’ into membership needs to be as accessible as possible. Online joining and renewal will help and it is disappointing to see a small reduction in the number of organisations offering this critical functionality. Marketing alone will not bring in new members!

Want to find out more key sector facts and figures?

Further articles will follow covering more highlights of the report, however you can access our full PDF version by joining the MemberWise Network (completely free-of charge). A link will be contained in your Welcome email. Our 20-page report (sponsored by ASI Europe) contains statistically significant results and covers critical online membership-focused topic areas including sector online goals/challenges, online member value, websites/CRM, the ‘mobile’ web, online social media and email marketing. Existing members can request a copy of the report by emailing [email protected]

The results will be explored further at the membership sector’s national web-focused conference, Harnessing the Web 2014, at the Hotel Russell (London) on 7th October 2014. You can find out more by visiting www.harnessingtheweb.com