Member communication is not as easy as some may think. Effective member communication is more than committing words to paper/screen. Unusually, I received comms from each of the three professional bodies I am a member of in the same week. The words in each were fine, but the difference in the how they made me feel is marked.
- email 1 came from CIPR after I renewed my membership
- email 2 came from CMI to say my renewal is soon
- email 3 came from CIM about my CPD approval
Three different reasons for contacting me, but each with the golden opportunity to make me feel I am understood and valued as a return for my membership fee.
Key messages I took from each piece of comms are:
- Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)
- the first two words were “thank you” … for renewing my membership
- the second paragraph says they are pleased I am part of the member community
- an extract of the benefits available focused on what is relevant to members affected by COVID
- the penultimate paragraph says they are pleased to be able to continue supporting me
- the final point reminds me that I can (and provides a link for further information) claim tax relief for my membership fee
- Chartered Management Institute (CMI)
- a video in the header attracted my attention
- highlighted the mentoring programme
- reminded me that I get a suite of benefits with my membership
- invites me to contact them for help or to discuss my renewal
- Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)
- factual and to the point
- thanked me for submitting my CPD
- confirmed that my CPD submission was approved
- informed me that I “will receive a confirmation letter and certificate in the post within the next several weeks”
The CIPR continued their empathetic messaging track with making me feel that they understand me, and what I need from them. I appreciate that they thanked me for renewing my membership and signposted me to resources I am likely to need. I like that they recognise I am part of the member community. The messaging made me feel I am valued and not just a number or cash cow.
The CMI highlighted a benefit as a way of setting the scene for why I should renew. They mentioned other benefits are available but did not identify or signpost any. My feeling is that this email is the first of a teaser campaign leading to when my membership is due for renewal later this month so my guess is that further benefits will be identified in subsequent comms. I like how they do not appear to take my renewal for granted as they make a point to invite me to connect to discuss this. I do not engage with CMI very much. With CMI, I am one of those members who pays their fee, uses the post-nominals, and dips into resources and CPD content as-and-when. Personally, I like that they are not complacent and want to engage with me to make sure I renew.
The CIM sent a functional email. No bells, whistles or feel of valuing my membership. As warm a sentiment as the CIPR and CMI portrayed in their comms, the opposite is how how I feel from this email. True, telling me my CPD submission has been approved is a functional message, but … it is a big deal to me as it means that I retain my Chartered status which was not even referred to in the messaging. Surely … this communication called for recognition that the outcome of what they were telling me is that I am still Chartered? The fact that they will send me my certificate in “several weeks” does not make me feel that they are bothered about me. From this email, I do not feel that they understand what resonates with members, or that they value us more than there being a transactional relationship.
As anyone who works with membership organisations knows, retention rates depend on making your members feel you value them and that you are on the same path of a common purpose, as much as what you offer them.
- Do you consider how what you communicate makes members feel?
- Do you let members know you understand them and what they need?
- Do you let members feel they belong and are appreciated, or treat them like a number or cash cow?
- Do you take into account what members value in your communication?
A few things to consider to improve your member communication …
- When did you last evaluate your touchpoints?
- When did you last evaluate and analyse your messaging?
- Do you split-test your messaging and forms of touchpoints?
- Do you use Net Promoter Scores for your touchpoints?
- Do you have a focus group of members to test messaging on?
Members typically join a membership organisation to band together for a common purpose and for a sense of belonging. Members stay because you add value to their life / career / business, you understand what they need, you provide solutions to their challenges, etc, or all or a combination of the above.
Making a member know you understand them, value their involvement and recognise what they need from you are key to increasing your retention rate.