Adding new membership benefits is important for keeping association members engaged. It could be a new cutting edge benefit or it could be one that has been around for years that your association has not yet adopted. But how do you know that the new benefit is right for your association? Read on and find out what you need to consider if you want to introduce a new benefit to your members (with the implementation of automatic renewal of membership dues as an example throughout).
Is There Demand Within the Association?
It is important to listen to what members are saying. If you receive recurring requests for a specific benefit, it is worth looking into. Whether you hear them talking about it at your annual conference or they email you specifically, it is important to take note what your members are talking requesting.
Example: Members often belong to a number of associations. When the renewal deadline has come and gone, the reason you often hear from members who have outstanding membership dues is that they could not keep track of what memberships they have already paid. Members will ask whether there is an option to auto-renew.
Will this Benefit Your Association and Members?
You have heard the requests; it’s now time to determine whether it’s appropriate for your specific association. It’s a matter of weighing the pros and cons. If you find that it could be a great addition for your membership, bring it up to the Board of Directors and with your colleagues.
Example: Auto-renewal can be a great way to retain members. If your association is struggling to hold on to its members, you would be providing them with an opportunity to renew their membership dues hands-free. Your board members will see this as a great retention strategy.
Is the Demand High Enough Within Your Association?
You have only heard from a select number of members about their desire for a new benefit. It’s time to let them and the rest of your members, know that it is something you want to offer. To determine whether the demand is high enough, send an email to all your members asking if it is something they would find valuable. Ask them to reply with a simple yes or no response. Make sure to not provide too much information at the risk of overwhelming them, but just enough to generate a response. Plan to send your email a month before the anticipated launch date and send it at least twice to be sure that your members have had the opportunity to read it.
Example: Some members have let you know that they want the option to automatically renewal their membership. You will need to ask your members who is interested. Save all the responses you receive because you will need to make sure that everyone who said yes has their profile settings changed correctly to receive the auto-renew invoice.
Provide the Details
Once you have received sufficient agreeable responses, let the members know that you will be going forward with the new benefit and provide them with rest of the details. For instance, let them know when they can start using it, what is required from them and what can they expect going forward.
Example: With automatic renewal, let association members know that automatic renewal will begin following their credit card transaction for the membership renewal coming up. The system will now have their credit card memorized for future dues transactions. Going forward, they will still receive membership renewal notifications at the end of the year but will no longer need to manually renew.
Perform a Test-run
Before you officially launch the new benefit to the members, take the time to test out the feature on a sample member account. This way you can see what it will look like before it is released for all your members to see. Chances are it will not work the way you want it to on the first try. You may need to tweak a few settings until it is exactly the way you want it. When it looks just right, you can now go forward with implementing the new feature.
Example: On the sample account you created, prepare a membership dues invoice. If done correctly, you will notice that next year’s invoice will have been created and labeled along the lines of “awaiting auto-bill” for the next membership year. If this is not what you see, go back and ensure you have updated all the required settings.
Follow-up After Implementation
It’s important to make sure that the benefit was properly implemented. Depending on what the benefit is, visit the webpage or a member’s profile to ensure it works and if necessary, check in on your members to find out if they have any questions.
Example: Check with members who have opted for automatic renewal and have already paid their membership dues, to see if their next bill is marked as “awaiting auto-bill”.
As you can see, there are a few things to consider when introducing your members to a new benefit. If you follow these easy steps, it can be a seamless process.