Think about everything you do (work-related) on a day-to-day basis. What do those tasks all boil down too?
Likely, engagement and retention.
But when measuring those two elements - engagement and retention - how is your association performing? Is event attendance up? Are renewal rates down? Are recruitment levels at a standstill? More importantly, why?
You obviously want high levels of recruitment, engagement, and retention, but what’s the bridge between wanting and having? It really all boils down to one thing: understanding your members.
Now you may understand your members really well, but let me ask you this:
- Does your staff understand your members the way you understand your members? Are you all on the same page about wants, needs, interests, preferences, etc.?
- How often do you think about where your members are in life and how that relates to your association? Do you (or your offerings) change as they change? If so, are your members aware of that?
- Has your membership recently changed or is your membership currently changing? In other words, are new generations entering the picture? What you once understood to be true about your members may not be true anymore.
If you’re not feeling great about some of your answers to those questions, you may want to consider creating a member journey map. A member journey map is a representation of what your members go through when interacting with your association. It allows you to see their full experience, from their initial contact with your organization all the way to years (and years) of membership.
The benefits of this? 1.) It allows you and your staff to get on the same page about what your members think, want, need, and feel - and when - so you can better serve them. (This is particularly important if you have a siloed staff or multiple departments.) 2.) It allows you to see where gaps might lie in terms of what your members are experiencing versus what you’re actually providing - or think you’re providing. (You want them to have the best experience possible so they’ll stay with your organization!)
So how do you create a member journey map? Well it stems from a combination of two things:
- Member personas - For those who aren’t familiar, member personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal members based on market research and real data about your existing members. They represent the goals, challenges, and pain points of your different member types. Their role in member journey mapping? If you know what your members are trying to achieve and when or what they’re struggling with and when, you can then be there to help them in the precise moment they need it. (Can you say value? And value = retention.) For tips on creating member personas, check out our post, 5 Steps to Personas, Prospecting, and Peace of Mind.
- Data - Sometimes, actions speak louder than words. While you definitely want to talk to your members to build out your member personas, you also want to pay attention to what your members are actually doing. When are they engaging with your association the most? What programs/offerings are the most popular? When do your members start dropping off the most? After what point do they typically stay? These are things you’ll want to pay attention to and include in your member journey map.
Now if you’re thinking, “Our members are so different, they wouldn’t all follow the same path,” we completely agree, which is why you’ll probably want to create a few member journey maps to represent your different member types. (One for student, one for professional, one for organizational, etc.) Not all members are the same, and you want your journey maps to be as accurate as possible.
Once you have the content for your member journey maps laid out (the research done and the paths understood), you’ll then want to present them in a way that’s easy to digest. For many companies and organizations, this means in infographic form. (Note: Your maps do NOT have to be elaborate. If it’s easier for you to create them in storyboard form, that’s perfectly fine too. Just make sure they’re easy to access, understand, and share.)
If you’re still confused about what a member journey map might look like, take a look at one of our customer journey maps below. As you can see, it represents what a customer goes through (thinks, needs, feels, etc.) from prior to even selecting MemberClicks to working with MemberClicks for a while. And knowing this information about our customers allows us to better serve them.
Again, member journey mapping is all about engaging your members at the right time so they’ll WANT to renew. Want more tips for boosting membership retention at your association? Check out our free guide, Membership Retention Tactics That WORK!