When you think of a “modern membership platform”, what comes to mind? A quick Google search produces a lot of chatter about “membership sites”, including tools to power your organization’s online presence. A few industry-specific companies like Wild Apricot and MemberClicks cluster near the top, as do more general content management systems (CMS) like Wix and Squarespace. But it’s surprising there isn’t more discussion of omni-channel solutions designed to help you run a membership organization is today’s multi-device world. One might assume that including the word “modern” might yield something more, well, cutting-edge than a mere website-building platform.
Just to be clear: your organization definitely still needs a website, and that’s not going to change any time soon. But almost two decades in to the new millennium, it’s time to acknowledge that your dues-paying members expect quite a bit more. Communication in all other facets of their lives--from work, to family, and friend groups--has evolved into a real-time, two-way conversation, on the go, seamlessly across all their favorite devices. Does your organization currently have the tools to engage with members this way?
Static website platforms billed as “modern membership platforms” often provide the basics needed to keep your organization running, albeit not very effectively. They likely include this list of must-have features that, at a bare minimum, every member-based organization will need to operate.
Basic membership platform features
Email: Send newsletters, segment your list, and make announcements.
Event Registration: Distribute invitations, sell tickets, and manage RSVPs.
Payment / Billing: If you’re collecting dues, you’ll need a portal for members to swipe their credit card. You might also want to invoice them on a recurring basis.
Content and Education: A place for your thought-leadership, videos, courses, blog articles and any other content your organization provides.
Directory: Easily find contact information for other members, corporate sponsors, and staff.
While incredibly rudimentary and obvious, you’d be surprised how many organizations call it a day after setting up this basic infrastructure. To me, it seems like anything but modern, and it’s worth diving into what more forward-thinking organizations have rolled out to meet member expectations and provide real value.
Modern membership platform features
Mobile App: Even if your membership site is responsive, a native app will pay huge dividends. Why? Engagement and retention rates tend to be much higher, at least for organizations that provide a lot of value through content. When you think about it, news outlets aren’t that different from member-focused communities:
Another key reason to invest in a native mobile app for your organization, rather than just a website, is that it will enhance the impact of the other features on this list, further compounding your members’ engagement.
- Instant Messaging: How many texts, DMs, and chat messages do you send every day? Probably too many to count. If your organization doesn’t offer members a centralized messaging platform for members to connect in real-time, then you’re undoubtedly forgoing a ton of quality interaction. This article sums it up quite nicely: “why we hate sending email but love sending texts.”
- Newsfeed: No, I’m not talking about your Facebook page -- there’s too much noise on social media. But offering an internal newsfeed, with announcements, articles, videos, and event reminders for members, can provide real value. Indeed all of this content already exists on your membership website, but your members likely aren’t going out of their way to find it, nor can they “like”, comment, and share it easily.
- Groups: Every organization has subgroups that yearn to engage amongst themselves. How does your organization foster these incredibly valuable interactions? The ability to create interest-based sub-communities within your total membership, and facilitate conversation amongst those smaller groups, is the crux of how many organizations are able to drive engagement. Even if you have gated or invite-only areas of your website, there’s a lot of room for improvement, and better technology can help.
Organizations need a modern set of tools to reach 100% of members across all channels. Gone are the days when throwing up a website meant covering your bases. Luckily, true omni-channel membership platforms like GroupFire are focused on helping organizations better communicate and boost member engagement all year round. If you’re looking to increase attendance, offer a superior member experience, and unlock more value from your existing content, talk to us today about a modern membership platform. We'd love to hear from you!