Healthcare association leaders face a constant effort to build or maintain their membership base, by recruiting new members and retaining existing members. The Internet gives healthcare associations many ways to maximize the potential of membership and at the same time build the association’s earning power.
Broadly speaking, this involves taking the time to determine what people want from membership in your healthcare association, demonstrating clear benefits of membership, and providing a dynamic, up-to-date website experience for members and nonmembers alike.
Take Time to Learn What Members Want
One way to find out what potential association members want is to ask them what organizations they compare yours to. You might be surprised at the results, finding not only competing associations, but also associations that provide specific benefits (like training). From responses, you can gain a better idea of what people expect from your organization. You can group responses into two or three overarching themes: a group that wants networking opportunities, another that is interested in group insurance rates, and another interested in continuing education, for example. Ask yourself if your association meets these needs. If so, you can determine ways to show potential members how their needs would be met by joining your association.
Showcase Tangible Benefits of Membership
You can promote the benefits of membership on static pages of your website as well as on your blog. If your association offers group insurance rates, you can provide information on your benefits page about how much the average member saves by taking advantage of this benefit.
In your blog, you can highlight other benefits. You might provide several posts on a recent member gathering, a set of seminars sponsored by your association, or a relevant community event. Stories like these lend themselves to photos and video content. Testimonials, too, can be very persuasive to those considering joining.
Offer Good Content for Everyone
You don’t want all the content on your website to be for paid members only. Newspapers that have erected airtight paywalls, with no content available for free have suffered from this approach. Instead, you want to offer a “tasting menu” of content to all site visitors, while making certain content available only for paid association members. Encourage association members to interact in comment threads, forums, and polls on your site to increase visitor engagement and give them a reason to return.
Premium Content for Association Members
By offering high quality, current content to all website visitors, you whet their appetites for even better content available to paid members. Make it clear that those with paid membership have access to premium content, whether that’s educational material, a member networking site, access to live webinars, or other products and services available only to association members. You also have to make premium member benefits worthwhile by keeping member-only site features up-to-date, and by encouraging networking and interaction on premium pages.
Great Site Design Is Fundamental
All these techniques rest on a foundation of great website design. Your site should be uncluttered, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to navigate. Static pages should be monitored for broken links and content updated as necessary. Blogs should be regularly updated, and all non-premium content should be made easy to share on social media with social media sharing buttons.
Speaking of social media, having a social media strategy is important too. The first contact many people make with your organization may be through social media, so it’s important to have a strategy of regular social media posting (with approximately 80% of posts informational, and 20% or fewer posts directly marketing membership or products). Monitoring social media accounts and interacting with interested parties can be a terrific way to drive traffic to your site and increase professional association membership.
There is no “set it and forget it” technique to increasing membership. You have to start with good site design, keep the site up-to-date and navigable, and provide valuable content even to those who have not joined your association. You also have to make it worth visitors’ while to join your association, by offering perks like premium content and networking opportunities. By doing these things and by having a healthy social media strategy, you can keep existing professional association members happy while attracting new members.
RealMatch offers recruitment advertising solutions that are terrific for building traffic to and monetizing professional association websites. A custom job board not only brings in new site traffic, but gives existing site visitors one more reason to return or bookmark your site. Contact RealMatch to find out how we can help you maximize the potential of your professional healthcare association membership online.