The secret sauce to membership and loyalty

How many memberships do you have?! Your wallet may not be as full with cards as it once was, but you’re still part of the club!

If I said that there was a single type of organisation that could claim to reach more than 80% of the UK’s growing population, you’d probably question my data…

Even if you’re not convinced, the numbers don’t lie:

  • 53.2 million people in the UK belong to a membership-based organisation
  • 8,000+ membership organisations and associations based in the UK with more than 1,000 members (MemberWise)

Despite this dominance in numbers, membership organisations are seen by many as archaic and outdated.

The idea of having something which is traditionally seen as a ‘membership’ has been rejected by millennials and is more aligned with the Baby Boomers and Generation X.

But monthly subscriptions to Netflix and pay-as-you-go services such as Uber have re-packaged ‘membership’, yet in the truest sense remain as much a traditional membership-based organisation as those considered as ‘heritage brands’.

Do you need a Loyalty Scheme to drive Loyalty?

Loyalty programmes are invariably associated with membership but are generally passive, unclear and transactional. We all love cheaper prices, discounts and all the free stuff we can get, but the majority of the time the value we ‘see’ is reflective on our spend and nothing else. That’s not loyal on the brand’s behalf.

It’s assumed that loyalty is generated through rewards. But why is loyalty not recognised with rewards?

Both stereotypical membership organisations and new age organisations offering ongoing access and repeat custom have a huge opportunity to drive loyalty, reward loyalty and generate value by rewarding usefulness over passiveness, relationships over transactions and clarity over uncertainty.

You don’t need a loyalty scheme to drive loyalty

According to YouGov, 61% of 18-to-24-year-olds are a member of at least one loyalty programme, while 73% think they are a good way for brands to reward customers and 59% think all brands should offer one. But we would argue that loyalty is an outcome of good customer experience. Loyalty programs shouldn’t be created. Focus on building the experience first and loyalty will follow as a consequence.

Deliver amazing customer experiences first and loyalty will follow

Attracting a Younger Audience...

It’s all well and good saying that, but how do you engage with your next ‘members’? How do you actively attract me to your brand or organisation?

Young people are notoriously difficult to engage for numerous reasons...but how do you win my loyalty?

I’m a Millennial. I’m a member of and have subscriptions for the ‘clubs’ that you’d expect: Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc… Netflix and Amazon Prime work for me. They know me, they know my digital footprint and they know what I’m likely to engage with now and in the future. They are adaptive and fluid membership organisations who are working for me based on my behaviour. But how can traditional membership organisations adopt this thinking?

  • How do you articulate your value proposition in a succinct way?
  • How do you differentiate your offering to attract a diverse audience?
  • What tech is being used in other industries and how could you utilise it?

As a millennial, you engage with me by offering a clearly defined value proposition through a digital platform that fits seamlessly with all other aspects of my life. I live in an age where access is a priority. Investing in your member base is vitally important for any organisation. You can’t simply rely on people like me ageing and all of a sudden becoming your target market.

Increasing Value From Within…

There are more than 53 million people in the UK who already have a membership of some description. That could be through a library card (do they still exist?!) or a visit to a National Trust property for coffee and cake. But how much value are the organisations the 53 million people are a part of seeing from their member base? For the vast majority, not as much as they should be.

Loyalty, and therefore membership, should be a by-product of a considered customer experience strategy, not a thing that exists in silo or be the sole objective of a value proposition.

A key to increasing the value from within will be increasing engagement with each and every member through a best-in-class customer experience. Within any membership base, there will be myriad different sub-categories dictated by a number of factors, such as age, gender, interests etc…

Having unique propositions which engage with these sub-categories will be fundamental in increasing their value.

How can we help?

Ultimately, the strategic goal for any membership-based organisation is to deliver an experience which exceeds their memberships expectations and anticipates their future needs. For over a decade we’ve been helping businesses big and small to create customer-centric experiences that deliver both business and customer benefit.

If you’d like to continue this conversation, then drop me an email – tom.shepherd@383project.com