Do you see your membership application as ‘just another form’? Here’s why you might want to think again.
Your membership application plays an important role in new member recruitment.
As prospective members consider joining your organization, their first impressions definitely matter. When you think about it, your membership form says a lot about your organization. An attractive, easy to use application might demonstrate that you’re thoughtful and welcoming, while a complicated, time-consuming form may turn prospective members off and convey a negative impression about your organization. As with any communications, it’s important to understand your audience and establish clear objectives.
Read on for some practical suggestions to enhance your existing membership application or to help you design a fantastic new one.
Make it easy to find.
First and foremost, prospective members need to be able to easily locate the application, so make sure it isn’t hidden deep within your website’s navigation. A bold, prominently placed “Join Now” button placed on your home page, membership page and throughout the site is a good way to go.
Keep it simple.
The last thing you want is for potential members to struggle to fill in your application. Keep it as user friendly and straightforward is possible. No one wants to read a long page of instructions or a detailed guide in order to figure out how to complete and submit their application form. Be sure to offer clear, concise instructions on the printable form, or on the screen for online forms. And if registrants need to verify any additional information in order to complete the application, include applicable links on the form or on the adjacent membership page.
Strike the right balance.
It’s tempting to want to gather as much information as you can about your members right away so you can use it for future solicitations. But if you overload your membership application form with too many questions—especially information that’s not readily at their disposal—people may very well abandon your application. The key is to request enough information to fulfill your membership engagement strategy, but not too much to deter people from completing the form. To effectively begin building a member profile, you most likely only need a few key pieces of data, such as contact information, membership level, and payment information.
Test, test, and test again.
Even if your member application form is easy to find, easy to complete and concise, you still need to double check the entire document and process from beginning to end. That means reading the form multiple times to ensure that it’s error-free and then walking through the process of completing it to confirm that it’s seamless. Following the same steps that a prospective member would may reveal an issue you hadn’t noticed or a bug in the procedure. If issues like these go undetected, they could cause aggravation and prevent people from completing the membership form. That’s why it’s critically important for you to walk through the process—several times and from start to finish—so you know precisely what people are experiencing.
Don’t forget to follow up.
Congratulations—you’ve designed and launched an appealing, well-constructed membership form and the applications are pouring in! To the applicant, once the form is completed and submitted, he or she expects the membership experience to begin. That means you need to take steps to make that happen by confirming the membership and welcoming them aboard. Most membership management systems offer automated email welcome/confirmations that you can customize to meet your needs. (If you also offer options for submitting applications by physical mail, be sure you have systems in place to follow-up on these immediately, as well). Take this opportunity to start building member engagement right away by demonstrating what your organization is all about and sharing with them the many benefits they’re going to enjoy.
It’s important to view your member application form with a critical eye.
The last thing you want is to lose potential members due to a poorly constructed form. Instead, make them glad they chose to join your organization.
For nearly 20 years, IBC has been helping associations, unions and non-profits drive member engagement through our composite, tailored iMIS software solutions. If you’re ready to take your organization’s constituent service to a whole new level, please contact our experienced professionals today.
About IBC: At IBC, we have a deep understanding of the critical business needs and processes specific to associations, non-profits, and unions. We ‘get’ your culture, your goals, and what drives you, too. Focused exclusively on and dedicated to delivering the most effective AMS, LMS, and Virtual Event Solutions for our clients, we’re well-versed in identifying and applying the integration techniques that will save you time and money. Since 2001, our cutting-edge products, unparalleled responsiveness, and award-winning services have helped organizations like yours increase their operational and financial performance by leveraging best practices and proven solutions. For more information about IBC, please visit the website at www.ibconcepts.com or call 443.603.0215.