Membership programmes are all the fad among businesses these days. A membership programme attains one of the primary purpose of any business: Developing a recurring revenue source. This has been one of the key reasons why so many companies are looking to have their own membership programmes. Setting up a membership programme is quite easy especially if an organisation uses a membership management software, which also helps in managing the functioning of the programme.
Aside from the revenue aspect, there is another advantage of having a membership programme in place. It helps in retaining customers, which is very integral in today’s day and age. According to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, acquiring new customers is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining new ones, depending on your industry. When the cost of acquiring new prospects is so high, businesses need to have a system to ensure consumer repeatability.
Launching a new membership programme sounds one of the most viable steps in this scenario. However, you need to ask yourself a few important questions to figure out what you want from the new membership programme.
Are you being fooled by the hype?
Planning to launch a membership programme? Wait. Just because every company around you is launching a membership programme, doesn’t mean you need to do the same. Having a membership programme depends on your business model and the industry you operate within. For example, a membership model is irrelevant for a company that develops real-estate properties. The transactions are occasional and having a membership programme will not make people more invested.
There’s also a financial aspect to consider before launching a membership programme. Maintaining a membership programme requires a significant amount of finances and a company needs to be prepared for that. Plan your membership programme according to your finances, so that you don’t make false promises and end up with a bad reputation.
Blindly jumping on the bandwagon will do more harm than good to the company. So, this brings you to the next question that you need to ask yourself.
What purpose does the membership programme fulfil?
This is a question that needs to be answered before you come up with a new membership programme. Is the membership programme meant for customer retention? Is it to create a steady revenue stream? Is it to build a community? Understanding the “why to launch factor” will help in deciding “how to launch”. That’s because your marketing plan can be formulated only when you have the key objectives in place. For example, if your membership programme is meant for high-end customers with the purpose of building an exclusive club, you can plan the marketing strategy accordingly to target such clients on platforms that they commonly visit (online and offline).
Understanding the purpose of a membership programme helps in forming KPIs (key performance indicators) to quantify results. That’s because the success/failure of a programme is judged on certain performance indicators. To determine the performance of a programme, a company can employ a membership management software like Krtya Membroz. It’s an easy to use membership management software that handles the entire lifecycle of a member in a membership programme. It comes with modules using which summaries and reports of membership plans members, registrations, payment & website data can be obtained easily. The modules help in keeping a track of ongoing membership and analyse information against certain key metrics.
What will be the unique value proposition?
Any organisation that is about to launch a membership programme needs to perform exhaustive market research to understand the pain points of its customers. Subsequent development of the membership programme will help ensure its uniqueness.
Different companies design membership programmes that go beyond points and rewards. They have programmes that aim at solving customer problems by targeting their pain-points. For example, JetPrivilege is the membership programme of Jet Airways which allows members to check-in quickly at airports along with priority baggage tagging, priority boarding and waiver of cancellation fees. These benefits come in addition to the usual reward points. Membership programmes like these reward customers for their participation and enhance their experience.
Are the earning and spending rules simple?
When you build a membership programme, ensure that it’s simple to use. Often, companies build an overly complicated programme that can confuse and isolate customers. If your customers are able to understand the rules of earning and spending points/credits without much hassle, it makes customer retention more likely. An easy-to-understand membership programme leads to better word-of-mouth publicity. Simply put, use the Albert Einstein quote ““If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself” to analyse your membership programme. Keep it simple enough for customers and they’ll be more likely to recommend it to others. Not to mention, simplicity is an USP on to itself.
What’s the Game Plan AKA Marketing Strategy?
Once an organisation has figured out the need of launching a membership programme, it’s time to figure out the marketing strategy. Marketing depends on a number of factors: The product being pitched, target customers, budget, analytics, etc. Having a marketing strategy for the membership programme will help decide resource allocation and ensure best results. A marketing strategy is also useful for developing a promotional strategy, deciding performance indicator metrics and to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances.
In order to develop a marketing strategy, identify the business goals of the company, know the market trends, do a study of similar brands and membership schemes, and come up with the 7 Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Promotion, Place, People, Process and Physical Evidence.
An Example of a Successful Membership Programme
The key to a successful membership programme is understanding what your customers want. In the previous point, we spoke about the importance of problem-solving with a membership programme. The marketing strategy should also follow the same pattern. Market the membership programme as a solution to customers’ problems. Take the example of Amazon Prime.
It has been marketed as a solution for those who are looking for faster delivery options without paying more for each order. Additionally, prime members don’t have to wait on calls and are given exclusive discounts and advantages before sales and discounts. In order to encourage users to avail the membership, Amazon added a video-on-demand website and a music streaming website. Since customers get the advantages of the membership at a very nominal subscription price, this scheme has seen massive success. Amazon identified that the biggest complaint that customers had about online shopping was the delivery time. It ensured faster delivery for Amazon Prime members, leading to a constant revenue source from customers as well as higher retention.
Pro Tip: Make your membership programme about customers, not the money. A good membership programme is one that prioritizes customer retention and satisfaction, as they will invariably lead to revenue.