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How to Improve Membership Satisfaction with Low-Cost and No-Cost Incentives

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Members in organizations like zoos, aquariums, museums, nature centers, and planetariums are accustomed to unlimited admissions during their membership period.

For some people, the unrestricted admissions and a desire to support the organization are enough to spur their membership purchase. But, the next tier of potential members may require additional encouragement to commit to membership.

Open palm hand gesture of male hand

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of meaningful incentives to entice new members that will not affect your organization’s bottom line.

Priority program registration

For family-oriented organizations like zoos and museums, the availability of space in camps and holiday programs is often a scarce and valuable resource. Providing members with early registration for popular programs can be a meaningful incentive—families will appreciate the opportunity to ensure that their children are registered for the program of their choice without worrying about whether they’ll clear the waitlist.

Best of all, priority program registration for members is a significant benefit in and of itself that doesn’t require discounting the cost of the program. If your online registration and membership software are integrated, managing this important incentive can be trivial—just configure the program to allow early registration from current members.

Early admission and members-only hours

Nothing makes people feel more special than exclusive access! Offering early-admission and members-only hours can motivate visitors to become members so that they can escape the crowds. For example, a popular family attraction might allow members in an hour early on weekends so children can visit their favorite areas quickly. But, members-only hours aren’t just an incentive for general admissions—they can be an attractive enticement for fundraisers like holiday fairs (shorter lines for Santa!), craft boutiques, and nature center plant sales, to name a few.

Members-only entry line

Are your members standing in the same long entrance lines as non-members? Consider opening a special members-only entrance that lets them skip the queue and go straight in. If your membership software supports the online purchase and mobile display of membership cards, a members-only entrance may be so enticing on busy days that people will purchase memberships on their smartphones just to get out of the line.

Be sure to post prominent signs letting visitors know they can purchase a membership on-the-spot and go right in, and include the URL as well as a scannable QR code that takes them right to the membership form. If your ticketing and admission software supports mobile scanning, you can even set up a special rapid members-only checkin whenever and wherever you need it by scanning tickets with mobile devices like iPads and iPhones.

Discount and freebies

Local shops and restaurants are often happy to support local nonprofit organizations—it’s a chance to show the world that they’re community-focused and drive business to their establishments. Work with independent stores and cafes to offer your members discounts on shopping (or even a free cookie with the purchase of a beverage).

If the business is near your location, members may make a pleasant ritual out of visiting them—and receiving their member discount—after leaving your site. (Of course, it goes without saying that your members should automatically receive the discounts for online purchases to which they’re entitled as soon as they log in to your web site.)

These are just of few examples of ways to use low- and no-cost incentives to increase member satisfaction. Combining an integrated membership management solution with some creative thinking can help you design membership incentives that are as unique as your organization.

Looking for Membership Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Membership Management software solutions.

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About the Author

David Mimeles

David Mimeles is Vice President of Doubleknot, Inc., a leading provider of software solutions for membership management, event and reservations management, and online ticketing to help nonprofits and member-based organizations improve awareness, increase participation, and drive revenue growth.


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