Whether your membership management system provides access to content, a community, or both, your system won’t only need to be designed to accommodate your users from the front-end, but the foundation (or back-end) of your system needs to be designed to support yours and your users’ needs. That way, you can provide your members with the online experience they were looking for.
With this in mind, maybe you’re finding that your membership management system isn’t meeting your needs, or perhaps you’re an entrepreneur trying to plan the foundation for your next business model. Either way, you’ll need to know what features are necessary for ensuring your membership management system is capable of providing you with the necessary tools for adequately operating your membership site.
In the following, we’ll walk you through the 7 most critical features for your membership management system, so you can start running with your vision for your membership site sooner than later.
1. Comprehensive membership profiles
The heart of your membership management system, as in the name, are the members. Essentially a membership CRM, your membership management system should be designed to record each member’s contact details, membership levels (if applicable), user preferences, and more, as well as make it easy to connect with them (more on this later).
The information stored within each member's profile is often what allows your site to provide a customized user experience for each user. For example, if you have different membership levels that each member can purchase, this will be designated within their profile. Likewise, the profile should provide further information on who they are, from where they are located to their connections with one another, to give you a better idea of how to best serve their needs.
Finally, it’s critical that your users are able to edit their own profiles. By doing so, you create the opportunity for users to provide you with up-to-date information, as well as provide the invitation for your users to further engage in the online community they are now a part of.
2. Secure & simple payment processing
Most likely, your memberships are going to come at a price, or even perhaps varying price levels. You may even offer additional opportunities to purchase merchandise or tickets to events. In any case, your members with need a way to securely pay for their memberships and other membership perks with ease.
Membership payment processing can be handled in a variety of ways, from integrating Paypal with your membership system to building your own custom payment gateway. Whatever payment gateway option you choose, you’ll want to ensure that your members feel safe using it—for instance, encryption will be required for users to save their credit card information.
In addition to offering a secure payment system, you’ll want to ensure that your system is set up to generate invoices and refunds for both yours and your members’ records. Likewise, if your membership system will also offer merchandise or event tickets, you’ll want to simplify the payment process by connecting all three together.
3. Automated membership renewal reminders
Once your membership site is up and running, your next challenge is to ensure that keep up your membership retention rate. According to the Marketing General, some of the top reasons members choose not to renew include: lack of engagement with the organization, lack of value, or forgetting to renew. One way to subvert these issues, however, is by taking advantage of automation.
To provide membership renewal reminders, you can use email automation. With built-in email automation tools, your membership management system can be set to automatically send members reminders to renew within a certain time frame before their membership expires, or even after their membership has expired. (Not to mention, you can also use email automation as a form of marketing as well).
Moreover, you can even take your email automation a step further with personalization, which might involve including the member’s name in the email. Personalized emails increase your member’s chances of renewing their memberships, as personalized emails offer a 6x higher transaction rate than those that aren’t personalized (Experian).
4. Event management tools
Most membership management site grants users access to online-only events (such as webinars) to in-person gatherings. If your site falls into this category, you’ll need a method for tracking who will be attending these events, as well as a method for users to sign-up for said events.
A simple solution for this is event management software. For members, this feature allows them to easily view and register for events on your site. Conversely, it provides you with the option to offer discounted or priority registration, as well as track event attendance, from within your membership site.
Especially if you plan to build your own event registration tool, you’ll want to consider what features will be most necessary to your community of members. For instance, you may want to make it possible for certain chapters of your organizations to plan their own events.
5. In-depth insights & analytics
Without insights and analytics, it can be difficult to know what’s working and what’s not. With the help of these features, however, you can make data-driven decisions about what should keep doing, and maybe what you stop doing, with your membership system.
Insights and analytics can be used to benefit various aspects of your membership. From analyzing the success of your marketing efforts to tracking overall membership sales, your team can use these reports to assess their existing strategies and implement stronger ones in the future.
6. Centralized support for applications
Even with all of these great features, the last thing you would want is for your team to be jumping from back and forth from your membership management system to a surplus of outside applications to complete tasks. For example, if you plan to sell merchandise on your site, it would make more sense to have your product and inventory management built within the site, rather than use an outside app to track this information.
Particularly if you are building your own custom software solution, the possibilities for what you can achieve with one system are endless. The main feature you’ll want to ensure that your system contains is customer relationship management (CRM). A CRM is essential for adequately meeting each of your customer’s needs through simplified communication, payment processing, and more—this makes serving your members easier, and your customer service better.
In addition to a CRM, other features to consider may include product and inventory management, shipping and fulfillment software, fundraising and grant management, and survey software. Keep in mind that you can often gain access to many of these features through the integration of applications with your content management system (CMS).
Using Drupal as your CMS? See what integrations are available.
7. Cross-platform compatibility
Over half (58%) of today's Internet users are on mobile (Stone Temple). That being said, in most cases, your membership site would benefit from being accessible from mobile, tablet, or desktop. Without cross-platform compatibility, you may fail your user’s expectations, and they may choose to unsubscribe from your system.
Even if your users decide to stay, lack of cross-platform functionality can also inhibit how frequently users login to your membership site. Because such a high volume of users access the Internet from a mobile device, for instance, a segment that prefers mobile may be less inclined to login to your membership site and make purchases.
If cross-platform functionality makes life easier for your users, it’s sure to do the same for you: As an added bonus, cross-platform functionality makes it possible for your team to access your membership site from any device as well, making site management an absolute breeze.
Build Your Custom Membership Management System Today
While not all of these features apply to every membership management system, most membership business models will benefit from including these features on their site. But if you already have a strong sense of what your site is going to look like, and what features you’d like to include, it’s time to select either an off-the-shelf system or custom software developer to build it for you.
Here at ClikFocus, our team has built complex membership and subscription systems for non-profit organizations to enterprise-level businesses. With our expertise in custom software development, we are ready to extend our skills to you and help you bring your vision to life.
Ready to build your membership management system? Chat with us.