By now, we all know how powerful the Internet can be. We’ve seen posts and videos go viral, and people and organizations directly impacted (if not majorly changed) by that. Just look at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – more than $115 million raised. That’s incredible!  

Now we can’t all create viral videos/campaigns (though believe me, I wish we could), but we CAN still capitalize on the power of the Internet.

How? Well for starters, membership recruitment. There are now 3 billion Internet users around the world, and 200 million of those are in the U.S. That means many, if not all, of your potential members are out there using the Internet – you just have to reach them!

Not sure how? Here are a few tips for growing your membership online:

1. Identify your audience

The first step in recruiting members online is finding the right people online – people who would actually have an interest in joining your association. (No sense in marketing to electricians if your association caters to educators.)

That said, how do you find those people online – your ideal members, so to speak? You start by creating member personas. Member personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal members based on market research and real data about your existing members. They represent the goals, challenges, and pain points of your different member types. But more importantly, member personas are the key to growing your membership online, because if you know what your personas are trying to achieve, you can create content help them reach their goals.

For a step-by-step guide on how to create member personas, check out our post, 5 Steps to Personas, Prospecting, and Peace of Mind.

2. Create valuable content

Once you know who your personas are and what they’re trying to achieve, you can then create content to help them reach their goals. This content can come in any form – videos, white papers, blog posts, infographics, etc. And in fact, the more content and varying formats you have, the better.

Tip: To save yourself time, start by creating one big content piece, such as a white paper or an eBook. Then use that piece to create several smaller pieces – 30-second videos, blog posts, social media snippets, etc. (This method may require a little more work upfront, but you’ll thank yourself for it later.)

3. Collect their contact information

Once you have valuable content in place, gate that content behind a form. Have prospects submit their name, email address, and company name in order to access that piece. (You’ll see why this is important in point #4). If your content really is valuable (as it should be), people won’t mind submitting a little bit of contact info.

Below is an example of what a short form should look like:

Short Form Example.jpg

See? Easy peasy!

4. Stay in touch

The point of getting people’s contact information is so you can stay in touch with them after they’ve downloaded a content piece. People may download something, genuinely like what they read, and yet still not be ready to join an association – and that’s ok. Just stay in touch with them (sparingly) via email. Send them a few more valuable content pieces. If they see the value your association provides, they’ll be more inclined to join, particularly since access to specialized information is one of the top reasons people join and stay with associations.

Now this is obviously a very high-level explanation of how to grow your membership online. For a more detailed explanation (with examples and best practices), check out our free guide, Best Practices for Online Member Acquisition below!