A portrait of Ann Longley
05 Jun, 2023 4 min read

Memberwise Digital Excellence Conference 2023

Memberwise’s Digital Excellence conference on 18 May 2023 provided unique insights into the world of membership organisations.
Memberwise Digital Excellence Conference 2023

Memberwise’s Digital Excellence conference on 18 May 2023 provided unique insights into the world of membership organisations. Memberwise is a membership organisation for membership organisations. 

The brainchild of Richard Gott, Memberwise effectively connects the ecosystem of membership organisations, leaders and suppliers.

It provides a range of services including professional development, research, resources, and high-quality networking events.

It is a fascinating sector that includes diverse organisations from industry regulators like barcode distributor GS1uk.org to, professional guilds, trade bodies and science park associations. 

My aim in attending the event was to understand digital challenges and opportunities for membership organisations, and in particular, the use of online communities post-pandemic.

Here is what I learned.

Top 3 digital priorities 

1.    Creating content and engagement strategies that resonate across channels

As with any marketing organisation, relevant content is key to driving engagement and loyalty.

CSSC, who offer perks to public servants, was experiencing low engagement rates with their email marketing.

Stuart Slavicky, Head of Marketing and Comms, CSSC explained how addressing this problem kickstarted CSSC’s journey to become more customer focused and insight driven. 

First, they reframed how they viewed their members.

Then, they created more emotionally responsive content in contrast to their previous product driven approach. Engagement rates shot up and they integrated the new messaging style across all their brand activation channels.

Ian Doherty, Membership Director of CMI faced a similar challenge. CMI was losing members who were confused by a plethora of branded content. CMI introduced a game-changing professional development self-assessment tool which helped turn things around.

The tool provides personalised recommendations for career development and a framework for content creation and tagging. This personalised data driven approach boosted member satisfaction and retention significantly. 

Members need a compelling value proposition and journey to remain engaged.

2.    Joining up disparate technology systems

Systems integration is a top priority for membership organisations determined to deliver a seamless tailored member experience. Many suppliers offering off the shelf and customisable solutions were present in the exhibition space. The programme also offered many talks sharing case studies of successful digital transformation programmes and initiatives. The best membership strategies can only be delivered if the tools and organisational operating model is fit for purpose and aligned. 

3.    Fostering digital maturity within the sector

UK Active’s Adam Freeman-Pask and David Garrish shared how their Digital Futures programme supports their members on their digital transformation journey. By helping their members assess their digital maturity, they are then able to develop transformation programme roadmaps.

The 20-minute survey they developed provides benchmarks for a range of factors including organisation design, performance and impact, data and insights, digital experiences, accessibility, inclusion, and satisfaction. This ambitious programme has collected data from 1800+ sites helping members understand their current state and determine their levels of investment needed to leap ahead.

An excellent initiative that shows the scale of impact membership organisations can deliver with a joined up holistic approach. 


What about online community building?

Post pandemic, online community building is gaining momentum. Many delegates I spoke to were in the early stages of exploring the tools and methods on offer.

Esther Sosan, Social Media and Community Engagement Coordinator, Association for Coaching, and Declan McAllister, Director of Registration for NI Social Care Council are heading in this direction. 

Others, including the British Computing Society (BSC), are already there. Online community building is a complex undertaking blending technology and culture.

Although challenging to launch and grow, it is worth the effort to add value to members and exponentially increase impact.

 Leveraging data, tech and human interaction will help membership organisations thrive

That’s a brief snapshot of some the current digital challenges and opportunities facing the sector. Excitement about all things digital was palpable.

Membership organisations that leverage insights, human interaction, and tech to augment members’ experience will thrive.

Find out more about our membership platforms here.