So the first thing I did? Turned to Yelp for customer reviews. I didn’t want marketing speak, but instead the pros and cons of dining experiences.
I did the same thing a few weeks later while looking for a hotel.
The point is: Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool. And it’s often overlooked.
But an e-book by WebLink spells it out for associations.
According to “3 Keys to More Referrals: Leverage Your Member Love,” engaging happy members can be a powerful member recruitment tool. Although research points to higher member conversation rates among those who’ve been referred, many associations are afraid to ask for a referral.
“When you are making your members happy with excellent customer service, it’s a perfect opportunity to ask if they know of anyone else who may have similar problems/needs that require excellent customer service,” the books says.
And although it seems logical that members want to refer others, the main reason they don’t is because no one asked, WebLink says. But when asking, make sure you offer a variety of options.
For example, some members may be comfortable submitting a testimonial, while others prefer to simply click on a rating (perhaps via your website). Or, if your association has a Facebook page, ask members to recommend you on Facebook. Simply provide them with a link to a web page, article or blog post, ask them to add a personal message and then share the link. And share their Facebook post on your page.
Of course, not all members will be willing to refer. To determine who is, conduct a survey, online or via telephone, the e-book suggests. Keep the survey short and collect contact information from those who take the survey.
Next, WebLink recommends calculating your results. Those who offer a nine or 10 in response to the above question are those who are considered “loyal referrers,” while those who reply with zero to six may actually detract members. So, focus on your loyal and happy members.
“Keeping your association’s referrals growing relies on your commitment to continually improve your relationships with your members,” WebLink writes. “A good referral program is easy to understand, lets the member know what kind of people to refer, is worth the member’s time and makes the referral process quick and easy to complete.”
But all this is moot without using touchpoints effectively, WebLink says. Touchpoints are all the ways in which you engage members, from telephone interactions to email newsletters to social media. Make a list, and then figure out the appropriate messaging based on the method of engagement.
For example, take advantage of your members’ recommendations by placing them on your website. Choose a location on your website that requires members to make a decision or take action. Example: Place a testimonial on the membership application page near the membership pricing to reinforce the idea that association membership is worth the expense.
So, the next time you’re dealing with a satisfied member, whether at a conference or over the telephone, ask for a recommendation. You’ve got nothing to lose, and you just may find that your goal of increasing membership is attainable.