• Nonprofit Learning Lab

Top 8 User Journey Questions Answered for Associations

This is a guest blog post from Farhad Khan. It has been edited for clarity.


We surveyed thousands of association executives and membership managers for their burning questions around member engagement and member retention and the answers often circle around the question of creating a positive user journey for their members. Let’s dive into the 8 common questions we hear about user journeys.


1. How would you find out the perfect user journey for my members? How do you investigate that and how do you measure that?

For starters, we would begin by looking at the user journey currently in place for your members. Let’s look at your analytics to see if we can identify patterns where you are losing your prospects or members at a given point in the user journey. Where are users dropping off? Which pages do they bounce from? Where on the page do users stop scrolling and leave. These drop-off points are good places to identify any gaps or problems with the user journey.


Any page that has a high bounce rate tells us there isn't a successful user journey to draw users in and encourage them to engage with the next piece of content. You can use Google Analytics, Lucky Orange, or Hotjar to help you with this data.


2. How can we easily improve our member portal with limited staffing resources and no devoted membership/marketing department?

A quick and dirty question we can ask is how easy is it for members to browse and interact with your benefits on your portal? How easily can members independently access information about their membership? Is your member portal experience confusing? Do your members need to contact you for support frequently with questions relating to particular benefits? Cleaning up areas of confusion is the best place to start.


3. How do you make the member portal sticky and a place that members will sign into on a regular basis?

By offering valuable content. When members know that logging into the member portal will be a productive activity, they will log on. When members find insightful, helpful resources, programming, and support, they will continue to come back.


A good place to start is to conduct some interviews with your members and prospects to ask what benefits they like, don't like, and what they want to see added. It is tempting to say that there isn’t time for interviews, but we want to encourage you to take one step back to take two steps forward. We guarantee that the feedback you receive will be insightful and help inform your decisions moving forward. The result will be saved time and money investing in the areas that interest your members most.


Create as much evergreen content as possible that won't expire as trends change. Create pillar content, such as blogs, and events that they can only access through the portal. Keeping all your benefits on the portal will keep your members coming back.


4. What best practices exist for ensuring that at least 80% of your members can easily find the resources they need, or that you are communicating effectively to the majority to drive products and services?

How easy is it for members to find your member benefits? Are the benefits front and center, or buried in a complicated site map? Do you have a page on your website and portal that lists all your benefits?


Do your members know what your benefits are? Do they know what they are looking for? Members who do not know what the benefits are will not use them. If they don't use them, they are at risk of lapsing their membership.


One consideration that associations often overlook is they set up their website and portal through their own eyes, rather than through the eyes of their users. Are the names of your benefits meaningful to your users? Is the process to register and download obvious?


5. What new technologies do you recommend to help with engagement? What do you think about texting?

Texting is a little intrusive and we recommend a different approach. When someone texts you (or calls you or emails you), they aren’t often catching you at a good time for you. You likely don’t have the time to give your attention and engage. A member portal is an approach we recommend since they are able to connect and browse with your content, benefits, and other members when they have the time and focus to engage.


We also recommend a strong social media presence on at least one channel, whichever is the go-to channel for your market. Invite current members to your social media network. If you can make the group private, even better. This way the social media group acts as an additional member benefit and incentive to join to be part of an active community.


6. What are the key points of the member journey and the milestones that users should pass through during their membership cycle with your organization?

Each association is different and engagement is measured differently, but here are 3 key areas to consider:

  1. The onboarding process is critical. The time of purchase is when members are the most excited and we want to capitalize on that curiosity. Members who have a good start participating in benefits are more likely to have a positive impression of their experience and continue to engage. Members who have a slow, possibly confused start, are less likely to come back and use their benefits.

  2. AGMs and big events are also important times to make members feel included, valued, and heard. Giving members a platform to speak about their membership and demonstrate that you are responsive to their wants is a great way to build trust and lifelong members.

  3. Too many associations are missing a community. Have a discussion forum and make sure you, the association, is active in the network. Be present for your members.

7. How can we use membership data to build more engaging newsletters?

This is an important question and in it lies the key to getting your emails opened and links clicked! The reason why your members don't like email marketing and newsletters is that the content is not relevant to them. If the content is relevant and helpful, they will want what’s inside the emails. The more specific the content in the email is for the person receiving it, the better.