Growing your club online is challenging, no doubt! The digital environment vastly contrasts in-person meetings, causing some members to go AWOL. Luckily, digital marketing strategies can empower you to Level UP and help members expand their mindset and accept these new challenges.
Take a lesson from the success of digital marketers who thrive in the online atmosphere, and discover the Top 3 Secrets that can help you boost club retention and growth.
Pas de Panique! Don't panic! Accept that meetings are going to look and feel different. Everyone is feeling the change. Club leaders who maintain a positive attitude can help their members adjust to the digital environment more easily.
Digital marketers know the value of creating a safe and happy online experience for their members.
They understand that the more seen and heard—the more important a member feels—the longer they'll stay and the more likely they are to invite others. They also know that visitors feel at ease when the club does, making them more likely to join.
You'll keep more members actively attending your online meetings. Some members easily manage in an online meeting environment. For others, digital meetings can be difficult at the very least and excruciating under pressure.
These members experience mild to severe anxiety using Zoom. They may hate giving speeches to a screen. Their emotions during the hours leading up to every single meeting grow stronger with each passing minute.
Members often feel as few as one or as many as all of the following:
- Panic when slides or other tech fails
- Lonely (they profoundly miss the physical meetings)
Your attitude can help lessen or eliminate their fears.
Imagine you're giving your speech...
The slides aren't working. Everyone's watching. The timer puts on the yellow light. You panic! Heart pounding, you click here, hover your mouse there. Nothing works! Your speech is ruined.
You know that so many others in the club would have handled it much better, stayed calm, and continued on. This makes you feel even worse, especially when you get a bunch of chat messages and an evaluation that recommends you stay calm next time. As if you didn't already know that. You know they mean well, but it's frustrating.
The next week you're Timer, and the background images aren't working right. You just hate this! You start missing meetings, a few at first, then suddenly you realize it's been a month since you've been.
Club dues are coming. Though you miss your friends, you decide to wait to renew until your club offers in-person meetings again.
What can club leaders do?
Remain upbeat and positive. Give more sensitive evaluations. Smile a LOT. Watch the meeting with interest.
Remember, visitors can see every reaction, every eye roll, every sigh. It's VERY obvious when members are reading their phones or computer screens instead of paying attention.
You are literally in your visitor's face with your webcams, and as they say in Hollywood, "the camera does not lie."
Be encouraging to create a comfortable online presence for everyone. Reach out to members who are suddenly not attending regularly, have missed several meetings, or have recently missed two in a row. Find out why and how you can support them.
For regular attendees, offer online support during every meeting. In addition to regular club meetings, offer trainings, send emails, and call members. Communicate regularly with other club leaders to formulate and implement solutions that help members through this most difficult time.
Our club Officers address these needs at every executive meeting. We also tend to stay several minutes after meetings to talk face to face. It's fun and gets it done!
Create a Digital Guestbook. This is a link that your club can put in the chat for visitors to click to give you their name and email information so that your VPM can reach out to them.
When guests click the link, it takes them to a website page thanking them for visiting and asking them to "sign" your guestbook. The website page has a spot where they can enter their name and email. Once they do, they see a page that thanks them for signing and invites them to visit again.
Digital marketers call this website page a "landing page." The spot where they enter their information is called the "optin form" or "opt-in form" because the person is "opting in" to an email subscription.
More visitors will give their information to an optin form over the chat. And with a good looking landing page, your club can create a safe and familiar-feeling way for them to give you their personal info. Remember, visitors are trusting you with that information and don't necessarily want to enter it into the chat.
Imagine you are VPM. You private message your visitors, welcoming them and thanking them for visiting. Normally you would ask them to sign your guestbook, a very acceptable practice. But now you are online and cannot do this. You may feel awkward about just asking them for their email, even though you do it.
But other VPMs tell you that they don't because they feel like it's pushy. Plus, what to do when a visitor leaves before you can chat or you forget? Once they are gone, they are gone!
What can club leaders do?
Create a landing page. If you have an email service such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, see if your subscription includes landing page options. If so, create one and use it to capture your visitor info. If not, Leadpages or other similar platforms may provide a cost-effective solution.
If you cannot afford such a solution, ask your members and see if any of them use digital marketing. Maybe they can create a landing page for you. Our club uses a member's Kajabi service to host our digital guestbook!
Secret #3 (and the most important secret of all):
Send club members an email 5-10 minutes before your meeting with the link, password, call-in info, etc. to your zoom meeting. Do this no matter what else you do with your pre-club email strategy.
When digital marketers do webinars to sell their services, it is standard practice for them to send a final email with the link a few minutes before it starts.
Because it works! More often than not, they get more attendees from that last-minute email and ultimately more sales.
We want our members to come to club meetings and our visitors to join. Therefore, club leaders must make it as easy for them as possible in this online atmosphere, which is often confusing, frustrating, and even infuriating!
The problem is this. While some people have an empty inbox (as if!), many, many more have hundreds, if not thousands, if not tens of thousands of unread and read emails in theirs.
Even if they flagged your day-before email with the info, they may still have to go searching for it on the day of your club meeting.
Imagine you're the TMoD. It's 20 minutes before your club meeting, and you're about to log in.
But the dog has an accident, the kids start smacking each other, and your mother-in-law calls. You tell your mil you love her and can't talk, clean up the mess and settle the kids down, and it's now 5 minutes to start!
You open your email...where is that zoom link?
It takes you 3 minutes to find it and get on the call. You find out 3 people didn't show, and you have to change the agenda. The meeting starts late.
What can club leaders do?
Assign a club member with the task of sending out the last-minute pre-club emails. Send to all members, including those who've indicated they aren't coming. You never know if their schedule changed! You can even send it to your regular visitors.
Do it every week and watch your meeting attendance soar! Forget, and watch it slump.
You'll be amazed at the difference!
We've been doing this at our club for most of our club's meetings (I've been responsible), and let me tell you! I can really tell the difference the few times I've missed sending it.
If you have an automatic email service like MailChimp or Constant Contact, set a regular email sequence that sends this out to active club members 10 minutes before each meeting.
Just make sure to remove inactive or past members so you don't get in trouble for "spamming" them.
When clubs implement digital marketing strategies, the ONLY result is higher member retention and more club growth. The trick is to be consistent and welcoming without being salesy or spammy, and this is learned as you go.
Start with these Top 3 Secrets, and you'll do great!
What is your #1 question about getting more club members using digital marketing? Comment below, and I'll be sure to answer!
*NOTE: reformatted for easier reading and lightly edited on June 18, 2020
*Clock Image by Matvevna courtesy of Pixabay
*Zoom Meeting Image by Chris Montgomery, cwmonty, courtesy of Unsplash