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5 Benefits to Using Digital Membership Cards

Robert RaffertyGrowth Marketeer

Robert Rafferty,

Growth Marketeer

Jan 17, 2020

What’s a Digital Membership Card?

Like a physical membership card, a digital membership card reflects the owner’s belonging to an organization or program and allows certain benefits or perks through the card’s use. Whether it’s unlocking doors, easy check-in at events, or getting discounts and participating retailers and restaurants, a digital membership card can do all these things and more.

Larger companies like Costco and LaneCrawford have been first-movers, developing their own digital membership cards in-house to serve customers. But now, as tools in the SaaS world get cheaper and more accessible, your organization can be adopting this tech too and start delivering smarter, digital membership cards.

Physical Vs. Digital Cards

Digital and Physical membership cards, from a bird’s eye view, look like they can operate in the same fashion. There are some very obvious, or not so obvious differences, but let’s quickly go over how they’re similar, and then we’ll get into the nitty-gritty about why you should be using digital membership cards at your organization.

Physical Membership Cards

physical membership card

Looking at traditional physical membership cards, those plastic pieces hold a fairly standard set of 2 interactivity methods which are a code of some kind like a bar or QR code, and also a magnetic strip or chip that holds a wavelength that can be translated into an ID number belonging to the cardholder.

This means that the card can be used to identify the cardholder when they use the card at checking, unlocking doors, or otherwise using the card anywhere that the card’s information can be captured.

Digital Membership Cards

digital membership cards

Digital membership cards operate in the same fashion as a physical card in that being digital, and with the extreme adoption rates of smartphones, they exist on someone’s person at all times, potentially even more so than a physical card. These digital cards no longer need magnetic strips or codes but rather can leverage the on-board technology of the device it exists on.

This expands its usage but can be drilled down to photographic, IR, QR, Bar Codes, Fingerprint, and Facial Recognition. Boiled down, however, all touch-points a physical membership card can do, so can a digital card with the aforementioned technologies on-board your smartphone.

Here’s the Benefits

1. All the same features of a physical card (and more)

Digital Membership cards leverage technology on your phone. That means there’s far more flexibility on how the device can be used, and without sacrificing any features of a physical card. Doors can be unlocked by scanning a code or recognizing the IR code that’s on the device.

Discounts arranged with retailers mean clerks can scan a QR or Bar code on your member’s digital membership card to use discounts via the membership terms, and so on.

2. Higher Level of Security

Furthermore, you can use double-authentication to ensure a phone simply wasn’t stolen like a physical card can be, and used accordingly to access anything provided by your organization. Should a member want to access an event, maybe you can activate fingerprint scanning from their phone to ensure the card can be brought on screen for event check-in scanning, and if the phone was stolen, simply cancel the member’s login session on that device, and wait for a new device to be detected and authorized by the member.

3. Easier Card Management

What isn’t standard is the organization’s side of things. The ability to deliver or revoke membership cards with a few clicks on the software’s back-end gives more power to the organization and far more security in the delivery of access, perks, and benefits.

This also makes it much easier to make on-the-fly changes to a member’s level of benefits and access, so that when members upgrade their membership, earned new perks, or otherwise forgot to renew their membership, it can be quite easy to change at any particular time, or even automatically revoke access to members who don’t renew.

This also means that it’s easier to manage member access if your organization has multiple far-flung locations across the country or even the world, as one location using the back-end can easily manage members no matter where they are.

4. It’s Greener

What this means is that it takes much less time and effort necessary to collect physical cards, issue new cards, or otherwise manage them. It’s also much cost-effective and green for the environment when you no longer have to print or throw away plastics for physical cards. This doesn’t even change the behavior of using physical cards too, as they still slip snug into a member’s pocket, so there’s no need to require any other way to carry it.

5. Member Card Usage Tracking

As the organization, you can design rewards, specific communication, membership levels of access, and more to be delivered as incentives to your most active members, or use it to re-invigorate them into becoming more active. How you can track a member’s level of engagement can easily be seen via their usage of their digital membership cards, and you’ll have insights like nothing before.

If you're interested in learning how to use this data to engage your members, read our article on 6 Ways to Boost Your Member's Engagement in 2020!

If you’re looking to re-invigorate disengaged members, you can create email lists based on which members either attended the least number of events, used the card to access physical facilities the least amount of times, or those who never used it with partner retailers. Doing so delivers the power to your organization to do something about this disengagement and find different ways to engage them, and hopefully getting them to be more active and willing to renew their memberships.

Ditching Your Physical Cards

Ditching your physical membership cards is going to be tough, as it’s sort of becoming a no-thought-process aspect of managing members, but when you move to digital cards, you’ll realize that your management of the cards could actually be even more simplified, you’ll be able to track user actions to benefit your organization’s processes and offers, and you’ll be able to make more automatic changes to cards, en masse, without any need to make new cards or retrieve old ones.

If you're interested in looking for a digital membership card provider, consider booking a demo with us, and we'll show you how it works!

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