How to Use an Online Community for Membership Marketing?

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How to Use an Online Community for Membership Marketing?

Content Strategist
6 minutes read
Last updated: April 19, 2024

Last Updated: April 19, 2024

Online communities help organizations in engaging members, but how do they help you in membership marketing?

Digital communities foster a sense of community by encouraging members to participate in discussions, share their insights, and build relationships with one another. Furthermore, they make your memberships more exclusive by adding a member-only tag on them.

In this article, we'll talk about how to use a private online community for membership marketing along with some examples from leading organizations.

Key Takeaways

  • Online communities provide a platform for members to connect, discuss topics of mutual interest, share insights, and build relationships, fostering a sense of community and belonging.
  • Membership marketing benefits from online communities through increased member engagement, strong member support, valuable data collection, and extended membership growth via word-of-mouth endorsements.
  • A well-defined mission and clear guidelines for behavior help create a strong membership base in an online community, while exclusivity and tailor-made experiences make the community more desirable.
  • Offering valuable resources and benefits, such as exclusive content, discounts, networking opportunities, or access to industry experts, keeps members engaged in the online community.
  • Real-world examples, like The Surf Project and IACC Karnataka, demonstrate how organizations can successfully use online communities to increase member acquisition, improve attendee experience, and grow their membership base.

What Is an Online Community?

Essentially, an online community is a group of people with shared interests, goals, or values who interact and communicate over a digital platform. Online communities can take many forms, including social media groups, discussion forums, and chat rooms.

These digital communities can be moderated or unmoderated, public or private, and may have different rules and norms for behavior. Some online communities are focused on socializing and building relationships, while others may be centered on problem-solving or providing support for a particular issue or cause.

As a whole, an online community allows your members to:

  • Discuss topics of mutual interest
  • Keep up with your organizational activities
  • Acknowledge the entire community
  • Share opinions on projects and work together


Why Does Membership Marketing Need an Online Community?

Why does membership marketing need an online community

An online community can play a crucial role in supporting membership marketing efforts, as it can help build engagement and foster a sense of belonging among members.

Here are some reasons why membership marketing needs an online community:

Member Connection

An online community provides a platform for members to communicate with one another, share ideas, and engage in discussions. This helps build a sense of community and promotes member engagement.

It also facilitates networking opportunities, allowing them to engage in one-on-one conversations, build relationships, and expand their professional network.

Strong Member Support

An online community can be used to offer member support, such as answering questions, providing advice, and addressing concerns. This can help build trust and loyalty among members.

Enables Data Collection

An online community collects valuable member data and provides insights into their engagement, preferences, and behavior. This can help organizations tailor their membership marketing efforts to better meet the needs and interests of their members.

Extended Membership Growth

According to a survey by Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, 2023, 67% of organizations report that word-of-mouth endorsements provide them with more new members only because customers trust feedback and their colleagues.

The online platform can be ideal for member acquisition as you already have trustworthy members discussing your value. This gives your potential members an insight into your community that piques their interest.

How Can Online Communities Be Used in Membership Marketing?

Strong Membership Base

Strong Membership Base

Members are more likely to be committed to a community when they understand its purpose and goals. An online community with a defined mission attracts people who share the same interests and goals and thus, helps members stay focused on what the community is all about.

They also promote a culture of respect by having clear guidelines for behavior and enforcing them consistently, that ultimately leads to a strong membership base.

Makes it More Exclusive

An online community usually adds an exclusivity factor to the memberships. This means that only those who are members of your organization can access it.

Since people are driven by the desire to belong to a group, it develops a massive interest among your potential members and makes your community more desirable.

Tailor-made Community Experience

Some private communities like Glue Up are tailor-made - they are customized according to the interests and preferences of your members.

For example, Glue Up is made for professional communities, therefore, it allows them to upload and keep a track of all the documents in a single tab. Additionally, every member can interact with another member and share virtual business cards using a one-to-one chat option.

Some combined membership and community management software also enable you to send email campaigns. These are personalized to provide a deeper level of interaction with your members and foster a sense of belonging.

Read more: Member Management + Community Engagement: Can One Software Do It All?

Offer Valuable Resources and Benefits

Valuable Resources and Benefits

Members are more likely to remain engaged if they feel they are getting something valuable from the community. Online communities can offer resources and benefits such as exclusive content, discounts, networking opportunities, or access to industry leaders and experts.

Some Examples from Glue Up Online Community for Membership Marketing

Let’s take a look at the leading member-based organizations that increased their membership marketing efforts through online communities.

The Surf Project

The Surf Project is a faith-based charity in the heart of the small town of Portrush in North Ireland UK that works with young people and adults to help them discuss and explore things of life and faith in an open environment.

The Surf Project collaborated with Glue Up to increase its member acquisition. The organization improved its attendees' experience using the software and thus, increased its visibility among potential members.

As a result, its CRM database grew from 1,274 contacts to 2,114, a growth of 40% since it started using the platform.

IACC Growing its Membership Base with Glue Up

The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce Karnataka is the apex bilateral Chamber synergizing India-US Economic Engagement. Its main objective is to promote Indo-American business, trade, and economic relations.

IACC Karnataka approached Glue Up’s all-in-one engagement management platform to seek assistance in expanding its network and growing memberships. In addition, IACC's members represented a wide range of industries, which made the board want to better engage with their members.

Thus, IACC developed a strong strategy that focused on improving its attendees' experience with Glue Up and urge them to join its organizations as members. As a result, IACC was able to grow its membership base and increase renewal rates.



How do you engage with an online community?

Engage with your online community by providing valuable content, responding to comments and questions, and encouraging discussions.

Show genuine interest in your members' thoughts and opinions and foster a welcoming environment that encourages active participation.

How do I get online community members?

To attract online community members, promote your community on relevant social media platforms and websites.

Collaborate with influencers and other organizations in your niche and offer exclusive content or benefits to incentivize people to join. Consistently provide value to keep members engaged and encourage them to invite others.

How to use social media for customer acquisition?

Leverage social media for customer acquisition by creating targeted ads, engaging with your audience through relevant content, and running social media contests and giveaways.

Collaborate with influencers to expand your reach and use social listening tools to identify potential customers and address their needs.

What is the use of online community in marketing?

An online community is a powerful tool in marketing, as it allows you to build brand loyalty, gather valuable customer insights, and facilitate word-of-mouth promotion.

You can build relationships with your members, increase awareness of your brand, and ultimately grow sales by engaging your community.

Why do people engage in online communities?

People engage in online communities to connect with like-minded individuals, seek information and support, and share their experiences and knowledge.

They also participate in communities to stay up to date with the latest trends, gain a sense of belonging, and benefit from exclusive content and offers provided by the community.

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