How did the IOIC use new technology to tackle the cost of living crisis and double their membership?
How can technology tackle the cost of living crisis and better support your members, team, and organisation mission? This was the question that Jen Sproul, CEO of Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC) and Alex Skinner, CEO of ReadyMembership & Pixl8 Group tackled at the 2023 Memcom Conference in London.
In July 2022 the IoIC launched their new membership experience platform in just 8 months - with a team of only seven who continued to do the day job as they changed their technology. Their new platform lets them manage their data, subscriptions, website, events and more on one interface - and has delivered rapid, positive results.
In the first half of 2023 the IoIC has increased new members by 52% compared to the same period last year. They have also improved member retention and increased awards entry sales and festival ticket purchases.
Content and professional development is the leading component of the IoIC’s value proposition. Their old technology however, was holding the team back and stopping them delivering more of what members wanted. This was a clear threat to membership retention and future growth.
Separate systems, siloed data
“How did I free up my team’s time, brains and thinking processes to develop new content and member resources?”Jen Sproul asked Memcom delegates.
This challenge and opportunity to deliver more for members was one of the key factors driving the IoIC’s technology selection back in 2021. Their small team of seven needed to be spending less time on admin tasks and managing processes in order to achieve their goal.
Gaining deeper insights into their membership through unified data was another key requirement. The IoIC previously had a database with separate CMS, email and events systems. Siloed data had to be moved and managed manually. As Jen told the panel, being able to draw on all data in a CMS was essential if they were to be able to develop targeted content that would convince people to join and renew. Plus, better data would improve their intelligence as an organisation, helping them to grow.
The IoIC’s surveys highlighted that members found it difficult to access the content that they wanted. Improving their online experience was key to giving members better value, through personalised, accessible content.
These factors pointed the IoIC to an all-in-one solution that brought CMS & CRM capability together in a single platform that could be easily adopted by a small team with multiple needs.
‘Best’ doesn’t mean bigger
Alex Skinner explained that the UK membership sector has traditionally had a ‘best of breed” approach to technology. For example, you might connect a top-end CRM to a leading CMS and a popular email platform.
Investing in the right size of technology however is more important than choosing the biggest with the most features. Determining what is “best” goes beyond any one platform and its features. Key factors to consider include:
- what are you trying to deliver and achieve? What does good look like for you?
- the size of your organisation and its activities
- your team’s ability to adapt technologies
- your organisation’s digital maturity (e.g. ability to manage digital projects)
A large organisation with a complex membership and organisational structure and runs advanced activities could find an Enterprise platform better meets their needs. A membership body that is focused on operating a more traditional membership scheme with events and engagement activities might find a single platform, better value.
Technology has changed rapidly over recent years and single platforms - like ReadyMembership - come with all the functionality that membership bodies need (website, email, events etc) but can also grow as they do - allowing them to integrate with “best of breed” software if and when required.
Supercharging a small team
A year since their ReadyMembership platform launched the IoIC and their members are seeing great results. In addition to the doubling of new members, there has been a 26% increase in membership retention and 13% increase in turnover.
Jen Sproul told the Memcom audience that this success is due to the new platform making it much easier for members to find the content. Over 80% have cited the new Knowledge Hub as their favourite membership benefit.
As important, this user journey data - captured in the ReadyMembership CRM - has made it much clearer to the team what members value and where there are gaps in their offering - from membership grade structure to products and services. These new insights are allowing them to optimise their membership value proposition around members’ needs.
Online member self-service tools and automated platform processes are also saving the team time in CPD, events, enquiries and subscriptions management. The ReadyMembership platform has freed up time for the team to innovate and test new ideas at pace and at low risk - thanks to greater insight into their members.
Building “emotional” membership connection
The IoIC’s value proposition and relationship with members is currently centred around the content they receive. While their ReadyMembership platform is enabling them to plan and expand that offer they are also keen to build an emotional connection with members around their designation.
“I want a member to join because they want to show how good they are - to members and the wider internal comms community.” Jen Sproul said.
By raising awareness of qualification opportunities and continuous professional development journey the IoIC plans to deliver even more value and build a closer relationship with members - through their single platform.