Ask Me Anything: We want to update our Membership structure, where should we start?

Jennifer Sowinski Nemeth

Senior Consultant & Analyst

Jennifer enjoys working with arts and culture clients to help them increase revenue and grow audience through data-driven strategies including pricing studies, venue re-scaling, customer behavior analyses, and segmentation.
October 27, 2021

As more and more people are venturing outside of their homes in search of new or familiar activities (and while change is the norm), now is a great time to recalibrate your membership structure. Are your memberships designed in a way that welcomes new members and encourages lapsed members to return? If not, or if you’re not sure, it may be time to rethink your memberships.

Updating your membership structure can feel like a daunting task, and there’s no doubt that it’s a big undertaking. By approaching it deliberately and methodically, JCA Arts Marketing has helped many organizations restructure their memberships.

The first step in restructuring a membership program is to understand who your current members are and how they actually use their memberships. It’s essential to review the behavior of your current and lapsed members, which is best accomplished through a Customer Behavior Analysis—a deep dive into the membership behavior data in your CRM. With a Customer Behavior Analysis, you’ll be able to answer the following questions (and more):

  • Who are your members?
  • What did they do before joining your organization—visits, donations, other interactions?
  • How frequently do members renew, and how long does it take to get a renewal?
  • What membership benefits are currently being used, and which are going unused?
  • Which levels of member are taking advantage of which benefits?

Understanding these questions will be crucial in order to identify where changes to the membership structure might be needed. If you’re simply making some tweaks to pricing and benefits, you may find that this behavior analysis is enough information to make confident, data-driven decisions that drive results.

However, if you’re looking to do more sweeping changes, you may want use another valuable tool called conjoint analysis. Conjoint analysis is a survey-based form of primary research that allows you to predict demand for a product before going to market. It uses choice architecture to simulate a purchase experience, asking respondents to choose a membership given varying sets of benefits. This decision modeling allows you to identify which benefits potential members value in a membership and how much they are willing to pay for them.

The results from a conjoint analysis provide concrete, actionable information to guide the creation of your new membership structure. You’ll learn which benefits are most valued by members and which are not compelling to drive membership purchases. Conjoint also uncovers price sensitivity, and identifies price points that will maximize revenue, as well as prices that will maximize the number of members.

We have completed customer behavior and conjoint analyses with many organizations over the last few years to help them restructure their membership programs and answer specific questions about their programming, including Arizona Opera, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Oakland Museum of California, and La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.

If you’re looking to restructure your membership program, make sure that you have data guiding your decisions every step of the way. And if you’re looking for support, we’re happy to help!

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