Creating Delightful, Not Frightful, Membership Forms – Part 2

Creating Delightful, Not Frightful, Membership Forms – Part 2

By Beth Zemach, Senior Project Manager

We didn’t realize the magnitude of the 911 Challenge we posed in our September 15th post: Send us your ideas of how to turn your membership application into a delightful experience for a new member’s first encounter with your organization. When the inbox remained a hollow chamber for almost two months, we decided to take up the challenge internally.

A group of 911 “anti-long-form enthusiasts” (ALFEs for short) gathered to ponder this challenge to see if we could come up with a few of our own ideas. Was it possible to streamline a membership form satisfying specific operational needs while graciously welcoming new members at the same time?

Our answer – a resounding, YES!

Chances are, when new members decide to join, it’s because they have a relationship with your organization already. Did they have a great experience at a conference? Participate in a few brilliant webinars? Purchase the state-of-the-art core curriculum? If so, then you have their data in your association management system (AMS). After they are prompted to sign in, simply ask them to verify their information via a prepopulated form, select their benefits (e.g., if it’s a type of newsletter or publication), submit payment, and finish the transaction as efficiently as possible. An online form, even for a new customer, does not have to replicate a paper form. In fact, it ideally should not. Request a few key, strategic demographics that relate to major initiatives, collect some logistical data to process the membership and payment, and finish the transaction. Follow up with a call or e-mail for secondary data needed to complete a customer’s profile. It could actually become a very personal touch point for welcoming new members.

Even if your customer/soon-to-be member either isn’t a previous customer or insists on a paper form (pdf), include only the key items needed to activate a membership. Do your forms have remnants of historical questions that no longer are used for any strategic purpose? If you’re not capturing the data for anything except because, “you always have,” then get rid of it! Again, use other methods to collect other data, phone, e-mail—dare I suggest snail mail for paper lovers—to capture the remaining information?

If we’re doing our jobs right, no one person or company is a stranger when they decide to join. Our AMS’ will have customer data on file. In the era of business intelligence or big data, past purchases should help our systems to recognize which newsletters, publications, and member benefits new members wish to receive. Each welcome form should be unique and personalized to each customer who decides to join. Our welcomes will be smooth and seamless, and new members will feel like they have always belonged.

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Beth Zemach is a senior project manager on 911’s Catalyst Consulting team. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..