5 Steps to Turning Strangers Into Members and Members Into Advocates

Membership October 18, 2018

Tatiana Morand

By Tatiana Morand

This is a guest blog post by Amy Jacobus, a nonprofit Digital Marketing and Communications consultant. 

Everyone loves a marketing funnel diagram!

Oh wait, is it just me?

The marketing funnel was first developed in 1898, so it’s no wonder there are about a billion different illustrations and explanations of a consumer’s journey from stranger to member to fan.

Some marketing funnels dissect this journey into 7+ layers of mindset, opinion and action, layering in how and where these layers take place. They might illustrate:

marketing funnel 2

Phew! Or you might find a definition that keeps it simple, stating your ideal member’s journey is simply:

marketing funnel 1

However you want to slice your funnel, the goal is to take complete strangers and turn them into raving advocates.

So, how do you actually encourage and support that journey?

Here are the five steps I’ve found are key to turning someone who’s just learning what your organization is into a devoted fan.


1. Meet Them Where They Are

There’s little to zero chance that the first time someone interacts with your organization, you’re going to convert them into a subscriber or donor.

So, don’t push it!

If your marketing is intended to introduce your organization to a new potential subscriber or donor, push information and storytelling, not sales. Seek connection. Provide relevant content. Grab their number or their email before asking them to commit to anything.

2. Welcome Them In

Don’t ever miss an opportunity to welcome in a new member.

If someone gave you the honor of having access to their inbox, thank them. Gain their trust by setting expectations about how often they’ll hear from you and what kind of emails you plan to send.

If you don’t have an automated welcome sequence for new subscribers, you are missing a huge opportunity to strengthen your connection with someone right off the bat. Make it personal and inspirational. Express your gratitude for their attention. Tell them how you plan to show up now that you’re connected.

Think about this for email, text, social follows... any way you're engaging with potential donors or members.

Read More: 3 Ways a Welcome Package Can Affect Your Donor Relationships


3. Encourage Action—No Matter How Small

Don’t immediately disappear from your new subscriber’s life once you have their attention. Remember you’re not besties yet — and they might actually have forgotten your name by the next time you show up if you’re not careful!

When you follow up with more information, more inspiring and motivating content, they’re beginning to get you know better.

Now, it’s time to make sure it’s a dialogue, not a lecture.

Start small with your asks. It’s still not time to sell them on your programs.

Instead, try things like:

  • Ask them to follow you on the social platform you use the most.
  • Ask them to answer a one-question survey.
  • Ask them to select the topic they most want to hear about (and honor that request!).
  • Ask them to reply with their favorite song for your next Spotify playlist.

Whatever the action, make it easy and fast to take. Now you’re in a conversation!


4. Provide the Right Kind of Value

The kind of value you provide will depend on your programs and services.

Can you…

  • Educate them with helpful how-tos?
  • Tell them compelling stories?
  • Provide them with a discount?
  • Share humor that lifts their spirits?

For example, the ACLU provides a lot of easy-to-grasp information even though they work in law, a field known to be full of jargon and challenging to understand as a layperson. They also provide relevant articles of how they're applying their work to defend our rights on a regular basis.

On a lighter note, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival provides opportunities to view footage from their historic archives of dance performances on their Dance Interactive, which is vast and impressive, and certainly a standout component of what they offer as an institution in the arts. That content is unique and becomes a special part of their identity - it feels like an honor to engage with it.

Whatever you can give away to your new friend, do it. Be generous, and one day, they’ll be generous in return.


5. Keep in Touch Consistently

Finally, none of the above is worth anything if you don’t show up with frequency and consistency.

If your messaging varies in tone? You’re not going to build a strong relationship.

If you only pop in when you want donations? You’re not going to encourage a deeper affinity for your organization.

If you don’t keep people updated? You’re not giving enough context and they’ll lose sight of what you offer.

Build familiarity, encourage action, be generous and keep in touch. Grow real relationships, and you’ll grow conversions and word of mouth.

And if you'd like to learn more about making the perfect digital marketing plan to keep your supporters engaged, join me at the Free Membership Growth Online SummitMy webinar is part of the WildApricot Free Membership Growth Online Summit, so you’ll also get free registration for four other expert webinars that you can watch anytime.


Related Resources:

amy jacobusAmy Jacobus helps creatives, entrepreneurs and nonprofits increase their impact with marketing strategies that are comprehensive, clever and masterfully designed. She understands the challenges that come with small staffs, limited budgets and time constraints — which is why her online classes and workshops help you break down big picture goals into bite-sized, actionable steps. By combining smart marketing with excellent project management, Amy’s aim is to elevate your brand, amplify your reach and better organize your approach. 

The Membership Growth Report:

Benchmarks & Insights for Growing Revenue and Constituents

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