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Membership Level Names: The Secret Sauce for Super-Creative Tier Names

Author: Sayana Izmailova
June 17, 2022
🕑 9 min read

If you’re in the midst of planning your membership program, you’re likely thinking about what benefits you can offer to your members and how much to charge for them.

Hopefully, you already know that offering more than one membership level will drastically improve your chances of attracting new members, retaining them, and increasing your revenue.

But there’s one other thing you’ll need to decide on — your membership level names. What you call the different types of membership packages you offer can have a great impact on potential members’ interest in joining.

If you’re like most membership managers, the pressure to come up with the perfect membership level names may leave you overwhelmed. But don’t worry — we’ll share our best tips on how to come up with names that are not only creative, but also reflect your organization’s brand and resonate with your existing and prospective members.

We’ll also share a few examples of the different types of membership level names used by real organizations just like yours.

What Does Membership Level Mean?

Membership levels are the different packages you’d offer to your members. They can differ in:

  • Price: ranging from least to most expensive
  • Number of users: you can offer discounts for couples, families, groups, and corporate teams
  • Payment schedule: monthly, annual, 2-year, or lifetime membership
  • Access level: higher tiers have access to more resources, events, password-locked areas of the website, etc.
  • Number of benefits: higher tiers get more benefits, such as publications, discounts, recognition, etc.

You may be asking, “wouldn’t it be easier to just offer one membership level for everyone?”

It would be easier, of course, but you’d miss out on all the benefits of a multi-level membership program. These are:

1. Increased member acquisition rates

If you only have one membership level priced at $50/month, you could be losing the prospective members who can’t afford it. On the other hand, if you offered less expensive tiers with slightly different benefits, more people would be able to join.

Many membership organizations go as far as to offer a completely free membership tier — there’s no barrier to entry so it attracts a high number of new members. Down the line, after seeing the value of membership, these members often upgrade to paid levels.

2. Increased members retention rates

If you only have one membership level and a current member can no longer afford it, their only option is to cancel their membership. But if you gave them more choices, they could instead downgrade to a less expensive level. It’s a lot easier to ask them to upgrade again at a later point than to attract a brand new member.

3. Better member satisfaction

If you offer one tier and justify its hefty price tag with loads of great benefits, just remember that not everyone may be interested in every single one of those benefits. Members are happiest when they can pay only for the benefits they actually use and find valuable. Otherwise, they’d feel like they’re wasting money and will be more likely to cancel their membership.

4. Increased revenue 

The three benefits above have one thing in common: they all lead to increased revenue for your organization. If you want to optimize your membership program and maximize the amount of revenue it brings in, you should absolutely consider offering at least 2-3 different membership levels.

What Are Membership Level Names?

Membership level names are the titles you assign to each of your membership levels. You could, of course, simply name them Level 1, Level 2, and so on, but you’d quickly notice that this isn’t enough.

The best membership level names accomplish the following:

1. They help you and your members distinguish between the different packages. The names should reflect what makes each level different from the rest, at least to a certain extent.

2. They act as a marketing tool by enticing potential members to learn more about each membership level and consider joining.

3. They help build community — members within each level feel a sense of pride and camaraderie with their fellow tier-mates.

The Secret Sauce For Creative Level Names

Coming up with effective membership level names doesn’t have to be hard. Simply keep the following tips in mind as you brainstorm potential options:

1. Research your competitors

Are there any similar membership organizations in your area? Browse their membership levels for inspiration. See if you can identify any recurring themes that seem to be unique to your industry or type of organization.

2. Reflect your brand

Your organization has a distinct brand, voice, and personality, so make sure your membership level names reflect this. For example, if your organization is a soccer club for kids, naming your levels, “Premium”, “Platinum”, or “Executive” would be a little out of touch.

3. Know your audience

Who are your members? What stage of life or career are they in? What do they value? For example, if your members range from kids to seniors, your levels should be split up and priced based on what each group values and can afford. You can even name your levels something like “Kids”, “Youths”, “Adults”, and “Seniors”.

4. Strike a balance between boring and cheesy

This one can be a bit challenging, but it all depends on who your audience is and what their tastes are. If you’re an animal welfare organization, it may be tempting to name your levels “Buddy”, “Bingo”, and “Buttons”, but if your supporters are mostly 18-35 year olds, they will likely find this a little saccharine.

5. Note the differences

If your levels differ from each other in an obvious way (for example, number of users or payment schedule), it’s best to reflect this in their names. This way, prospective members can identify which level is best suited for them in a matter of seconds.

6. Make sure the names grow with the offering

Membership levels increase in price and value, so having arbitrary names for them isn’t very helpful. Instead, try to find names that also increase in size. For example, names like “Seed”, “Sapling”, and “Tree” give people a good sense of where each level is positioned relative to the others.

7 Steps To Naming Your Membership Levels

The first step, of course, is to identify your membership levels. Create at least 2-3 and, if it makes sense for your organization, consider including a free level.

Next, follow the steps below to come up with the best membership level names.

1. Identify the person in charge

Assign a project manager who’ll make sure all relevant voices are heard, as well as take the final choices through the approval process and implementation.

2. Hold a brainstorming session—or a contest!

If you want your membership level names to appeal to a large audience, involve as many people as you can in the brainstorming process. Invite staff members, volunteers, and supporters to make suggestions or maybe even host a contest to entice them to participate.

This will allow you to hear lots of ideas and perspectives. You might also notice a few contenders showing up more than once, which will make your ultimate decision a whole lot easier.

3. Narrow down to a few options

While you should involve lots of people in the brainstorming stage, that’s not the case for when it’s time to make decisions. Too many voices in the room will only create friction and delay the process. Instead, have your project manager and a few key stakeholders come up with a shortlist of their favorite options.

4. Optional: Ask your members

The most important people you’ll need to appeal to are your current and prospective members, so consider asking them to rate the names on your shortlist and help you pick the winners.

5. Get approval and confirm

Run the final choices by your leadership and make sure everyone is on the same page before moving forward.

6. Update your MMS and website

Input the new membership levels into your Membership Management Software (MMS) and create a membership section on your website. This section should have information about the different membership levels, their benefits, and a sign-up form. Be sure to include lots of CTAs (calls to action), such as “Join Now”, to entice people to sign up.

If you’re a WildApricot user, updating your website will take just a few clicks. Your MMS and website are linked, so your new membership levels will be automatically reflected on your website. Plus, when new members sign up, their information and selected membership level will be automatically added to your member database.

7. Create a plan to upgrade your members over time

In an ideal world, all of your members would choose the highest membership level, but that almost never happens. Luckily, you can slowly work on upgrading them over time.

Create a strategy and a communications plan to help you move those who are ready to the next level. For example, leading up to a member’s first anniversary, when it’s time to renew their membership, you can send them an email and share the benefits of upgrading to the next tier. You can also give them a trial of the next tier at no additional cost to show them what they’d be getting if they upgrade.

How To Name Your Membership Levels: 7 Types

Your membership levels can be anything you want them to be, but we found the following seven membership models to be the most common among nonprofit organizations. For each type of model, we’ll share an example of an organization that uses it and the membership level names they came up with.

Let’s take a look!

1. Based on payment schedule

Members can choose a membership level based on whether they’d like to pay monthly, once a year, once every two years, or at any other interval. Longer intervals are typically discounted — the members get a lower price, while the organization gets predictable revenue. Some organizations also offer a lifetime membership for a single one-time payment.

Example: Fellowship Covenant Ministry International (FCMI)

Membership level names: Monthly, Annual, and Lifetime

2. Based on number of users

Members can choose a membership level based on how many people will be signing up. For example, they can sign up as a duo, family, a group, or a corporate team. Larger groups tend to be cheaper per person.

Example: Epic Opportunities

Membership level names: Individual, Family, and Corporate

3. Based on professional level

Professional organizations typically offer memberships based on where people are in their careers. A recent grad and a seasoned professional, for example, are probably looking for different benefits. They also likely have different budgets.

The different levels are typically designed to help members progress from one level to the next, both in the membership and in their careers.

Example: Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)

Membership level names: Student/Affiliate member, Associate member, Technical member, Graduate member, Chartered member, and Chartered fellow

4. Based on access

Members can choose a membership level based on how much access they’d like to resources, courses, events, and other opportunities.

Example: Parelli Savvy Club

Membership level names: Essentials, Plus, and Premium

5. Based on benefits offered

Members can choose a membership level based on the benefits they’d like to receive. For example, higher tiers may include a 25% discount at a partnering store instead of the basic 10%. Or maybe higher tiers include a printed publication instead of a digital one.

For chambers of commerce in particular, the benefits largely revolve around recognition and increased visibility to potential customers.

Example: Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce

Membership level names: Business basics, Network+, Marketing Pro+, and Leader+

6. Based on level of support

Organizations like museums, zoos, and art galleries often categorize their memberships based on the donation amount. Supporters who give larger amounts receive more recognition and more member perks. These membership level names are typically related to the organization’s mission.

Example: National Geographic Society

Membership level names: Voyager, Discoverer, Geographer, and Groundbreaker.

7. Combination

Some organizations combine two or more membership models. Their lower levels are categorized by payment schedule, number of users, or access, while their top levels are based on donation amount.

Example: Louisville Zoo

Membership level names: Individual, Individual plus, Family, Family dual, Nature’s guardian, and Wildlife champion

Read More: 25 Solid Membership Website Examples & How to Create Your Own

What Will You Name Your Membership Levels?

You’re now ready to create and name your own membership levels!

If your organization is brand new and you don’t yet have a membership site, be sure to check our article on 5 Steps to Build a Membership Site (No Tech Experience Required). It will guide you through how to build your site and cover all the different pages you’ll need to include.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready to start welcoming your very first members.

Best of luck with your membership!

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