Members are the driving force behind most organizations. This is why it’s so important to develop a seamless application process that transforms curious prospects into engaged participants. But when it comes to drawing in potential members, targeted social media posts and a well-made website are only half of the equation. It’s an efficient and engaging membership application form that seals the deal.
Membership application forms should tell would-be members everything there is to know about your organization, as well as what they can get out of joining. A mediocre application form is merely a piece of paper or an online form to fill up and get done with. A good one gives subscribers a preview of what it’s like to be part of your community.
Most organizations tend to undermine the importance of this part of the process. If you’re looking to improve your club’s membership application form from its current state, simply refer to this handy guide. It details five ways you can give your application process a major upgrade.
What Your Membership Application Form Should Include
Though you may already have some of the following information on your website, it’s good to have a brief rundown of each one on your application forms to aid potential members in their decision making. When putting together your membership application form, your biggest priority is keeping potential subscribers on board until the end, right when they have to click “submit.”
- A list of membership packages, benefits, membership fees, and payment options. Detail how the packages differ from one another and highlight the perks and privileges made available by each one. Mention all the possible payment options for membership fees (via credit card or mail-in check/annually or monthly).
- A list of requirements. Depending on your organization, you might have certain restrictions or requirements for subscribers. For example, if members have to be of a certain age before joining, if they must be from a particular area, or if they should have some kind of qualification.
- An outline of the application process. Manage subscribers’ expectations by giving them an overview of the application process. Let them know what steps they have to take at the current moment, how long they have to wait to hear back from you, and what they might be expected to do or deliver.
- A list of job openings and volunteer positions within the organization. Use this space to advertise any career options available to anyone interested in your cause. Someone might be more interested in participating in the organizing side of things, rather than just being part of the community that receives benefits.
Questions to ask applicants
Here are some questions you should have on your form:
- Applicant’s contact information. This includes the person’s full name, address, phone number, and email address.
- Applicant’s personal information. This includes their gender, date of birth, academic background (if necessary), and the like.
- The applicant’s personal or professional interests. You can ask applicants to offer any relevant information in this section. They can also use this section to state any similar clubs or organizations that they’re part of.
- References. This is useful if you require an existing member to vouch for the new member.
5 Tips For Improving Your Membership Application Form
Feel like something’s missing? Unhappy with your current application process? Here are five tips for optimizing your membership form.
1. Make sure your membership application form is easy to find
Picture this: Someone lands on your website and really likes what they see. They’re interested in joining your community but they’re taking time to find your online membership application form. They’ve exhausted all the pages of your website and they’re running out of patience. In the end, they close your website disappointed.
These days, not a lot of people have the time to scour every corner of your website to find the application form. It needs to be easy to find so that you don’t lose potential subscribers. Good design is key to creating a great user experience for site visitors, and for keeping them engaged and interested enough to stay on your site and even join your community.
2. Pay attention to both content and tone
Laying down all the details of the application process, membership packages, and requirements is one thing, but communicating this information in an engaging way is another. You don’t want to bore potential subscribers. Make sure all your content is written in a tone that’s friendly and inviting, easy to understand, and still on-brand for your organization.
3. Create a form that’s easy to navigate
While it’s important to keep things interesting, you should also try to avoid going over the top. Aim for straightforward content and design—that is, concise, easy to navigate, and uncomplicated. How can you do this? Write succinct instructions, avoid confusing questions, section questions to break the monotony, and always optimize for mobile.
4. Provide a help center/submission form for questions and suggestions
Sometimes, even after doing everything we can to improve our processes, we can miss a few things. Providing a place to forward questions and problems regarding the application process can help website users voice out their concerns while allowing you to identify issues, address them right away, and make quick improvements.
5. Don’t forget to follow up with applicants
Always have a quick response (whether by email or personal follow up) to applications to let them know that their form went through, is received, and is being processed. Nobody likes to be in the dark.
This is also where software comes in. Most membership management software lets you set up automated responses to new inquiries and applications.
Offline vs Online Membership Application
You may be wondering if there are any merits to maintaining both online and offline applications. This depends on your business model and your target audience. Only you can determine whether one or both are worth investing in. To help you decide, we’ll discuss the pros and cons below.
- Less paperwork. Not only is the online option a cheaper one, it’s also more eco-friendly.
- Less margin for error. With a membership management software, all your data is saved in one place. This means you can avoid losing, doubling, or damaging physical copies of membership application forms.
- Easily accessible data. With online forms, you can easily share information with colleagues and access information on your phone.
- No physical copies of paperwork. Although this can easily be solved by exporting and printing out new member information.
- Needs internet access. If you want to reach out to older members who aren’t very tech-savvy or if you’re a nonprofit working with underprivileged people who might not have access to phones and computers, you might have some trouble with online forms.
- Accessible to those who can’t use computers. As mentioned, offline forms may be easier to understand and answer for the elderly and those who aren’t very tech literate.
- Provides physical copies. While everything is online these days, in extreme cases such as power or system failures, it’s good to have hard copies.
- Wasteful. Unless you’re printing on recycled paper, printing physical copies of application forms uses up precious resources.
- Time-consuming data entry. Should you wish to manage membership data on your computer, you’d need someone to take on the painstaking task of entering data manually.
- Slower. Members who join with a paper form won’t immediately have access to member benefits that they might enjoy such as appearing in an online member directory or being able to access member only content on your website.
A membership application form is more than just a piece of paper or a page on your website. It’s the start of your relationship with your members—thus, it’s important to pay close attention to what goes into them. Refer to this guide if you ever find yourself struggling with your organization’s membership form.