3 Most Common Strategies for Launching Your Digital Membership Program

Digital Membership Strategies

Back in 2017, Cuseum introduced digital membership cards to help organizations and their membership departments succeed in the digital age. They’re more affordable, more convenient, and more accessible than traditional membership cards — what’s not to love? Since then, we’ve worked with organizations with 100s of members to 100,000+ members to develop optimal digital membership solutions for them and their constituents.

When an organization is considering offering digital membership cards to members, one of the first questions to pop up is about implementation: what is the best way to roll-out this new offering to their members? This is a key question with no with no one-size-fits-all answer. Outlining a roll-out strategy is all about determining which path best suits the needs of your organization and your constituents.

In this post, we will sketch out three common and effective strategies for implementing your organization’s digital membership program.

Digital Cards as a Transitional Step into a Fully Digital Future

Most commonly, organizations like to phase in a digital membership program. With this opt-in approach, you can let your members decide what works best for them: physical or digital! Rolling forward, every new member will have the choice between a digital or a plastic/paper card, and you can even introduce a nominal fee to physical cards to incentivize the transition to digital. This strategy gives organizations the opportunity to phase out physical memberships down the road if they choose to, without any abrupt change, or simply continue to offer both. San Francisco Parks Alliance employed a digital-forward approach, rolling out a program that was digital by default but allowing members to opt-in to physical cards if preferred. Your organization can take this approach, immediately switching to digital cards as the default offering, and making physical membership cards opt-in by special request.

Newfields, in Indianapolis, took a different approach, allowing members to opt-in to digital at the time of purchase. Ultimately, this approach results in cost savings, as many members prefer the convenience of digital membership, reducing costs associated with the maintenance and renewal of physical membership cards.

Offer Both: Digital Cards as a Supplement to Physical Cards

Similar to the previous strategy, continuing to offer both digital and physical membership cards is another way of empowering your members to choose the experience that best suits their lifestyle. Offering both digital and physical membership cards adds extra benefit for members who want to go with the mobile option, while maintaining the status quo. Physical memberships can continue to be the default, and interested members who are keen on having everything in one place in their e-wallet have can choose a digital card. This is a great way to dip your toes in the water, and if your members give you positive feedback, you can eventually make digital memberships the default option (still keeping physical cards as an opt-in option, if you wish!). Organizations such as Conservatory of Flowers, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and Morikami Museum have worked with Cuseum to implement this dual-approach strategy.

100% Digital: Digital Cards to Replace Physical Cards

Digital membership cards are perfect for organizations looking for an easier way to save all around on membership operations. Starting on a specific date, and moving forward, every member will get a digital membership card and physical cards will be eliminated — simple as that. Your organization saves money, saves time, and the environment gets a little saving too. We’ve worked with several clients to successfully implement this roll-out strategy, including organizations such as Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Southern Oregon University Alumni Association, and Southern Illinois University Alumni Association.

Now that you know 3 of the most common roll-out strategies, let’s talk about the strategy for “who” gets their digital card and “when.”

It’s possible to deploy digital cards to a specific segment or membership group (for example, only “family” level members get digital cards), which can be a great transitional step along the way to a full switch to digital memberships.

Digital memberships offer multi-faceted benefits that meet organizational needs (such as saving time and money), and appeal to today’s visitors and members. But take comfort: there is no one right way to roll-out your new digital membership program. We are happy to be flexible and explore other options, in addition to those outlined here! These are simply the most common methods. Take a good look at your visitors and members to decide which strategy (or combination of strategies) will work best for your organization and its members.


Interested in going digital with your membership program? Schedule a free consultation with Cuseum.

FB Twitter LinkedIn