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Keeping Members On Track

Keeping Members On Track

Another long-time client of ours—a performing-arts venue—faced an interesting challenge. Its primary venue was undergoing a major renovation, but the shows had to go on! A temporary venue would host events while the main complex was being improved.

The situation created two immediate needs. First, patrons had to know what was going on—how long would the temporary venue be used, what were the changes coming in the new venue, and the like. Basically, expectations had to be set and managed.

The second need was more subtle but no less important: The organization wanted to make it as easy and convenient as as possible for customers to use the temporary venue.

Working closely with the client’s marketing and outreach teams, we developed a multi-channel strategy designed to get customers excited about the new venue and keep them engaged during the transition.

Membership Appeal

A direct-mail campaign used personalized URLs—or PURLs—on postcards that gave each recipient a customized web page that had directions from their address to the temporary venue and back. It also included recommendations on where to eat in the area.

The site also gave customers a customized view of the new theatre from their future seats.

All of it was backed with reminder emails to keep the information handy—and provided easy access to the PURLs.

“The idea was to turn an inconvenience into a chance to elevate member service, while getting members excited about the big picture,” Rapoport says. “The client was happy, and most importantly, so were the customers.”

Chapter-specific Membership Drives

If you’ve spent any time in association marketing or membership-recruitment, you’ve no doubt heard about the advantages of using data. Whether you’re looking to build your membership, retain members, or simply serve them better, data can help. Or so you’ve been told.
We’re not going to disagree. As our strategies have evolved over more than two decades, data’s importance as a marketing tool has steadily grown. One thing we’ve found, however, is that while our clients understand that they can be using data more productively, they’re not always sure how to go about it.

While there are myriad ways to leverage datasets, we wanted to present two recent real-world examples in which, working with association marketing executives, we helped develop data-driven campaigns with very specific goals.

Data Drive Recruitment & Retention

Our first example is a large professional organization with more than 100 regional chapters underneath a national governing body. Their goal: increase membership through a coordinated campaign that also worked in targeted messaging on, in many cases, a chapter-specific basis.
The task was a challenge, but well worth the effort. Coming up with chapter-specific messaging helped prospects feel more connected to the organization—a simple yet effective example of personalization. Delivering chapter-specific messaging also allowed letters to come from chapter presidents, rather than the national leadership.

Execution required driving messaging based on ZIP codes, which were grouped based on the chapters they are in. The effort was coordinated through the national organization—this ensured that messaging, while customized, had common content that was relevant to the organization as a whole.

“By having the national organization drive the campaign but programming it by demographics, a unified message could be sent out that appeared to be coming from the local chapter,” Grassroot VP-Sales and Marketing Sherene Rapoport explains. “There was enough customized content to make the messaging unique, yet the underlying theme supported the national organization’s goals.”
The campaign was a success, driving membership numbers up from across the country

(The Right) Content Is Still King

Have you ever come across appealing content only to find that you can’t actually access it?
When this happens, you probably spend the next minute or two troubleshooting potential ways to bypass the block, only to confirm that this content is indeed “member-only”.

To the outsider, this can be extremely frustrating; but to the insider, member-only content is an exclusive benefit. As an executive, leader, or marketer within your association, you may have trialed member-only content in the past, and those results may have landed anywhere on the spectrum spanning from “enormous success” to “utter failure”.

But if you’re new to the idea of member-only content, it presents a decision that you and your team will likely need to make at some point. Member-only content or public content? It’s a seemingly binary decision, but there are greater implications that come with the choice you make. So, let’s weigh the pros and cons of member-only and public content so that you can make the right decision for your organization’s content moving forward.

Let’s start with member-only content. If you’re on the fence about producing content that only members are able to access, you should ask a few questions. The very first of these questions is: what is the purpose of my content? Are you looking to inform your readers of a particular issue? Are you trying to drive more traffic to your site? Are you simply issuing content as an incentive for membership? Are you trying to monetize your content by teaming up with other influencers, sponsors, or brands?

Depending on how you use your content, you can start to determine whether your content should be made available to the masses, or to a handful of devoted members. If you’re using content to drive traffic, it would make sense for your content to be published publically; but if your content is a membership benefit, however, then perhaps your association should place restrictions that hide your content from non-members.

But that leads us to a second question: How effective is my member-only content? As a leader of an organization, you know that people give, donate, or sign up for membership for a number of different reasons. Some are actually incentivized by your membership benefits. Others care primarily about your organization’s cause and aren’t as interested in your membership benefits. As you’d imagine, this plays a huge role in whether or not your content should be exclusive. Are you staying current on your content’s data? Most website hosts can provide you with real-time analysis of your content. How many of your members read your emails and announcements? How many click through to your content? Think about it – if your members aren’t paying much attention to your content, is it really a valuable benefit? So, if you’re not finding success with your members, it may be time to open your content up to the public – or better yet, improve your content.

A third basic question to ask is: how relevant is my content? And this is when you have to take a good look in the mirror. If not even your members are clicking through to read what you have to say, you might have to consider whether there’s a greater issue with the content itself . . .

Are you covering subjects that are helpful to people, or are you producing content for the sake of producing content? Does it feel stale? Bland? Uninspired? Gather some feedback by doing any of the following:

• Ask your members what topics they would like to see covered.
• Poll your members on which content type they prefer to consume (i.e. video, graphics, blog posts, etc).
• Issue a survey with a list of potential topics and use that information to plan out future content.

With a little homework, planning, and communication between your organizations and its members, you can prime your content weeks – perhaps even months – in advance. And the best part? You’ll have valuable, relevant content that you can use however you wish. There’s still a market for member-only content, and of course, there will always be room for content that is made public as well. But when you identify your content’s purpose, its effectiveness, and its relevancy, you’ll be able to make adjustments that will improve its influence.

5 Things the Right Event App Will Do for You

A well designed mobile app can be an invaluable tool for your annual meeting. It can simplify everything for attendees, get rid of the need for loads of paper, and  turns your 3-day event into a year-long conversation. Wow.

The key phrase there is “well designed”. A poor app (and there are too many of them) is a waste of money because it won’t be used. Here’s what the right app will give you:

  1. A personalized experience

You can use your app as a platform for attendees to tailor their own experience of your event, according to what is most interesting and relevant to them. They can create a personalized schedule with built-in reminders, register for sessions and make changes on-the-fly, network with like-minded attendees, and more. As organizer, it also gives you the ability to communicate with them throughout the event by text messages and push notifications. Have to change the venue for a breakout session? Let the people registered for it know instantly.

  1. Better networking

One of the great benefits of attending an event is to meet peers. In-app messaging allows individuals and small groups to chat before, during and after the event, and arrange meet-ups.

  1. Interactive sessions

It can be intimidating to raise your hand and ask a speaker a question, and, depending on the session format, it may not even be appropriate. But using the event app they can ask their questions at any time, and also participate with features like live polling and on-the-spot surveys.  These abilities alone have the potential to transform an impersonal event into an experience that your attendees will never forget.

  1. Invaluable promotion

The right app will integrate seamlessly with your attendees’ preferred social networks. This makes it simple and quick to post quotes, images and video (a lot of which you can provide for them), spreading your message to a much larger audience around the world.

  1. Fun

Apps don’t have to be just digital manuals of event information and session content. “Gamification” is a buzzword today, and we are learning that building some fun features into your app adds another level of excitement to your event experience. Attendees can compete against each other for prizes, discounts or even just the top spot on your leaderboard.

Your app developer can work with you on all of the above. Spend a little more money to get the right expertise, and when you sit down to brief them have a clear idea in mind of exactly what you want to achieve.

9 High Value Membership Benefits to Improve Retention

Nothing beats acquiring a new member – except retaining an existing member.

We get it – the influx of new members can be thrilling; but it’s not a true indication of growth or stability. Are you pouring your resources into a brilliant acquisition strategy – but still not moving forward? Maybe your churn rate exceeds the number of people you’re bringing in!  Read more ›

Who Is My Most Valuable Member?

Not all members are equal.

Well, they are – but the reality is that one particular group of members is going to require more of your attention, more of your resources, and more of your effort to retain. Not only that – if you don’t retain these people, you’re going to work tirelessly just to keep your association afloat. Can you guess who we’re talking about?

A half-decent marketing plan can get newbies through the door. A concerted and collaborative effort, however, is needed in order to get through to your most vital group – the first year members.

Here are 3 reasons why your first year members are the most important to engage:

  1. They’re the hardest to impress

Your new acquisition thinks you’re “the bee’s knees”. Your long time member knows what to expect from you and trusts you. But for the first year member, the honeymoon period ends after a few months as that person begins to see what he or she is getting from your organization.

Before you know it you’re just 3 months away from your member’s renewal date without knowing whether or not that individual will renew his or her membership. How can you know?

Know them. Invest in that relationship.

Issue surveys to your first year members. Find out what they like and what they want, and make adjustments as needed. Check in with them regularly. Learn what will put your association in the best position to retain them.

  1. Once you have them, you can keep them

Unfortunately, you’ll never be able to leave a member alone and expect that person to sign up year after year.

After a member renews his or her membership for the first time, however, your job gets a little easier. You have earned that individual’s support for another year – so keep doing what you’re doing. That member is likely happy with the value he or she is receiving in exchange for the annual dues.

Check in with your second year member (yay!) now and then, and it should be relatively smooth sailing from there.

  1. They set your trends

Your first year members are likely to be your largest group of association members. Unless you acquire less people each year, this is usually the case.

Since your first year members represent the one of the largest subgroups of your membership, take their feedback seriously. Use their input to help navigate where your organization is headed.

First year members join with a fresh perspective and an open mind. They may have envisioned something different prior to signing up and it’s important to manage your association relative to their expectations.

Always be building towards your first years members’ “ideal” organization.

 

Sherene