As you embark on your 2020 membership recruitment plan, some of the most important work comes long before you even begin sending out your first campaign collateral or even plotting your campaign. Think of it like using a road map to plot a long car journey.
Simply put, before you can figure you how to get to where you want to go, you must know where you are. For membership-based organizations, we recommend starting with member retention.
The calculation is simple, but just to make sure we’re all on the same page, we will go over it here. Calculating your retention rate can be done in five steps:
1. Pick a time period, such as one year.
2. Determine the number of members you had at the beginning of the period (B).
3. Determine the number of members you had at the end (E).
4. Determine the number of new members added during the period (N), and subtract this from the end count (E-N).
5. Divide (E-N) by B—so (E-N/B), for your math-savvy folk—and you have your retention rate!
Factoring out added members is key, because they were not present at the beginning of the time period. Only members at the beginning of the specified period should be viewed as candidates for retention during the period.
Your retention rate gives you a good, big-picture idea of how well your association is doing growing or maintaining its membership. Another key metric—and probably the one that should garner the most near-term marketing attention—is renewal rate.
Calculating your renewal rate is simple: divide the number of renewals by the number of eligible renewals in a given time period. For example, if you had 100 members come up for renewal over the period of one year, and 95 of them renewed, your renewal rate would be 95/100 = 0.95, or 95%. That’s pretty good!
No matter how high that renewal percentage is, unless it’s perfect, it points to an obvious outreach opportunity. Members already are familiar with your organization and what it offers. Targeting them via lapsed-member campaigns should be a low-hanging fruit in your membership campaign push.
Of course, members usually don’t lapse for no reason. Digging into the data you have on lapsed members will give you insights on what is going on—and perhaps some clear goals. Perhaps your organization caters to professionals who tend to leave their field at retirement, and your lapsed members are mostly retirees? That could help you target your marketing in other areas. It also could be fodder for expanding your association’s offerings to grow its appeal—and its membership base!
Retention rates vary based on many factors. In general, however, if you are keeping 80% of your members—meaning 8 out of 10 eligible to renew are doing so—you are in pretty good shape. If not, don’t worry. We’ve touched on membership-retention strategies before, including back in 2018, when we shared nine tips for boosting renewals. You can read the entire article here (https://grassrootcommunication.com/9-high-value-membership-benefits-to-improve-retention/), but we will re-up four of our favorite tips:
1. Feed the Community
Your audience is people who are united by a common interest. Implementing simple ways for people to connect – an official Facebook page or a moderated forum section on your website will have your members talking almost immediately. You should also connect personally with your members to help boost their feeling of belonging and connectedness!
2. Go Beyond ‘Belonging’.
Your members want to a part of something, but they are hungry for information too. Conferences and seminars—even simple, online webinars—provide for a hands-on learning experience. It serves as both a getaway and a constructive opportunity.
3. Provide Exclusive Products
A sense of exclusivity creates demand—so provide something exclusive. The product itself doesn’t need to be something you perceive as particularly “exclusive.” As long as it’s a strain or version of a product that is unique to your organization, go ahead and label it as exclusive. If it’s limited to a particular group, it’s exclusive. If it’s white-labeled, it’s exclusive. If it’s difficult to find elsewhere, it’s exclusive.
4. Early Renewal Discount
This is time-tested, but it works. Start your member-renewal drive early, and provide people with the option of a longer payment plan or an up-front discount (or both). The discount can be as little as 5% off the annual membership fee, but as long as people feel that they’re receiving the benefit of their membership from day one, your organization puts itself in a much better position to retain its members.
What Else Can Your Data Tell You?
Benchmarking and setting goals are beneficial activities that should be embedded in a membership organization’s processes. Are you taking advantage of what your data is telling you?
One of the areas we’ve been helping clients with is using their existing data to glean trends and actionable insight—a benchmarking jump-start, if you will. We call the new service MemberTrends, and it’s making a difference for our clients.
In one case, after cleaning and appending an association client’s in-house prospect list, we were able to determine the most viable prospects to target with a recruitment campaign. We also guided the client to do A/B testing so it could start gathering real marketing data to use for future campaigns. We helped the client figure out the best way to spend its recruitment dollars and designed a campaign using variable data and segmentation.
We did something similar for another client. The one wrinkle: before we sent out the direct-mail campaign, we tested offers through email marketing. The offer that got the highest response was then sent out the mailing.
In each case, existing data in the client’s possession helped us craft a targeted, cost-effective campaign. The results spoke for themselves.
Your Data—Your Future
No two organizations are the same, and neither are their membership profiles. Understanding how your audience thinks and what is motivating the decisions they make—both joining the association and disengaging from it–can help you develop more effective, efficient campaigns. We’re happy to help!
Looking to get more insight from your data? We can help!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get started.