Real Magnet

Automated Membership Retention

Automated Membership Retention

According to the 2014 Membership Marketing Benchmark Report by Marketing General, the #1 reason members choose NOT to renew their membership is “lack of engagement with the organization”:

Lack of engagement with the organization17%15%14%N/AN/A
Could not justify membership costs with any significant ROI12%11%11%N/AN/A
Budget cuts / economic hardship of company11%18%18%N/AN/A

We know that this isn’t due to lack of effort on the part of most member based organizations – member engagement is a top priority at most member-based organizations and there the term has become a buzzword throughout the industry. A Google search of the term “member engagement” on 4/27/15 generated a staggering 441,000 results.

It appears that member engagement is vitally important to membership renewals and that association professionals are very much aware of this – where, then, is the issue?


Maximizing the engagement of each individual member of a large group of people is extraordinarily difficult, and successfully doing so on an ongoing basis is even more challenging. To do so, one needs three foundational capabilities:


Monitoring of Engagement Levels

The cornerstone element is knowledge – member based organizations need to know the extent to which each individual member has been engaged/involved. For most, the first utilization of such knowledge would be to identify at-risk members so that they can receive special attention before it’s too late. There are, however, an extremely broad range of utilizations of such knowledge, and each member based organization will have their own array. Not all are negative – some member based organization will wish to provide special attention of highly-involved members as well, perhaps so that such members can be recognized in some way and/or rewarded with things like invitations to participate in a committee.

Making this monitoring even more difficult is the fact that this awareness of individual member engagement levels needs to be maintained on an ongoing basis.

Fortunately, today’s Marketing Automation systems are designed specifically to monitor engagement levels, tracking whatever you believe is relevant to your own organization. Think about all the different ways a member might be involved and consider the power of a single system capable of monitoring these for you over time. You might wish to track which emails a given member has opened, which links in the emails they clicked, which pages of your website they have visited, which events they have registered for, which purchases from your online store they have made, and much more.


Understanding Individual Member Interests

People have joined your member based organization for different reasons and each person has a variety of individual interests. Maximizing overall engagement is only going to be possible if you understand what interests each individual member. This can be daunting, however, especially given the fact that interests evolve over time.

Fortunately, the same monitoring of member actions described in the previous section also provides a wealth of insights into member interests. Each of your members will reveal their interests through the emails they open, the links they click, the articles they read, the pages the visit, the events they attend, etc.

Today’s Marketing Automation systems are designed to take advantage of having your finger on the pulse of each member’s interests in this way. Marketers in the private sector have been using Marketing Automation systems to identify the interests of their customers and prospects with great success. The tremendous news for member based organizations is that doing this benefits member-based organizations even more than it does companies, because relationships with members last for years, giving member based organizations much more information (and thus even deeper insights) about members than the typical company has about customers.


Segmented Communications

Armed with this understanding of the interest areas of each individual member, associations can now make their communications with each member much more relevant and much more interesting to each individual recipient by tailoring each message so that it focuses on those topics that each person cares about.

Once again, there is good news – today’s Marketing Automation systems are built to support this and are doing so already. These systems make it easy for you to segment your membership according to however many interest areas as you wish.

Not only that, today’s systems make it possible to segment members according to their interest areas without running reports – segmentation is built-in functionality that allows you to automatically group your members however you wish, and the most impactful and far-reaching utilization of this is for tailored email campaigns.

The Membership Marketing Benchmark Report referenced earlier documented that the marketing channel the generated both the highest number of member renewals AND the highest number of lapsed member reinstatements was email:

Which of the following marketing channels generates the most membership renewals?

(those surveyed were permitted to select up to three choices)

Email Marketing 72%
Direct Mail 56%
Staff Phone Calls 40%
Peer Member Contacts 18%
Employer Contacts 4%
Magazine Cover Wraps 3%
Social Media Contacts 3%
Fax 1%
Texting 1%
Renewal App for Mobile Devices 1%
Tweeting 1%
Other 7%

Which channel generates the most reinstated members?

Email 39%
Phone 29%
Direct Mail 22%
Social Media 1%
Texting 1%
Fax 1%
Other 11%

We see, then, the compelling benefits of Marketing Automation systems for Membership Renewal. These systems were built to provide exactly the capabilities we need to:

  1. Monitor member engagement levels on an individual and ongoing basis

  2. Identify the interest areas of each individual member

  3. Make our communications with each member more relevant and interesting by focusing on the topics they each care about most