Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Define "Social Media"

In a post dated today, a good friend of mine, Roger Harris, social media consultant and a pretty smart guy, posed the question on his blog Twitter Thoughts: "What is Social Media?"

If you're in need of a definition, a great place to start would be Roger's blog.



Take a note from Amazon. If you want to build your brand, make it easy for your members to use you!

We all understand that member engagement drives retention. We also understand that this works with customers and/or those prospects who don't join but keep coming back to us for the products and services we provide. This 'brand building' best positions our associations to repeatedly receive a member or customers 1st choice purchase.

One of the core uses of web-marketing in the Membership Lifecycle is in enhancing member/customer engagement.

As corporations and for-profit entities have been putting billions of dollars into web-marketing for the past 15 years (or more), we in the association world can learn from their successes and failures.

In today's posting on DigitalNow community. Don Dea, Co-Founder of Fusion Productions, shared with us a great article from Newsweek about a success...the power of the web to build brand without a huge marketing budget.

In this economy, facing cutbacks and budget reductions, membership and association marketing professionals should take notice.

He write's that the "...world's best-known companies typically spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on advertising and marketing to build their brands."
But not Amazon.com (AMZN).

Instead of slapping their brand on everything that moves, Amazon invested in technology and customer support that makes their website easy to use, promotes cross selling, and in the end results in providing the customer with a "...smooth shopping experience that burnishes the company name."

But the proof is in the pudding as they say...or in this case the growth. Amazon jumped 13 spots in this year's ranking of the Best Global Brands. It is the biggest jump in this year's ranking. And we're in a recession! "By investing back in the user experience, you get high loyalty and repeat usage," says Sebastian Thomas, head of U.S. technology research for RCM Capital Management, an investment firm with a stake in the company.

As was shown in MGI's recent 2009 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Survey Report, of the 599 association and membership executives surveyed, 85% stated that members become aware of an association through the association's website.

The question now is, as engagement is the key to renewal rates and repeat customers, how positive of an experience do you want your prospective and current members/customers to have?

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Networking" v.s. "Self-Promotion" through your Social Networking Sites?

I just read an interesting article from the ForbesWomenCommunity on Facebook which talked about the difference between 'networking' and 'self-promotion.' In the example presented, if you were to meet someone at an event, they sounded intelligent, dressed nicely, etc., why would you run screaming away from them within the next 5 minutes?

The answer is that they only talked about themselves. We've all been caught in those conversations.

So with that said, the question now is are you doing the samething with your social networking sites? To some degree we need to, but there is a fine line. In our drive for ROI, lets not forget that the primary use of these sites is to create a relationship, driven by supporting the needs of our members, non-members and industry stake holders - and yes to ultimately convince them that they should join, purchase a product/service or financial support the organization. But that's the end game...the long haul. And we must be patient.

As we've seen over and over again, especially looking at 1st year member conversions versus ongoing renewal rates, we need to first create awareness, then create trust by thinking first of our "site participants" then about ourselves. If we push to hard or to fast, we create suspicion and loose credibility.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Integrated member acquisition strategy

Many of us appreciate the positive impact that an integrated marketing strategy can have on driving member acquisition and retention. But for those of you who may still question its effectiveness, I want to bring your attention to a program we recently executed for a client here at MGI. The person who oversaw this program is Tony Rossell, a dear friend and mentor. On today's installment, he summarized his findings in his blog the "Membership Marketing Blog" http://membershipmarketing.blogspot.com/

"We tested...recently using mail and email simultaneously to prospective members. We split our audience into two groups. One group only received a direct mail membership solicitation. The second group received the same direct mail package, but also received a follow up email. The mail only group produced a 1.23% response rate. The combined mail and email group produced a 2.08% response rate. This represents a 69% lift in overall response by adding the email."

For over 50 years, the mantra for advertising has been repeat, repeat, repeat again! Any 'sale' is oportunistic by nature. It is the measureable result of multiple exposures of an organization or product to a specific prospect. What is often the question is the "type" of exposure (Trump has often said he does not care what people say as long as they are talking about him), over what time period, and the "personal impact" it carries on the prospect (this is also covered a bit by Tony's posting so I really really really recommend that you take a peek at it).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

All E-mail Addresses R Not The Same! A New Variable When Selecting Your Promotion Lists?

There is no doubt that a multi-media approach to membership acquisition is the preferred methodolgy. Here at MGI we've found that the use of e-mail in conjunction with direct mail, increases overall response rate by as much as 50%.

That's why its interesting to note a recent post by Don Dea, Co-Founder of Fusion Productions and the Chairperson for the ASAE Membership Section, on DigitalNow Community.

In short, he cites a recent study by MailChimp (aren't these names great?!) that points out that the users of specific email services have greater open and click-thru rates than teh users of other email services. He writes that..."A study of success metrics for marketing e-mails sent throughMailChimp’s distribution service showed that Gmail users were most likely to open and click on e-mails."

He continues "Open rates varied from a low of just over 20% for e-mail sent to AOL users to a high over nearly 31% among Gmail users. The click rate on e-mails sent to Gmail accounts was more than 7.4%, compared with rates between 4% and 5% for Yahoo!, AOL and Hotmail users. "

The implication is obvious...all email addresses are not the same! While some of you may be saying that this is nothing more than a "blinding flash of the obvious," have any of us actually started looking for different response metrics by email account in our email campaigns or are using different response metrics by email account in your forecasts? And, if we are using email in conjunction with direct mail, are we selecting lists by this new variable? I believe the answer is obvious as well...most likely not.

While this is simply one more thing on our plate, I believe that it will turn out to be somewhat important. Not so much as the actual number of members generated, but in helping us to better understand our markets and refine our overall on-line tactics to maximize awareness and support our association's membership acquisition and marketing strategy and ultimately its mission.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Taking a good lesson from the Auto Industry

I had a fun conversation with my good friend Tony Rossell this morning. The focus was on the marketing savvy of the auto industry and how we as association marketers could learn a little something from them.
Granted, the auto industry has not done well of late, but when it comes to effectively developing and offering a specific car to a specific market, they really have shown their "metal." Just look at Toyota. It has looked at the "Car Buyer Life Cycle" (remember the "Membership Life Cycle"), and developed product, and targeted marketing, to each phase of that life cycle. From first car - possibly a Scion - to luxury sedan - if one can imagine, a Lexus - Toyota provides a product for every phase.
Carrying this thought to associations, since membership is in essence a "bundled product sale," couldn't associations do this? Yes, we offer student memberships and that is certainly a first step. But perhaps we need to take a closer look at our own Membership Life Cycles, and identify other niche's than the simple "student, regular member, retired" that we almost always rely upon.
After all, Toyota offers the Prius, to those environmentally conscious car buyers who might have gone to another company if they could not get an environmentally friendly auto from them.