Monday, June 21, 2010

Unexpected Results on Social Networking and Association Renewal - Is Social Networking Really a Bad Thing?

The 2010 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report has been published with a surprising result!  As stated on P.9, "Results also indicated that associations using Facebook, Twitter and/or their private association social networking are significantly more like to have renewal rates under 80%."

While some may argue that this may be a "sampling error," or some other statistical anomaly, might it also be a possible warning?

One of the overall 'take aways' for me from this study is the importance of 'personal touch' in the marketing program for both member and trade associations. In almost every instance, those associations that employed some level of "personal touch" like phone calls or personal visits, had either a higher acquisition rate, a higher renewal rate or both.

With this said, is it really surprising that associations using social networking have a lower renewal rate? I'd be interested in hearing what you all have to say on this.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

MMC - A Success!

First day back from the ASAE MMC and I want to send cudos to the ASAE team that ran this program. I think it was one of the best MMCs ever. The sessions were good and the attendees were very much "into it."

MGI also launched the 2010 Membership Benchmarking Survey results at a reception we sponsored. If you attended, I hope you all enjoyed it. If you have any questions concerning the study or would like a free copy, please feel free to contact me.

I also spoke with Vinay Kumar on how you can use the Membership Lifecycle to help you diagnose problems within your membership program. It was well attended with over 30 people who had a lot to say and share. It was a great session and I want to thank everyone who attended and participated.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ten Top Tips from the Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report

It's finally here! The MGI 2010 Membership Marketing Bechmarking Report. You can download your own copy by going to Web site registration is required for the download.

Tony Rossell offers a wonderful summary of the Top 10 Tips taken from this study on his blog (which I strongly recommend that you read). Here is that summary:

"1. Out of a list of 10 options, association executives are most likely to rank growth in member counts (22%), revenue growth (21%), and net revenue growth (21%) as the primary definition of success for their organization.

2. Findings indicate a more marked difference in membership growth of over 11% for those organizations focused on acquisition rather than those focused on retention or on a balanced strategy (18%: acquisition vs. 4%: retention and 9%: both), the five year change in membership (38%: acquisition vs. 27%: retention and 34%: both), and the change in new members (24%: acquisition vs. 7%: retention and 16%: both).

3. For associations with over 5,000 members, direct mail is considered the most effective channel for new member recruitment.

4. While Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most commonly used social media tools, they are not necessarily considered the most effective in reaching membership goals by association executives. In fact, the most effective social networking tools are considered to be those that are basically housed within the association itself, namely the association listserv (50%) and/or a private association social network (39%).

5. Approximately two-thirds of respondents report using mailed welcome kits, a decrease from the 2009 study of 15 percentage points (68% in 2010 vs. 83% in 2009). However, findings indicate that associations with greater than 80% renewal are significantly more likely to use the mailed welcome kits (75% vs. 58%).

6. Directionally, findings demonstrate that associations with overall increases in membership over the past year, as well as those with renewal rates higher than 80% are more likely to attempt more renewal contacts before a membership expires. These increases in renewal rates appear after seven contacts.

7. Associations with renewal rates of 80% or higher are significantly more likely to offer EFT renewals (14% vs. 3%) as well as installment payment plans (55% vs. 35%). Associations with renewal rates less than 80% are significantly more inclined to offer multi-year renewals (54% vs. 18%).

8. Associations showing an increase in renewals over the past year are significantly more likely to offer automatic credit card renewals, compared to associations with declines in renewals (29% vs. 17%).

9. Unlike in the 2009 study, price is not the top driver responsible for non-renewals; in fact, one-third of the association executives indicate that they believe members do not renew because they perceive a lack of value in the organization. This is an increase of about 80%.

10. Associations did not experience radical changes in membership numbers over the past year. The largest percentage of increases or declines in membership ranged from 1% to 5% of the previous year’s total."

If you have any questions concerning the study please feel free to contact me at or call me at 703.706.0358

Please feel free to share your thoughts and reaction to the report in the comments section below.

4 Pillers of Online Marketing

I read two interesting articles this morning. The first was by Wayne Friedman who reported that online ads will exceed $100 Billion (yes, 11 zeros -- $100,000,000,000) by 2015 and North America alone will be 45% of that ($45 Billion) and that Latin America will "...continue to be the fastest-growing region..." The biggest specific markets, I think to no ones surprise, will be China and Russia. Most of this will be billed through paid search.

The second article, written by Thad Kahlow and posted on Marketing Daily, pointed out the four most important investment considerations when developing your online campaign. In summary,

1. Launch a Robust Search Engine Marketing Campaign

Start with paid search. Find a sophisticated PPC team (three or more) or an agency (with multi-discipline expertise) that will look at your data and -- with a high level of confidence and certainty -- be able to promise you more ... lots more.

If you are managing a campaign in-house right now with only a single dedicated resource, chances are there are inefficiencies, which can be fixed quickly to yield immediate cost savings. Ever hear of exact mirror matching? While PPC is generating search results and ROI, build an internal search team and invest time and human resources toward gaining organic rankings.

SEO is the single largest potential for gain -- I mean CMO-attention-grabbing ROI. It's no longer snake oil and, when done well, it can put up huge numbers: rankings (branding), traffic (market share), conversions (sales). The winners in the online space -- the real winners -- will win first with SEO.

2. Improve the User's Website Experience & Conversions

Give your users what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. Do that well and you will improve your brand equity as well as measure increased business results. Focus on the users first and business goals second ... sit back and count the cash. Well, it's not that easy, but when done well, it feeds a cycle of online success.

According to Nielsen, spending 10% of your development budget on usability should improve your conversion rate by 83%. In most cases, it's far cheaper to use 15% of your development budget than to more than double your advertising budget.

3. Get in the Social Media Game

Start small, be realistic, and understand your first goal should be to listen. Yes, listen. Not market, not push a new message, not convert -- listen. Only after you have listened to your audience (current and potential clients) can you properly engage and begin a real conversation.

Once you build credibility and open a true dialogue, you can begin to reap the benefits of social media -- motivating others, your "mavens" to do it for you. Yes, eventually after you have climbed the mighty hill of social media, you can sit back and guide the boulder downhill. Let your mavens and evangelists do the work for you.

4. Measure

Measure it. Measure it. Measure it. Find out what works, find out what doesn't, and make business decisions based on real data. Don't guess, don't hope, don't anything ... measure it and improve marketing and results.

Much of this we've read before and hopefully many are doing. What I think is really important is when you put both articles into context, how important it is for us all to make a concerted effort to bring cohesive membership awareness, acquisition, engagement, renewal and reinstatement tactics to our membership development efforts. If online is where the ad revenue is going, then that is a HUGE indicator of where people are going. And either we can be in front of that, taking advantage of the 'low hanging fruit,' or way behind scrambling for crumbs.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hope to see you at the ASAE MMC this Monday and Tuesday in DC

I am speaking with Vinay Kumar at the ASAE Marketing and Membership Conference this Monday and Tuesday. I hope to see you there. As a "look behind the curtain," follow this link to read a little about what Vinay and I will be speaking about

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Prepress Learnings from the MGI 2010 Membership Benchmarking Study - Most Effective Recruitment Channels

While we will be presenting the 2010 Membership Benchmarking Study this Monday, June 14, 2010, at a special reception sponsored by MGI at the ASAE Marketing and Membership Conference in Washington, DC, here is a taste of what over 400 associations who participated in the survey and shared their membership practices and their opinions on what works best for each stage of the membership lifecycle had to say when asked "What are the Most Effective Recruitment Channels?"

For associations with less than 5,000 members, word-of-mouth is the most effecive method of new member recruitment. It is also the second most effective method for associations with over 5,000 members.

For associations with over 5,000 members, the exact opposite is true: direct mail is considered to be the most effective channel for new member recruitment while word-of-mouth is the second most effective method.

For trade associations, as well as those offering both individual membership and trade membership, the most effective recruitment method is member word-of-mouth.

There is so much more to this study, so I hope to see you at the MMC next week. If you can't make it or would like your own copy, please contact me at and I'll forward it after next Monday or you can go download a copy from our website at