Friday, April 29, 2011

Email is loosing its effectiveness. So what's going on?

In the past 10 years, the use of email as a marketing tool has grown. But that continued growth is doubtful.

Tony Rossell, a dear friend, mentor and associate here at MGI, recently posted on his blog ( some interesting information on email which prompted me to dig a little deeper.

In the April/May, 2011 issue of, editors stated that: "People were impressed with the idea that email was practically free and that they could communicate with people just by pressing a button. But the reality is that the open rates are steadly decreasing - we're ssing open rates consistently under 10%, and three or four years ago they were in the high 20%'s" (p.22).

The  2010 U.S. Digital Year in Review showed stated that " is waning: Total usage of web-based email dropped 9% in 2010 with more precipitous declines occurring among younger age groups, particularly teenagers. It’s clear that communication is shifting not only to other platforms, but to other devices."
Preliminary analysis of the results from the 2011 MGI Membership Marketing Benchmarking Survey indicate that respondents reported only a small increase in using email to build awareness among prospects and little change in using email to engage or onboard new members and support renewal efforts from the previous year.

So, what is happening and where is the budget money being reallocated?

If you have kids, maybe you already know the answer...other online marketing channels. My 17 year-old son does not check his email anymore, nor does he really talk on the phone, nor does he really go to the movies. Its all about FaceBook, YouTube and Skype. These "other online channels" are now the preferred choice over email.

The 2010 U.S. Digital Year in Review Report reports that "In Q4, Facebook widened the lead it took earlier in the year vs. Google and the three major portals, and now accounts for just north of 12% of time online—and it seems to be climbing. Three out of every 10 internet sessions includes a Facebook visit, and Facebook accounts now accounts for 10% of all pageviews in the US. “Facebook” was also the top organic search phrase in 2010 with nearly 2 billion searches on that term–3 times greater than the next most searched for term. In short, it’s a behemoth--and getting bigger."

Interesting point...YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world.
The report continues by stating that "Video adoption continues to climb, and online TV is now mainstream: More people watched video, and those that did watched more of it. The video audience grew by 32%, and time spent grew by 12%. The average American watched 14 hours of video in December. Hulu continues to be a big story, attracting twice as much viewing as the Top 5 broadcast sites (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CW) combined. The proliferation of both publishers and platforms is contributing to changing behavior—creating not only more video users, but more and more ‘cord cutters’ (people who consume TV content solely online.) Based on activity in the back half of the year the rate of change is likely to continue or increase, making video an increasingly important part of the digital experience."
I reported earlier in this blog that:

  • 1 out of 8 couples married in the US last year met via Social Media. 
  • Years to Reach 50 Million Users: 
    • Radio........38 
    • TV............13 
    • Internet.......4 
    • iPod............3 
    • FaceBook...9 MONTHS 
  • 1 in 6 higher education students are enrolled on-line studies. 
  • 25% of search results for world’s top 20 brands are links to user generated content. 
  • 80% of companies are using LinkedIn as primary tool to find employees.

So there you have it. The money is moving to other on-line channels.

But is any of this really surprising? I don't think so.

As direct marketers we long ago realized the potential impact of those tools that EMPOWER our prospects.

100 years ago, people who lived in very secluded areas had little choice of stores to buy from. Montgomery Wards and Sears answered this call with their catalogs, EMPOWERING these people by giving them a greater choice in products and services.

10 years ago these catalogs were put on line and no longer did the prospect have to wait 30, 90, 180 or 360 days to get a catalog. They could go on-line to buy their products.

Today, prospects can go on-line to buy their products based upon the recommendations of their FaceBook "friends" and the recommendations of other people who have used the product. AND, if they don't know how to use the product, they can go on-line and find out. EMPOWERMENT!!

More associations are embracing Social Media to not only sell, but to educate and nurture. How are you using it? Do you have a Social Media plan? Let me know.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tips to Getting Email Frequency Right!

Published in the April 20th issue of Marketing Pros (, Ardath Albee was recently cited in "Three Tips to Getting Email Frequency Right" offering the following advice:

Accept that the length of the buy cycle is the length of the buy cycle. "If it's 8 months, trying to increase the frequency to complete the program in 3 months isn't going to change that," she argues. "Buyers will move at their own pace." Attempts to speed things up with additional email messages will likely annoy your leads and cause campaign fatigue.

Plan with a realistic view of your content-producing capabilities. It takes time to research, write, vet, approve and publish high-quality content. "Map your processes to a timeline so that you can meet the frequency schedule you choose to follow," Albee advises. "Better to space it out and do it well than to rush to publish based on an artificial schedule you cannot maintain over the long haul."

Coordinate the timing of email campaigns with each of your company's departments. "Unless you can isolate your targeted lead list," she says, "you need to look at the entire universe of email that they could be exposed to from your company and plan accordingly." You might think you're giving leads plenty of space, but they'll feel bombarded if they're also getting product announcements, corporate newsletters and webinar invitations from others in your organization.

The Po!nt: Take the time to clearly map things out. There's no simple formula for correct frequency, and yours depends on a host of variables—internal and external.
OK - non of this is truly groundbreaking or "HOLD THE PRESSES" important. we actually implement them? These are good rules to e-live by.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Great article cited in Collloquy

I always talk about the "power of ego" as an important tool in membership marketing. Here is a great article written by Aline Ostrowski Share and posted in Colloquy on 4/12/2011 that I think clearly addresses this and brings some clarity to the topic. If you're interested, here is the post address

Ego + Power of Status = Incremental Business

by Aline Ostrowski Share

Although we all like to claim that we do not care about silly things like our position in society or our status among our colleagues, but admit it … we all have an ego that needs to be fed in some form. For some status is defined by designer clothing or a fancy car. For others, like me, it is all about the recognition of being a VIC (Very Important Customer). It is not that I think that I am better than anyone else, but it sure is nice to be recognized and rewarded for the continued business and patronage that I pay to select brands.

The truth is that it is not the status that makes me loyal to a brand. However, the experiences that the status enables makes me more loyal and makes me consolidate my spending. And the brands that do it right are those brands that take full advantage of a customer’s status to provide a set of experiences that continually endear customers. It is not status that drives loyalty, but the continual special experiences that foster preference and trust – two core elements of loyalty.

As a road warrior, I have the benefit of getting my ego stroked by my favorite brands. But the memorable experiences are those that come from being a VIC and the special thanks from these brands. Two quick examples to illustrate are: 
  • My favorite airline works hard to keep me happy. As a VIC I get the usual perks of boarding first, the occasional upgrade to first class, and special offers to use my points. Recently, however, I had a mix-up in flights that was of my own doing – the response from the customer service agent was just delightful. And although I did not get home any sooner than I had hoped, I was wowed by the efforts that this customer service agent made to try to help me out.  
  • When I check into my hotel of choice each week, I am greeted with smiles from the employees – they know me by name as if I were a celebrity. But the true test is when I go to another location of my favorite hotel, one that is not my home-away from home, and I am still greeted with the friendliness and appreciation that I am use to.
 Great experiences and as a VIC I feel nice, but “did it impact my purchase behavior?” you ask? Yes it has – even I, a loyalty veteran, am influenced… not because of the points, but because of how I am treated. I paid extra for my spring break trip this year just to fly with my preferred airline, because I trust that should something go wrong that they will take care of me and my family. And when traveling for other company business, I choose my regular hotel chain first even though I may be across the street from colleagues who are in another hotel.

Everyone has an ego – what are you doing to stoke the egos of your VICs? How are you making them feel when they engage with your brand or through your loyalty program?

You can have the best program in the world, but it will only be moderately successful if you do not feed the egos of your VICs or potential VICs.

Let me know what you think.

Erik's Experts in Membership Marketing Blog is written by Erik Schonher, Vice President of Marketing General, Inc. For more information, contact Erik at

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Look for "AssociationTRENDS" Special Focus

Hey everybody,

MGI sponsored an AssociationTRENDS update with a special focus on Membership. Rick Whelan, President of MGI, and Tony Rossell, Sr VP MGI, both authored articles including "What are the biggest impediments to member Growth?" and "Defining member value to optimize benefits."

The articles include results from the MGI 2010 Membership Benchmarking Survey and mentions some early results from the 2011 Membership Benchmarking Survey which will be released at the upcomming ASAE Annual Conference this August.

If you'd like a copy of the article, go to or contact me and I'll forward one to you.

If you'd like a pre-release copy of the 2011 Membership Benchmarking Survey, contact me and I'll put you on my "Early Distribution List."

Erik's Experts in Membership Marketing Blog is written by Erik Schonher, Vice President of Marketing General, Inc. For more information, contact Erik at

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Use of Social Media in Membership Marketing

We're busy putting together the results of the 2011 MGI Membership Benchmarking Study which will be released at the upcoming ASAE Annual Conference in St. Louis this August. As we take a look at the results I'll post those which I think will provide you with a little "inside information" in anticipation of the study's release. What is real exciting is that, given this is the third year for the study, we can begin comparing results from previous years to get a perspective on practice changes within our community.

In answer to the question of "...what social media is officially used by your association?" here are the results for both 2010 and 2011:

FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube have grown while ALL other social media measured are declining in popularity. Interesting to note is that in 2010, 8% of those associations surveyed indicated "No Social Media" while in 2011 the count dropped to 6%.

When asked which social media has been "...most effective in achieving your membership goals?" 51% said FaceBook, 27% indicated Twitter and 25% marked LinkedIn - Public (versus private).

Erik's Experts in Membership Marketing Blog is written by Erik Schonher, Vice President of Marketing General, Inc. For more information, contact Erik at