Friday, April 20, 2012

Dues Rate - Negative Impact on Renewal Rates for Individual Membership Associations? The 2012 Membership Benchmarking Report says "NO WAY."

In preparing the 2012 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, we're looking at new ways to analyze the data and find new and important correllations.

I asked Jeff Tanguch, Research Manager here at MGI, to filter out the trade associations (N=146) from the overall response (N=684)and look at the relationship between Individual Membership Association renewals and annual dues. He found that 71% of membership associations whose dues are $200 or more also had a renewal rate of 80% or better. 

Therefore, this may indicate that dues level does not impact renewal rate. Then what is it?

Short answer: PERCEIVED VALUE. People will pay for what they believe is valuable. That is a personal decision - what is valuable to them. Not you...not me...THEM.

What do you think? Let us know your opinion. If you'd like a free copy of the 2012 Membership Benchmarking Report, please let me know. I'll send it to you as soon as we have it.

So, if the value is demonstrable, then dues is little consideration.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

More results fromt the 2012 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report

As we continue to prepare the 2012 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, results from 691 assocations indicate that those with less than an 80% renewal rate appear to spend more on engaging and retaining members than associations with a renewal rate of 80%+.  This may indicate that associations achieve a renewal rate of 80%+ by applying greater resources in first identifying and educating potential members.  What do you think?

N=691                      LT 80%  %              80%+    %

Awareness            $46,975 19.4%        $42,058 23.2%
Recruitment           $89,398 37.0%        $77,213 42.6%
Engagement          $30,339 12.5%        $16,613 9.2%
Renewals               $58,167 24.0%        $32,305 17.8%
Reinstatements    $17,006 7.0%           $12,931 7.1%
Totals                    $241,885                $181,120

Monday, April 16, 2012

2012 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Results -- Reinstatements

As you know, we are feverishly working on the 2012 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report. In my review of the data, I discovered that associations with renewal rates over 80% would rather increase their budgets in member recruitment and awareness while associations with renewal rates under 80% would increase their engagement and renewal budgets.

Not to be unexpected. However...what is telling here is that a 5.2% of the associations with a greater than 80% renewal rate would increase their reinstatement budgets while only 2.5% of those associations with a reported renewal rate of less than 80%.

In my thought, a small percentage of associations with an 80% renewal rate believe that this area may offer greater opportunity for ROI than recruitement, awareness, engagement or renewal. This is most interesting as I find many associations don't have a coordinated or strategic approach to their reinstatement program...this in the face of the data we have collected at MGI (working with hundreds of associations) indicating that reinstatement programs are LOW HANGING FRUIT!!

What have been your experiences with reinstatement programs? Let me know.

Friday, April 6, 2012

2012 Membership Benchmarking Report - Early Results Report!

We've started analyzing the results of the 2012 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Survey. Of the over 680 associations that responded to the survey, 664 reported their renewal rates. Of this group, 62.5% of the associations reported having a renewal rate in excess of 80%!  This is telling as it is an increase over last year - an indication that associations continue to do better as the market gets better. This will be an exciting report and we look forward to getting the 2012 Membership Benchmarking Report to you in May!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Science behind the Theory of Member Engagement

Increasing member renewals is a cornerstone of any membership strategy. As with any business model, the renewal of a member/customer is substantially less than the cost of replacing the non-renewed member or lost customer.

Integral to the process of keeping members is the development of member-loyalty. Unlike businesses, the fundamental premise of our membership business model (community development) requires us to provide services and products that foster loyalty with the association. As pointed out in the whitepaper, “The Business Value of Social CRM and common Use Cases: 01,” (Chess Media Group & Avectra, 2013), “… giving members the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with other members, innovate, encourage progress, and …ownership emerges thereby building loyalty…” (p.6).
We interpret “opportunity” as mentioned above as assisting the members to realize the benefits of membership through a series of activities that “engage” the member.
BJ Fogg, PhD, a behavioral scientist and Professor at Stamford University, points out three primary vectors necessary to generate engagement:
1. Motivation – understanding and affecting motivation
2. Ability – increase the ability of the member to participate
3. Trigger – a cue or prompt as a “call to action.”

One example of this engagement strategy by a membership association with over 300,000 members found that those members who made two or more calls to customer service in a single year were 80% more than likely to renew than those who made no calls at all.

Members are looking for camaraderie, networking, education and training. They expect to receive this through the website, conferences, webinars, publications, regional events, and the Membership Support Line.

Because of its ease of access and given the changing nature of buyer behavior, often the website is the most common of these channels through which members learn about the features offered by, and the subsequent value of, membership.
The challenge, therefore, is to assist the member, particularly the newest ones, to realize the value of membership by experiencing the benefits first-hand and as soon as possible. Therefore, a member engagement, or a strategic initiative that takes into account the three vectors as outlined by Dr. Fogg and utilizes the website, is the most logical step.

A possible outline of such a program may be:

Month 1:  Welcome kit which drives members to the website to confirm receipt of the kit and to "register" for a free whitepaper or other offer.
Month 2:  Wecome letter from the president/Executive Director which asks the member to respond by noting "what the member is most interested in"at the association.
Month 3:  Send a list of 3 benefits (perhaps packaged as a newsletter) that most "new" members purchase or participate in or ask about. Track click-thrus
Month 4:  Same as 3
Month 5: Same as 4
Month 6:  Same as 5 and include a survey of 5 basic questions to ascertain member experience/satisfaction.
Month 7:Same as 4 and include a summary of the survey responses including what information the members have most often mentioned and links to those on the website.
Month 8: Same as 7 without the summary.
Month 9: Same as 8
Month 10: Start the renewal program.

This is just one possible interpretation. The goal is to incrorporate the 3 vectors described earlier.

Good luck and let me know how it works for you.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pitch Camaraderie - It Never Gets Old

I'm currently preparing a FY2012-2013 Membership Marketing Plan for one of clients. As part of this process, I'm speaking with Board members and other volunteer leadership to get their perspectives. As part of my interview process, I always ask..."Why did YOU join?"

The overwhelming reason from each of the 12 people I spoke to was because they were looking for...


On the heels of these interviews, I was also reviewing a member acquisition letter that, even after years and years of use, it still remains one of my best responding letters. It starts..."As a member of our profession I know you understand how important being  a member of a community is."

Its an interesting dichotomy that as technology allows us to become more independent and possibly "reclusive," we're still drawn to each other for ideas, affirmation and confirmation.

My point is to suggest that you DON'T UNDERSELL THIS when preparing your member promotions. "Camaraderie" is still something we look for and are willing to pay for. Some also want discounts, training, social media...but these simply don't seem to be as consistantly desired as "Camarderie."

Friday, February 17, 2012

LinkedIn Screams Ahead as a Prospect Source for One Client

For a couple of years now I've been using online lead generation programs to effectively generate awareness for our clients, developing a prospect pool for membership and product sales when it was difficult to find these individuals through traditional means, and converting them to memberships.

Program Summary: If you are not aware of these programs, or have not attended one of my sessions on them, basically we create an offer (usually a FREE White Paper), use online media to promote or "push" the offer (Google PPC, LinkedIn, banner ads, etc.), and collect contact information (email address, name, postal address, etc.) when fulfilling the offer. Once captured, the now "prospect" is enrolled in a 3 to 5 step online conversion program that consists of emails and a final direct mail piece. If the prospect does not join, thier contact information is placed into the association's promotion file.

Here are the results after just one-week from such a program:

Campaigns                             Ad Clicks            Form Fills              Conversion Rate

White Paper DISPLAY             836                        12                          1.44%
White Paper SEARCH              123                         6                           4.88%
White Paper LinkedIn                234                      111                        47.44%

Total                                      1,199                      129                        10.81%

Needless to say, LinkedIn has performed remarkably well. In fact, when looking at the same information in terms of media spend, while the media spend for display and search was between $50 adn $95/prospect, it was only $6.60/prospect for LinkedIn.

Our client is extremely happy with these results to date.

Are you using online lead generation to help drive awareness of your association and help build your prospect file? If you are, please tell us how it's working for you?

Experts in Membership Marketing is published by Erik Schonher, Vice President, Marketing General Incorporated. If you have any questions concerning the content of this blog or MGI, please feel free to contact me directly
at (703) 706-0358. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to Sturucture a Well Designed Membership Recruitment Strategy

I've been speaking with several associations during the past two months on recruitment, testing strategies and developing effective programs to drive membership growth.  As part of my research, I just reread the results of a program I ran a year ago and thought it would be important to remind everyone that it's important to keep several things in mind as a recruitment effort is designed and implemented:

When developing your recruitment strategy for the coming year:
  • Create a structured learning environment that tests multiple target audiences and offers.  
  • Be sure that what is learned is actionable information for future campaigns.  
  • Recognize that each new member represents multiple years of dues and non-dues revenue.  
  • Refine recruitment programs to identify the most and the least productive combinations of offers, target segments, and creative appeal.  
  • Finally, keep in mind that an initial investment today, even if it incurs a loss in present day dollars, if done correctly can acquire essential knowledge to refine future acquisitions and set the stage for long-term organizational growth.

Following these simple rules will help you not only get the most out of your current campaign, but many campaigns to come.
Erik Schonher is Vice President for Marketing General Incorporated, the nation's largest marketing organization specializing in membership growth, and can be reached at (703) 706-0358 or .

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The 2012 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Study is LAUNCHED! FREE Copy of the Report to Everyone Who Responds

It's that time again!

Here is an opportunity to benchmark your organization against more than 600 other associations. For the fourth year in a row, Marketing General Inc. is conducting the Membership Marketing Benchmarking Survey.

I hope you will participate using the attached survey link.

For the past four years, our study has provided critical comparative data on how organizations recruit members, engage new members, and renew their members.

We expect similar insights from this study, with a focus on the key strategies that are working in the marketplace right now and comparisons among associations of like size and industry.

Use the attached personalized link to complete the survey. It should take about 10 minutes.

To thank you for your participation in this best practices research project, MGI will send you a FREE copy of the final report from this study: The 2012 Member Marketing Benchmarking Report. Your participation is much appreciated. No specific responses will be reported from any individual or association without their specific written consent.

Please click on the link below to start the survey.

Thanks in advance for participating!

Erik Schonher is Vice President for Marketing General Inc and oversees several clients and projects to include the 2012 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Survey and Report.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Could Your Association Use Another $100,000? Here's a possible answer...

List Management is a great way for an association to generate non-dues revenue.  The success of any campaign rests squarely on the viability of the list, so there is always a market for a good list. At MGI alone, MGILists manages over 80 association lists, providing associations an alternate source of badly needed revenue.

Postal lists are still the most often offered by associations. Some associations make well over $100,000/yr on rental of their lists of members, product buyers, convention attendees, expires and several other "selects." Offer email addresses and an association may actually triple this amount.

While some associations are hesitant about renting their list, more and more Executive Directors and association leaders understand that their members names are already on other lists; and, many of these same leaders agree that they have a responsibility to provide their members with new opportunitities which can be presented to the members by allowing the list to be rented. This potential (and acheived) revnue is used to pay for programs that enhance the members experience, drive engagement and ultimately have a positive impact on the assocation overall.

So, if you are searching for a List Management Company (and there are many who offer wonderful services), here are some questions that they may ask you during the proposal process.

1. What is this year's revenue goal for list sales?

2. What were your actual list earnings in the last two years?

3. Are list royalties taxable or tax exempt under your current agreement? (they might be tax exempt but you need to speak to the list manager or your accountant to make sure)

4. Has your list revenue remained fairly stable, with multiple repeat customers?

a. Have longtime mailers continued mailing in established patterns, or have you seen changes in their quantities and/or frequency?  
b. Are you seeing new mailers testing the list? 
c. Do you have a lot of publishers mailing to your list?
d. Are most list orders through brokers or from end-user mailers?
e. Do most list orders take the full file or barely satisfy your 5,000 name minimum?

5. This one might seem a little controversial, but give this some thought: Are your mailers asking for an email channel or are they happy with the postal channel? I am not asking whether you will make email available, only whether your mailers are satisfied with the postal product or are they looking elsewhere for solutions, which means your list manager needs to recruit new mailers to replace those who go to email sources.

6. Most of all, what are YOUR expectations that we must meet or exceed to make it worthwhile for you to change from status quo?


If you have any questions or observations, please post them for all to read.