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."