Membership engagement sits right in the middle of the US-based Marketing General, Inc.’s five-stage membership lifecycle framework which consists of awareness, recruitment, engagement, retention and reinstatement. Being in the middle of the lifecycle is auspicious as membership engagement determines success for the association if done well and failure if neglected.
In my March 16, 2017 column, “Association Membership Lifecycle,” I wrote that engagement is when new members feel they belong with the association. It also means member interaction with the association—be it a visit to the website, a completed survey, a product purchase, or even a phone call—is continuously happening. Studies show the most likely member not to renew is a member in their first year. The second is one who has not availed of any benefit or has not been engaged with the association. Hence, the need to devise a membership engagement plan is imperative for associations.
Here’s a year-long engagement plan of the US-based ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) from an article written by Joe Syrowik, director of membership at ASCD, which proved that a well-thought-out and executed engagement plan for first-year members makes strategic sense.
Day 1: Welcome email
Week 2: Membership card, mini-survey to ask, “Why did you join?”
Week 2: Monthly: New member e-newsletter highlighting a specific benefit each month
Month 1: E-mail coupon good for 20 percent off purchase at the association’s store
Month 2: Monthly: Monthly journal with cover wrap depicting a unique benefit each month
Month 3: Three free months of online professional development program
Month 4: Welcome phone call
Month 6: Free association notepad
Month 7: Mini-survey to ask, “How are we doing?”
Month 8: E-mail coupon good for 20 percent off purchase from association’s store
Month 11: Mini-survey to ask, “Are you a better professional now?”
Month 12: Journal cover wrap, “This is your last edition.”
To pay for its implementation, ASCD shifted some funds that had been invested in member recruitment efforts into renewal of new members. The shift cost was 10 percent—a relatively small amount considering the recruitment budget was 10 times larger than the renewal budget.
Individually, each tactic is not revolutionary. However, when each became part of an overall member experience, the combined impact increased the conversion rate of first-year members into second-year members. In addition, members did not know beforehand that they were going to receive the items as part of their benefits. Instead, the strategy was for new members to receive them unannounced so they were perceived as added perks.
The plan, although simple, required a fair amount of work as well as a coordinated effort to implement. Of equal importance is the commitment and continued oversight by the marketing department to ensure the plan was an ongoing reality.
It took six months for the first group of new members to go through the engagement experience before ASCD realized an increase in the conversion rate of 12 percent. This increase resulted in 6,000 more members being retained over one year, a quantity large enough to help return ASCD to growth.
This article was published by the Business Mirror on August 11, 2022 and may not be reproduced without prior consent from the writer and Business Mirror.