Direct Mail is Tops for Membership Recruitment

What marketing channels are most effective in new membership recruitment?

Based on responses from our membership marketing benchmarking survey, direct mail still tops the list with 31.7 percent of respondents saying it was the most effective source for attracting new members.

Here are the channels that were rated as top performers to get new members.


Interestingly, the following registered at less than one percent: Paid Search Advertising, Online Ads, Public Relations, Social Networking, and Print Ads.

I have always maintained that membership is primarily a “push” product. It must be proactively sold. So it is interesting that highly targetable and direct to customer methods are rated as the best in recruiting new members from this research.

Here is some additional data that you might find of interest. The Research Brief Blog reports that "Direct mail's share of total advertising spending has been on a strong upward trend for most of the past 17 years. Since 1999, the direct mail share has risen steadily reaching 22% in 2008. Direct mail has maintained its large ad share even with the introduction of new, fast-growing ad markets such as the Internet."

7 comments:

Kevin said...

Tony, I've been enjoying this series of posts and have been finding your data very useful. Like you I am not surprised that targeted push works best (though personally we have better luck with email than these results suggest -- I imagine it has to do with the quality of your opt-in list).

My experience has not enamored me of online banner advertising for membership (I haven't found display advertising in any medium to work very well for membership, though it may work very well for certain kinds of products.)

Similarly, we have done some experimenting with search advertising -- not a lot -- but in what we have done so far, we have found it to work extremely well in moving a very specific product or service, but not very well for immediate membership conversion. Keep up the great work!

Wes Trochlil said...

I wonder if these responses are biased by the fact that it's likely most associations don't track non-direct mail source codes as closely as they do those on print. In other words, we're so accustomed to tracking snail-mail source codes that we do it well, but we're unaccustomed to tracking other sources (after all, how many of us are REALLY tracking WOMM?).

Kevin said...

If you don't track something, it may as well not exist. If you CAN'T track something, then you should not divert energy and resources toward it away from things that you can track, because what you are doing amounts to nothing more than guesswork and leaves you in a very vulnerable position. WOM is similar to "brand/identity awareness" in that both are things of which you should be cognizant, and both can reinforce (or inhibit) someone's decision to join, but they shouldn't be a primary focus of membership marketing (and in most associations, with limited staff, time and money, there's only so much focus). Do good work, excite your customers, and WOM (and "brand") will work in your favor -- but only if you push out an ASK and get people to say yes. IMHO.

Tony Rossell said...

Wes -- Kevin hits the nail on the head. Should a responsible association spend lots of money on marketing that is not measured? As far as survey validity, if hundreds of association marketing professionals tell me that something is the "most effective" means of recruiting new members, it is at least directional. However, everyone should test and validate any marketing programs for themselves. Tony

Tony Rossell said...

Kevin -- I was just on your blog the other day. I appreciate your blog posts and your comments on the Membership Marketing Blog. Tony

Dan said...

I agree with Kevin. Yes, tracking is important and there are some tried and (mostly) true ways of tracking direct mail.

I also agree with Wes that we need to learn more and better ways of tracking the other online channels.

The challenge is trying to differentiate the source when multiple channels influenced the decision to join. I know my org has alot of online activities going on and I admit we aren't doing a great job of tracking these activities, but we will continue those activities because they support the brand awareness in all the places our prospective members are looking and it would be foolish not to at least have a presence in those channels.

Tony Rossell said...

I wanted to add the following piece of data to the conversation on this post. The blog Research Brief wrote, "Direct mail's share of total advertising spending has been on a strong upward trend for most of the past 17 years. Since 1999, the direct mail share has risen steadily reaching 22% in 2008. Direct mail has maintained its large ad share even with the introduction of new, fast-growing ad markets such as the Internet" Here is the url:
http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=112644