Integrating Channels and Content to Recruit Members

Testing is such a powerful tool in direct marketing. I would like to share today the outcomes of two tests that produced a substantial pop in results.

The first has to do with channel integration – connecting with a prospective member through multiple media.

We tested this recently using mail and email simultaneously to prospective members. We split our audience into two groups. One group only received a direct mail membership solicitation. The second group received the same direct mail package, but also received a follow up email. The mail only group produced a 1.23% response rate. The combined mail and email group produced a 2.08% response rate. This represents a 69% lift in overall response by adding the email.

I have seen a number of tests combining mail and email in membership acquisition over the past year and in each case the combination has improved response over either channel used in isolation. In adding email to the marketing mix, it is important to remember that email is not free. Often email lists needed to be rented for the promotion and the creation, deployment, and building a companion microsite also involves costs.

A second test included channel integration, but added to the mix exclusive and useful content. I call this content integration.

Here is how this test was structured. The prospect list was split evenly and the relevant touches were sent out at the same time.

The control group received a direct mail solicitation and a follow up membership recruitment email. The email provided a link to a customized microsite with an in-depth presentation of the organization’s membership benefits.

The test group received the same direct mail solicitation, but a series of emails where used to follow up the mailing. The first follow up email offered access to a microsite full of information on how an organization could take advantage of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The second email provided a link to another microsite that included a staff presentation again focused on how to access funding from the ARRA.

The third and final email replicated the control email from above and provided a link to the microsite outlining the membership benefits.

So the test really focused on the use of free, exclusive and relevant content to engage the prospective member.

The test group was the decisive winner. Allowing for a statistical margin of error, the test group outperformed the control group by over 300%. It did over three times better in both the number of members and in dues revenue.

What can we learn from these tests? One lesson is that intensity is important in marketing. More touches with valuable content in a short period of time gets a prospects attention. In addition, all of the communications pushed toward a sale.

Feel free to post your questions or observations about these tests here.


Leverage Your Strengths said...

Thanks Tony for sharing this valuable information. Curious if you can share how those increased response rates translate into revenue. Thanks. - Vinay

jfollansbee said...

Hello Tony,

Thanks for your continuing work on this blog. I'm interested in your thoughts about the tactic of sending prospects a membership card that they can "activate", much like a new credit card. I recently received an AARP solicitation that used this approach. I was intrigued.

I'm wondering if something like this might be appropriate for my small non-profit ($1.2 million budget). This seems to shorten the path from interest to sign-up, e.g., the prospect doesn't have to fill in a form, stick on a stamp, and drive to the post office. They just make a phone call. What are the variations on this theme, and what's the success rate compared to a more conventional approach? All ideas are welcome.

Many thanks.