Membership Marketing Words of Wisdom


One of the aspects that I very much enjoy in our survey research of membership professionals is when we ask the open ended question, “In your own words, what are the most important or successful lessons you have learned in the area of membership marketing?”
We receive hundreds of responses to the question that are provocative and insightful.  I thought it might be helpful to share a selection of these recommendations with you.

  • A catchy subject line goes a long way.  
  • Always test, never assume.  
  • Be creative - try something new. Remember it's not about what you like or respond to - it's about your members.  
  • Begin renewal efforts immediately. Make members’ experience personal.  
  • Data is king. The more we know about prospects and members (needs, wants, behaviors, actions), the more effectively we can acquire, engage, and retain them. As long as we have the help of very skilled data analysts.  
  • Direct Mail is still king. Track as much as you can. Test.  
  • Don't be afraid to test.  
  • Engage emotion in the value proposition.   
  • Free trials and comped registration fees go a long way in engaging new or apprehensive potential members.  
  • If you never ask them to join, they won't join.   
  • It cannot be an afterthought. If your value proposition is not compelling, no amount of fancy marketing will matter.   
  • Keep trying things until you find what works.   
  • Lowering the price (i.e., offering a promotion code) isn't always enough to generate joins and/or renewals. The value proposition must always be strong.  
  • Measure ROI.  
  • Measure your results with lifetime value of the member.  It’s the primary metric.  
  • Membership is not a sprint.  It's a long process that needs constant attention.  
  • Messages/communications have to be frequent and through a variety of channels (email, social media, newsletter).   
  • Never stop marketing. Keep contacting them until they ask you to stop.  
  • Personalization is the key to successful marketing campaigns.   
  • Segmenting is key. Long gone are the days of sending the same message to everyone.  
  • Social media is not a direct acquisition tool.  
  • Targeting and timeliness are key. Tell the right people what they need to know when they need to know it.   
  • The database is everything.   
  • There is no silver bullet.  You just have to keep at it with every tool you have.   
  • There is no single answer to membership marketing but a multi-level approach.  Not every outreach will click with every member or potential member.  Membership marketing is a journey and not a destination.  
  • Track everything. Statistics are our friends.   
  • Understand the wants/needs of members and provide programming to enhance member experiences. 
  • Unless they're dead, never give up any former member as lost.   
  • Use a diverse range of communication methods to increase your chances of reaching people.  
  • When times are tough, marketing should not be cut, it should be expanded.  
  • You can't improve something if you don't measure it.   
  • You need to invest resources to get results.

I appreciate the candor and ideas shared by these membership marketers.  Feel free to add your own comments and insights below. 

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