Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tactical Planning: Outlining a Successful Online Awareness Plan Using Lead Generation Techniques

The goal of this post is to provide a "schema" for a basic online awareness program. This is not intended to be the "end-all-of-be-all" for online promotions. Please don't go there. More importantly, it's to simply provide an overview based upon a number of different programs that I've designed or participated in designing. Also, I want to thank Todd Michaels for his time and talent and expertise.

Use of lead generation techniques to drive member engagement is nothing new. Key to the success of the program is:
  1. Set appropriate expectations and quantifiable goals.
  2. Be sure that the offer IS compelling to the prospect.
  3. Clearly establish what you want the prospect to do in each phase of the program.
  4. Provide quality content in every step of the process.
  5. Be consistent in your presentation and content.
  6. Monitor and track response rates.
Sample Program:  Client is launching a new website and they are looking to drive engagement.

Stated Goal: To drive awareness of the new website and encourage engagement, over the next 3 months we will use targeted online advertising and search to entice prospects from each of the target markets to visit and download materials that are available through the new website. Success will be measured by the number of downloads of Materials by each segment.
Therefore, we will collect:
  1. First and last name
  2. Title
  3. Company/Association
  4. email mail address
Therefore, to analyze the results we will track the following by each market segment:
  1. Number of ad presentations by version and by placement
  2. Click-thrus by ad version and by placement
  3. Time spent on the landing page
  4. Request completions
  5. Total Downloads
  6. Opens for each of the follow up emails
  7. Number of conversions
Step 1: Understand the online behavior of your target markets using keyword and social monitoring tools to identify key topics and content within target audience.

Step 2: Identify offers that are compelling to the target market(s). I usually end up using a whitepaper as the content is easily available through my client and the actual product is inexpensive to create. Be sure that your creative is in line with your brand and is written in such a way as to entice your audience. You'll end up testing the creative so be prepared to see some work and some just flop.

Step 3: Select the online media and place the ads accordingly. This must be monitored daily and revised as needed.

Step 4: Create the Landing Page. Again, consistent in your brand and visually enticing. Include messaging that tells the prospect about the premium. You still must sell it.  Be clear as to what the prospect must do in order to receive the premium. Don't hide it. Don't be illusive. Clear and simple. 

Once down loaded, send the prospect a "thank you" and then send 3 to 5 follow up emails to entice them to explore the website and your association. (be sure to track this activity)

Each email should offer the prospect links to pertinent information on the website with the goal of their engaging with the website and enhancing their personal experience. In case they are not members, be sure that there is a link to the join-page.

Step 5: From the landing page send them directly to the new website.

I hope that you found this useful. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at 703.706.0358 or 

Monday, May 5, 2014

What are the Most Effective Marketing Channels for Associations? Find out what the 2014 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report says...

Individual Member
(n = 380)
Most Effective 
Word-of-mouth recommendations
Direct mail
(n = 244)
Most Effective 
Word-of-mouth recommendations
Personal sales calls
(n = 227)
Most Effective 
Word-of-mouth recommendations
Promotion to/at your own conferences/ trade shows
The 2014 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report continues to provide a very interesting picture of the changes that we're seeing in membership marketing.

While "Word of Mouth" continues to be included in the "Top Three" category, it is interesting to note the changes noticed in the the other two slots.

"I'm Baaaack." Direct Mail - A Proven Performer
Direct Mail returns to the Top Three for IMOs. While it seemed to fall out of favor last year, its interesting to note the trend within our industry back to print media. I guess the pendulum swings both ways. Its our experience that direct mail is an important channel for direct response marketing given its ability to deliver an individualized offer to a targeted prospects within a market and then effectively track the responses.

While the "Association Website" seems to have dropped out from this list, there is no question in anybody's mind that your website remains to be, in essence, your "office receptionist" as anybody who has a question about what you do and how you do it researches your website first before making a call.

The 2014 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report will be available on June 17, 2014, at the ASAE MMCC where I will be speaking. If you'd like me to save a copy for you, please let me know.

If you have any questions in regard to my services as a consultant, or the services provided by MGI, please feel free to contact me via email at

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Setting the Price of Membership Dues. Benchmarks and Suggestions from MGI's 2014 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Survey

When discussing membership and revenue the questions are asked:

"How often can an association raise their dues?"
"How much can/should I raise my dues?"

These are two very big questions as they both relate to internal and external influences including the association's brand, the members' perceived value of the association, the products and services you provide, financial need of the association, and so forth. 

As noted in this year's Membership Marketing Benchmarking Survey, 27% of the responding associations indicated that they play to raise membership dues in 2014.

Year Response
2014 27%
2013 23%
2012 14%
2011 7%
2010 7%

Observations from the report include:
·         A significant number of associations who raised their dues in 2013 also reported an overall increase in membership during the past 5 years.

·         A significant number of associations with membership up to 20,000, and those with operating budgets of $5,000,000 to $20,000,000, plan to raise their dues in 2014.

But as to the question of "when?" Respondents indicated that, as in other years, the vast majority of associations raise their membership dues "As Needed" at 56% (2014), 63% (2013) and 58% (2011).

An interesting observation from the 2014 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report is that those associations with the highest percentages of new member renewals (80% or higher) are significantly more likely to raise dues annually, while those with lower renewal rates are more likely to raise dues as needed.

On how much? There are a number of statistical methodologies that can assist you in determining price point including Discreet Choice and Van Westendorp. These tools require an "expert's touch" and can be pricey for the economically oriented association executive but they are effective in eliminating doubt when determining a new pricing model.

You can also develop and execute a test program promoting two price points (a "control price" vs "test price") and see which one draws the greatest response vrs the greatest profitability (net revenue).

If we go back to again reference the 2014 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, we find that the average percentage of the last membership dues increase across all membership categories was 1% to 5% for 59% of the associations responding to this questions (n=699).

If you'd like to find out a little more about price modeling, please feel free to contact me at 703.706.0358 or via email at

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

2014 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Survey: Association Growth and Perceived Impediments


(n = 884)
(n = 691)
(n = 689)
(n = 642)
(n = 405)
Percentage Increased Overall
Percentage Unchanged Overall
Percentage Declined Overall
Percentage Unsure

3 Key Marketing Indicators
Most membership organizations use three key indicators to measure trends in their overall health: total membership, new members acquired, and members renewed. This data helps them gauge their performance compared to the industry as a whole as well as identify areas of strength and weakness in their membership marketing efforts.

Total Membership
This has been a growth year in membership as over 53% of the 894 associations who participated in this study report an increase in membership. Of those associations reporting membership growth, 24% report a membership increase of 6% or more.  While 16% report no change, only 27% report a decline in their membership. This is the third year in a row that the majority of participants report membership growth and continues the positive trend from the low point of only 36% reporting growth in 2010.

New Membership
While the number of associations experiencing membership growth continues to climb, an even larger number report gains in new members. This year’s benchmarking survey finds that 58%—more than half of the associations sampled—report new member growth, a significant improvement from 42% at the depth of the recession in 2010.
Also this year, only 13% of the associations surveyed saw their new membership numbers decline compared to the 16% from last year and the 26% that declined in 2010.

Renewing Membership
Association membership renewals, however, appear to be somewhat less successful. Just 31% of the associations surveyed report improved renewal rates in 2014, which is a drop from the 35% reported in last year’s study. However, some of this was offset by the number of associations reporting that the decline in their renewal rates has dropped to 27% from that of 31% in 2013.
Association membership renewals have improved since the 2010 study, when just 21% of the associations reported increased renewals and 44% reported a decline. 

Perceived Impediments to Association Growth
While the drop in renewal rates “softened” the impact of member acquisition, renewal rates as a metric measure the association’s cumulative ability to effectively develop and manage the relationship with their members.

Given this perspective, it is important to consider what association executives feel are the obstacles to renewing.

This year’s respondents cited the top three reasons for not renewing as: (1) lack of engagement with the organization; (2) could not justify membership costs with any significant ROI; and (3) budget cuts/economic hardship of the company. 

When respondents were asked their association’s top three membership goals, 67% responded “Increasing member engagement,” 64% responded “Increasing both membership acquisition and retention,” and 60% cited “Increasing membership acquisition.”

A review of the key marketing indicators shows that the growth in membership reported by respondents is more the result of aggressive and successful new member acquisition initiatives than member renewals.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

My New Blog and a Tip from the 2014 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report

Welcome to my new blog Membership Marketing Tips & Tricks. I hope that you find the information useful and helps you achieve your goals.

To start, I want to share with you two interesting pieces of information I found in writing the 2014 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report:

1)  Member Engagement: Compared to associations who saw no change or a decrease in membership in the past year, associations reporting growth are significantly more likely to say they are seeing increases in:
o   Attendance at annual conference/trade show (55%)
o   Attendance at professional development meetings (52%)
o   Attendance of webinars (70%)
o   Volunteerism (37%)
o   Number of members who acquire or maintain certification (59%)
o   Purchase a non-dues product (45%)
o   Purchase a non-dues service (46%)
o   Number of visits to members-only section of website (61%)

For those of you who are growing are you seeing growth in these other areas? If you are...great and is it at the same level?  If you aren't, perhaps this will help you figure out where you need to focus some additional strategic and marketing resources?

If you are not seeing any growth, or even loosing membership, remember that the MMBR does not indicate causality. Therefore, it may be reasonable to consider if you could achieve increases in these areas, membership might grow!

2)  Student Memberships:  While the mean percentage of students that convert to a full membership is about 31%, more than one-quarter of associations indicate that their student membership to full membership conversion rate is less than 10%. 

This looks really good! Surprised that I'm saying that? Consider that in most membership acquisition programs we're happy to achieve a 0.5% response rate. So, a 10% to 31% conversion rate, in comparison to a 0.5% response rate, seems really good!

Let me know if you like my new blog and I look forward to reading your thoughts and observations. 

If you have any questions about this material or my services through Marketing General Incorporated, please feel free to contact me at: (703) 706-0358 or