Contact Us | 1-866-488-4474 |

Email Marketing and Member Engagement

Got mail?
In the world of online marketing, two statistics tell you a lot about the effectiveness of an email: the percentage of recipients who open it, and the percentage of those who click through to explore at least one of the links.

Last year, I got a great response for a blog post on the types of emails associations send and the average number of members who open them. So when Informz published its 2012 Benchmarking Report on Association Email Marketing, I eagerly downloaded the update. The year-over-year comparison tells an interesting story:

% Opened
Clicked Through
% Opened
Clicked Through
% Opened
Clicked Through
% Opened
% Clicked Through

The differences are relatively small, and it would take a third year of data to point to a lasting trend. But these metrics show important differences in the way members and stakeholders are reacting to your messages.
  • In both 2011 and 2012, the research showed more members opening survey emails, but fewer of them actually completing the surveys. For example, if you invited 500 members to complete a survey in 2012, 183 people read the email, but only 61 answered the questions. Knowing that you developed the survey to make your organization better, stronger, and more effective, what can you do to boost participation rate?
  • The statistics for event and delegate attendance emails showed fewer members opening them, but considerably more opening them. For both years, the percentages demonstrate the need to reach out widely and often. But between 2011 and 2012, the effectiveness of this email option actually increased by more than 30%: An email to 500 members would average more than 27 click-throughs this year, compared to just over 20.6 a year ago. Any number of factors could affect these results, but it may be time to review the subject lines on your conference promotions and start A/B testing your messages to ensure maximum engagement.
  • With email appeals, 2012 saw 5% more members opening their mail, but a decline in click-through rates offset most of the increase in active readers. These results underscore the need to cleanse your data and segment your email lists, to make sure your message goes to the right people, and to help members understand how they benefit from responding to an appeal and helping to build their community.
  • Small declines in both the open and click-through rates for e-newsletters reinforce the idea that short, snappy content is becoming more popular with members with too much to read and too little time. Over the last year, more and more association members have told us they struggle to control their incoming email, and the Informz statistics suggest e-newsletters may be a casualty.

Whatever mix of email formats you choose, the big-picture strategy is the same: with so much competing content, you have to make every message count by understanding what your members want you to send them, how they want to receive it, and what every part of your campaign will do to increase member engagement.

Happy Birthday Greenfield Services

Doreen And Heinz Cut the Birthday Cake
Greenfield Services co-Founders Heinz Wagner and Doreen Ashton Wagner
Fourteen years ago this month, my husband Heinz and I signed incorporation papers to establish our company, Greenfield Hospitality Services Inc.  At the time we were embarking upon the path of self-employment as a means to get out of the corporate “rat race.”  We wanted to move to North Glengarry, Ontario, to enjoy a quieter pace and family environment with our (then) two year-old daughter.
We started Greenfield as a consultancy devoted to hotel sales and food & beverage operations in 1998.  Seeing a niche in phone lead generation for the meetings and events industry, we created a small call centre operation which grew from three people in 2001, to a team of 19 by 2010.  We dropped “hospitality” from our official corporate name to reflect the fact we were working with membership-based organizations, not just hotels and resorts.
By mid-2011, as the B2B sales and marketing world began to shift, Greenfield morphed again.  This time the transformation took us from a traditional, outbound marketing services firm, to a full-service demand-generation consultancy.  We still focus on two main markets; the hospitality and meetings industry (where our clients are hotels, resorts, CVBs, and other meetings industry suppliers), and professional/trade associations.
While many of our clients remain the same, what we do for them has changed significantly.  We don’t just “work the phones” to promote event attendance anymore.  Our work is much more strategic; we help our clients create environments where potential members, attendees and sponsors seek to engage
If marketing used to be like a game of darts – where marketers tried to “hit the mark” with prospects – now we focus on making our clients more attractive.  It’s still a game of darts, except that now we also create an inbound, magnetic field.  One where we first build trust by creating education-based, valuable content; getting that content found; generating interest and starting business relationships.
English author W. Somerset Maugham said, “Life is change.  Growth is optional.”  In the game of life and business, at Greenfield, we choose growth.  Thank you for your support, everyone.  The best is yet to come.

Are You Providing Enough ROI for Your Members?

Change Button
According to Sarah Sladek from XYZ University, there are three types of associations that struggle to properly demonstrate member benefits.

In the “Scrooge” Model, the association charges for everything—there’s a fee for membership, a fee for education sessions, a fee for breakfast and lunch programs, a fee for white papers and research, publications and events.  The main concentration is on maximizing the revenue that comes in from members.

What do you do when the money runs out?

In the “Milk” Model, the organization easily demonstrates ROI on programs by offering professional development credits, certifications, and enduring content that is useful to members beyond the day of the program. But the value of membership still isn’t clear, since similar programs are often available to the general public, without paying to join an association.

How do you demonstrate the value of membership when non-members can get the same content for another $50?

The “Antique Model” describes associations that have been around forever (almost literally). They have great name recognition and brand profile in their industries, but they struggle to adapt to changes in the work force, and to deliver member ROI for newer generations.

What do you do when your brand can no longer carry you?

None of these models describes a modern association that understands its members and has a clear idea of why they join. Most members decide to affiliate because they believe the association can help them solve a problem—but to do that, you need to know what that problem really is.

Members renew because their problem has been solved, and now they feel confident that the association can keep them engaged. They feel like they belong, that their opinion matters, and that their organization would be able to help them if they had another tough question to answer.

What can your membership department do to bring your association to the next level?

To survive and thrive in an era of changing member expectations, Sladek recommends learning the three core problems that keep your members up at night. Then, in her words, blow up your member benefits.

Yes, blow them up. 

And then, regroup and create a new set of member benefits to address your members’ core problems. Create a strategic plan that addresses each issue and shows how your organization can successfully solve it.

Once the plan is in place, hold yourself accountable. Convene your team regularly to track progress. Take some time to review the plan, and see if there’ve been any changes that might shift your plan. At every step, keeping your members satisfied has to be your top priority.

Getting Ready for the Gen Y Wave of Membership

Youth in Business
The wave is coming. It may already be transforming your workplace and your membership. If not, get ready—because by 2015, members of Generation Y will be the majority in the work force.

Each generation has its own traits, characteristics, and preferences, and Gen Y’s—people born between 1982 and 1995—are no exception. Understanding their needs and interests will be crucial if you hope to recruit and retain them as members.

The bigger question is: What are you doing to engage every generation in your association?

Here are some of the traits to watch when you set out to build engagement across your association:

·         Baby Boomers (born in 1964 or earlier) are most likely to value the member benefits organizations have offered over the last several decades. They’re looking for discounts and face-to-face networking. They’re eager to attend conferences and events. They generally prefer standard types of communication, like hard copy newsletters and journals. They join an association because it’s the right thing to do, stay because it boosts their status with their peers, and eagerly step up to volunteer for boards and committees.

·         Members of Generation X (born from 1965 to 1981) value professional development and education to further their knowledge. They prefer peer-to-peer learning over classroom instruction, seek certification(s) to advance their careers, and expect easy access to the information they need. They’re interested in mentorship—both receiving and offering it—and they expect a return on the time they spend on committees, as well as the dollars they invest in their association membership.

·         Members of Generation Y value recognition. They seek instant gratification, results, and outcomes, expect instant access to free or inexpensive information, and want to be seen as equals with other generations. As members, they want access to leadership opportunities on boards and committees, and within their actual professions. They seek mentors, but they aren’t interested in standard mentoring formats.

Your in-house database should contain all the information you need to segment your membership and prospects by generation. (If it doesn’t, talk to us today!) Once you’ve reviewed the data and packaged your member benefits to meet different generational needs, the next step is to optimize the messaging on your website. Does it clearly convey the organization’s values and value proposition? Does it make a clear, compelling case for the generations you most need to reach? Each page should contain something that will appeal to each generation.

After that, you can go one step further and gather testimonials from your members. With the right mix of voices, you can enlist leaders in each generation to tell your story to their age peers and explain how much the association means to them, personally and professionally.