While about one-third of the association executives who completed the survey said their organizations renewed 90% of their new members for a second year, nearly one-fifth retained 80-89%, and another 10% retained 70-79%. Those numbers matter because, as any association knows, the member retention battle is never over: Carried over five years, a 20% annual attrition rate would leave an organization with only 32.75% of the members who signed up five years ago, while a 30% attrition rate would leave them with only 16.8%.
But what if associations could begin turning those numbers around by applying basic sales and marketing theory to one of their most important marketing moments?
Ask any account manager, and you’ll probably hear that it takes eight to 10 touchpoints to break through the clutter of competing media and priorities to deliver a message that requires a decision and action. Yet the Pulse Report revealed that more than half of associations limit themselves to one to three follow-ups as member renewal deadlines draw near. Another one-tenth of respondents either didn't know how many times their organizations followed up, or didn’t follow up at all.
We didn’t ask survey respondents why they were doing so little to make sure their members renewed. We suspect they might have scaled back by popular demand, after members complained about being overwhelmed by a continuous flow of renewal requests.
But the eight to 10 touchpoints don’t all have to be delivered the same way, and they shouldn't all be outbound, “push” messaging. A touchpoint can be an email, a phone call, a text message, or a direct mail letter or post card, a survey, a contest, or a social media message, and it can come from association staff, board members, volunteers, or other opinion leaders. A broader approach to member renewal means a more effective campaign that reminds members of the value they get back for their membership dollar—and delivers even more value along the way.
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