Overview of the Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report.

One of the most enjoyable projects that I work on each year is the Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report. This year, we had 407 associations complete the survey.

Today, I wanted to share ten top tips from the hundreds of findings appearing in the report.

1. Out of a list of 10 definitions of success in our survey, association executives are most likely to rank growth in member counts (22%), revenue growth (21%), and net revenue growth (21%) as their primary definition of success for their organization.

2. Findings in the report indicate a more marked difference in membership growth of over 11% for those organizations focused on acquisition rather than those focused on retention or on a balanced strategy (18%: acquisition vs. 4%: retention and 9%: both), the five year change in membership (38%: acquisition vs. 27%: retention and 34%: both), and the change in new members (24%: acquisition vs. 7%: retention and 16%: both).

3. For associations with over 5,000 members, direct mail is considered the most effective channel for new member recruitment.

4. While Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most commonly used social media tools, they are not necessarily considered the most effective in reaching membership goals by association executives. In fact, the most effective social networking tools are considered to be those that are basically housed within the association itself, namely the association listserv (50%) and/or a private association social network (39%).

5. Approximately two-thirds of respondents report using mailed welcome kits, a decrease from the 2009 study of 15 percentage points (68% in 2010 vs. 83% in 2009). However, findings indicate that associations with greater than 80% renewal are significantly more likely to use the mailed welcome kits (75% vs. 58%).

6. Directionally, findings demonstrate that associations with overall increases in membership over the past year, as well as those with renewal rates higher than 80% are more likely to attempt more renewal contacts before a membership expires. These increases in renewal rates appear after seven contacts.

7. Associations with renewal rates of 80% or higher are significantly more likely to offer EFT renewals (14% vs. 3%) as well as installment payment plans (55% vs. 35%). Associations with renewal rates less than 80% are significantly more inclined to offer multi-year renewals (54% vs. 18%).

8. Associations showing an increase in renewals over the past year are significantly more likely to offer automatic credit card renewals, compared to associations with declines in renewals (29% vs. 17%).

9. Unlike in the 2009 study, price is not the top driver responsible for non-renewals; in fact, one-third of the association executives indicate that they believe members do not renew because they perceive a lack of value in the organization. This is an increase of about 80% over the previous year.

10. Associations did not experience radical changes in membership numbers over the past year. The largest percentage of increases or declines in membership ranged from 1% to 5% of the previous year’s total.

If you would like, you can download a free copy of the full 2010 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, you can find the link under the Resources tab above.

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