Reinstatement … when former members agree to return to you
Reinstatements are a regular and important component of membership growth programs that every organization should have in place, and it brings the Membership Lifecycle full circle.
Reinstatement programs offer lapsed members opportunities to reconsider the decision to join. The lapsed reinstatement allows organizations to present fresh messaging and perhaps a new offer to join once again.
Reinstatements are “win-back” programs
The final stage in the Membership Lifecycle is an association’s opportunity to take stock of the recruitment process, validate what is working well and rework what is not. At the same time, it is a mistake to assume that because members have not renewed that they have intentionally left the organization. Rather, research has revealed that a significant number of lapsed members simply forgot to renew.
Experience shows that the member who is most likely to return to an association is the one who most recently left. So the reinstatement component in an organization’s acquisition strategy is not only important, it should be done quickly and consistently.
Reinstatement programs lend themselves to a multichannel approach. Because in membership there is an established business relationship, former members may be contacted by mail, phone, and email, assuming the lapsed member has not opted out of communications with the organization.
Benefits of lapsed member programs
MGI and the readers of the second annual MGI Membership Benchmarking Study learned that ten percent of associations do not contact lapsed members or invite them to reinstate their memberships. On the other hand, about a quarter of association professionals report that they contact lapsed members as long as a year after their membership expired asking them to reinstate.
Benchmarking study findings also reveal that associations with renewal rates 80% or higher are significantly more likely to contact lapsed members indefinitely. Not surprisingly, associations that do not contact lapsed members to invite them to reinstate are significantly more likely to focus more on acquiring new members than on retaining current ones.
How long associations contact members to reinstate their membership
The MGI Benchmarking Study also revealed that the largest associations—those with more than 20,000 members—are significantly more likely to stop contacting lapsed members after two years, whereas the smallest associations—those with fewer than 1,000 members—are significantly more likely to maintain contact with lapsed members indefinitely.
Trade and organizational membership associations are also significantly more likely to continue to contact lapsed members indefinitely.
Reinstatement programs can reveal a lot
In addition to re-recruiting dropped members, a win-back program offers an important secondary benefit. It’s a given that every year some members will leave an organization. However, a well run lapsed reinstatement program works like a report card on the effectiveness of the renewal system.
When a reinstatement program is overly successful, it is revealing that the organization’s renewal process is leaking members. An unsuccessful win-back program proves the opposite—that the renewal program has already captured almost all of the members who want to stay with the association.
Data accuracy is key
Reaching back to former members only works well when adequate database hygiene practices are in place. Running records through the postal system’s National Change of Address (NCOA), which updates names and addresses going back 48 months, should be done on a regular basis. It’s not only a requirement for being awarded postal presort discounts, it helps ensure that the membership files are up-to-date and optimized.
Another way to track down lapsed members is to use USPS Ancillary Service Endorsements that give the USPS instructions on how to handle undeliverable-as-addressed pieces.
From a cost point of view, when all is said and done, reaching out to former members is almost always more efficient than recruiting prospects who have never been members.