MGI Tipster – Volume 12, Issue 12

December 18, 2013   |   Vol. 12   |   Issue 12
A Preview of the 2014 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report

Each year for the past five years, Marketing General Incorporated has published its findings from the annual Membership Marketing Benchmarking Survey, an in-depth study of the membership practices of more than 600 membership organizations whose leadership has generously contributed the data that makes the Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report possible.

The annual reports are valuable as stand-alone reviews, and have become even more insightful year by year as they have tracked trends over time. During the 2007 economic crash and during the course of the recovery since then, the Benchmarking Report has served as a valued point of reference for many membership organizations that were struggling to assess the impact of the downturn—and the subsequent upturn—on their operations.

Last year’s fifth annual Benchmarking Report served as a capstone on the economic recovery when it reported a welcome turnaround in members and revenue by more than half of the organizations polled.

What will the Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report analyze in 2014?

New ideas, new initiatives

The 2014 edition will discontinue some longstanding lines of inquiry while adopting new ones to better represent changes in the dynamics of the membership marketplace. It will also take a different approach in the way some questions are asked, to provide associations with more and better actionable insights.

For example, rather than asking organizations to rank their answers on certain topics from best to worst, in 2014 ranking will be replaced by queries seeking to identify the top three or five choices, and then letting the resulting counts speak for themselves. The goal is to present more clear-cut and definitive measurements.

At the same time for the sakes of both economy and practicality, the benchmarking surveys will report five years of tracking data so the information from 2010 is the oldest data found in the 2014 report.

What won’t be asked

Some topics will be dropped from the sixth annual benchmarking survey because the information has been collected, reported, analyzed, and is unlikely to change much over time. Examples of planned omissions include comparisons of the membership categories that organizations use to differentiate membership segments and inquiries about the membership models associations follow to serve their constituents.

Tracking new environments

Recognizing that new technologies can be quickly adopted and institutionalized once they become mainstreamed, the 2014 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Survey will focus on ways that advanced technologies are being deployed as membership marketing tools. More questions will focus on the use of social media than in years past, and new lines of questions will be included that are specific to emerging online communities.

Next year’s survey will also center on additional elements of the Membership Lifecycle beyond just acquisition. Membership renewals will be given more attention, as will the closely related issues surrounding member conversion. Other “special” membership categories that have emerged over time, such as the classification of Young Professionals now offered by some organizations, will also receive greater consideration in 2014.

Membership touch points

Member engagement has emerged as a frequent topic of discussion among membership marketers so the 2014 survey will include questions designed to reveal details such as the number of member contacts that are most effective as well as the channels used to convey engagement effort messaging.

The resources needed to effectively handle association member services will be another topic in the 2014 Benchmarking Report as well as inquiries surrounding dues payments by individual members and those that are paid by the members’ companies or firms.

Find out more

If you would like further information about the 2014 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report or other research products offered by Marketing General Incorporated, contact MGI Director of Market Research Adina Wasserman, PhD, at 703.706.0373, or send her an e-mail at

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