Optimized Membership Marketing Through Behavior

June 23, 2015   |   Vol. 14   |   Issue 6
By Jason Gudenius, Senior Account Director

Understanding Behavior is Essential

Behavioral information has always been a cornerstone of membership marketing. When we select data for campaigns as marketers, there is implied behavior in the different files we use. Here are some examples of the types of data we use when setting up membership campaigns, the behavior inherent in the data, and what it means to us as membership marketers.

Data set Behavior What it means to us as marketers
Lapsed Members within the past 36 months These people have experienced membership in the recent past. We know these people are willing to pay for membership. While somewhat counterintuitive, testing shows that former members make some of the best prospects for new member campaigns.
Non-member subscribers and leads gained from free content These people openly show interest in your content and have provided their contact information. These people have found your content interesting enough to provide their contact information. In a sense they are raising their hand, telling you they are a good prospect for membership.
Non-member conference attendees These people have invested a considerable amount of money attending one of your events. Since these people have already been willing to spend a large amount of money and time with your organization, they are very strong candidates for membership.
Non-member product/service buyers These people have reviewed your offerings and opened their wallet to you. While usually not as much of a financial or time commitment as a conference attendee, your non-member customers are still interacting with your organization and showing they are willing to spend with you.
Members or events attendees of other associations These people are purchasers of memberships. We know these people buy memberships. If we can get access to these people from similar or competing organizations they can be very effective sources of new members.
Rented Subscriber Lists These people don’t necessarily know you, but they subscribe to information relevant to the profession or industry you represent. Rented subscriber lists can be great sources of new members. They are either paying for content from a publication or are qualified through a controlled circulation industry publication. In either case there is qualifying information that these people are the right target.
Rented Direct Response Lists These people have directly responded to an offer. Lists on the market that are called direct response lists mean that the people on them have actually taken action or purchased an offer sent to them. This means, these people have responded on some way.
Compiled Lists No known behavior. Lists can be compiled in many ways—such as from a free online directory, people searching the web and creating their own lists, or publicly available government data. Compiled lists are generally the lowest performers in campaigns. However, they are also the cheapest and in some cases can be purchased instead of rented. Over time, marketing can begin to reveal behaviors from segments of these files to identify where pockets of success are likely to be found.

This Ain’t CSI, But There Are Fingerprints Everywhere

Once communication is sent to prospects, we can capture how they are engaging with our offer. These behavioral fingerprints tell us important information, allowing us to create intelligent marketing programs. Here is an example of how to integrate your channels into a smart acquisition campaign using data based on behavior in certain channels.

Cheaper Channels Informing Others

Some organizations have done a wonderful job building their prospect lists. With large amounts of prospect data, it can be a challenge to determine how to best approach mining this data for new members or customers. It may not be economically possible to call or mail everyone in a file, so how do we determine who gets what to maximize our success?

  1. Send an email acquisition offer to everyone on the prospect file. Make sure this is set up to capture the information on people who open and click on the relevant calls to action.

    Now, some people will join right out of the gate. This is wonderful, but it’s just a starting point. A far greater number will open the email and not convert. This behavior shows at least some level of receptiveness to your offer. Through this seemingly minimal engagement, people are beginning to reveal their interest.

  2. Create a file from the prospects that opened the email but did not join and send them a direct mail offer. On your direct mail package be sure to use either personalized URLs (PURLs) or have the campaign drive prospects to a unique landing page or microsite just for this campaign.

    People will join, but if you’ve applied your PURL’s properly, you’ll again have a file of people who actively engaged with the mail piece to get to the landing page but have not yet completed. We’ve now got a file of people actively opening membership emails and getting to the membership join page from a follow-up mail piece.

  3. Depending on your membership dues and lifetime value of a member (watch our free webinar on The Economics of Membership for more on member economics), it may also make sense to take the remaining file of multiple interactions and start using phone calls to try and close new members. At this point, these prospects have engaged with your membership offer twice.

  4. Apply remarketing on the pages you drive people to online. We recently discussed remarketing in a tipster. It’s the tool that allows us to code a website, landing page, or microsite that “cookies” the people who land there and then presents future ads to them across the web on platforms like Facebook and Google. Throughout the three steps above, the remarketing technique continues to remind those who visit a page, but do not convert, about the offer, seeking to drive them back to become a member.

In this example, we’ve taken an approach of using the cheapest communication channel first and allowed behavior to tell us those likely to respond, as we move them into communications that can cost more to execute, but typically have much higher response rates. This allows us to be smart with our budget. Well run campaigns take a solid understanding of the behavioral info you have on your starting files, strong technical and best-practice execution across channels, and a clear understanding of your goals.

Getting Started

From start to finish, behavioral information is essential to the success of marketing campaigns. The above example is just one approach for using behavioral data for success, and the concept is not limited to membership or the channels we discussed. More importantly, we hope this will be a starting point and food for thought as you prepare your future efforts.

For more information about creating successful membership and non-dues related campaigns, contact Jason Gudenius at jgudenius@MarketingGeneral.com or call him at 703.706.0392.

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