Mid-Year Membership Audit

March 28, 2017   |   Vol. 16   |   Issue 3
By Harold Maurer, CDM and CeM, MGI’s Senior Director of Special Projects

Mid-Year Membership Audit

It’s almost tax time. Winter is coming to an end, the earth is coming alive, and this year’s membership marketing program is almost half over.*

So, how’s it going?

One of the best ways to tell is by performing a mid-year membership audit. Comparing your latest results with last year’s performance can tell you a lot, especially if you are maintaining a good set of metrics about your membership. If you are perplexed about the specific metrics you should be monitoring, let me recommend two previous Marketing General Webinars: Setting and Measuring Long-Term Membership Goals and The Economics of Membership: 7 Essential Formulas. These can help define your measures of success and how to extract them from your existing data.

What is your current renewal rate and how does it compare to last year’s? Are you acquiring enough new members to offset your renewals and increase overall membership? How much revenue per member are you receiving, and how does that compare with your cost of finding new members? Are you hitting the revenue goals you set, or are you on track to miss some or all of them by year’s end? Are you increasing your return on your investment in each member?

Once you have looked at today’s and last year’s results, it is also helpful to compare them to other successful organizations. That’s where the Marketing General 2016 Membership Marketing Benchmark Report can be most helpful. Here you can compare your results with the averages of more than 800 membership organizations.

Review Your Goals. Modify Your Program.

Your organizational goals were based on assumptions made during your forecasting and budgeting review, typically drafted last year. By now, your results should indicate whether you are going to achieve those goals or miss them with the programs and campaigns you planned. This is the most important reason for an audit: assessing the success of your programs. During your audit, take these steps:

  1. Assess which goals still merit the priority your organization gave them when they were established. For example, if you have a goal to attract more Millennial members and the poor results of your Millennial campaigns have negatively affected growth of total membership and revenue, should the goal stand? Or should the goal be given less weight or discarded in favor of known campaigns that will generate more members?
  2. Modify your marketing mix based on what’s working and what’s not. Perhaps your acquisition campaigns are producing the returns you need, but renewals are lagging behind your stated goal. You might take this mid-year opportunity to re-allocate budget and resources to improve renewals, or develop new incentives to renew. A review of past campaigns may uncover techniques that worked before but have been set aside. You might take cost out of the current acquisition campaigns to redirect into the renewal program, or even add telemarketing. The best time to make these changes may be now, not next year.
  3. Build an interactive dashboard of key indicators to report if your program changes are producing the desired results. By funneling your key metrics into a simple spreadsheet interface, you can monitor your progress daily until you are satisfied with them. There are many dashboard products on the market that can overlay your spreadsheet reports and link to them dynamically to keep your measurements current.

Continuous Improvement, Membership-Style

Your mid-year membership audit can help you take important steps toward improving your year’s performance. But it can also be the catalyst that propels your organization’s culture into one of continuous program improvement. A scheduled series of membership program audits in which your staff participates by generating new ideas and responses to real-market conditions will only help your organization grow, and plan for future growth.

Contact Harold Maurer, MGI’s Senior Director of Special Projects, to learn more about conducting a mid-year membership audit. Harold can be reached at hmaurer@marketinggeneral.com or by calling 703.706.0391.

* Of course, if your fiscal year starts in another month besides January, you may want to place this Tipster on hold for four months into your fiscal year.

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