The Membership Lifecycle by Tony Rossell


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Three decades of partnering with associations and other membership organizations has given Marketing General Incorporated unique insights into the workings of successful membership growth management.

The people of MGI have drawn on their experience to develop a comprehensive membership marketing model we call the MGI Membership Lifecycle.

The Lifecycle helps organizations appreciate how an integrated membership marketing methodology can increase success in finding and keeping members.

The MGI Membership Lifecycle segments the membership experience into five consecutive steps:

Awareness … when prospects first discover you.

Awareness is developed through targeted messaging and multichannel brand recognition strategies. Go-to-market research and tactical analysis frame awareness campaigns that build recognition and generate new relationships through information exchange and lead generation.

Recruitment … when prospects choose to try you.

Recruitment utilizes many marketing disciplines that are consistently tested to discover the best performing strategies. This merges market segmentation, creative development, and value driven offers to maximize returns in the most cost-effective ways.

Engagement … when new members feel they belong with you.

Engagement is key to high retention rates and sustained membership growth. Successful engagement programs convert new members into active users of benefits and encourage involvement to build member loyalty. Engagement programs are a crucial lead-in to Renewal.

Renewal … when lapsing members decide whether to keep you.

Renewal is a confirmation of the value members feel they have received from their organization. It is a vote of confidence … or no confidence. Renewals are a critically necessary foundation for organizational growth that demand close attention to process and member communications.

Reinstatement … when former members agree to return to you.

Reinstatement programs offer opportunities for lapsed members to reconsider the decision to join when presented with fresh messaging and perhaps new offers. Reinstatements are a regular component of membership growth programs that every organization should have in place to bring the Membership Lifecycle full circle.

The MGI Membership Lifecycle is a framework to design and implement customized solutions that maximize recruitment, engagement, and retention to optimize membership growth.

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The Membership Lifecycle by Tony Rossell

  1. 1. The Membership Lifecycle: A Systematic Approach to Membership MarketingPresented byTony RossellSenior Vice PresidentMarketing General Inc. (MGI)
  2. 2. Presenter Background Tony Rossell serves as the senior vice president of Marketing General, Inc., in Alexandria, Virginia. A frequent writer and speaker on marketing topics, Mr. Rossell is a contributor to publications including Associations Now magazine, Membership Developments, and the Chicago Forum, and he is a contributing author to two books, Membership Marketing (ASAE 2000) and Membership Essentials (ASAE 2008). He also launched the annual Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report. Mr. Rossell developed the concept he calls the “Membership Lifecycle”. The lifecycle begins with awareness. Increased awareness facilitates new member recruitment. Engagement strengthens member ties and improves renewal. Finally, reinstatement seeks to restore relationships with members and completes the cycle.
  3. 3. The Membership Lifecycle “We tend to focus on snapshots of isolated parts of the system, and wonder why our deepest problems never seem to get solved. System thinking is a conceptual framework … to make the full patterns clearer, and to help us see how to change them effectively.” Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline
  4. 4. The Membership Lifecycle We define five key membership life stages: 1. Awareness 2. Recruitment 3. Engagement 4. Renewal 5. Reinstatement
  5. 5. Free Download Download a free copy of the full report at:
  6. 6. Awareness StrategyDefinition:The process of establishing your brand in the minds of prospectivemembers and building your knowledge base of who they are andhow to contact themStrategy:3. Promote offers with “entry point” content.4. Drive traffic to client’s web site, social media sites, blogs and microsites.5. Generate measurable results and leads.
  7. 7. Awareness Strategy
  8. 8. Awareness Strategy Strategic Process Landing PagesOnline Behavior Special Offers Online MediaProduct Searches FREE Whitepaper Paid Search WebInformation FREE Trial Co-Registration SiteSearches Membership Ad NetworksEvents E-Newsletter Online PR ReleasesSocial Media Sign Up for Alerts Article SubmissionsSearches Blogs / Forum Posts SocialEducational Social Media Ads MediaSearches Sponsored LinksProduct purchases Member Referral Blog Leads Cultivated Through Recruitment Campaign
  9. 9. Building Awareness and Relationship Designed a collection of WEF published PPC & Content Network Ads articles into cohesive free content. Google gives you the ability to display your ads based on geography and time of day.Landing page with no offer to join. Thank you page with “hard sell”.
  10. 10. Components of the Campaign If the prospect has not joinedThe Fulfillment Email from any of the previouscontains a link to components, a series of fourdownload the free content emails is sent over 2 ½ weeks.and contains a Each email focuses on a differentmembership offer. benefit of membership.
  11. 11. Awareness Microsite
  12. 12. Membership Recruitment StrategyDefinition: The process of proactively inviting new members to join your organizationStrategy: – High Intensity – Consistent campaigns to targeted core market opportunities – Multi-Channel – Deploy mail, email, and phone using database records and outside lists with tests of message, offer, list segments, media, and design – Content Driven – Offer limited high value content on web microsites to demonstrate relevance and attract potential members – Analysis for Increased Efficiency – Use a testing and tracking strategy to optimization results and define the best offer, message, lists, and media
  13. 13. Membership Recruitment Strategy Personal Sales E-Mail Database Marketing MarketingSearch Engine Multi-Channel Direct Mail Marketing Marketing Marketing Online Telemarketing Advertising Social Media
  14. 14. Membership Recruitment Strategy
  15. 15. Membership Recruitment Strategy“For associations with over 5,000 members, direct mail isdesignated as the most effective channel for new memberrecruitment.”(2010 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, p15).
  16. 16. Membership Recruitment StrategyAs employment and consumer spending slows, manufacturingprofessionals are concerned. So how can you prepare for change, buildyour skills, connect with other professionals, and position yourself forcareer success? See details inside...
  17. 17. Membership Engagement StrategyDefinition: The process of moving new members from observers into users of the resources made available by your organization.Strategy: – Affirmation of Value – Welcome and benefit highlights should present valuable resources and services. – Interaction – Encourage member involvement and usage of member benefits. – Communicate Vision – Communicate actions on behalf of members that benefit the entire field or industry
  18. 18. Membership Engagement StrategyMembers “who are not involved lie perilously close toformer members in the overarching assessment of ht valuethey derive from associations. If former members arethought to be dead, the uninvolved are close to comatose”(The Decision to Join, p 4).
  19. 19. Membership Engagement StrategyASAE 2010 Membership – Recruitment and Retention
  20. 20. Membership Engagement StrategyData Analytics for one association on engagement.– Members who attended an association meeting in the past year were 19% more likely to renew than those who did not attend a meeting.– Members who attended four or more meetings were 30% more likely to renew than members who never attended a meeting.– Members who placed a product order in the past year were 28% more likely to renew than those who had not placed an order.– Members who upgraded their membership in the past year to a higher level of service were 12% more likely to renew.
  21. 21. Membership Engagement Sample ScheduleMonth Audience Activity 0 New Membership Confirmation Email 1 New Mailed Welcome Kit 2 New Member Benefit Highlight #1 3 New Member Survey Email 4 New Member Benefit Highlight #2 5 New “Hot Issues” Briefing 6 New Member Benefit Highlight #3 8 New Renewal Advisory - Questions?
  22. 22. Membership Engagement Sample
  23. 23. Tiered Membership –Growing Revenue and Engagement
  24. 24. Membership Renewal StrategyDefinition: The process of confirming the value that has been delivered to the member over the past year and requesting the continuance of the relationshipStrategy: – Renew Early and Often – Begin the renewal process in the eighth month of membership and continue renewal attempts through month fifteen – Multiple Channels – Push variable renewal messages to member segments with email, phone, and mail – Payment Options – Follow practices of for profits in breaking up payments
  25. 25. Membership Renewal Strategy“Associations with overall increases in membershipover the past year, as well as those with renewalrates higher than 80%, are more likely to attemptmore renewal contacts. . . These increases inrenewal rates appear after seven contacts.”2010 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, page 22.
  26. 26. Membership Renewal Sample ScheduleMonth Media Message 8 Email “Save Time and Money” 9 Mail/Email “Renewal Notification” 10 Mail/Email “Now is Time to Renew” 11 Mail/Email “Time is Running Out” 12 Mail/Email “Expiration Notice” 13 Mail/Email “Did You Forget?” 14 Mail/Email/Phone “I am Concerned” 15 Mail/Email “Why are You Leaving?”
  27. 27. Membership Renewal Strategy
  28. 28. Membership Renewal Strategy“Associations with renewal rates of 80% or higherare significantly more likely to offer EFT renewals(14% vs. 3%) as well as installment payment plans(55% vs. 35%). Associations with renewal rates lessthan 80% are significantly more inclined to offermultiyear renewals (54% vs. 18%).”2010 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, page 25.
  29. 29. Membership Renewal Sample Multi-step, integrated channel, issue driven, digitally printed, renewal program.
  30. 30. Membership Renewal Sample
  31. 31. Membership Reinstatement StrategyDefinition: The process of defining the where the breakdown occurred in the membership relationship and restoring former members to a paid statusStrategy: – Conduct Lapsed Member Research – When members leave they highlight a breakdown in the membership system. Conducting research to understand why members do not continue with an organization will impact all parts of the membership lifecycle – Develop Messaging – For many groups, former members are very likely to rejoin an organization, but messaging should be different than what is communicated to “never members” – Use Production Efficiency – Former members should be included as a separate segment in recruitment efforts to take advantage of production efficiencies
  32. 32. Membership Reinstatement Strategy "Look not where you fell, look where you slipped.“ (African Proverb)• Reinstatement programs test the effectiveness of your renewal program.• Many organizations are sitting on thousands of members just waiting to return.
  33. 33. Awareness and Usage • Superintendents Example of Awareness and more aware of this Usage Chart product; more likely to use it. Position Region Service Total Board Member Superintendent DM JJC DB DL LD JC • DL region has highest (N=682) (N=409) (N=273) (N=121) (N=108) (N=122) (N=82) (N=136) (N=113) level of awareness of this product, but lowest level of Policy Manual Aware 83.0% 77.8% 90.8% 80.2% 83.3% 74.6% 84.1% 87.5% 88.5% usage. Why? Customization Used* 68.0% 67.3% 69.0% 71.1% 64.4% 64.8% 66.7% 68.9% 71.0% • What don’t they like about Policy Reference the product? Aware 74.2% 61.4% 93.4% 72.7% 70.4% 76.2% 80.5% 75.7% 70.8%Education Subscription Service (PRESS) Used* 81.6% 72.1% 91.0% 81.8% 81.6% 89.2% 75.8% 77.7% 82.5% Aware 70.5% 64.5% 79.5% 66.1% 65.7% 64.8% 72.0% 80.1% 73.5% Policy Manual Update • DB region has lowest level Used* 48.4% 47.3% 49.8% 51.3% 49.3% 49.4% 45.8% 50.5% 43.4% of awareness, but highest level of usage! School Board Policies Aware 55.6% 47.4% 67.8% 55.4% 47.2% 53.3% 58.5% 58.1% 61.1% • If more members were Online Used* 41.9% 38.6% 46.2% 39.5% 27.6% 31.8% 50.0% 52.0% 59.1% aware, usage would Aware 48.4% 39.6% 61.5% 50.4% 43.5% 43.4% 47.6% 50.0% 54.9% probably increase. Administrative Procedures Project Used* 38.5% 34.0% 42.9% 37.7% 31.9% 45.3% 43.6% 36.8% 37.1% • Fewer than half of E-tools for Boards and Aware 42.4% 38.1% 48.7% 42.1% 39.8% 46.7% 36.6% 46.3% 39.8% the members even Districts Used* 28.0% 32.1% 22.7% 44.4% 18.2% 60.0% 20.0% 14.3% 0.0% KNOW about these products. Aware 37.7% 29.3% 50.2% 33.9% 26.9% 41.0% 34.1% 49.3% 37.2% PRESS Plus Used* 44.4% 38.3% 49.6% 43.9% 34.5% 42.0% 42.9% 52.2% 42.9%*Used =subset of Aware Green = highest percentage Red = lowest percentage
  34. 34. Questions Tony Rossell Senior Vice Preident Marketing General, Inc.Tony@Marketing