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Winning Association Members Back In 4 Steps

Losing members is a hazard of managing an association. For any number of reasons — budget, time, dissatisfaction, simple forgetfulness — members come and go every year. John Cusack, Peter Gabriel’s catalog, and a boombox can go a long way in winning lapsed members back, but there might be an easier approach.

    During her presentation, “Targeted Revenue Source: Lapsed Member Recruitment” at the 2017 American Society of Association Executives Meeting & Exposition in Toronto, Ont., Vivian Swertinski, senior digital marketing strategist for Informz, encouraged attendees to come up with intentional strategies in an effort to win lapsed members back. During her session, Swertinski offered four key steps:

  • Analyze the situation. Most people join associations for online learning, maintaining certification, and professional pride. They most often lapse because of forgetfulness or they are uncertain as to whether the association is working for them or what the return on investment is. How do these factors apply to your organization;
  • Identify a target audience. You can look at former members by the length of time since they lapsed, length of their relationship with the association, demographics, membership type, and the like. Build inferences off of these first two steps;
  • Create a campaign theme. One theme for recently lapsed donors that you assume might have simply forgot to renew can be “Get back to class.” Make it clear that their membership matters to you and provide easy steps to renewal. For longer-term lapses, you might think about asking the lapsed member to “rediscover” your association. That might include recognizing that the former member hasn’t been around for a while and highlighting new association features such as a new website or online learning option; and,
  • Execute. Test the effectiveness of short messages versus long ones, different subject lines, and the like. Leverage web analytics to gauge the success of your campaign.

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