Set it, Forget it, and Bring Your Dropped Members Back: How Marketing Automation Helped APHON Generate Member Growth
Dropped Members. They can make even the most seasoned association membership professional shudder. Why would a member end their membership with your organization when you very clearly offer a ton of valuable benefits? Are they aware of the value you offer? Maybe not.
So, what can you do to begin rebuilding and nurturing a relationship with a dropped member with the hope of converting them back to full membership? How do you approach this if you’re a smaller association and want a campaign that can essentially run itself?
That’s the question Stephanie Sayen, marketing manager serving the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON), asked herself when she focused her 2019 membership goals on gaining back lost members. She knew she wanted a robust member-retention marketing campaign with strategic touchpoints that would guide dropped members through a journey to rediscover APHON based on their individual responses, a kind of choose your own adventure of membership value. What she created for APHON not only helped to bring back dropped members, it was also recognized with an industry award for excellence in marketing automation.
Mapping Out the Journey
Though marketing automation can save time and create efficiencies, certainly a benefit for any busy marketer, it can also take some time to set up, especially if you want to build in multiple touchpoints. APHON is a smaller association, and Stephanie felt it would be worth investing the time to develop a robust marketing automation campaign that could essentially run and then maintain itself. With a goal of bringing lost members back to the organization, APHON’s member marketing campaign is triggered to start when a dropped member reaches the 1-year anniversary of no longer being a member and having no contact with APHON.
Once triggered, the first touchpoint in the campaign is an email to dropped members that focuses on community and how APHON, their professional community, misses their participation in that community. The email contains 2–3 links, which are the key to the campaign. The links lead to information about high value member benefits to gauge what interests the dropped member and what needs can APHON fill, such as community, publications, and career advancement. The links are weighted by importance and will lead the dropped member on an individualized journey based on which one they’ve clicked. If, for instance, the publications link is clicked, that will trigger a series of emails highlighting popular clinical publications, like APHON’s Medication Fact Sheets and Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Core Curriculum. If the dropped member clicks on a link to a publication they have already purchased, that will trigger an email for an educational resource they haven’t purchased.
At various points along the journey—which can range anywhere from 2 to 5 emails—the dropped member receives an email about renewing their membership while simultaneously highlighting the benefits of membership. Each email in the journey builds on the one before it and is intended to restore the connection between the dropped member and APHON. The time between when each email is deployed is specifically structured to nurture that relationship without inundating the recipient with repetitive emails.
But, what happens if a dropped member clicks on multiple links in an email? This is when the weight of the links, which are based on importance, is factored into the journey, with the higher weighted link being the one the recipient is take to first. Also, factored in with each step is a member filter to see if the recipient renewed when they received the previous email. If they’ve renewed, they receive a welcome back email and then their journey is complete.
Setting it all Up
With 9 possible path options and the possibility of a dropped member receiving anywhere from 2 to 5 emails over a maximum 2.5-month period, plotting out the campaign flow took a lot of dedicated time and effort.
APHON, along with most of AMC’s client partners, uses Informz for its email marketing campaigns. Stephanie spent 40 hours mapping out the robust journey dropped members would take through the automation flow and building it into Informz. Afterwards, she then shared her work with two other members of AMC’s internal Informz User Group for any improvement recommendations. That’s no small investment up front, but it’s saved countless hours of staff time if APHON’s marketing team had tried to run the campaign manually.
A Success by any Measure
Through marketing automation, APHON was able to streamline its marketing efforts and make the process of rebuilding a connection with former members more interactive and efficient, preserving valuable staff time for other marketing outreach, a boon in today’s tight economic climate. Along with increased efficiency, the campaign was successful in its primary goal of regaining dropped members. In the year the campaign has been running, APHON has had more than 530 dropped members renew their membership—that number is especially significant when you consider APHON averages 4,000 members and the campaign has been running during a pandemic and economic crisis.
Earlier this year, Stephanie and the APHON team submitted the marketing automation campaign to the Association Trends Trendy Awards program for 2019. The Trendy Awards, formerly known as the All Media Contest, honors the best in association and non-to-for-profit marketing and communications. The hours of work certainly paid off when APHON was awarded First Place in the Marketing Automation category.
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