Get the info that matters most when members join.
The association marketer’s rule of thumb is to make the membership application as short as possible. Each additional blank to fill in just slows members down on the way to giving you their money. So, if you ask for information beyond the bare minimum, it ought to be worthwhile.
APICS, an association for the field of supply-chain management, has followed this mantra. It poses two simple questions on the first page of its online join form. One asks whether the member plans to pursue one of the association’s three major certifications in the coming year; the other asks “What’s your goal?” with choices ranging from “starting my career” to “seeking leadership opportunities within APICS.”
Both have proven transformative for the organization after just a couple years of use, says Jim Pavletich, CAE, vice president, membership and customer experience. For instance, finding that 70 percent of its members wanted to pursue a certification led to a new two-tier membership structure in 2016, with one package for certification-seekers and one for everyone else.
“The data drove us there,” says Pavletich.
The “motivator question,” meanwhile, is allowing APICS to better personalize its messaging and products to individual members in both its marketing and its online channels.
“Based on what the individual’s motivator is, the benefits that would appear, both in the member section of the website … or on their mobile app, would shift to a priority that would put the benefits in what we believe to be the best order for that particular motivator,” Pavletich says.
APICS is working to turn around a trend that saw its retention rates dip as low as 65 percent. That effort started with a “watch and learn” phase, which included the membership-application questions alongside an array of member behavior tracking. Now, with members beginning to align themselves with one of APICS two new membership packages, Pavletich says the association will continue putting the answers to those questions to use.
“The purpose of the new member strategy wasn’t really to increase new member revenue but to increase member engagement, slow the attrition, and help the organization to grow by simply keeping the members that we had,” he says.