Businesses like Marriott, Spotify, and Facebook use “year in review” campaigns to connect and engage with users, customers, and members. Do you?
Ah, the end of the year. Hopefully, you’re looking forward to some holiday rest and relaxation, and maybe you’re counting down the days to the new year. However you’re spending these last few days of the decade, you’re probably going to take a moment to pause, reflect, and plan.
Whether that’s a halfhearted resolution to visit the gym or a deeper commitment to improving something important in your life, you’re not alone. We are all looking ahead. And guess what? So are your members. That creates an opportunity for you.
Now is the time to start talking to members as they set goals and plan for the year ahead. With the help of technology tools and the vast quantities of member data that associations collect, you can do this in more personal ways. One example, says Peggy Hoffman, CAE, president of Mariner Management and Marketing, is the “member year in review” note.
“From an engagement perspective, the ‘year in review’ note is a great opportunity for associations,” she says. “Essentially, you take the individual’s past year of activity with your organization and replay it for them, which helps them to think ahead.”
Amazon as a Model
Right now, a lot of businesses are using the “member year in review” notice. This month, Spotify alerted me to the top-five songs I played. Facebook told me how many new friends I made. And Marriott noted where I traveled.
In a 2016 blog post, Hoffman analyzed the personalized message she had received from Marriott, noting that the email reminded her of the value she gets from her loyalty club points and other benefits of membership—and mentioning how “cool” it would have been if she had received a similar message from us here at ASAE. (Note to self: Share Peggy’s post with colleagues.)
“Personalization means using member or customer data to remind them at moments of their greatest potential need,” she said when I called her to learn more on the subject. “A lot of associations miss this engagement point. They aren’t talking to members directly and at critical moments.”
Regardless of the sender—Spotify, Facebook, or Marriott—each of these messages reached me because they skipped the sales pitch and got personal. Hoffman calls this the “Amazon effect.”
“I got a quick sale notice on items that were sitting in my Amazon shopping cart, and suddenly I’m going back to my cart and making the purchase,” she says.
It’s a known fact that associations compile data on their members, but the reality, or fear, is that they might be keeping too much information. Hoffman says there’s a way to use data without coming across as creepy.
Personalization means that you’re listening and connecting with a member, but only in the most meaningful way. “With the ‘year in review’ notice, you want them to feel a sense of purpose and achievement,” she says. “Some associations are doing this in very one-off ways, but I’m hoping they will consider doing this more so to remind members of their value.”
Start by sharing data that reinforces a member’s connection with you. How long has the person been a member? How many hours has he or she spent in professional development sessions? These are small facts that add up to bigger value, Hoffman says.
The “member year in review” notice does not have to be time-consuming or expensive to create.
Before the days of email, Hoffman was the membership director at the Retailer’s Bakery Association. As part of its year-end activities, RBA sent an invoice for member dues for the following year. To boost interest and response, the mailing included an end-of-the-year thank you note with information customized to the individual member.
“It wasn’t as sophisticated [as today’s personalized messages], but it became one of our best ways for renewal,” she says. “We did it the old-fashion way. You don’t have to have a big budget to do this.”
Still, many associations are only beginning to dip their toes into the waters of personalization. Hoffman previously worked with the American Association of Diabetes Educators to engage first-time members. AADE asked new members a series of polling questions on issues related to their interests.
“Based off your answers, you get a reply email that provides you with links to more information,” she says. “If we can do that when you join, why can’t associations do this at the end of the year too?”
Start out by thinking small and go from there, Hoffman says. Pick small ways to personalize your message. Most important, set a tone of “we.”
“The key is to make the member feel connected. Give them a sense that we have accomplished something,” she says. “At the same time, you want them to start thinking and planning ahead for the new year. You can do that with year-in-review campaigns.”
Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of a post that was originally published in December 2016.