Prioritize Member Preferences to Create an Effective Renewal Campaign

Knowing how members prefer to receive communication is important for associations on several fronts, especially when it’s renewal time. That’s why approaching the renewal process with members in mind can help groups build a more successful campaign.

Last year, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) retooled its email and direct-mail renewal campaigns. The goal was to create a campaign that was easy for members to complete and designed to make the most impact without overloading mailboxes.

“We moved to a print-on-demand system and used one template that changed the look, feel, and messaging, but it’s the same size and cut for all members,” said Kristen Rayner, AOPA’s program and marketing manager, member experience. “With our revamp, we’re beginning to make our renewal and overall member communications more personalized, which is critical.”

Rayner shared how understanding member preferences can help associations execute an effective renewal campaign.  

Simplify First

Keep simplicity in mind when a renewal campaign. Complicating the process may lead members to put their renewal off until later. That delay can be dangerous: According to Marketing General Inc.’s 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, 34 percent of associations reported that members did not renew because they forgot.

For renewal emails, Rayner recommends optimizing the subject line and making it clear that the message pertains to membership.

To simplify its direct-mail renewals, AOPA sent fewer pieces of mail to members and made the renewal form identical in each package. To help the letter stand out, AOPA designed the outer envelope with a colorful callout that makes it clear that its contents is related to membership renewal. The design also provided AOPA with flexibility to make changes and run tests.

“Since implementation, we’ve gotten fewer members calling the member services team with questions about where to find certain items on the forms,” Rayner said. “If they’re finding it easier, then we’ve definitely made some good improvements.”

Understand Preferences

No two members are alike, and neither is the way they choose to renew. Some may prefer a phone call, while others a letter or an email reminder. Even after the revamp, AOPA has continued to prioritize direct-mail reminders because they know that their members are more likely to renew through this channel than email.

“Direct mail is something our members have come to expect,” Rayner said. “We know they value digital content, but they like receiving renewal reminders in the mail. We think part of the success is because associations don’t really send direct mailing anymore, so it stands out to our members.”

It’s also a good idea to ask members how they want to receive reminders, so they read or listen to what your association is sending.

“You don’t want to run the risk of people not looking at your reminders,” Rayner said. “Our members let us know when we send out too many reminders and that’s helped us figure out the right balance.”

For its new campaign, AOPA implemented a preferred channel split. For the first two months, members receive renewal communication via their preferred channel—direct mail or email. Once it’s their membership expiration month, the association sends renewal communication through both channels.

“Engage your members and get to know them as much as possible so you can offer them the easiest pathways to renew,” Rayner said. “We hope the changes we’ve implemented will show members that we’re paying attention to their needs and preferences.”

[Andrii Yalanskyi/ISTOCK]

Hannah Carvalho

By Hannah Carvalho

Hannah Carvalho is Senior Editor at Associations Now. MORE

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