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Member Renewals: Seven Tips To Make The Best Renewal Campaign Ever!


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Members are a vital part of arts organizations.  As enthusiasts of your institution, they are likely to attend more than the average visitor.  And it is no secret that it costs five times more to acquire a new member than it does to retain an existing member, which is why your member renewal campaign is critical to the success of increasing member retention rates!  Ultimately, the goal of a member renewal is to ask your member to continue being a member, but an effective member renewal process not only asks your members to continue their support of your organization, but helps grow your relationship with those members too.  Creating a series of member letters and emails that maximize your impact with the most efficient effort takes careful consideration and planning.  It can be one of the most important things you do all year!
My guess is that if you’re reading this, you already know that member renewals are important.  So how do you craft an effective member renewal campaign?    
Here are my top seven things to consider when you’re creating your membership renewal campaign. 
  1. Personalize your member renewals.  Instead of “Dear Member” make sure you’re using your member’s first name in the greeting.  And like many others here at Blackaud have mentioned: make sure you spell their name right!  If your data entry has not consistently included collecting the member’s Title (Mr., Ms., Mrs., etc.), do not use it in the member renewal.  Using the wrong Title or worse yet, a “[blank] So-and-So” is a mistake that can look like you don’t know your members!  And if you need some help with cleaning up that type of data entry, don’t forget to check out our tips and tricks.
  2. Use a combination of emails and letters in your renewal campaign.  A smart campaign is one that uses a series of communications, not one letter or email.  Don’t assume that your members don’t use certain communication channels unless they have specifically told you that.  Even my 90 year old Grandma has an email address and a Facebook page now!  Don’t assume that because your members are of a certain age that they won’t respond to emails.  If you’re not already, make sure you are collecting emails from all of your members and that it’s on your membership forms!  Are you already asking your members for their email?  Great!  Take it to the next level and ask if they prefer to receive emails only to start saving costs on postage.
  3. Reward members for renewing with incentives.  Offer extra months of membership or discounted prices for renewing early or to reward their loyalty and years of membership with your institution!  Promo codes make it easy for members to add the discounts to their online membership renewal too.  And of course, in Altru, you can track member promos and how effective they are.  
  4. Make it easy for your members to renew. Renewal emails make it easy to link directly to the membership page and renew with a click or two.  Renewal letters should include information about renewing online too.  Overall, the process of renewing online should be as painless as possible and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.  Again, don’t assume that your members will want to renew in person or by mail just because they’re in a certain demographic.
  5. Craft a message that is urgent, honest, and tells a compelling story.  An effective member renewal message should remind members about the wonderful benefits they receive and what they can expect to see in the coming year.  Leverage any special exhibitions or exciting news that will enhance their experience when they visit. 
  6. Don’t just ask for the renewal.  Renewals are great, but what about taking it to the next (membership) level? Consider telling your member about the great benefits they’d receive by upgrading to the next level using a combination of segmentation and merge fields.  Alternately, ask your members to enhance their support with an additional gift.  These are easy ways to enhance the “ask” without watering down your message. 
  7. Delight your members!  Don’t be the guy that only calls when you need money.  Throughout the year, consistently send your members updates with useful information about what’s coming up, anything that might enhance their visit, and share news and updates.  Use these updates to create added value for your members, so that when you send that renewal, it’s a no brainer for your members.
Looking for a little help to make sure you’re getting the most out of Altru with your membership renewal process? Our Altru experts can ensure you get the best ROI from your membership renewals by leveraging email renewal campaigns, designing member promotions to entice members, and help report retention rates. Learn more about these offers at arts.blackbaud.com/services.
Posted by Jennifer Leavitt on Dec 13, 2016 6:00 AM America/New_York

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We are all about making renewals easy for members and us. Two things we'd love to see are the ability to renew in a different program through the email link, and requiring ALL online users to register with our site and log in to renew (and maybe even the ability to update their information after logging in, without a purchase).
  • Posted Wed 28 Dec 2016 04:36 PM EST
Good article. I agree with Gillian's suggestions as well!
  • Posted Tue 03 Jan 2017 10:55 AM EST
Great suggestions. The only thing that we don't do is offer incentives for renewing early.
  • Posted Mon 09 Jan 2017 02:44 PM EST
Great suggestions!
  • Posted Mon 09 Jan 2017 02:48 PM EST
I'd also like to see webforms have the ability to, when the visitor logs in, to inform them that they're membership is about to expire and ask if they'd like to renew.
  • Posted Wed 11 Jan 2017 12:41 PM EST
I agree with Gillian and Shannon. The Log In feature of the webforms is nice, but could be so much more. It would be great if we could let members know while they are purchasing something that their membership is about to expire. That may be just what they need to renew early.
  • Posted Sat 21 Jan 2017 11:56 AM EST
Funny that you mention making it easy to renew online. Our members would rather enter their ID and have the fields auto populate than having to "register" or "sign in". I get questions all the time asking why we don't just ask for their unique ID number.
  • Posted Mon 23 Jan 2017 03:30 PM EST