Do your members have a habit of procrastinating until the last minute to renew their membership?
It can be so frustrating to spend time and effort chasing down renewals months before and after expiration dates.
That’s exactly what Christine Polite, Senior Director of Communications at the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) struggled with before creating automated renewal campaigns with Higher Logic. Feeling frustrated that their 90-day grace period gave some members 15 months of membership for the price of 12, Christine and her team built an automated, personalized renewal campaign to reach members more effectively.
Sending Targeted, Relevant Communications
Before, every renewal email went out to every member, whether they were a board member or someone who paid their dues but never logged in to their online resources.
ASCP knew they needed a deeper level of personalization to get these campaigns right.
The team built an automated flow of 10 messages triggered at different points in their membership cycle, segmenting into two buckets:
- Active users who had logged in during the past 90 days
- Inactive users who had not logged in during the last 90 days
This is an example of using personalization and segmentation to send more effective member communications. Personalization these days isn’t just using member IDs, expiration dates, or names in an email. And it definitely should be more than including “Hi First Name.” The entire message needs to feel tailored to a given member’s behavior, and part of that depends on how you segment your messages.
Audience-Focused Messaging: Reaching Active Members
The biggest change you need to make? Focusing on value instead of the renewal.
90 Days – Inactive: Rather than make the first touchpoint about an action that’s due months from now, ASCP changed their messaging to increase engagement, with a call to action to log in to their account. They knew that the resources and benefits they had to offer spoke for itself, but it was a matter of reminding members what was available.
In fact, this email doesn’t mention renewal — just the different benefits members can access anytime. What surprised their team was an open rate of 46%, one of their highest ever.
Subject line: %%First Name%%, We’ve Missed You
60 Days – Active: Leading with value for active users at 60 days meant explaining the benefits of renewing early, rather than waiting until the last minute. By showing up front how renewing today eliminates clutter, additional emails, and helps ASCP deliver more resources to more people, they persuaded members that already saw the value of their membership to pull the trigger early. A win-win.
Subject line: Why Wait? Extend Your Membership
Rewarding Good Behavior with a Discount: Reaching Inactive Members
If you want to change a person’s behavior, you have to make it worth their while.
For ASCP, most members procrastinated renewing their membership. But the association rewarded that behavior by increasing their discount offers as the renewal date got closer. There was no incentive for their members to renew early or on-time.
ASCP decided to take a different tactic, especially for inactive members already at risk of churn.
45 Days – Inactive: Right from the subject line, you can see that there’s an offer on the table. By changing the discount timeline (and making it crystal clear that this is the best offer they’ll receive), ASCP rewards members willing to renew early. If a member wants to save on membership, the time is now.
Subject line: Renew Now & Get Our Best Deal
14 Days – Active: This is the last email ASCP sends before the renewal date. To effectively shorten the renewal timeline, they’ve added a sense of urgency to the subject line and the offer — going from $20 to $10 to demonstrate that this is the last chance to save if members want to renew.
Subject line: You’ve Got Mail
Leading with Curiosity on Churn
But ASCP wanted to know if it was because members were simply procrastinating or because they really didn’t find value in the organization.
With their new automated flow, once membership expires, ASCP asks both their active and inactive members why — and gives them one last chance to renew. More importantly, they now think of this campaign as a win-back campaign, rather than a renewal campaign. Once someone’s membership elapses, ASCP turns off their benefits.
30 Days Past: To continue to optimize their automated email campaigns, they include an exit survey to find out why someone has churned. Anyone who completes it gets a $5 Dunkin Donuts gift card to get a cup of coffee on them.
Subject line: $5 Gift Card on Us
By taking the survey and giving them something of value, the team hopes to show members that even at the end, membership has its benefits. By acknowledging that professional needs change, and sometimes careers change, they can unlock additional insights and feedback that make their offerings even better for those that stay.
An Automated Renewal Campaign That Works
Setting up an automated renewal flow is easy within Higher Logic. By rethinking their renewal campaigns, ASCP:
- Gained efficiency by reducing staff effort and hours sending one-off messages to each person, since membership started on a different day for every member.
- Curbed procrastination. Rather than rewarding unwanted behavior, they created incentives to renew early, shortening the timeline and smoothing cash flow.
- Created purposeful personalization. With value-driven messaging, they could give members a personalized, thoughtful experience that matched their behavior.
Former Customer Marketing Manager at Higher Logic
Jenny is a former Higher Logic Customer Marketing Manager at Higher Logic. When she’s not at work, she can be found exploring the DC food scene, reluctantly doing cardio, and playing with her pup Potato.
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