People seem to love trilogies, trios—really, anything in threes.
You’re not a true Star Wars fan unless you’ve seen A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. How many people would still be fans of the Two Stooges, Two Musketeers, or Two Amigos? Heck, being that our Saratoga, NY office is in a town known for their horse racing track, the magic of the trifecta is not lost on us.
We recently released the 2018 State of Marketing Automation: Association Benchmark Report, which reported the three most popular automated campaigns for associations:
- New member onboarding
- Membership renewals
- Event promotion
Let’s think of these campaign types as the Larry, Moe and Curly of the marketing automation world, with slightly less eye poking.
New Member Onboarding
New member onboarding, or a “welcome campaign,” is a good place to start if you’re new to marketing automation.
Why should associations send this type of automated campaign?
- Customer Service 101: It’s a marketing best practice and good customer service to send a confirmation or acknowledgement of someone as a new member. The point of the campaign is to begin building a relationship with your new member or subscriber.
- Improve Retention: This type of campaign can ultimately improve your retention, as your members feel noticed and more appreciated by the organization. You’re sending them confirmation that they joined and expressing your appreciation. You can also share what benefits they might expect.
Setting up your campaign
According to our 2018 Report, there was a 262 percent increase in the number of campaigns triggering a single email message to its recipients.
In the association space, there’s a misconception floating around that automated campaigns are difficult. The reality? Although creating elaborate campaigns with multiple email messages is an awesome feature of marketing automation, it’s not always necessary. You can definitely employ single message automation, and it works especially well for onboarding/welcome campaigns.
The bottom line: embrace simplicity for new member onboarding or welcome campaigns.
(And for that next-level campaign (i.e. “elaborate”), you can always transfer new members to a nurture campaign after welcoming them.)
Pro tip: If you have an online community, your automated welcome campaign should be a big part of your overall member onboarding strategy. Make one of your “to-do’s” on their member checklist to sign into the online community and fill out their profile with details and a picture. If members don’t, you can add them to another automated campaign where they’re nudged again in about a week.
Once you’ve welcomed your members, move on to a campaign that focuses on increasing their value and engagement with your association, with the goal of membership renewal. You can get more creative with these campaigns by using multiple triggered emails.
- How will you add them? Before building the campaign logic, decide how members will be added to this campaign. Since you first created a welcome campaign, you may want to set up the logic so that members are handed over to the renewal campaign. Most systems accommodate a rolling time period.
- Where will you send them? You should keep triggering email touch points and looking for behaviors indicating if the member will renew, or if it should become a retention issue. That way, you can determine whether to send a renewal request or place them into a lapsed member campaign.
- How often will you run the campaign? You can set this up as a repeatable campaign that prompts subscribers to renew annually. Annual renewals are very common for most associations, so this type of campaign often yields the most time-saving results.
The concept of “repeatability” rings true for other types of campaigns as well. Which communications do you send out regularly? Investigate frequently sent communications and look for any opportunity to automate – it’s efficient and saves time.
Pro tip: Increase your member’s sense of engagement and connection by connecting them with your online community. The more personalized their experience is, the more value they’ll get from your organization. Marketing automation and online community can work hand-in-hand to achieve this.
To close out the trilogy, let’s look at event promotion. Events come in all shapes and sizes for associations. Regardless of your organization or event type, we all face the same challenge: getting members to register and attend (and ultimately increase overall attendance!). It’s no wonder associations have embraced automated event promotion, because automation can do all the heavy lifting.
Event promotion generally has three stages:
1. Tell members about the event.
2. Prompt them to register.
3. Give them all the information they need to attend and participate.
You could set up a fourth part of the campaign for follow up. For example, thank members for attending or provide them with access to a recorded webinar.
Since we have three (or four) parts, break this up into three campaigns to make management a little easier.
You never want the size and complexity of a campaign to add fear in making changes (which can happen when it’s too big). If you’re worried that changing one thing might break something further down the line, it’s better to take it slowly.
Once you have the framework for an event promotion campaign established, you can reuse it for almost any event going forward and relieving future burden.
Pro tip: In one of your initial event promotion campaign emails, invite members to join the event conversation in your online community. Members may be more inclined to register if they see attendees’ excitement, local meetups surrounding the event, session teasers, and whatever else your event attendees are buzzing about.
Onboarding, renewal, and events: An automated campaign triple threat
Do you see why this trio of campaign types are the most popular for associations right now? They’re easy to set up, save you tons of time, and in most cases, improve your results.
Engagement, retention, and events are your bread and butter. Automation can make your life easier for each one. So once again, it makes perfect sense that associations, even some with small marketing or member communications teams, have embraced automated campaigns as a better way to work. Even better, use your community in tandem with marketing automation and enhance your results for each one.
Marketing Automation Manager
Shayna is a former Marketing Automation Manager at Higher Logic. In her role, she provided automation strategy for clients, while developing campaigns and assisting with persona development. She delivered quality coaching in marketing automation strategy to a growing list of at least 7 individual organizations, acting as a subject matter expert by providing guidance on the creative design of client emails/landing pages and the integration of email, web tracking, community, and CRM data for campaigns.
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