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Association plans member segmentation strategy

Why You Should be Segmenting Your Members by Data, Rather than Type

Use behavioral data to provide relevant, personalized content, instead of having to guess what your association members want to read.

In the 2018 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report from Marketing General, Inc., associations surveyed revealed the most common level of segmentation for their member marketing efforts:

  • 55% – Membership level/type
  • 32% – Demographic-based
  • 29% – Job/occupation-based

How are you segmenting your members? These numbers suggest some missed opportunity.

Why? Because online community and marketing automation provide member behavior data that allow us to hyper-segment and provide relevant, personalized content, instead of having to guess what members want to read based solely on their membership level or some other item, like demographics. Behavioral data and segmentation are key to maximizing the value of your targeted marketing efforts.

Are You Paying Attention to Your Members’ Interactions?

Do you have a comprehensive understanding of your members? You can use interactions from your community and your marketing campaigns to more accurately segment your user base. You can make smarter inferences into what content members want, when they want it and over what channel to deliver it.

By leveraging community and marketing campaign data, you can get a much more accurate understanding of what members want. You can distribute content based on a signal from something that happened in the community, and vice versa, which can really boost engagement.

This all sounds great – but how does it look in practice?

I’ll take you through four examples of how marketing automation and online community can work together to create highly personalized engaging experiences (we’ll use the same legislative examples from Part 1 of this recap series: Are You Prepared to Master the Engagement Economy?).

Example 1: Newsletters

The days are gone where we could shove every piece of content into a growing newsletter and expect your audience to read it. This kind of approach doesn’t work anymore. We’ve got data showing us that people are raising their hands, revealing to us what they want to read. So start sending them the right content.

Here are some ways to do that:


One of the main vehicles associations use to engage their members is newsletters, but not every member is going to be interested in the same content. You can tailor different stories or subject lines based on what people have shown interest in, and you can change the order of the stories to test which topics perform best with which segments. Personalizing your newsletter content and approaching members differently is one of the key things you can do to boost engagement.

Did you know…

Personalized call-to-action.

Take renewals and registrations, for example. If you’re sending an email about membership expiring in 90 days and using the subject line “renew your membership now,” that’s not very effective. Consider using a “why,” like “we need you involved in the legislative agenda!” – etc. Customize the call-to-action so that you’re leading with your strongest argument, based on their data.

Did you know…

Example 2: Recruitment Campaigns

Mentoring is a great way to get people involved. Within your community, you’ve got people who may be great candidates for a mentor/mentee relationship. You could automatically move those people into your marketing automation platform and send a series of emails asking people to become mentors. You can also do this with the mentee experience. Use signals from one platform to execute something in the other platform.

Did you know…

Example 3: Retargeting Campaigns

We’ve mainly been discussing a one-way flow of information – from the community to the automation platform. Something gets triggered in the community and consequently, a series of emails get sent from the marketing platform. But what about the other way around?

With integrated campaigns, you can take an action in the community based on something that happens on the marketing platform. For example, if a member expresses interest in an event by clicking a link in a marketing email, you can automatically display a contextual ad in the community.

This is an example of classic retargeting and you control the entire ecosystem. Promoting across channels can increase engagement.

Resource: [WEBINAR RECAP Q&A] The Value of Community in Customer Success

Example 4: Re-engagement Campaigns

Despite your best efforts, some members will become disengaged from your association – it’s a force of nature. Using integrated campaigns, you have a much higher likelihood of re-engaging members. Community automation rules are really good at identifying users who have limited or waning participation in the community.

Automatically add these users to the marketing platform and a series of highly targeted re-engagement emails will be sent. You want to get them before they get to the end of the curve. You can follow their signals, or lack of signals, to re-engage them.

Did you know…

  • 55% of associations experiencing a new member increase have used marketing automation to send personalized content. This is significantly higher than associations that show no change (46%) or a decrease in new members (39%)

Redefine your engagement strategy by segmenting for success.

Download the Engagement Trends Report 2020

Mitch Eisen

Mitch has over a decade of experience in email-related technologies, in addition to television, film and advertising production. He is a frequent speaker on marketing automation, email marketing, and email deliverability.