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Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees

Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees: 4 Tactics to Try

Of course you want to provide an exceptional experience for ALL of your conference attendees, but ensuring that happens for your first-time attendees is particularly important. Their decision to attend future events (and possibly even renew their membership) depends heavily on that first experience, so going the extra mile for those folks, in particular, is certainly worth it.

What does “going the extra mile” for your first-time attendees look like? Here are a few tactics worth trying:

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A Different State of Grace: Best Practices for Handling Grace Periods and Membership Renewals

Posted by Callie Walker


For many associations, it’s easy to get caught up in the marketing efforts associated with attracting new members. But as important as membership growth is, renewal is key. The membership renewal process requires a bit more effort though than just sending out emails. By following a few best practices, you can actually increase the likelihood that members will rejoin. Take a look:

Best practice #1: Begin your efforts early

According to Marketing General Incorporated’s (MGI) 2014 Membership Marketing Benchmark Report, associations that start their renewal efforts three or more months prior to expiration are significantly more likely to have an 80 percent or higher renewal rate. That alone is reason enough start your renewal efforts early.

But if you’re unsure about where to focus your efforts, consider this: According to MGI, email marketing, direct mail, and staff phone calls generate more membership renewals than any other marketing channels. So if you’re looking to boost your membership renewal rates (and who isn’t?), consider launching an email marketing campaign one to three months prior to membership expiration. You’re more likely to end up with higher renewal rates. 

Best practice #2: Make it easy

The more complicated your renewal process, the less likely members are to complete it. If you’re using paper form renewals, provide members with a pre-addressed envelope to simplify the return process. However, if you’re looking for an even easier way to manage membership renewals, consider utilizing an association management system. An AMS will enable you to automatically send out reminder emails when members get close to expiration. Additionally, an association management system will pre-populate online renewal fields with information from the year before, making it easier for members to complete all of the forms they need. 

Best practice #3: Take the pain out of payment

Members don’t pay dues for a variety of reasons, but sometimes it’s because they’re just plain busy. So before you deny them their member benefits altogether, consider offering a grace period of some sort. According to MGI’s Marketing Benchmark Report, the most common grace period for associations is two to three months. This time frame is a fairly good balance between trying to bring back lapsed members and ensuring paying members aren’t being short-changed.

For more helpful tips on member retention, download our free guide below!

Top 10 Tips for  Member Retention

Topics: association management, small staff association, member retention, membership management, Small Staff Chatter

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