Tim Ebner is communications director and press secretary at the American Forest & Paper Association in Washington, DC. He is a member of ASAE’s Communication Professionals Advisory Council and a former Associations Now senior editor.
Renewal reminders work best when received at the right moment. Here are three tips for crafting renewal campaigns with good timing and results.
Your members’ renewal date is important to you, but—like it or not—it’s probably low on their priority list. Jennifer Sims, membership manager for the Association of College Unions International, says her renewal strategy is based on the understanding that ACUI members are busy professionals with competing deadlines and priorities. That mindset informs her email and phone outreach tactics and has produced an impressive retention rate: 94.6 percent over the past year.
Here are Sims’ three tips to crafting renewal campaigns with excellent timing and great results:
1. Beware of busy season and budget cycles. Higher-ed institutions typically have a busy season at graduation time. Sims keeps this in mind, along with members’ budgeting cycles, to make sure she’s reaching members exactly when they’re most likely to renew. “Plan your renewal campaign when you have your members’ attention,” she says. “And start at the beginning of a budgeting cycle, when there may be a surplus or new budget.”
2. Offer a grace period. ACUI extends members a 10-week grace period before dropping them. The second month of the renewal campaign extends into the grace period, a point at which staff ramps up communications with more urgent and deadline-specific warnings.
3. Notify dropped members. Your last renewal communication should be a dropped-member notice. Sims suggests emailing or calling the member to let them know that their membership has lapsed. “Sometimes it’s just a mistake,” she says. “Sometimes they have a specific reason why they did not renew. We always appreciate that feedback as well.”
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled “Rules of Engagement: Perfect Timing."]