For years and years, businesses around the world have used business intelligence to analyze data to better identify opportunities and implement effective strategies. But what about nonprofits and associations? Could similar methodologies be applied in that space?
One association, American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) implemented business intelligence practices at their association to gain insight into the way their members were joining and renewing membership. I spoke with Anthony Acree, Director of Marketing at ASRT and Lauren Gayer, Senior Marketing Associate, about results they’ve seen, advice for other associations, and what the future of business intelligence at ASRT looks like.
Anthony Acree, ASRT: There were several things we needed to do set ourselves up for success here. Lots of moving parts! We’ve built a data warehouse that we use to store and analyze all of our data from our emails, AMS and website. We added Google Analytics tracking code and ecommerce tracking to all pages of our website last fall. And, we completed an API integration with Informz to allow us to automatically send emails from our custom built AMS. All of these combined efforts have been great because while the initial setup was time consuming, they don’t impact our internal resources and provide further insight into what works best to optimize conversions for our products and services. We are just beginning our journey down the business intelligence path and plan to continue to improve our business intelligence tools and create membership dashboards.
AA: Having hard data, rather than making assumptions on how members behave, has been really interesting. We now know exactly how many renewal emails are opened on a mobile device (43%), how many transactions are coming through from mobile devices (31%) and can easily perform tests to see what gets a better response. We can also monitor real-time reports and view our retention rates by membership category or any other data we have in our AMS. One of our best indicators for members who are at risk of not renewing is whether or not they’ve taken advantage of CE quizzes in our journals, our most popular member benefit. If we can get a new member to take CE quiz, their renewal rate jumps 14%.
AA: We typically send two paper renewals at the 60-day and 30-day mark and email reminders at the 40-day, 7-day, and 3-day marks and on the expiration day. About 60% of renewals come through online, 30% mail, and 10% from phone calls. We’ve found that the 3-day email reminder has had the most transactions with 52% conversion rates and the 40-day email reminder has the second most transactions and a 33% conversion rate. Our expiration day email has the highest conversion rate at 53%.
AA: It is. Knowing how and when our members are most likely to renew reinforces 1) the importance of communicating through these channels and 2) how we need to modify our strategy. We can also now easily test changes like graphics, language and subject lines to see if we can increase conversion rates. Currently, direct conversions from links in renewal emails accounts for 5% of our renewal revenue.
AA: We keep watching our mobile numbers grow. Knowing that 43% of our renewal emails are opened on mobile devices but only 31% of transactions are occurring on mobile devices emphasizes the importance of strengthening our mobile strategy. We are planning on launching responsive design email templates and a responsive website to make the mobile experience seamless for users in the next few months. The mobile renewal process will be very quick and easy – just 1 or 2 screens – and hopefully improve conversions on phones and tablets.
AA: Definitely. We’ve even started to apply the same kind of analysis to our new member recruitment campaign, going after those members who didn’t renew. We also track conversion rates during the grace period – up to 30 days after expiration – and we’ve seen that during this time, 7 days after expiration has 45% conversion rates. Conversion rates drop the further members get from the expiration date. Based on this, we are adding a 15 days after expiration e-mail with a different look than our typical retention e-mails to try and convince members to come back and not lose any of their member benefits. Even with the incentives in the new member recruitment campaign, which lapsed members enter after the grace period, conversion rates decrease. It reinforces the idea that the further your members get from you, the harder it is to get them back.
AA: A lot of the data we talked about can be implemented with Google Analytics and ecommerce or goal tracking, which is free. Also, integrating with Informz through their API is a great way to free up staff time and build emails triggered on data in your AMS. Lastly, become friendly with IS! Partnering with your IS department to talk about how you can utilize business intelligence tools for your association is the key to making more informed decisions about your marketing activities.
Transactional and triggered emails tend to see some of the highest open and click rates. Many marketers have plans to increase their usage of these types of emails. Engagement metrics for these emails tend to be much, much higher than newsletters and other standard marketing messages, but that’s not the only reason we love them. Transactional emails are a great way to build rapport with subscribers and keep them engaged right from the start. If you’re not already taking advantage of this fantastic engagement opportunity, now is the time to start.
Here are some examples of triggered email types from MarketingSherpa:
We know that relevant emails are the highest performing emails. Transactional messages couldn’t be more relevant! If someone was just on your website and filled out a form to join your email list, your organization is probably top of mind. Why not send an email to confirm their subscription and point them to other areas of your website? If a member just joined or renewed their membership, why not send a triggered email thanking them for support and start promoting membership benefits? Get in their inbox while you’re on their mind.
Use this time to tell subscribers exactly what to do next that will help build your relationship. If their subscription form was just a few fields to get them hooked, send a confirmation email that encourages them to further set preferences regarding the types of email they want to receive. This post-action timeframe is critical to further developing and nurturing your ongoing relationship.
High open and click rates are a testament to your sender reputation. Transactional emails can help improve your delivery rate because ISPs will notice that subscribers are engaging with your email and therefore reinforcing that you are a legitimate sender. Take advantage of the opportunity to improve your deliverability rate with transactional mailings.
Looking for an easy way to start using triggered and transaction emails? A welcome campaign for new email subscribers can be a great place to start! Check out our tips on Welcome Emails that Engage or learn more about our transactional email module.
Last week I headed out to Spokane, WA for the CESSE 2014 meeting. Being a first time attendee, I wasn’t sure what to expect, although I had heard that it is a great meeting. My expectations were more than exceeded! Not only were the other attendees so welcoming and friendly, but the content from the sessions was fabulous.
One of my favorite sessions was from ISA – International Society for Automation. Jennifer from ISA shared her story as ISA revamped their strategic partnership approach to meeting sponsors. This isn’t something that I typically encounter in my day to day work at Informz, but nonetheless I was blown away by the ideas and concepts that Jennifer has implemented. She has taken her sponsorship programs from feeling more like a charity – “Will you buy our lunch at the annual meeting? Please!!!” – to being a true strategic partner with her sponsors and offering them value beyond the logo. She has even had success in setting up focus groups for her sponsors at a meeting, rather than slapping their logo on the coffee break napkins. She also shared some amazing statistics, including a revenue jump from about $250k to over $600k in sponsor revenue since 2009.
During my session I shared some email tips and best practices as taken from our 2014 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report. Thanks everyone who attended, and as a reminder, you can get your full copy of the report here.
The closing night reception was also very fun. Part of me was sad I didn’t wear a costume as many others had! Overall the CESSE meeting has great sessions, engaging opening keynotes (Patrick McGaughey from ActivatingPeople.com – absolutely hilarious!), and a warm and welcoming atmosphere for new attendees (and vendors!). I will be marking my calendar to join them in Norfolk, VA for next year’s meeting.
As many of you know, Informz uses Return Path tools behind the scenes to better assist with our support efforts related to sender reputation and deliverability. One important piece of Return Path’s offering is their blacklist monitoring, which allows us to see when any of our client sending IP addresses are added to or removed from a long list of public blacklists, of both high and low priority. Using this information, in conjunction with our own tools and reports, allows us to react to blocking and blacklisting issues in a quick and efficient manner. Now, blacklists aren’t anything new, but I wanted to share with you a recent infographic that Return Path published, highlighting some interesting data collected through their relationship with various blacklist operators and data sources.
The most import thing (in my opinion) to notice in this infographic is the varying use of both IP-based and domain-based blacklists. Many senders get stuck on thinking of blacklisting based on sending IP address, but it is crucial for senders to pay attention to the reputation (and possible blacklisting) of their sending domain as well. Additionally, consider the reputation of the domains which may be included in the email content, especially for those who may be sending content that links to pages outside of their own domain. Inclusion of a blacklisted domain may cause messages to be directed to the junk folder or blocked altogether.
The possible impact of a Spamhaus listing for those concerned with Gmail delivery could be severe. The same may hold true at other domains as well, as I hear grumblings about Spamhaus listing issues when speaking to other senders at industry events, and the difficulty the listing has caused them. Our clients have done well avoiding Spamhaus listings to date, but that’s no reason to think we can loosen up our practices! You’ll have far fewer headaches if you follow good list building practices; ideally using a COI (confirmed opt-in) process, but at a minimum build opt-in lists. You’ll also want to be sure to target appropriately, delivering relevant content to those who have requested it. Removal of bouncing addresses (which we help with through repeat bouncer classification and suppression) are important for staying off of blacklists as well.
I find the “Peak Days” section interesting. Some blacklists see a relatively even distribution of IP listings over the course of the week, which I expected, while others are hit heavily on specific days. Perhaps spammers are reading and following SOME of the best practice info floating around, concerning the so-called “best days to send.”
If you are interested in checking blacklists for inclusion of your domain (which I hope you are), I suggest looking at sites such as mxtoolbox.com, where you can plug in your IP address and query several common blacklists. It wouldn’t hurt to check these blacklists for the domains you include in your message content as well, if they differ from your own.
While you’re checking on your end, we’ll also be behind the scenes, keeping an eye on things for you.
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