In its recent Membership Marketing Report, Marketing General Incorporated
found that membership programmes are growing and fast becoming an essential
part of the marketing toolbox, which is why a lot of businesses are using
membership marketing to drive and sustain growth. So here we’re going to look
at what membership marketing is, why it’s important and how to get it right. Let’s
What is membership marketing?
Membership marketing is when a business or organisation starts a membership
programme with the aim of generating additional income, generating leads, and/or
achieving other organisational goals. In other words, a membership programme is
designed to offer clear benefits to the members over a specified time period in
exchange for something of value to the business i.e. subscription fees, engagement,
sales opportunities, etc.
The membership process generally comprises three basic stages:
1. Acquiring new members
2. Providing value to the members
3. Renewing memberships
Each stage is usually broken down into sub-stages, and each one of those is aligned to
specific types of communication.
Membership programmes come in different shapes and sizes ranging from free
memberships to paid memberships in different tiers. What type of membership you offer
depends on your marketing objectives.
Why is it good for businesses?
Membership marketing offers businesses some very powerful benefits. One of the
biggest is that it helps you secure a regular, predictable income, which is key to creating
stability and growth. Another major benefit is that, since people love to be part of
something, it earns loyalty; and having a base of loyal members is a great starting point
for launching and marketing other profitable goods or services – essentially it gives you
a database of warm leads. It can also lead to wider brand exposure since many
members will spread the word for you.
How to get it right
First you need a clear idea of how it fits into your general marketing strategy. What do
you want to achieve? More revenue? More engagement? More sales or bookings?
Once you know what your objectives are you can then design your membership
programme around them.
The next stage is understanding your target audience. Who are they? What makes
them tick? What problems do they need to solve? This knowledge is essential for
making decisions about what to include in the membership.
Then you need to design the membership communication cycle. Romax, a marketing
firm based in London, suggest there are five stages in the cycle:
1. Welcome pack
3. Newsletter, Catalogue or Magazine
4. Unexpected Content
5. Renewal letter
Each stage should have well-crafted communications that help you bond with members,
deliver value and encourage continued membership. This can mean a lot of specialist
work, which is why many businesses partner with marketing firms like Romax who first
help you plan the cycle, and then use their specialist resources to produce high quality
content both in print and digital media. This type of service also helps you measure
results and then use the data to improve the programme.
It’s worth noting that some firms choose to focus on digital communication because it’s
cheaper and easier to analyse. However, the online market is heavily saturated and
many people are suffering from email fatigue which lessens the impact of digital
communications. So, to get ahead, many businesses are opting for traditional print
media because its tangibility offers something real, that is, something tactile for the
member and that in turn strengthens the brand perception. ‘A high-quality welcome
pack can make a massive difference in the perception and offers associated with your
brand,’ say Romax – and they’re not just talking from scientific studies, but from hard-
won experience as well.