Friday, 29 August 2014

What’s the best way of contacting members?

A great question submitted by Mark on the GGFaq website this week. There are many reasons for contacting members; we’re going to focus on absent members for this answer. 

Considering all absent member communication methods, a phone call is nearly always the most effective, as you are having a meaningful interaction with the member. But phone calls are time consuming, and it’s often difficult to get through. If you encounter voicemail, we always recommend leaving a message, as it shows you’ve made the effort.

Prior to the phone call, it’s a good idea to send a message, and an SMS text message is the best first contact. We find that on average, 62% of absent members return within 1 week of an SMS, compared with 47% who receive an email (first contact after 21 days absence). SMS costs more than email of course, but at around 0.1% of a month’s membership, it’s a small price to pay. An SMS message is instant, more likely to be read, and will appear more personal than an email. It also shows you are willing to shell out to get your members back, much like a phone call.

Even more effective, but also costlier, is post; a letter or postcard is normally only used when you don’t have a valid email or mobile, or the member has opted out of e-comms. We see an average of 69% of absent members return within 1 week of a letter as the first contact.

Email is also a very valid and successful way of contacting absent members, but tends to be used as an alternative to SMS, or as a follow-up message before or after the phone call. Email message content can be more compelling, with links and pictures, but if overused or not sent properly, they can quickly become ignored or find their way to spam folders.

In summary, from cost, resource and effectiveness perspectives, we recommend an SMS as first contact, followed by an email, then a call and a postcard or letter. In reality, it depends on what member data you have, and whether members opt into the different comms methods.

Please add your comments or experiences with contacting absent members below, or submit your own GGFaq here or by email to

To read more from the GGFaqs series, please click here

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