Monday, 22 September 2014

When is an absent member too absent?

How many absent members should we contact, or how dormant is too dormant?

A good question asked when we were speaking at the FitLinxx client seminar at the Lotus F1 facility recently… and a classic frequently asked question. To clarify, when we start contacting absent members, we begin sending messages from around 21 days’ absence (depending on the policy or journey we define with the club). We call these members recoverable. But what about members who are already absent for longer than this; the dormant members? How many of those should we contact?

Let’s consider the two most extreme scenarios; firstly you contact none of them. This means you find out nothing, and eventually many of the absent members will leave, and a few will come back of their own accord. Alternatively, you contact them all, which will cause some to leave, and some to come back. Both scenarios are risky, so to get a gauge on what numbers to expect, contact a small subset or segment of the absent members...

By taking a segment of the absent members, perhaps just those on certain memberships, and then choosing a window of members who have been absent from, say 45-75 days, you can check how many members you would be contacting. Let’s say this segment gives around 100 members, which would be good for a test group. (If 45-75 days only gave 30 absent members, you might widen the window to 45-100 days, or if it gave 300 members, you could narrow it to 45-60 days).

Once you've agreed the size of the segment, the members can be contacted, and the returns measured. Remember that it will often take two or more contacts to get members to take action, whether it be to return or to cancel. If half or more of the absent members return, and fewer than 10% cancel, you could consider the exercise positive, and consider contacting another, older segment. Bear in mind that as you go further back to older absentees, the returns will be less positive, and you are likely to get more cancellations.

Ultimately though, even if you just contact the first recently dormant segment, this exercise helps to make your membership more active, more present and engaged, and less likely to cancel. This means that you will have better confidence that your members will not be about to cancel.

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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