Monday, 9 February 2015

Mix it up - what's your preferred message channel?

What are your preferred member communication methods, and which are most effective? 

Email is often the go-to channel, due to cost, tracking, and content. Some think email is free, but if you're sending bulk mail properly (with unsubscribe options, tracked links, adaptive content, etc), you should be paying something. You can do more with email in terms of content and links to your site or specific landing pages, but as well as the send cost, there is a development and editing time cost which can really mount up, particularly when it comes to tracking campaigns.
However, the big issue with email is the open rates,
which are typically around 20-25% for the leisure industry. This can increase if you're clever with timings, subject lines, and following up with engaging content, but it takes time. When only 1 in 4 messages are being opened, you need to consider the alternatives.

SMS text messages are almost considered old fashioned, particularly in the brave new world of social media (although sms is newer than email). Social sharing can be fantastic as a member engagement tool, but when you have to get a message to a lot of contacts, sms can be really effective. Nearly all text messages sent are opened and read. And with developments in mobile phone technology, you’re no longer limited to a 160 character sms, it can just be the subject line to a link, mobile landing page, or survey, which leads to all the good stats you get through email.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of the post. Don’t just think letters, but consider “we miss you” postcards, birthday cards (with vouchers in), or anniversary cards. The rise of electronic messaging, with reduction in junk mail mean than a personalised letter or card carries much more influence when it lands on a member's doorstep. We've had members return to clubs brandishing a “wish you were here” absentee postcard, apologising for being absent and pledging to get back on it and make the most of their membership.

So how do you communicate with your members, or what would you do if there were no restrictions? Send a banana in the post, or a taxi round to a member's house to collect them? Let us know in the comments below…

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