Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Member Retention Communications: Traditional vs Digital (Sales & Retention Convention pt1)

At last week's Sales & Retention Convention, Guy’s first presentation covered member retention communications. We discussed traditional comms channels (such as email, SMS and post), and digital channels (social media, blogs, vlogs, surveys and the web in general).

There’s clearly a big crossover between what we call traditional and digital, so another way to look at defining each is that traditional marketing is a push model, whereas digital is more pull. Members will receive traditional messages when you send (push) them out. Conversely, on digital channels such as social media, they will see content based on their likes, and previous comments and shares.

It’s important to consider why you are sending any member retention communications… broadly speaking, you are looking to motivate your members to keep visiting, perhaps join a class or refer a friend. All communications can be seen as a potential interaction. Some have more weight or effect than others, and some may not be read at all!

Traditional member communications are very direct, which is vital when dealing with member journey messages. For example, new member, absentee and renewal communications need to be highly targeted and timely. However, these messages also need to link members into social media, to build the habit of following, liking, commenting and sharing.

Digital channels such as social media and the web are great ways of sharing interesting content for your members. Workout of the month (or member, instructor, class, recipe, exercise of the month, or week) are a simple place to start. Fitness or gym challenges are another great source of social content; you get to announce, start, encourage, brag, congratulate and say thanks, all of which will motivate your members. Ensure your challenges are simple, inclusive and varied.
Member surveys cross the divide depending on their purpose – are they targeted (e.g. following an induction), or do you want as many responses as possible to get feedback on your class timetable?

While newsletters are typically sent via email, having a printed or downloadable version caters for more members, and will therefore get through to more people. The content of your news needs to be shareable (so back to social media articles and posts) and therefore clearly planned.

To summarise a one hour presentation into a five minute article is tricky. You need to mix up your member retention communications. Use the strengths of different channels – email, SMS and post for direct, targeted messages, then social media for sharing content and surveys for collecting feedback and opinion. Finally, measure your efforts by looking at opens, clicks, likes, comments and shares, and adjust accordingly.

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