Make the Most of Your Memberships With Targeted Comms

Billy Fluck
Billy Fluck
  • Updated

Memberships can be great tools for organisations of all types to engage with customers, encourage loyalty, and generate revenue. Using a range of Spektrix functionality, like priority booking, offer eligibility, and auto-renew memberships, it’s possible to offer a range of different memberships targeted at different types of customers - but being able to use the appropriate tools is only one part of the puzzle.

In order to get the most out of your memberships, it’s important to have clear objectives and strategies for what you want your membership schemes (or programs) to achieve and how you’re going to engage with your members. This article focuses on the ways in which you can leverage the tools available in Spektrix to plan for and deliver an effective strategy to communicate with your members and achieve whatever your goals for the membership may be. It assumes that you’re already familiar with the available tools in Spektrix - although, at appropriate points, it links out to articles about each relevant feature in case you want to familiarise yourself with each bit of functionality.

Whether you run membership schemes for fundraising purposes, audience engagement, or any other reason, there should be something useful here to help you make the most of your membership scheme(s).

Personalise your communications

The Spektrix system can generate a range of automatic system emails for memberships, from order confirmation emails to auto-renew notifications - these are not to be confused with our various tools for ‘email automation’ using our dotmailer integration, which are geared towards helping you automate your planned email campaigns.

If you want to build meaningful relationships with your members, then standard, automatic system emails may not always be the best approach. We’re going to focus in this article on the benefits of replacing these automatic system emails with a more bespoke approach, as while there are some circumstances where you probably do want to get in touch about payments, or send standardised confirmation emails, there are plenty of other reasons to talk to your members which might not be best served by these standard emails. Generally speaking, the more personalised you can make your communications, the better.

There are lots of great tools in Spektrix which allow you to both target your emails to the right people and to personalise your communications so that each person gets the most appropriate content. In this article, we’re going to talk about how to combine those tools in order to power your communications strategy. Before you can crack on with using the tools, however, it’s worth planning out what you want to achieve with your communications strategy.

It takes care, time, and attention to plan out your strategy and get everything set up in Spektrix, but once that’s all done you will be able to automate a lot of the process, reducing the amount of work you have to do manually and allowing you the time to spend on other things. This is one of the key benefits of doing the preparation work in advance - you can make the most of your relationships with members, and increase efficiency at the same time!

Planning

Every organisation is going to have different objectives for their memberships - often including a different objective for each membership scheme - and there’s no single best way of planning and setting up membership schemes. There are, however, a few things to consider when you’re planning your communications strategy. Here are some suggestions, although this isn’t a finite list.

What’s the purpose of the membership?
Before you’ve even got to the point of working on a communications strategy, you should have an idea of what business goal you want to achieve with each membership. Are you hoping to use it to reward loyalty and encourage customer retention? Maybe your objective is to facilitate regular giving. You can have multiple memberships for different purposes, but you should make sure that each purpose is clear before you go any further.

For more on membership objectives, have a read of this blog post for ideas and inspiration.

Why do you want to talk to your members?
You’ve got an objective in mind for each membership scheme, but ask yourself this - why are you contacting your members? Is it because that’s what you’ve always done, or because you’ve got something specific to say to them? There are all sorts of reasons why you might want to contact your members, and there’s no reason why you can’t pick multiple reasons, and tailor different emails to suit each one.

Here are a few possibilities, but these are only scratching the surface:

  • Saying thanks for joining or renewing.
  • Letting members know about their membership benefits.
  • Updating members about their benefits usage - how many comps are still available from their allocation, for example*.
  • Priority booking notifications.
  • Keeping regular donors up to date on the impact of their support.

*Consider using auto tags to track how many comps each member has used by looking for zero-value tickets (or specific member offers) purchased over a given time period. We won’t go into detail here, but get in touch with the Spektrix Support team if you’d like more info on how to do this.

What do your members want?
It’s also important to consider what your members are going to want and expect from their memberships, and from your communications. You should be able to identify some of this anecdotally, but you also have tools at your disposal for identifying trends in member behaviour.

Use reports such as the Customer Behaviour Analysis report with criteria sets based on tickets purchased by customers with certain memberships to look at booking trends within your member base - how far in advance they book, what sales channels they use the most, the average group size they book in and what offers they take advantage of.

You could also look at lapsed members in order to try and discover what might have caused them to let their membership lapse. A customer list using a Purchasing segment with the Did Lapse criteria combined with a Customer segment to exclude current members (who let one membership lapse and bought another, for example) would give you a list of members who didn’t renew their membership. Run this list through the Ticket Sales Analysis report to compare the events these members attended. Can you spot a change in your programming that might explain why former members let their memberships lapse?

You can use all of this information, along with analysis of email open and click-through rates from any previous membership email campaigns, to understand how your members behave, and therefore what they’re likely to want from their memberships.

Make some decisions

With your planning and strategy in place, it’s time to think about the specifics of your communications. Here are a few key elements to consider.

Frequency
How often do you want to get in touch with your members? Are you planning to contact them just once a year to confirm payment, or do you have enough to talk to them about that it’s worth sending emails every quarter - or even every month?

Segmentation
How targeted do you want to be? Do you want to contact all of your members in bulk, or can you segment with a bit more granularity in order to provide different messages to different members? That segmentation could be based on the type of membership, but it could also differentiate between regular members and new members, or you could look at members’ booking histories - if you segment by how often members attend or donate, you might find natural groupings of members who would respond to different messages or different frequencies of communication than others.

Content
What content do you want to provide in each of your emails? Depending on what each email is trying to achieve and how you’re segmenting your data, you might want to create your campaigns in different ways.

For example, if you’ve got an email thanking members for auto-renewing then that’s probably a fairly straightforward campaign. However, if you want to reach different segments of members based on their booking history, you might find it useful to use dynamic content to tailor the message to each group. With that in mind, you could create a single campaign with an outline that suits all members, and use dynamic content based on auto tags to adapt certain parts of the email.

Appropriate Spektrix tools

Here’s a quick standalone rundown of some of the Spektrix tools you might find useful in implementing your strategy, depending on the decisions you’ve made so far.

Auto-renew memberships
If you’re going to offer memberships, then giving customers the option to automatically renew their memberships is a sensible option. You need to put in a bit of work at first to get it set up, but it’s a really powerful tool to drive revenue and build loyalty.

When setting up auto-renew memberships, it’s worth considering whether you want the system to send automatic payment emails, or whether you would prefer to tailor your communications with your members. In this article, we’re talking a lot about the reasons why you might want to replace the automatic system emails with more tailored emails, but there may be circumstances in which you want to use these system emails.

Read more about auto-renew memberships here.

Scheduled customer lists
While you can send nice dotmailer emails manually, it’s more efficient to use Scheduled Customer Lists to power those emails. This way, you can set up your segmentations in advance, set them to run on a regular basis, and then sit back and watch as your lovingly-designed emails are sent out automatically.

Read more about Scheduled Customer Lists here.

Dynamic content
You can use dynamic content in various ways to help tailor your emails to different types of members. Dynamic content can be powered by both attributes and tags - by basing it on things like membership names, renewal dates and so on, you can set up a variety of useful dynamic content rules. This can be particularly powerful when managing messages which comply with each member’s contact preferences, by dynamically including or excluding marketing and fundraising messages as necessary.

Read more about dynamic content here.

Pre and post-show emails
Chances are you’ve already got pre and/or post-show emails set up, but one way to give a slightly more personalised experience to members is to add in dynamic content (see above) to the templates you use for each of these. Add in some specific content that you think will be relevant to your members, and make sure it only goes to them!

Read more about pre and post-show emails here.

Suggestions

So far it’s all been pretty hypothetical, so here are a couple of examples of the sorts of strategies you might implement and how you could do so. For both of these strategies, the first thing to do is turn off the automatic auto-renew membership notifications, so that you can determine exactly what you want to send and when, rather than sending standard automatic emails.

Benefits-led membership
You might offer a monthly membership where the benefits include a discount at the bar and priority booking for some of your headline events. The purpose of the membership is about engagement and getting your customers through the door as often as possible.

In this situation, auto-renew memberships are a great option, but you would want to avoid sending the automatic auto-renew membership emails as they’re not really going to help you engage with these customers. If you’ve got an auto-renewable membership set up, set it to not send automatic notifications.

Different messages
Whether you’re using auto-renewable memberships or not, you’re going to want to get in touch with your members to help them understand the benefits of their memberships. Setting up monthly ‘What’s On’ emails would be a good option, perhaps including sneak peaks of events that are about to be announced. You might have some members who you don’t want to send this email to, however, in which case you would also want a way to send purely informational emails to that particular group. Likewise, you may just have different messages you want to convey to different groups of members.

Dynamic content
Instead of setting up two email campaigns, you could use dynamic content in a single campaign to vary the body of the email, so that you can write two (or more) different sets of copy and send each one to a different group of customers. If you have auto tags set up based on customers’ membership histories, you could then use these to power your dynamic content - sending one version to regular members and a slightly different one to first-time members, for example. Using dynamic content means that, when a member renews and ceases to be a first-time member, you won’t need to do anything as the email will automatically adjust.

If you have multiple membership schemes which offer different benefits, you could even use the same campaign with dynamic content allowing you to tailor the email text even more specifically to the different levels of member. As long as you can use tags (or, in this case, auto tags) to segment your members, you can use those tags to power dynamic content.

Payment messages
If you’re concerned that disabling automated auto-renew notifications means you’re not going to be letting members know each time you take payment, don’t worry! Set up a separate dotmailer campaign, in the same way as your ‘What’s On’ emails, but segment based on memberships which have been renewed ‘Yesterday’ and use that as a way to send a more personalised email (remember, you can use dynamic content to pull in customer names). Instead of simply saying “We’ve taken payment from your card”, you could thank each member for their contribution, remind them what benefits their membership gives them, and even talk about upcoming events again or highlight cool new offers they can take advantage of.

Pre-show emails
Lastly, you could consider using pre-show emails as well, with dynamic content powered by the same sort of segmentation as in your ‘What’s On’ emails. Is there anything that you want to make sure your members are thinking about just before they attend a show at your venue? Put it in the pre-show email. Do you just want to make sure you’re giving members a more personalised experience to reward them for their contribution? Using different pre-show email content to the one the rest of your customers get is a nice way of saying thanks.

100% donations/regular giving
Alternatively, you might want to use the membership functionality to set up a recurring donation scheme that supports the work that your organisation does.

Use auto-renew memberships
This is an ideal use case for auto-renewable memberships, as you can set up a membership with a
Benefit amount of zero, meaning that the entire value of the membership is considered a donation. For UK organisations, this means that you can claim Gift Aid on the entire membership! You then have all sorts of options for the frequency of the membership, whether you want it to be an annual donation, quarterly, monthly, or any other frequency.
 

You probably don’t want to get in touch with these members every time you take payment, even if it’s an annual membership, but especially if it’s more frequent than that. As such, turning off the automated email notifications is definitely the first step, so that you can control the way in which you talk to these members. The simplest way to communicate with them would be a straightforward dotmailer campaign that thanks them for their donations each time - this is easily set up using Scheduled Customer Lists, segmenting based on memberships renewed ‘Yesterday’.

Split out your regular givers
As an alternative, you could split your regular givers into groups and communicate with them differently depending on criteria you choose. The criteria you decide upon will depend on lots of different factors and be specific to your organisation, but for the sake of ease, let’s consider two possible types of donor -
low level givers and major donors. You could use auto tags based on the frequency or value of donations to segment your database and split out these two donor types.

Low level givers
For your low level givers, you might want to set up a regular dotmailer campaign which you use to let them know how their donations are being spent, perhaps providing accompanying encouragement such as photos from your latest members-only event. As before, the frequency of these emails is up to you, based on how your memberships are set up and what you want to achieve from the communications with these members. You could personalise these emails in the same way as discussed in the previous example, using dynamic content to pull through customer details and send different content based on more complex segmentation.

Major donors
For your major donors, especially if they’re splitting large gifts over a number of months, you might prefer to contact them directly rather than send them dotmailer email campaigns, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t useful tools to help you make smart decisions.

For example, you could set up a Scheduled Customer List to email yourself and your team a link every month to a list of people who have made donations over a certain amount. You could then use this information to bulk create Opportunities and/or Activities, and to inform the one-to-one communication that you make with these donors each month, whether that’s a special invite to a press night or a thank you letter from your CEO posted with the annual report.

Activities
You can even automatically maintain a record of those one-to-one emails as Activities in Spektrix. Just add your Spektrix
BCC Email Address in the BCC field within your normal email client when you send an email, and you’ll see a new Activity created complete with the body of the email, the date, the recipient, and so on.

Next steps
These are just two potential options for how you might set up your memberships and appropriate communications and what tools you might want to use in doing so. There are all sorts of different ways you might want to do that, so we would encourage you to spend some time planning out what’s appropriate for your organisation.

Here are a last few reminders of what’s been covered in this article:

  • Plan first - think about what your objectives are for each membership scheme, why you want to talk to your members, and what your members might want to hear about.
  • Make your decisions based upon that planning, bearing in mind how often you want to communicate with members, what you want to talk about, and who you want to talk to.
  • It’s definitely worth sending regular check-ins to talk to members about renewing their memberships or to let them know about renewals, but don’t make that the sole focus.
  • Auto-renew memberships are a great tool, but think about whether you want to use the automatic email notifications or disable them to give you more choice in how and when to contact your members.

If you have any further questions about anything discussed here, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Spektrix Support team.

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