How do successful associations convert visitors to prospective members to members? A good follow-up e-mail is key for converting a prospective member to a paying member. Once you’ve gotten your prospective member to opt in / sign up on your marketing list – whether by an offer conversion, a subscription conversion or some other method – you should work on converting them to a member, whether paid or unpaid, depending upon your structure.)

What goes into an e-mail that converts a member? What other elements should you include?

If you started with an offer, you have a warm prospect that is primed to view your association as a thought leader that can provide information that the member needs in his or her profession.

  • How did they get here in the first place? If you converted them on an offer, recap what they should have learned from the offer
  • Provide a clear and compelling reason for them to join – the top reason that your current members say that persuaded them to join. If you don’t know this, interview your best current members and ask them.
    1. Use key points such as: building business relationships, close deals with members, get peer support on tough industry challenges, attend conferences that are specific and focused on your industry at member rates
    2. Use a great call to action:
  • Pair them with a member (use your database!) who can help them see the value of your membership. You can do this by segmenting your member base, selecting at least one member in each segment that would be willing to talk with a prospect and inserting that member’s name and contact information into a field in your follow-up e-mail. If you’re using a custom follow-up e-mail service that you can insert personalization tokens, you can do this in a highly targeted way. If you’re not, you will have to provide a list of members and their segments to contact.
  • A strong call to action: Join us now. Save $200 on membership now through the end of the month. Get $100 off your next conference registration by joining today. The call to action should be timely, it should be compelling, and it should make the next step of signup super easy
  • Include a link to a one-page signup form with credit card payment options. It should be as short of a web form as you can reasonably manage (you can have an “update your membership record” once they have joined. If a partial payment is an option, a smaller ‘get started’ amount often works well.

If you’ve converted a subscriber, you have a slightly less-warm prospect that has not yet been primed to think of your association as a thought leader yet, but does want to know more about what you have to say.

This prospect is not yet ready for a strong sell on membership. Your first task here is to prove your association is a valuable resource worthy of the time and expense of membership. You’ll do this by creating a basic lead nurturing e-mail campaign. Your follow-up e-mail should invite them to activate on something (an article, a whitepaper)

  • How did they get here in the first place? If you converted them on an offer, recap what they should have learned from the offer
  • Help them learn more about your association by sharing an article or two from your association’s web site
  • Set up a lead nurturning campaign that will e-mail them helpful and informative information about your organization, and present the organization as an industry resource
    • Schedule a series of blog posts, articles or whitepapers on industry topics that are relevant to members and prospects. Create an invitation e-mail for each, inviting them to click on the article to read it.
    • Stagger the send of these e-mails over a week or a few weeks so the prospect has time to read them
    • Track whether the email has been clicked on (e.g. did the prospect even click through to read the blog post?)
    • At the end of the lead nurturing e-mail campaign, your last e-mail should be to invite them to become a member, and it should follow the steps in the first section “creating a good follow-up e-mail”

If your prospects haven’t clicked to join once your workflow completes, it’s time to reach out to them personally to find out why. It’s a warm call (they know your organization by now) and your top membership people should make this call.

This personal call should come with a free or special offer invitation to your association’s next event (if applicable) such as a webinar or networking event. If that’s not possible, invite them to a special piece of content that they wouldn’t otherwise receive or a discount off a larger event if they join now. This offer shouldn’t be anywhere else on your site or promotional campaigns; it’s reserved only for the prospects you are encouraging to join.

Encouraging members to join is just one part of the association’s marketing challenge – but it’s the first step toward creating a vibrant and healthy association!

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