July 17, 2018   |   Vol. 17   |   Issue 7
By Matt Kerr, MGI Research Analyst

How Does Your Association Compare?

Marketing General Incorporated has just released the tenth annual Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report. Learn how your association compares to others, and what best practices are being implemented across the industry!

MGI’s research team surveyed association executives in an effort to provide benchmarks by which association leadership can evaluate their own membership programs and learn about best practices in membership marketing. This year, 821 unique organizations participated in the survey.

Results show an uptick in the percentage of associations reporting increases in membership over the past year (48% vs. 46% in 2017), with only 25% of associations reporting a decline in membership in the past year.

Among those reporting an increase, the typical rise is 5%. Moreover, almost half (47%) of associations report increases in new member acquisition over the past year.

The longer-term trend is also toward growth; more than half of all associations report an increase in membership totals over the past five years (53%).

Retention is also contributing to the growth; the median renewal rate reported this year is 84%.

Finally, we continue to see the benefits of associations that effectively reach out to younger members. Associations with increases in their one-year membership and five-year membership numbers are significantly more likely to have a higher percentage of millennial members.

A Decade of Membership Growth

Significantly, as we look back over ten years of data from MGI’s Benchmarking Reports, associations have shown great resiliency in both membership counts and retention.

With the obvious exception of the economic downturn of the Great Recession, associations reporting an increase in membership counts have been consistent over the past ten years. Around half of associations show solid membership growth during this period. Similarly, a large proportion of associations have reported very steady renewal rates over the past ten years.

Changes in Membership Marketing Methods

While the buzzword for this past decade has been “consistency,” it has also not been without change. The methodology and focus of how associations have accomplished their goals has evolved and changed over the past ten years. The channels that associations use in membership recruitment and engagement show the most significant change, with an increasing trend toward automation and digital marketing. Payment options have likewise become more sophisticated and automated.

Despite more computing power and advanced metrics, the use of data and data analysis has shown almost no forward movement in recent years. When comparing data from 2012 to 2018, the level of data analysis and results reported shows very little improvement. Conducting membership marketing response rate analysis has only increased slightly from 49% to 51%. Lifetime value analysis of a member’s economic contribution to the association has declined from 16% to 10%. And computer matchback analysis to evaluate responses by comparing new members to the prospect database has declined from 15% to only 10%.

As a whole, the 2018 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report continues to highlight growth and resilience for membership associations, but it also underscores that there remains much uncharted territory ahead.

If you are attending ASAE’s Annual Meeting, visit MGI at booth #122 and pick up a free hard copy of the report!

You also have access to the full online version of this report. Visit our website www.marketinggeneral.com/knowledge-bank to download your free copy.

For more information or if you are interested in a more formal, customized analysis of how your association compares to industry standards, please contact Tony Rossell at Tony@MarketingGeneral.com or 703.706.0360.

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