Lapsed members can’t be re-engaged with digital tools alone

Every membership organisation has the same problem: a tricky 20% of membership that’s a headache to engage, but too valuable to ignore.
These people can be switched back on – but in the attention economy, caution is needed. Lean too heavily on tech, or borrow too heavily from consumer marketing tactics, and you risk becoming perceived as noise.
Member organisations require a distinct approach: empowered by tech, but rooted in the human, deeply personal values which motivate people to remain subscribed.
The human touch
The human touch underpins Tangent’s success with the Labour Party. We run Labour’s membership operations and contact centre, and the data gathered there, alongside digital touchpoints, helps us understand members in a more human way. This allows their communications to be much more personal and relevant to party members on an individual level.
Similar gains can be made at smaller scale; even highly affordable, pureplay digital re-engagement campaigns can be conducted in a more human way.
The American Association for Respiratory Care took the simple step of asking members why they weren’t renewing. They learned that the renewal system was difficult to navigate, acted, and told members when they’d fixed the problem.
They also adopted a softly-softly approach to reengagement messaging: waiting a few months past the renewal date to issue reminders, and linking through not to a renewal page, but an online learning centre, to remind lapsed members of the value of membership.
Back to square one
To quote the Global Engagement Index (a study into member engagement): ‘Customers want your stuff…members expect things’.
Of course, ‘stuff’ is easily replicated. Dollar Shave Club can guarantee that a lapsed, so-called “member” has migrated to competitor brand.
With an organisation, the dynamics are fundamentally altered.
Unions, charities and so on may have competitors, but the values that affect one’s motivation to stay joined up are highly personal, and not easily be copied. Nor are they easily understood – so digital tools must never be considered the quick and easy solution. Rather, they must be viewed as an opportunity to do more: to complement every other reengagement channel, and to understand better the uniquely human values of your organisational brand.