Segment Your Members for Better Relevance in Your Communications

Categories: Membership Marketing & Technology

Last week at the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Convention in Raleigh, I sat in on Rahaf Harfoush‘s presentation on how the Obama campaign used social media, websites and email to connect to and engage voters during the 2008 Presedential Election.

She explained several ways that the campaign created online connections to facilitate offline actions by voters.  These included extensive use of technology and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, a dedicated social network, an iPhone app and many others.

When she got to email, she stressed the key to their success: Hyper-Segmentation

The campaign delivered different messages to voters based on:

  1. State
  2. Interests on certain issues (indicated when opting in to emails)
  3. Donation history

Picture16By carefully crafting messages for people and keying on their location, interests and history, they could make each email extremely relevant.  This helped make the recipient feel that the campaign truly knew who they were and that the issues discussed were happening right in their backyard.

Are you segmenting your email communications to your members?   Can you deliver relevant messages to your members so they feel like your chamber of commerce understands them and is working to serve their needs?  Can you make your messages personal?

I’ve mentioned segmentation on this blog before, but the concept bears repeating since many chambers of commerce are just now realizing the power of segmentating communications to help increase member satistaction and retention and generate new member sales.

Ways you can segment your members include:

  • Employee count
  • Business category
  • Interests (collected through your website or membership application)
  • Dues amount
  • Length of membership
  • NAICS code
  • Previous event attendance

So, when you send out emails to members about how certain issues affect their business, why not break that email into two or more versions?  Send one email to members with 1-50 employees, and include quotes from similarly-sized business stating how the issues affect them. Then rework the email for the members with 50+ employees with a different take on the issues.

You can do this for just about every email you send to members using any number of ways to segment.  Try to make your “blast” emails seem like you sat down and typed out a note to each of your members individually.  By carefully crafting your messages, you’ll end up demonstrating more value to your members.

This issue was highlighted recently by Ben Wolf, IOM, vice president of member services at the Nashville Area (TN) Chamber of Commerce in his article in ACCE’s Chamber Executive, ”

Are You Effectively Communicating Your Value? Make it Personal.”   (Congratulations to the Nashville Chamber for being recognized by ACCE as the top Chamber in the country for their dues range.  The Nashville Chamber is a WebLink International client!) 🙂

In the article, Wolf states, “Communicating value is not just about delivering a standard message. It’s about identifying what one perceives as valuable. It’s not just what is said, but how it is said that makes the difference. It is tailoring a specific, targeted message to a targeted audience member.”  Excellent advice.

Know your members though data collection and management
Segment your members for greater member intelligence
Communicate your value by using segmentation and knowledge gained from your data

Obviously, the key here is membership management software or a customer relationship management system that allows you to collect your members’ interests and other demographic information and easily export that for use with email and other communications.  Find ways to input AND extract this information in your database and use it to deliver targeted, relevant communications.

And…why stop at email?  You could create different versions of postcards, letters, mailings….even your printed newsletter, to deliver relevant messages to your members.

Happy segmenting!

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