Nuts & Bolts - Case Study: Finding a Healthy Shot in the Arm
Challenge: Reduce direct marketing costs while increasing membership renewals and annual conference registrations. Solution: Shift most touchpoints from direct mail to e-mail, while increasing contact frequency.
Results: AANP saw conference registrations increase 13 percent, online conference registrations rise 12 percent, membership renewals move along ahead of schedule and direct marketing costs lower.
The medical community often finds advocacy on its behalf a worthwhile pursuit. So the membership base of the Austin, Texas-based nonprofit advocacy organization, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, is healthy.
But that, and attendance for its flagship annual conference, can always use a shot in the arm. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to save money doing it.
So AANP moved its e-mail process to Sacramento, Calif.-based e-mail provider StreamSend’s servers, received its own IP address to increase e-mail deliverability and segmented the e-mail campaigns.
As of early January, AANP reports having sent out about 200 e-mail blasts to its members during the nine months it’s been using StreamSend. AANP IT Director Mike Tiller says the communications vary from sending an announcement to members in a particular state who may be concerned about new legislation to all-out membership drives.
“We’re trying to push as much as we can electronically,” Tiller says. “We’re kind of making a shift over the last year, year and a half, where we were a very paper-intensive organization to more e-mail, electronic communication.”
Specifically, Tiller notes the effect that this direct marketing strategy shift had on the 2008 AANP Conference, which took place June 26-July 1.
In 2007, the organization sent “one or two” e-mails and a conference brochure to 35,000 prospects—including the organization’s 25,000 members and 10,000 prior conference attendees and those among the nation’s 125,000 nurse practitioners who had filled out AANP surveys asking for information from the organization.
Nancy McMurrey, director of communications and member services, adds that the organization’s daily e-newsletter, AANP SmartBrief, also emphasized conference events.
At least 12 e-mails and the direct mail drop of the conference brochure resulted in a 12-percent increase in Internet registrations. The number of attendees increased from 2007’s total of 3,000 to 2008’s 3,400—a 13-percent rise.
So the organization continued shifting resources from direct mail to e-mail with its January renewal membership drive. Starting with changing the channel for the initial member contact, of the 2,509 recipients whose annual membership would lapse without renewal, 2,191 learned about the event via e-mail in November. Tiller says that blast alone saved AANP as much as $2.50 per member. About 7 percent, or 148, of the recipients renewed as a result of that e-mail.
Next came a direct mail drop on Dec. 8 to 2,361 members, followed by a Jan. 5 e-mail blast to 1,666 members who hadn’t yet renewed. Tiller says as of press time, 725 members had re-upped, which was ahead of schedule for the organization that runs three-month-long renewal membership campaigns.
McMurrey says the January renewal drive marks another milestone—sending renewal requests two months ahead of the expiration date. Such campaigns historically would begin a month before the anniversary date, via direct mail.
“It’s 100 percent more than what we had [in previous campaigns], because we’ve never done that electronic communication at the beginning,” Tiller says. “Since we hit them up electronically for, virtually, a very, very low cost, and they came back electronically to us … we did not have to engage the paper campaign with them … We didn’t have to follow up with those two or three paper letters, along with the applications that went inside of them, along with the postage and everything else that went with it.”
“And, by the way, we didn’t offer any incentive to them,” McMurrey says.