If you’re in charge of member communication for your organization, then you already know how important direct mail is to getting important information in front of your members or prospective members. Everything from membership info, renewal notices, event marketing and other similar items depends largely on the power of direct mail to inform and captivate.
Response rates are generally higher for direct mail than over other forms of digital messaging, and it’s easy to see how this can be even more amplified when targeted to an association’s audience.
Though your association probably has very engaged and responsive members who serve on committees, open all emails and regularly participate on your social media, this likely represents only a fraction of your overall membership. It’s great to have these super engaged members, but if they’re the only ones who attend your annual event, your association will probably run into a new membership problem at some point. Without consistently replenished ranks and new enthusiasm, your association could suffer in the long run.
To pique the interest of those people who applied for membership then forgot, or are regular members who may or may not attend your big annual event, or just industry targets you’d love to have as members, follow these tips below to increase your response rate and drive member engagement for your association.
Social Media Integration
Just because you’re using direct mail to grab your prospects attention doesn’t mean you can’t use these materials to drive your audience to places where you can have a more ongoing conversation with them.
Every piece of direct mail you send out should have call to actions directing your audience to find you on your preferred social media channels. You should include your Twitter handle along with what full business name your audience should search for on Facebook and LinkedIn.
This is especially useful on membership applications and event promotional materials. These are prime moments from which you can drive your audience to digital spaces that showcase the value of your association. Once on these pages, your audience should see promotional material you regularly post and get a sense of the networking opportunities within your organization. It’s an easy way to subtly suggest the large opportunity your association provides for professional growth.
Variable Data Printing
We’ve recently covered this more in depth, but VDP is a great way to personalize your messaging and imagery to your audience. Other than just being able to personally address your message to clients, this printing method allows you to swap out whole swaths of copy and images to better appeal to your targets.
Let’s say your association serves people involved in the financial services industry. This includes insurance agents, financial planners and similar job titles. Your organization has recognized that there are three distinct phases of the career life cycle for your members; those who are new in the industry, those who have some experience, and those veterans that have a large base of clients. These are three very distinct stages which call for very different kinds of content.
VDP allows you to swap out information that might appeal to one of these groups over the other, allowing your direct mail content to be ultra-relevant to your targets’ needs. Swap out paragraphs of information and images that won’t appeal to one popular bucket of your membership, and truly personalize your direct mail.
Paper Textures and Formats
A huge benefit of sending printed messaging is just that – it’s printed. As we’ve previously written about, paper has a huge advantage over digital when it comes to triggering portions of our brain, so take advantage of this.
Consult your printer to discover what other options they have for you, but you should consider changing everything from paper weight to finish. A matte or glossy paper could make your messaging feel more substantial and valuable, decreasing the odds your audience simply throws it out.
You can also present your information in interesting formats. Your brochures can have extra folds or unique layouts – perhaps a message is read in landscape rather than portrait, for example. The envelope itself could unfold to reveal your brochure. Creative touches like this will spark interest and help you stand out.
As an association, using higher grade paper in interesting ways will contribute to your audience’s overall perception of your institution as well. They’ll know that when they get something from you, it’s substantial; it has value. This is a powerful perception to foster, as it will carry over through to all aspects of your marketing content, whether it be digital or print.
Represent Your Association
In all your direct mail, you should take steps to point out what makes your association unique and beneficial to members and potential members. By directing them to your social media pages, personalizing content and messaging to your member levels, and using interesting, eye-catching formats, you can enhance the reach and ROI of your direct mail efforts.
Spend some extra time crafting your messaging and content. Focus on what your audience really wants. Pick images that highlight the best you have to offer. It’ll go a long way toward highlighting the value of your association.