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How to Test Your Association's Membership Messaging Bookmark

How to Test Your Association's Membership Messaging

When it comes to membership marketing, it’s easy to assume you know the one value proposition that resonates with your membership the most. But as many marketers have discovered, the only way to confirm a value proposition’s effectiveness is to compare it with another. 

We recently had a conversation with Marketing General’s Tony Rossel, who discussed this very topic. Tony called it the 80-10-10 method, and it made such an impact with our group, we thought we’d share the method with everyone. 

Don’t Go All-In on the First Go

For the sake of example, we’re going to use an email renewal effort. This is the first email of a renewal sequence, and it’s crucial we get as many members to renew as possible on this effort. Why? Because if we can get them to renew via email, it saves us the print and postage costs of the following mailed efforts in the renewal sequence. There’s a significant cost to renewing members, so effectiveness early in the process saves time and money. 

So, with all of this at stake, don’t we want to make sure we get the messaging of the value proposition right before we send this renewal email? Here’s where the 80-10-10 method comes into play. 

We’re going to take 20% of our renewal class and break them into two groups, 10% of the membership in each. We’ll forget about the remaining 80% of members for now.  For Group A, they’ll get your “ringer,” first choice value proposition; for example’s sake, we’ll say it’s conference registration at the member rate, which is 50% less than the non-member rate, 

Group B will get your second value proposition. Let’s say you offer 10% registration for your Continuing Education Course if they renew on this first email. To control as many variables as possible, send the emails to their respective groups at the same time.

Let’s send our hypothetical A/B test messages and see what happens!

Results and What to Do With Them

Hey, 10% of Group A respondents renewed - sweet. But whoa - 50% of Group B respondents renewed! Now you know that your offer of 10% off the Continuing Education Course is super popular; that should be the value proposition on-offer to the remaining 80% of your membership. 

Makes sense, right? The 80-10-10 method allows you to dip your toe in the water before you cannonball with your value proposition to your membership in its entirety. 

This method can be used in all sorts of scenarios, as well. Coming from the digital advertising world, I can tell you that any agency worth its salt conducts all of its campaigns with A/B methods to test things like price points for products, the effectiveness of different creative assets, demographic tests, and much more. 

You Can Do This - We Swear!

The best place to start this A/B testing is in your email newsletters. Whether you use Constant Contact or MailChimp (or another platform), these email clients offer some incredible in-depth reporting. Testing how different topics in your subject line changes open and click-through rates, for example, can help you craft subject lines that are more engaging to your members. You can also test things like time of day the newsletter is sent, day of the week it’s sent, and plenty of other variables that will help you improve your metrics. 

Once you have the 80-10-10 method down in your email newsletter, you can use the same process on promoting events, membership recruitment efforts, renewal pieces, and so much more. 

Need more guidance? Buffer offers some great tips on how to perform A/B tests on your social media channels. MailChimp has A/B testing integrated into its campaign set-up process, which you can read about here. Be sure to let us know how your tests go; we’ll be rooting for you!

Want more tips and insight? Be sure to follow MSAE on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Have an idea for a blog post or a topic you’d like covered? Let us know by sending us an email. 


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