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AARC Brings Back 800 Lapsed Members with Automated Win-Back Campaign [Case Study]

Written by Caitlin Struhs | on January 30, 2019 at 7:45 AM

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The American Association for Respiratory Care’s (AARC) membership was stalled. A flat line in the association’s core group of active members was even starting a bit of a downturn.

This steady decrease in membership renewals gave rise to a growing number of lapsed members. Sherry Milligan, Associate Executive Director of Membership, was determined to find the right action plan to quickly change that trajectory.

Knowing new member cultivation would not be a quick and easy fix, AARC identified great potential within the growing lapsed member base.

Evaluating Lapsed Membership

AARC sought help through marketing automation. With new insight and perspective, AARC developed a targeted, custom win-back campaign strategy.

None of us have the time to constantly be manually sending out emails of this kind. It  makes perfect sense to automate.” - Sherry Milligan, Associate Executive Director of Membership AARC

By 2015, the organization had over 18,000 lapsed members within a 24-month period. This lapsed member base was both a challenge and opportunity. AARC knew it would be easier to keep or recapture former members than try to cultivate a new membership base.

The campaign objective was to reach out to prior members to generate interest and encourage them to rejoin AARC.

Read about how AARC automated their online community for better member engagement. 

First step: evaluate the triggers members said contributed to their initial decision to join and analyze feedback data from previous lapsed members to understand potential reasons for not renewing. Based on this analysis, AARC developed two communication strategies and personalized messaging for two member segments: those who lapsed within three to six months, and those who lapsed between seven and 24 months.

Members lapsed in the past 3-6 months

  • Promote online, continuing education
  • Direct, inviting messaging in two steps: Step 1 is Enroll, Step 2 is Sign up for Class
Members lapsed in the last 7-24 months
  • Feature new enhancements and developments from the last year that add value to the
    member experience
  • Exploratory messaging: ask members to “take another look” and “rediscover” AARC

We are very happy with the results of the campaign. Nearly 800 lapsed members have rejoined AARC resulting in over $64,000 in membership dues. We saw open rates of 40% for the more recently lapsed members and 33% for those whose membership lapsed 7 to 24 months ago.” – Sherry Milligan

Testing and Refining a Win-Back Campaign Strategy

Before launching the win-back campaign, AARC ran several tests using the 10-10-80 testing concept.

It tested various email components using 10 percent test panels and applied the winning elements to the final version of the emails. Tests included different subject lines (some with personalization and some without), the “friendly from” field (having emails come from a generic “AARC” email address versus from a person’s name), and a longer versus shorter message.

Related: The Top 5 Reasons Your Members Aren't Renewing and What To Do About It

“Everything we learned was intriguing,” said Sherry. “Personalization in the subject line (using the person’s name) drew far better open rates. Having the message come from a person (our membership chair) rather than a company really boosted opens and clicks. I had thought a shorter, snappier letter would actually garner more clicks, but I found the longer letter drew a better outcome. It was fun to see what pulled greater responses.”

Insight into Lapsed Membership Leads to Better Targeting and Campaign Strategy

Moving forward, AARC plans to further target its member segments in the win-back campaign by local or state chapter and which months garner the best open rates.

Member engagement is well worth the effort. But it doesn't always have to be an expensive effort - check out our eBook, with ideas for nine low-cost strategies for member engagement.  

Download eBook

About AARC: Founded in 1947, the AARC is a not-for-profit professional association with more than 52,000 members worldwide. Their primary membership consists of respiratory therapists, allied health practitioners who are trained at the 2- and 4-year college level to assist physicians in the care of patients with lung disorders and other conditions.

Topics: Marketing Automation, Member Retention, Member Engagement, Associations, Engagement

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