Now that renewal periods are over for most associations, it’s time to start thinking about growing memberships in different ways: engaging prospects.
What Is a Prospect?
In its simplest terms, a prospect is a potential member of your organization. Different from a sales lead, a prospect is someone who has shown interest by engaging with your association in some way, either by providing some basic information or responding to something you’ve sent them.
Most prospects don’t come ready to buy. Instead, they are looking for information on the best way to solve a problem or meet a need. Prospects have the greatest probability of becoming a new member, so it’s important to approach them with the right balance of persistence and brevity.
How an Email Nurture Campaign Works
According to Marketo, a leading marketing automation software company, a successful nurture program “focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects and providing the information and answers they need to build trust, increase brand awareness, and maintain a connection until prospects are ready to make a purchase” (or, in the case of associations, until prospects are ready to become members).
Nurture programs align with what’s called the buyer’s journey – the process it takes to make a major purchasing decision. There are different buyer’s journey timelines for different industries; for example, a buyer’s journey in healthcare might be far shorter than a buyer’s journey in technology due to the immediate need for the service.
How to Use an Email Nurture Campaign to Engage Prospects
There are typically 5 stages in a buyer’s journey and, therefore, 5 ways to engage prospects along the way. The following will explain the journey and how to reach the prospect at each stage.
In the Awareness stage, your prospect is becoming aware of their need for your association. Your content in this email should be focused on how the association can address the need. Content that directs them to high-level guides, social media, and PR tactics can all help the prospect say, “Yes, that’s me!” and want to see how your association can help them.
Now that your prospects know they have a problem, they want to find the solution. Here, more detailed white papers, guides, and events can be beneficial, providing actual solutions and taking the prospect deeper into their buyer’s journey.
Once the prospect sees for themselves that your association is legitimate, they are willing to engage. That means they are willing to give you a little more information about themselves to get a little more information about your services. Case studies, videos and demos are all good content pieces to use in this stage.
In this stage, your prospect is almost ready to make a purchase (e.g., join your association). Member pricing and data sheets are good examples of content to promote in this email to help them make the decision.
Finally, your prospect is ready to convert! This email should be one last promotion of your association, with the final call-to-action to join. To further entice the prospect, you can offer discounts off annual membership fees or free gifts for joining.
These days, there are so many types of content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. It’s up to your association to determine what will work best for your ideal member. Test new tactics along the way… if you find that a particular case study isn’t working in the Engaged stage, try a lighter infographic or video to better engage prospects.