Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) provides veterinary management professionals ongoing education, certifications, and networking opportunities. Formed in 1981, VHMA has grown to serve over 2,700 members across North America.
VHMA was using a low-cost email provider to connect and market to their members. As a result of no integration with their association management system (AMS), VHMA struggled with process inefficiencies and data quality concerns.
Data quality is at the heart of every effective marketing campaign. VHMA knew that an integrated solution could ease their challenges with data management. Their AMS – YourMembership – has a seamless integration with the Informz email and marketing automation platform. Christine Shupe, CAE, Executive Director at VHMA explains, “Honestly, it was an amazingly seamless implementation. I have been through multiple integrations before and they have never moved this smoothly.”
Once integrated, VHMA used an automated membership renewal campaign to streamline the membership renewal process and plan ahead for more successful campaigns.
VHMA immediately realized the benefits of the integration. “I don’t have to worry about running reports in two systems and the numbers not matching. Data from the database feeds directly into Informz. The integration of Informz and YourMembership is critical for us. One of the biggest benefits of the integrated database is that our data is always current,” said Shupe.
Like many organizations, membership renewal for VHMA spans multiple months beginning in October. Historically, Shupe and her team approached the renewal communication plan month-to -month. “With our previous provider, I’d have to put reminders on my calendar every month to go into the system and redo the campaign,” Shupe explained. “This stop-start approach was time consuming, requiring several hours each month to manage.”
With a member base made up of both individual and practice level memberships, creating unique emails for every member can be time consuming. Also, the “one size fits all” approach can easily miss the mark. With marketing automation, they implemented a new way of approaching membership renewals, reducing staff time (and increase membership retention, too!).
How did they do it?
- Advanced planning allows VHMA to time messages more effectively, accounting for holidays and sending on days with stronger engagement.
- Data automatically syncs from their AMS into Informz. As the integration adds members to a target group, they automatically enter the campaign, eliminating manual intervention.
- Starting 2 months prior to expiration gives the member enough time to renew, but it’s not so early that the messages are ignored.
- Continuing the conversation after expiration allows members who haven’t renewed to come back without penalty. This can be effective with memberships that expire on the last day of the calendar, which might have been restricted by holidays or budget planning.
Informz Marketing Automation allowed the team to step back and think differently. “With an automated membership renewal campaign, I could sit down in August or September and map out the entire campaign to run over the next six months.”
Now, instead of spending several hours per month managing a renewal campaign, Shupe could focus her efforts more long-term. “Having the ability to sit down and plan over a day or two allowed us to think globally as opposed to just the current month. This made a world of difference.”
VHMA created a more powerful automated membership renewal campaign because they had access to more data.
“Our database is live and changes minute to minute. If someone is added to our database yesterday, they are in the campaign today. It is instant, and that is unbelievably important,” reinforces Shupe.
As a result, instant access to data led to a restructuring of renewal communications, breaking them out by member type and including content personalized for each member.
It seems contradictory to think that spending less time on something could result in bigger benefits, but that is exactly what automation and an integration did for VHMA. “Automating the process has made a big difference for us. Staff time spent managing the renewal campaign has been cut by 50% because we can do all of that planning upfront,” Shupe said.
The advanced planning and targeted automated campaigns most certainly paid off. While membership renewals rose 5% over the prior year, over $18,000 in additional membership revenue has come in.
Furthermore, increased membership renewals weren’t the only benefit. Due to more focused emails, VHMA increased the number of communications sent by 23% over the prior year, causing a boost in engagement across all of their email programs.
“We have found that the narrower the focus, the better the open and click rates are.”