What is the best practice for responding to new membership information requests or enquiries?

How should you respond to requests for your association’s membership information?

There are three possible approaches. The one you should use depends on your association’s audience:

  1. Send a mailed packet of information that includes printed copies of your annual report and other information. This has been the historical standard, principally because there was no effective alternative. This can still be useful for associations that have a high cost of membership, as the potential return on investment (ROI) is high. This presumes, of course, that you have suitable printed materials that are impressive in their design and content.
  2. Send an email with PDFs of your key documents. This saves the printing and postage cost associated with the above option. The resulting email may be too large for many email boxes and spam filters, however.
  3. Send an email with a link to a web page that contains all of the relevant information and documents. In theory, this page should already exist for visitors going to your website. This email is more likely to avoid spam filters.

For the average association audience, option 3 should be very suitable. The exception would be an audience that has a specific need for hard copy materials, or has such a high potential ROI that it is worth the extra expense to send the impressive hard copy materials.

However, all of this begs the question as to why the association would receive a membership enquiry.  Ideally, the prospective member should easily find the same information on an attractive, well organized website page.  While it certainly important and useful to collect or capture prospective member information via online forms, trade shows, and networking events, it may be best to immediately provide direction to the online information. This could be done via a “success page” upon submission of the form, the inclusion of a URL / QR code in a brochure, or the exchange of a business card with the web URL / QR code.

With immediate access provided to key membership information, use the contact information for the best marketing of all:  the human touch of a person email or phone call.

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