Advancing Your Zoo’s Membership + Visibility
Membership programs and communications that expand visibility and value underpin revenue for many zoos and other cultural institutions. While new member acquisition is one area of focus, member programs also court and engage existing members to cultivate their loyalty and renewal.
How to Tailor the Conversation with Existing Members
One of the biggest indicators to predict if someone will renew membership at your cultural institution includes the number of times they visited during that term; i.e., if they have visited twice per year, they’re more likely to renew. Moreover, identifying and resonating with your individual members’ preferences and behaviors will further enhance membership growth.
This is where ACME’s value soars, by offering tools to extract valuable membership data to help further cement the relationship. Data mining not only enables you to uncover the number of times a member has visited but also unearths details like whether and how they have upgraded their membership; how long they have been a member; their donor level; transactions they’ve purchased (e.g., special exhibition tickets, gifts, donations or gala tickets); and more.
Moreover, cross-referencing member data externally to those who have been on boards of directors or other involvements can further help customize the conversation.
Leveraging this information strategically and thoughtfully enables you to expand the conversation in a tailored way. As a result, you encourage actions by the member such as visiting more frequently, attending specific events or increasing their donor level.
How to Drive New Memberships via Traditional + Digital Methods
Mail Houses + Marketing Firms
To get the message out to a targeted audience of prospective members who may be unfamiliar with your brand, consider partnering with marketing firms and mail houses. Tap into their target lists that fit your customer profile. Tailor your communications to create an emotional connection based on demographic research. Inform the target prospects of specific events and daily activities happening at your zoo, aquarium or museum that appeal to their preferences.
Blending Traditional with Digital
As well, consider modernizing your traditional direct mail strategies. The Seattle Woodland Park Zoo implemented a “new two-drop postcard combined with a three-part email series” that targeted prior gift membership purchasers and offered a financial incentive discount, according to “Case Studies Showcase Zoo & Museum Direct Mail Strategy.” As a result, they achieved a 173% increase in number of purchases and 88% increase in revenue.
Onsite marketing is another highly successful method championed by membership experts and has been estimated to account for 60% of joins and renewals. This may include everything from someone walking up to your institution ready to invest, to visitors exploring your institution for the day and falling in love, to those who walk up to renew their current membership before it expires.
Using Social Media to Deepen Member Engagement
Instagram + Beyond
Moreover, the American Museum Membership Conference emphasized the value of integrating social media strategies into your member engagement initiatives. Their document, “Beyond Digital: Increase Member Engagement,” featured the Aquarium of the Pacific who netted measurable results from their proactive initiatives. They encouraged members to tag their museum photos on Instagram with a specially created members-only hashtag. The museum described how they regularly engage with the members, including publishing “weekly posts that steward members” while also promoting programs to the public.
They also suggested an 80/20 balance: “Post 80% of what your members want and 20% of what you want them to do.” As a result of their social media initiatives, Aquarium of the Pacific saw a 14% member visitation jump after the hashtag launch while cultivating relationships with their most engaged members.
Another method to increase membership value and visibility is to get on influencers’ radars. Blogger Heather Flett, who writes about resources for families in the area, featured the Oakland Zoo membership in a recent post. Her opening paragraph showcased the zoo’s “perfect balance of animals, play areas, and … rides for kids.
Flett’s message further described the zoo’s expansion, publishing specific and illustrative content and photos of her family immersed in the zoo’s activities and attractions. Sealing the deal was the breakdown of membership perks and the associated financial value, where she concluded that the decision to become a zoo member is a “slam dunk” and that “two visits per year is very easy to meet.
Whichever membership growth and visibility channels you explore, it’s helpful to have a reliable lighthouse to help you see your way. ACME’s advanced ticketing and membership technology is there, illuminating the path forward. Contact us for a demo, today.