Supporter engagement

Membership renewal engagement path with Pardot and Fonteva

This presentation and live demo was given at FUNcon 2020, Fonteva’s annual user conference. As a Fonteva service partner, Fíonta is well suited to advise organizations using Fonteva about how to leverage data within Salesforce/Fonteva in Pardot for audience segmentation and email personalization. The video below is a 23-minute demo illustrating how to use member data from Fonteva in a Pardot Engagement Path in order to automate the membership renewal reminder process.


Hi there, welcome to membership renewal engagement path. I’m here with Fíonta. We were founded in 2001 in DC. We have staff across the US and we were founded expressly to bring technology services to nonprofits and associations. We’re so honored and proud to have been able to work with over 1000 in those almost 20 years. We’re a premium partner, and a Fonteva services partner. We complete Fonteva implementations and provide ongoing support and extension into myriad clouds in the Salesforce world, like Pardot, which we’ll be talking about today.

Here’s just a little slice of association clients we’ve worked with over the past several years, and me. My name is Karin Tracy. I’m the VP of Marketing here at Fíonta. I’m also a Pardot consultant and I run our marketing automation practice, providing direct services to associations and nonprofits using Pardot. I live and work in Los Angeles, and more importantly, I have two pugs, Edgar on the left and Chuck on the right.

Okay, well, let’s dive into it, membership renewal. Well, member dues make up a large percentage of most associations’ annual revenue, almost 50% actually for trade associations, and the percentage is a little bit lower for professional associations. And of course, there are other drivers of revenue. Events certainly contribute to annual conferences, local and regional events, in-person trainings.

But 2020 has really thrown us all for a loop. I mean we’re here at a virtual conference. I am literally talking to you from my closet because I live and work in an open plan apartment, and that’s why I have a great virtual background. We have definitely seen incredible innovation in terms of virtual events. But there is a cost to bringing in these new systems, to onboarding and training, and so on. And honestly, many of our clients had to flat out cancel their annual conferences this year because they were in that part of Q2 where there just wasn’t time to pivot.

And so the decision to renew is definitely based on a number of factors, cost absolutely, value of benefits, relevance, so on. And we all know the adage that it’s so much cheaper to keep an existing member happy and renewing than it is to bring on a new one.

And so when you think about your renewal campaigns, you probably identify a series of emails or maybe even a personal phone call, personal communication like a phone call. The campaign itself is time-based. Perhaps you identify a near lapse member as being 60 days out. I mean you’ll work to get the renewal over the course of maybe say 90 days by sending an email every two weeks. So you’ve got frequency, duration, and a really clear call to action. The goal here is to get them to renew their membership.

And since this is FUNcon, you are probably here because you have or are considering Fonteva. So you have details about your members. You’ve got renewal dates, activity, overall engagement throughout the year, member level maybe or status. And all of that data can support your membership renewal ask.

So what does a renewal path look like? Well, you probably start by identifying members within a certain period of lapsing. For your org, that might be 60 days. You’ll send them a series of emails and maybe at some point you even have someone from membership pick up the phone for a certain member level. You’ll analyze their engagement and their behavior during the renewal campaign. Did they do the thing you want them to do? You’ll increase that sense of urgency through your language and emails as you get closer and closer to that lapse date, and you’re definitely going to followup with them with different language and different intent based on whether they did or did not renew.

So let’s head over to Pardot and see what a membership renewal engagement program can actually look like. We know we need to seed an engagement path or start our series of emails with a list, and that list needs to be composed of members who are within a certain number of days of becoming a lapsed member. So here we’re in segmentation lists in the prospects tab in Pardot within Salesforce Lightning. We’re also presuming here that we’re running Fonteva. I’m showing you my organization’s information. These are all test prospects.

But let’s say that we have a very simple set of rules. The prospect custom field of membership renewal date, this would be data coming right out of Fonteva. Days in future is less than or equal to 60. So a dynamic list in Pardot is wholly criteria-driven. A prospect is on the list when they meet the criteria, and then they fall off the list when they no longer meet that criteria. So what we’re saying here is if a prospect is within 60 days of lapsing, they are on the list. If they renew, they’re no longer within 60 days of lapsing, so they automatically fall off the list.

And we’ll see here, through my little demo org, there are three individuals who current match this criteria. You can look here at good old Tester Tracy. See here, the tester’s membership renewal date is 11/4/2020. So this individual is on this list right now. We’ll use this dynamic list to seed our engagement path.

But the first thing we have to do is actually put pen to paper and do the hard work of being a marketer, and create our assets. Let’s say we know for this campaign we’ll be creating five emails. I’ll go in and do all the work in advance so that when we get to Engagement Studio, we’re really ready to build. So what I’ll show you here in this tab is an email I’ve put together. You can see here it starts by saying, “Dear recipient first name, on behalf of Fantastic Association I want to express our deepest gratitude, blah, blah, blah. Your recipient member level,” so we would actually be looking to a field that indicates level or status perhaps, “Your so-and-so membership is due to renew on renewal date.” Here’s our call to action. “Act now and renew.”

So let’s look at what this email would actually look like once we send it out and take advantage of some of those variable tags, the ability to inject content directly from a Fonteva record into your email. So you see here I’m in the Pardot email builder. In this edit suite, edit area, you see that it says, “Dear {recipient first name} {recipient member level}.” We go to preview. If we’re previewing without attaching kind of a prospect record behind it, we’re still going to see those curly brackets. But if we go in here to look for a tester, Tester Tracy, Pardot will look to the Pardot prospect record for Tester Tracy and fill in the information that it can. So Tester has, what a name, “Dear Tester, your student membership,” so this is that membership level, “is due to renew on 11/4/2020.”

Now if I preview it as myself, I have a different membership level. You’ll see here mine is professional, whereas Tester’s was a student membership. So let’s say we decided we were going to do six emails. This is our first one. It’s a softer sell. They increase with urgency and intensity as we get closer, so I’ll make my six emails ahead of time. And then I’ll move into Engagement Studio in Pardot to create my series.

When the page loads, Pardot tries to be helpful and give you just an itty bitty snapshot of what the entire path looks like. So you can actually see and can start to make some assumptions about what starts to happen here. But this is really pretty impossible to parse. So let’s zoom in and talk through what we’ve done here for this very classic membership renewal path.

Well, every path in Pardot starts with a list or multiple lists. So we’ve named our engagement path here. We’ve provided a description. And then we’ve added our recipient list. So this is that dynamic list that I showed you that current has three people. Tomorrow it might have five if tomorrow is the 60 day pre-lapsing date for five people. We’ll get five new people who are added to the list and start the path. We’re not suppressing anyone, although we could. Pardot allows you to use lists as either recipients or suppression lists. We’re a professional association here. We’re going to say that we’re sending emails during business hours only, Monday to Friday, and you see our business hours a little bit short, six hours, so that we don’t get too late on the East Coast, too early on West Coast.

Now what’s really important here for a program like this that’s annual is that we tick the box that says, “Allow prospects to enter program more than once and days before eligible to reenter is 365,” because we actually want to set this engagement path and let it run over and over. So tomorrow I get on that 60 day list. I start. 365 days from now, I’m back on that list automatically. I start again. And here we’re saying, “Allow unlimited entries,” because this really is a campaign that runs annually. If the business case supports it, you can limit the total entries. And we’ll save.

So our path starts by bringing in only the right people at the right time. The very next thing we’re going to do immediately, as soon as they hit that list, is to send them that first email. So this is the email that I just showed you, and it’s very easy to say, “I want to do something.” It’s called adding an action. We have several, many, many actions available. I’m going to send an email, and then I select my email template. It’s that’s easy.

I determine whether it goes out immediately, whether there’s a wait of some numbers of days, or whether it goes out on a specific date. Now obviously a specific date wouldn’t work for a repeatable program like there where people can enter at any time. But if this path were in advance of your annual conference or a webinar that has very strict dates because the event is on a date, you might send you first save the date on this particular date because it’s four weeks before the event, for instance.

So we’re going to send an email. And then because I want to pay attention as the marketer, as the person in membership, to which email and at what point in the path did someone click that renew button and go all the way through and renew, so I’m going to take advantage of Pardot tags here. And I’m going to say, “As soon as that email is sent, add a tag to the prospect record that says renewal email one.” So we’re indicating that they got that first email. And this is really important because we may score and after that first email, they renew their membership, ergo they fall off that dynamic list because they no longer meet the criteria. And they won’t go down through the rest of the path. So I can actually look at a report of my tags, filter by tags, and say, “This number got email one and didn’t get email two, which means that it was email one was the golden ticket.”

But let’s say the member continues down the path because they didn’t renew. We’re going to wait for 30 days and send them a next email. Did that the exact same way, I just said, “Action do something, send an email.” I’m going to add another tag, renewal email two. This is going to indicate now that the person was not… I didn’t get them on the first one. It took me at this point at least two emails to get them to renew.

And so here’s where it gets super fun because I’m going to take advantage of what Pardot calls triggers or listening for events. And I’m going to say, “Did they open that email or not?” I sent that second email. I’m going to give them 14 days and then I’m going to look to see if they open that email or not. And you can see this is a split point because now, some number of them will not have opened that email. And if anywhere you see a dash line that goes up to the left, that’s a no. You can see when I roll over it, it says no also.

So I need to think, as the membership person, and the marketing person, I didn’t get them to open that email, which probably means that my subject line wasn’t convincing enough, or wasn’t urgent enough, or wasn’t personalized enough. So I will send another email. I’ll wait five days. I’ll send them an email. You’re getting used to this. I’ll add a new tag for renewal email three. But when I send that email, I might try something different. I might try putting their first name in the subject line using that variable tag. Or I might put their membership lapse date in the subject line because I couldn’t get them to open the email, and that information about when they lapse is in the email. So maybe if I put it in the subject line, I’ll get a better response.

Now going off here to the right, when I say, “Let’s listen to see if they open the email,” the next thing I want to know is… and the answer is yes, they did open the email. Well, I’m thinking, “What the heck? Why haven’t they renewed?” I can actually go in and look to see if they clicked the renewal link at all. So, let’s say that this is the link in your email to send them to the membership renewal cart process. I’m going to wait for five days to see if they click that link, and the thing is I know they opened the email. So did they click the link or not?

If they didn’t click the link, they did open the email but they didn’t click the link, I’ll send them another email. But now you can probably imagine that what I need to focus on as I get creative with my language and my ask, is a different kind of ask. Maybe if I had a text-based link in the first one or two emails, I will use a big button. Or maybe I was already using a big button but now I’m going to make it a brighter color, or I’m going to make the text all caps and exclamation point. So I can start to get really creative based on my understanding as to whether I got them to do the thing I want them to do, which is my favorite phrase.

Okay, these guys who come down here to the right, we know that they opened the email. We gave them another five days to click on the link and now they did click on the link. However, we have this very special member status called platinum. If they clicked on the link, but they didn’t renew their membership yet, which I know they didn’t because they haven’t fallen off that list, remember that’s the key thing, that as soon as they do they fall off the list and they don’t get anything, no further action lower in the path happens for them.

So if they clicked that link, they could click the link and then just sit on the webpage and never renew the membership. I’m actually going to now do what’s called a rule, and the rule is I want to look to a field, member level, and if that individual, that member level, is platinum… so here are my three options. Remember this from the prospect records, student, professional or platinum. If my member is in the platinum group, I’m actually going to create a Salesforce task that says, “Platinum member has received two email prompts and has clicked on the renew membership. Followup with a phone call,” and I can assign that task to an individual or to the assigned user. So the assigned user is the Salesforce user. That’s a staff member assigned to that prospect.

The subject line of my task is followup by phone. And I’m going to do that right away. So as soon as I realize they’ve clicked that link, they’ve had five days, they’ve clicked the link, they haven’t renewed their membership, I’m going to send that task off to someone in Salesforce and I’m actually going to end the path because we’ve determined that platinum level members are so important and we really need to have a personal ask. Someone needs to pick up the phone and get to the bottom of why this individual isn’t renewing because their membership is perhaps maybe more important. I hate to say that, but they require a personal touch.

So let’s go back to our path now and say, “Okay, so we got people to open the email. We even got them to click on that link. But they haven’t renewed yet and they’re not a platinum level. So we’re going to send them another email and I’m going to apply tags.” So this is our third email that this individual has sent. This is probably a different email than the one in the center, which is different than the one on the left, because now you’re really drilling down into specific audience types. You’ve got the people who just aren’t opening the darn email. You’ve got the people who are opening the email but not clicking on the link. And then you got the ones who are clicking on the link but haven’t finished the process.

This is a bit of a short engagement path because honestly, I believe you probably do three to four to five and maybe six, three to six emails or touches to your members over a period of time, so maybe 60 days, 30 days, 15 days, two days. For the purpose of this demo, I’m just doing this series of emails here. At some point, everyone comes back together now. If they get this last email here, they have not become a member, and we know that because they’re getting the email. They’re still on the list. Their membership date is still within 60 days or less. They could’ve gone in the other direction. They could’ve passed their membership lapse.

So we want to send a final email that says something like, “Fantastic Association is always here, and we miss you, and we hope you come back soon, and so on and so forth, or we still have lots of resources available for you on the public side of the website, etc.” And the last thing we’re going to do is just notify that user, similar to way we created a Salesforce task. We will let the assigned user in Salesforce know, and notification is just a chatter notification, not an actual task, that says, “This individual, this one prospect, made it to the end of the membership renewal path without renewing their membership.”

And you may actually end up considering them sort of a cool or a cool/warm lead to nurture in future. Maybe three, four, five months down the road you reach back out to everyone who got to this point to try and to win them back. I mean times change. COVID will go away. People will be less nervous. The economy will get better, etc. So we must always hope.

Anyway, then finally, at the end, it’s ended. People have made it all the way to the bottom. Some other things you might do at the end are you might add tags again, add a different tag, membership lapse, for instance. You might want to remove those tags that you had in there if you don’t want your prospect record to get too cluttered. You could remove those tags that you’d added. If you utilize any kind of scoring, lead scoring, you could adjust their score up or down… well, you probably wouldn’t adjust it up. You could adjust their score down because you didn’t get them to do what you wanted them to do. So maybe you bring them down, their score down, by 25, or 50, or something like that.

Anyway, I hope you all found that helpful. If you have any questions about leveraging Fonteva data, pulling from any of those Fonteva records, utilizing that rich membership data in Pardot, please reach out to us. We are Thanks very much, bye-bye.