Discount programs have proven value as a member benefit. As much as 96% of the US population utilizes coupons, lending a near-universal relevance to the concept of giving members access to a collection of private offers.

As members use the deals to save money, they offset their dues and become more engaged with the providing organization. But generating that usage requires a partnership between the organization and the discount program provider.

Here’s how Access Development and one of the largest education associations in the country joined efforts to build engagement and add value to thousands of educators.

The Opportunity

Access and the associations partnered to create a discount program featuring over 350,000 deals at restaurants and retailers across the association’s state and the entire nation. Before launching, the two agreed on a year-long promotional plan with two primary goals:

  • Enroll 10% of current members
  • Generate ongoing usage among enrolled members

“We’ve had discount programs before that have been received well enough, but we were excited about Access’ deals because they have more local, in-store offers that other networks don’t have,” says the association’s assistant manager of member benefits. “We knew our members would love the program if we could just get them to sign up.”

The Solution

The year-long plan was divided into 30-, 60-, and 90-day initiatives, each including a variety of promotions delivered to association members based on data and usage. Each period would offer strategic promotions of the discount program through online and offline channels, including print materials and outbound emails.

The launch included an email announcement to the entire membership base, an article in the association’s printed magazine, a banner on the association’s homepage, and an article on its member benefits page.

After the launch, the communications would be driven by data. Registered members would receive an email promoting popular offers, while unregistered members would receive an offer to be entered into a contest to win tickets to major theme parks if they registered.

The association’s online banners also reflected popular merchants and contests, as well as seasonal promotions.

Access and the association also agreed to experiment with shifting the message on occasion to generate registrations. For example, both registered and unregistered members received the same email promoting merchant offers (and not an invitation to register) during one month.

Finally, an offline component was added. To help generate interest in the benefit, members were asked to submit merchant recommendations at the end of in-person association meetings.

The Results

The association and Access met their goal of 10% enrollment within the first six months.

Once registered, members quickly took advantage of the program: Over 5,000 offers were redeemed in those first six months, resulting in more than $500,000 saved.

“We knew launching this program would require some effort, but we didn’t imagine it would take off this quickly,” the assistant manager of member benefits says. “It proves that taking a data-driven approach – sorting out registered members, promoting seasonal offers contests – can really accelerate adoption and usage.”

Email was the primary driver of enrollment and engagement. Emails to registered users all earned open rates of over 50% and click-through rates of more than 20% – well above the industry standards. Emails sent to unregistered members also performed well, with open rates beyond 25%.

The printed promotions and banner placements on the association’s website also each contributed to incrementally-growing registration in the discount program.

Access and the association continue to use data and member information to customize the program and promotions to their needs. Using the offline surveys as an example, members are discovering the program for the first time, while also contributing to its quality by suggesting merchants that Access can contact and partner with.