By Guest Blogger:

Amanda Gilmer, Managing Director

Chord UK


Sending email is quick, cheap and easy.

But communicating using just one channel doesn’t work.  Membership and association teams need to add value to the member journey across multiple channels. This can only be achieved by having meaningful conversations that build trust.

So when is making a phone call better than an email?

The context of the communication and what you’re looking to achieve, is at the heart of deciding which is best.

5 reasons why telephone campaigns beat email campaigns hands-down

1. It’s much, much more personal – because the caller can personalise the content and their tone of voice to every member. Members feel more valued having a one-to-one. And that results directly in members trusting your organisation more.

2. Two-way communication enables you to listen – as well as tell. This nearly always achieves more for both parties. Previously unknown member needs or preferences can be uncovered. Help can be given there and then or signposted. A proper conversation is the best option when you need to collect or provide detailed information. This helps to build a solid relationship too.

The Royal College of Nursing discovered that welcome and touchpoint calls helped deliver personalised, high quality conversations to:

  • Engage with new members – throughout their first year of membership.
  • Gain actionable member feedback – including the reasons for joining, member benefits and usage, likes and dislikes and the biggest current issues faced in their role.
  • Reinforce member benefits – and answer questions, referring members quickly to the best source of help.
  • Enhance quality of member data – and confirming marketing preferences.

What impact did this have one year later? Significantly more of those who received the calls renewed, than those that did not. You can read more here.

3. Achieve cut-through faster – and avoid the clutter created by the 100 emails received the same day that you call. Get your message heard and understood. And sometimes crucially, avoid being misunderstood.

Effective member acquisition by email alone is next to impossible. Highly targeted use of the telephone can help boost new members. The British Veterinary Association grew their group memberships from smaller practices. The first step was a pilot telephone campaign. You can read more here.

4. Get definite outcomes – that are only possible via a phone call. A call results in specific outcomes at critical points in the member journey. An unanswered series of emails and silence from your website’s calls-to-action offer only uncertainty.

Making personal calls at known drop-off danger points close to member renewals can have a significant effect. But you may not always have the resources to make all the calls that you need to make. The Royal Society of Chemistry used an extra pair of hands to complement their in-house team. You can read more about how targets were smashed here.

5. Delivers a sensitive message better – as a call is a better conductor of empathy and sympathy. Emails can be read over and over again. They may have the opposite effect than was intended.

When email works

You are a big fan of email, I’m sure. Me too. We use it a lot in our membership marketing campaigns, but typically to:

  1. Get answers to quick questions – e.g. securing event bookings, renewal reminders, short surveys etc.
  2. Follow up when you don’t want to appear too aggressive or pushy. Members can answer when it’s convenient for them.
  3. Provide a written record when you need one.
  4. Communicate a series of steps that it’s best to have in writing.

Pick up the phone!

As Aaron Kwittken, CEO, Kwittken+Company said:

“Anything you have to think twice about, anything you think might be sensitive, anything that you think requires your relationship skills, you need to call in your relationship – absolutely you should pick up the phone.”

If you would like help to make the best use of the telephone, please get in touch here, or phone 01373 867920

Amanda, Gilmer is Managing Director at Chord UK, a MemberWise Recognised Supplier delivering high quality member engagement using telemarketing, direct & digital marketing, data improvement and research.