Customer marketing – Membership marketing

Customer marketing > Membership marketing including the use of hard and soft benefits

Businesses including financial services, utilities, mobile phones and subscription businesses generally have a clear and established relationship with their customers.  But what do you do when your customers don’t have that kind of relationship with your business?  What if they might only buy from you once a year, or even less often?

Thinking of customers as members or as subscribers can give you another way to connect with your customers.  With most businesses inviting online registration so that customers can transact with you online, it’s become much easier to set up some sort of opportunity for customers to affiliate with you as a business.  Quickly, easily and simply.  It doesn’t need to be positioned as membership for you to think of it and plan it in that way.

Why are so many businesses building ‘customer communities’?

Giving customers an opportunity to engage with you can lead to a closer and more personal basis for their relationship with you as a business.  Just like getting engaged or even getting married, it shows real commitment from both parties. Once you have that affiliation in place, it’s much more likely that you can target and position successful opportunities to upsell, to cross-sell, to increase purchase frequency and to grow revenue per customer. But that’s just the start.

Brands who’ve benefitted the most from membership marketing know that returns can grow exponentially when you operate different levels of membership.  Airlines and hotels have leveraged the power of membership tiers for years.  It can also work in your market.  It can make your best customers spend more, and it can ringfence them against offers from your competitors.

This kind of programme can play a major role in a variety of markets:

  • In travel generally, and in the car rental sector in particular – at Hertz we operated one of Europe’s largest travel membership programmes, with over 1.4 million members accounting for more than a quarter of all business revenues.  We focussed on finding new members, on operating enrolment and onboarding, on upgrades and downgrades, on different objectives for different value segments, and on running a Platinum programme


  • In restaurants and hotels knowing who your best customers are can make a direct difference to your business bottom line.  At Whitbread, for hotels with Premier Inn and for restaurants for Beefeater, TableTable & Brewers Fayre we enrolled customers into points-based membership or offer subscription programmes accounting for more than half of all business revenues

Merlin brands

  • In visitor attractions with Merlin, an average of 20% of all attraction visits were driven through an annual passholder, member or subscriber programme.  At peak, at attractions such as Chessington World of Adventures, Thorpe Park & LEGOLAND Windsor more than half of the visitors in the park were connected to the business through one of the programmes in operation


In this type of programme hard service benefits make your member experience quicker, easier and simpler.  Plus, just as importantly, higher value segments react best to soft service benefits like recognition, status and VIP treatment.

Click here for a case study in successful membership marketing from Hertz car rental.  Or for reference points from another sector, click here for a case study from Merlin Entertainments.

Click here to browse through a selection of FREE marketing case studies showcasing big differences in Customer Marketing & CRM.

Click here to find out about our Membership Marketing expert, Adrian Robertson.  Or Click here to get in contact.