For years now, I have been a great admirer of the way LinkedIn approaches member cultivation.  As a long-time member, their outreach continues to engage and delight me, while also going to the core of successful cultivation techniques: make your constituents feel special, understood and appreciated. Below are two examples of LinkedIn cultivation emails and lessons we can all apply to our own online cultivation programs.

I received this first message about two years ago (I can’t find it in my inbox anymore, but here is a screenshot I took way back). What did this message do right?

6a00d83451b8ab69e2014e8719d6fc970d Online Cultivation Lessons From LinkedIn

  • It used numbers and facts: I was one for the first 1 million! Wow. Boy did that make me feel special. I was surprised that they knew what member number I was, and had bothered to “remember.” I was pleased to know they considered me part of a very special group of members. And, they weren’t asking me for anything, just saying “hey, you are special to us and we want you to know that.”
  • They tied the message back to their mission and accomplishments: I might be one of the first million, but I also learned there are now over 100 million members–so, they provided context of how much the company has grown and where I personally fit into that mix.

The second message, which I received just a few days ago, has a similar theme:

linkedin 200 million message Online Cultivation Lessons From LinkedIn

  • The message uses a number to show me where I fit into their world and that I am special (top 5%-who doesn’t want to be told that).
  • I feel a sense of accomplishment: I assume I’ve done something right to be in that 5%, go me!
  • The message reinforces their mission again: As a site for networking, providing me a number to show how I am doing in that department helps drive home the value of their service and mission.
  • Spreads the message: First thing I did was tweet this to my network. I am the top 5%.  And LinkedIn provided an easy way to do this with great prepared tweet language for me to use.

Come on, Miriam, you might say–LinkedIn is a commercial enterprise (hundreds of millions of members) and their business model is very different from ours. Sure, that’s true, but there are certainly lessons we can learn from how LinkedIn markets to apply to our e-marketing and cultivation programs.

Lesson: You have access to data. Use it.

Everyone is tracking some sort of information about their members and constituents. So, think of creative ways you can use that info to make them feel special.

  • Was someone one of the first 500 people to sign up for your new Do It Yourself program? Why not tell them that? Thank them for leading the way and being one of the first.
  • Is someone consistently your top team recruiter? Maybe they don’t raise the most $, but they recruit the most folks to a walk team, a run, etc.  I bet their recruiting efforts would multiply exponentially if you told them just how special they are
  • Everyone has a member ID and hopefully it’s tied to some sort of donation date on your database of record.  Why not use that info? Tell folks if they were one of your first 10,000 donors, one of the first to join your sustainer club, someone who gives to you the most consistently, someone who’s the first to respond when disaster strikes.
  • Like message 2, try to develop a sense of accomplishment. Say I was one of the first to sign up for your DIY program. Well, what’s happened to the program since then? Has it grown by leaps and bounds? Have hundreds of other people signed up? I could be made to feel like a trailblazer if I was provided some of this info.
  • Think mobile too: Was I one of the first folks to tell you I want to hear from you via text message? Why not tell me that via text message? Text me a link to a thank you card. Won’t that be a great way to re-engage me if I haven’t been particularly mobile-responsive lately?
  • Remember to help folks spread the message: Provide social media links, prepopulate social media language as possible, encourage your constituents to toot their own (and yours) horn.
  • Bonus tip: Use all this basking in the glow of goodwill to evolve your constituent’s experience.  Ask folks to provide feedback, take a survey, let you know how you are doing. As a member of a special group of people, you would love to hear from me on topic X…. What a great way to drive constituent-driven learning and insight for program evolution and improvement.

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