Member Acquisition

Detroit Zoological Society

Membership acquisition and revenue increased for Detroit Zoological Society

71% reduction in acquisition cost per member.

1,200% increase in membership net revenue.


The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) demonstrates extraordinary leadership in conservation, animal welfare, education and environmental sustainability. The organization came to our group hoping to improve its membership acquisition. A 1,200% increase in net proceeds may not seem possible, but that’s exactly what we helped the organization achieve over a five-year period. We achieved this by developing a more efficient and targeted marketing program.


Our solution started with an appending of historical membership data to each record in the DZS database. We then analyzed multiple data sets to understand the demographic make-up of the membership audience and the key factors that caused lapsed members to rejoin. This information allowed us to refine our list pulls and purchase lists of acquisition targets that resembled our current audience. In addition to our audience insights, we:

  • Switched from an approach that relied solely on direct mail and return mail to one that leveraged multiple channels (email, direct mail and web) to engage our audience and drive more responses online. This reduced the time to process memberships significantly and helped the zoo meet goals to reduce its environmental impact.
  • Used creative messaging to create simple, fun and high-impact content that captured the viewer’s attention with a unique close-crop image of different zoo animals. The colors and patterns and intensity of the animals’ eyes made a connection with our target audience and their children. We heard stories of kids collecting the direct mail and anxiously awaiting the next one to arrive in the mail.


Our Authentic Marketing approach generated these transformative and sustainable results for the current year compared to the baseline year:

  • 1,200% increase in membership net revenue.
  • 35% of new members come through the online channel.
  • 71% reduction in acquisition cost per member.


Detroit Zoo Renewal examples for direct mail and email channels
Creative: Renewal examples for direct mail and email channels