How we tried to increase temporary card registration with flyers

Recently, in his post How we’ve helped users understand Membership, user researcher Simon Hurst said that “it’s fine to ‘fail’ as long as you do it quickly, learn from it and make changes to make things better.” It made me think about my most recent example of failing fast and how useful it was for the ‘more members’ part of the Membership team to do a quick, inexpensive trial so we could test an idea.

The problem with temporary cards

You can become a member by signing up online. You register your details, pay your £1 and your Co-op Membership card is sent to you through the post. You can also sign up in our food stores. You pay you £1 and you receive a temporary card to use there and then. The idea is that you’ll go online to register your temporary card later.

However, our user research and data show this isn’t what’s happening. 58% of temporary cards we’ve sold haven’t been registered. This is a problem because:

  • around £1 million of 5% reward is sitting in a pot, and can’t be spent until the temp cards are registered
  • we can’t get in touch with customers to let them know the balance they have because their temp card isn’t registered
  • until they register the card, customers can’t access all the member benefits. For example, they can build up their rewards but they can’t spend them or choose a local cause to support

To try and increase the number of temporary cards being registered we ran a few trials in stores. We dubbed one of these ‘the flyer test’.

Encouraging temporary card holders to register

Here’s our hypothesis:

Photo of post it notes stuck on a whiteboard with hypothesis on them. Hypothesis reads: We've seen/we've heard That people aren’t registering their temporary cards We believe this is because They don’t know they have to do anything with it, and the instructions given aren’t clear So if we Give them better instructions We'll see More members registering We'll know this is true when We see an increased temporary card conversion rate

To test this hypothesis we asked colleagues on tills in 10 stores to watch out for customers who were swiping a temporary card. When they spotted this happening, we asked them to hand those customers a flyer which had a call to action on it: ‘register your temp card’. The flyer also explained the benefits of registering the card to try and nudge people into registering.

Image shows front and back of flyer. Front says: Register your card online to claim your member rewards. Back lists things that members are missing out on if they haven't registered their cards online.

We included a vanity URL so we could track how many people registered their cards after receiving a flyer. Simple.

Learning early

We had our hypothesis and agreed our test. Our first failure was cracking the logistics of designing, printing, delivering leaflets across the country. That was hard, and so was making sure our store colleagues understood why we were doing this. This was our first learning: there are colleagues across the business great at doing this, and working with them is better than working alone.

We hadn’t fixed anything. And that’s hard to take

We sent flyers to 10 stores across the country and asked them to hand them out for the next 4 weeks. We put Google Analytics tracking in place and we decided on our measure of success: 10 visits to the URL a week, with 50% of those going on to register their card.

The test went live and we eagerly refreshed the Google Analytics report each morning waiting to see an improvement in temporary card registration. There were none. Nobody was visiting our URL.

We called the test stores. Maybe they hadn’t been handing the flyers out? Turns out they had. And what’s more, colleagues liked them because the flyers were an easy, concise way to tell customers why they should register their cards.

But they weren’t working for customers.

Over 4 weeks, 35 people visited the URL, and 3 of those people registered their cards. We hadn’t hit our measures. The test had failed.

We learnt lots, quickly

The trial taught us that:

  1. People don’t naturally move from a physical thing (a flyer in a shop) to a digital thing (our website). Even if you spell out all the really great reasons why they should. If moving from physical to digital was a natural thing for people to do, they probably would have already registered their temporary card.
  2. Involving wider team members early on is important because they may have ideas, sometimes tried and tested ones, about how to get stuff done.
  3. We should test an idea from as many angles as we can before we go ahead and roll it out further. We based our hypothesis on user research, then came up with an idea that we thought would test it. If we had looked at the data as well, we would have seen that there are only around 50 active temporary cards per store, and that these cards are only seen around around twice a month. So…
  4. Targeting active temporary cards isn’t the best way to solve the wider problem.

Learning a lesson cheaply, and on a small scale

We often say it’s okay to fail, but it’s still disappointing when you’ve put time and effort into something. You start picking it apart. Maybe we picked the wrong stores? Or the wrong time of year? Or the wrong colour flyer?

No, those things don’t matter – our idea just wasn’t that great.

Failing is ok, as long as you recognise when to let your idea go and move onto tackling a problem another way. So yes, we failed but we only failed in 10 shops, not all 3,000. We didn’t spend much money, we didn’t inconvenience our users and we were open about how the tests were performing in our weeknotes and our show and tells.

Most importantly we learnt enough to inform where we should focus our efforts next.

We’re moving away from encouraging users to do something towards giving them the tools they need to do it there and then – our next trial will test if customers would register their temporary cards on a tablet in store.

Joel Godfrey
Digital business analyst

18 thoughts on “How we tried to increase temporary card registration with flyers

  1. Julian July 6, 2017 / 3:59 pm

    Great blog. Fascinating to read the process you went through, and refreshing honesty and clarity about what didn’t work. Keep up the great work – it is a prize worth winning!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mick Spencer July 6, 2017 / 7:14 pm

    Person to person is the best way. Most of my customers aren’t as savvy with the Internet as most. Someone with an ipad in store would sign up loads and convert many temp members. Never underestimate the power of an actual person giving you time (something our colleagues on the tills don’t have). A portal similar to the pod used to register home delivery users would be fantastic.


  3. Julie July 6, 2017 / 9:26 pm

    I work for coop food store and think it would be better if there was some way of registering customers at the checkout on the till .. Like we use pay point to do TV license something similar maybe. We had a trial with a tablet and after a day it crashed and didn’t work for the rest of the week!! A missed opportunity I think


  4. Josh July 7, 2017 / 10:55 am

    Im intrugued as to why we are yet to have an membership app?

    Surely its an instant win in driving membership sign ups!

    1) Customer downloads app.
    2) Signs up for membership (through social?) with all the neccessary details but digital card doesnt activate until scanned and paid for at till.
    3) Card activates digitally and shows members wallet in app. App auto mails physical card out.
    4) Swipe and win vouchers can be distributed via app.

    I understand that building an app and the services behind it dont happen overnight but it seems strange that we are so far down the road in relaunching membership and we dont have anything yet?

    Is something in the works?



  5. londonhoggle July 7, 2017 / 2:00 pm

    Simply raise the face price on temporary cards (differential pricing to drive members to signup via telephone or internet or pay the extra costs of effectiveness) to something that isn’t a pound and use the margin/markup to fund the necessary staff interactions.

    Being co-op isn’t a ####### plastic fob. Its holding a share in a massive international multinational community of enterprises, businesses and suppliers, including a small Manchester one that just so happens to be in a local persons local street. WE ARE NOT TESCO. (also tesco still ask for peoples names and addresses before they give out their rewards on cards): Simply have a annual deadline where people are nudged/suggested to believe they MUST be registered if they are not to loose out.

    It would be unco-op is they actually did lose out for simply not registering the cards they have been swiping, but creating a impression is different from nicking members funds….

    Also a short timeline calendar of co-opery days and events on the temp members cards cardboard printing might be useful: make them of use to both members old and new by signalling when Charity payout, Share Interest, Share Dividends, AGMs, HYMs and Area Meetings may be held. Community Energy Week, Fairtrade Fortnight, Co-op week, Social Enterprise Day etc. A Link to co-ops UK and the Co-op marque would be nice too. The Group is just one small co-op. Doesn;t have to break the wheel, just ask for input from other co-ops, E.g Scandinavia,Canada, Japan, Midcounties, Scotmid, Southern etc.


    • londonhoggle August 17, 2017 / 9:41 pm

      Correction “#what OF under 30 yr olds “.

      No I was serious. By definition a person aged under 30 today would have come of age in a time after the co-op had deeply lost its way on 1:1 and group/branch/locality relationships with individuals and those inderviduals own self knowledge of their status as a co-owning consumer member. Meetings not held, subscriptions not collected, a fragrant neglect of capital raising and justification; a allowance of the PLC model to overtake co-op in our key core trading areas, in key core trades, like food and funerals a end to a sense of ownership of property, community assets, divi and interest. A New Temporary card will not solve all those decades of neglect, but this is our ‘first’ contact product as part of the co-ops range of membership services, key to accessing,navigating and being rewarded for further engagement with our community owned socially responsible, people focused enterprise, to use the hackneyed phrase : ‘BEING COOP’. It Does Matter that the team building have co-op aims and values in their hearts when they come to innovatively improve it.

      One of the biggest things about the co-op is its history. One of the biggest problems facing membership is a legacy of failure, a treatment of members as just customers, a dislike of the wrong sorts of members: BUT MOST OF ALL, a complete failure to actively recruit, develop and sustain a membership THAT IS more than a plastic key fob.

      I accept this blog is only produced by 1 of 5 teams/and often by just one indervidual team member at Digital, but can we please have a bit more focus on ownership, real priced options for aquiring the One Pound minimal share stake,etc. The Co-op Group is in debt to the tune of roughly £84.50 per ‘member’, paying a market rate of return out of and before the share of the profits that could overwise be distributed to members, while insisting on only taking a £1 stake from members. Please, if it has to stay a Poind can we please make sure we collect as many Hundreds of Thousands of them as we can. It is time to BE CO-OP now, surely a quest to achieve but never beat ‘the market’ is something our co-ops were founded to do. There is no time like the present.


  6. londonhoggle July 7, 2017 / 2:04 pm

    Either that or phase out the temporary cards and merely have this very nice flyer you have produced (substituting ‘register’ for buy) handed out to every muggle the Co-op comes across….


  7. londonhoggle July 7, 2017 / 2:12 pm

    at What point are parents supposed to subscribe their childrens first subscriptions: Seems to be no thinking about intergenerality and making up for past failures in your write up here. What under 30s who turned 16 in the years when the group just really wasn’t bothered to sign up new subscribers? People Die and People are born, but nothing you write has anything to do with any of that…. Just a timeless 5 minutes of formfilling for a ageless over 16yo person to magically become a Co-operator.

    Makes a complete nonsense and mockery of the efforts of those before you…


  8. Scribe July 7, 2017 / 8:08 pm

    (Sorry, this may have double submitted. Ignore this one if so.)

    Interesting read, thanks for opening it out.

    By way of feedback, my wife has recently got a temporary card and *has* now registered it – but I’d say it was a close call. Personally, I’ve already been through the registration process and been impressed with how easy it was – but only after I’d decided to do it.

    The blockers I’d perceive for us were:

    1. Shopping is routine, and boring. Once you’ve picked up kids, got home, put shopping away, done dinner, washed up, etc, then thinking about shopping again is the last thing you want to do at a later point. Both temporary cards were lodged in our Big Pile of Kitchen Stuff for quite a while.

    2. We probably assume that signing up for something is annoying and longwinded – again, in the evening, you don’t want the *risk* of losing 20-30 minutes to a series of annoyances. So perception of how long it will take is important. And a bad reflection on registration sign up processes more globally, probably…

    Signing up for a different store card recently, I noticed they pushed for an email address and postcode at the till – everything else happened for me after that. I was aware of holding up the queue a bit plus it also felt a bit pushy, but I suppose that’s the store’s choice, and they then make it as quick as possible to go through the process.

    Maybe you have some stats on preference for digital vs non-digital engagement, but paper returns can be equally attractive IMHO. A form to capture nothing but an email, to post back or drop in store (maybe tied to a voucher as incentive?) could be a *perceived* simpler route.

    Alternatively, the flyer could aim to promote the simplicity of the process, to give registrants more confidence in how easy it is – eg. exactly what info is needed, how many steps are required, or what the average time in tests is.

    Interesting challenge though – good luck, and look forward to hearing how further experiments go.


  9. Debbie July 8, 2017 / 7:51 am

    Really glad we are trialling tablets in store.
    I visit many stores around membership and a big problem is
    a) time … we are a tiny part of our customers day and fairly insignificant and
    b) Customers don’t always want to give out an email address.
    Looking forward to the trial results.

    Really looking forward to the day we have tills that can register members and let them pick a cause.
    Keep going 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Anne Gilley July 16, 2017 / 9:08 am

    Why not give an option to register in store, maybe try an open weekend where stores have access to the server or mobile signal and advertise the event on social media and instore


  11. gemmascommunitywork July 16, 2017 / 9:11 am

    A tablet in store is a great idea it’s instant and while they realise alot of my temporary card holder come to the till and now hang there head in shame because they have over £20 to spend but haven’t registered and we have repeatedly told them we just laugh and wait for them to remember that at home


  12. Keith July 16, 2017 / 9:13 am

    Good article Joel. What about asking customers to log their email address on a tablet and then follow this up with a direct link to register (maybe linked to an additional one-time offer)? My experience of similar conversions (albeit on a much smaller scale) were far higher when converting registration from an email link as oppose to registration from a flyer. When customers were offered a tablet to register there and then, there was still hesitation and responses of “we’ll just do it on-line, in our own time”. I’d concluded it was important for the customer to feel that they were in control of the decision. Great work though – keep pushing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Debbie Verrechia July 16, 2017 / 9:26 am

    I think registering in store is a great idea also would help to encourage existing customers still with the old cards to get a new blue one if that option could also be done via the tablet instead if having to ring CS?


  14. Patrick Sweeney July 16, 2017 / 9:27 am

    Can we not just have a button on till that asks customers name and postcode then it automatically sends card to that address


  15. Caroline Hall July 16, 2017 / 3:05 pm

    Registering cards on a tablet in store is a brilliant idea as we as ctms can help them , I personally have a good 5 or 6 customers who through no fault of their own have unregistered cards this is either because the post code is unrecognized or there’s been a problem after registering over the phone and they simply can’t be bothered to do it all over again .


  16. Fiona cargill July 16, 2017 / 9:30 pm

    I think the tablet is a fantastic idea
    It would be very quick and easy to use and we could also help our elderly customers in store as they don’t always have access to a PC at home.
    However the higher percentage of customers that still have temp cards that come in our store are young mums who often say they just haven’t gotten around to doing it yet even if we ask if they would like to use our phone they say they don’t have time, where a tablet can be used in seconds.


  17. John R. Riley December 9, 2017 / 8:30 pm

    Dear Joel Customers have very busy lives and have better things to do than mess about with a glorified store card that they have had to pay a £1 for in the store and then given the wrong info on how to register it on the internet. I filled all the boxes in with all my details right to the end and hey ho you want a £1 again to complete the form with no alternative little box for me to put my membership number in.!!! you were to busy grabbing your £1’s – so sad. Here’s a thought when you open a new store give a limited number of free plastic membership cards for the first week or two which people can register in the store or go home and do it on the internet So far you have not impressed me as a company. ‘ You……………………. _ _ _ _ up at a brewery’ comes to mind yours John


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