Fluctuating member numbers in your meetup

One of the metrics I track with Nashville Hiking Meetup is member growth rate. Every so often I go into my Google spreadsheet I’ve set up and enter my current number of members and a calculation shows me my member growth rate per day. I also estimate when I’ll hit a certain member milestone; for example, I can say by 11/30/2011 I’ll have 4,000 members.

At one point in the past, our growth rate was about 5 members per day. Right now it’s hovering at about 2.5 new members added per day.

But recently that number has dropped.

Why? Meetup has reinstated a policy where inactive and lost members get automatically removed. The email I receive from Meetup says something like:

Gern Blansten has not visited Meetup and all of their emails have been returned as “undeliverable” for at least 6 consecutive months.

And I like it. Although larger member numbers are typically a good thing, inactives put a drain on the “system.” You want your ratio of active members to inactive members to be higher and higher. Often I get the question, “Well, you have 3,800 members but how many actually show up for events?” Pruning off the dead weight helps the active numbers increase.

Plus, from Meetup’s standpoint, the fewer dead emails they send to, the lower their costs. Email service providers charge by the emails sent, and even if the company is using an internal system to send mail, dead email addresses sap precious IT bandwidth.

At one point in the past, Meetup was automatically removing these ghost members but turned off that feature globally. I’m happy it’s back.

See Kelly Stewart’s Google+ profile.