23 Effective Membership Retention Strategies & Ideas [With Free Retention Plan Checklist]

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23 Effective Membership Retention Strategies & Ideas [With Free Retention Plan Checklist]

Content Strategist
13 minutes read
May 29, 2019

Last updated: December 8th, 2023


So, you’ve just gone through the intensive work of getting a new member onto your list. After hours upon hours of constant meetings, they finally signed with your organization. All the hard work is over finally, right? Not even close.

To sign a member is one thing but could you imagine if you went through all of this time and money for this individual to not renew their agreement with your organization the following year?

Membership retention is key, and it is certainly one of the greatest challenges for most membership-based organizations.

But don’t worry; we’ve done the hard work for you. Here’s a list of 20 membership retention strategies and ideas that'll keep your members coming back.

Key Takeaways

  • Focus on attracting the right members who resonate with your organization's core values and services.
  • Instead of relying on short-term discounts or promotions, offer long-term incentives such as free upgrades or discounts on products and services for successful member retention.
  • A well-structured onboarding process can help new members understand the value of their subscription and how to make the most of it.
  • Personalizing communication to meet members' individual needs and preferences can significantly enhance their experience and satisfaction with the organization, thereby improving retention.
  • Utilizing robust membership management software like Glue Up can streamline administrative tasks, improve engagement through a centralized CRM, and provide a more personalized experience for members.

Focus on Your Target Audience

target audience

Membership retention begins at the forefront of your organization. If your organization aims to just attract anyone that will give you money, you’re more likely to have a much higher churn rate.

This is due to the fact that your membership cannot be completely universal, some people will love it, while others will not. This is inevitable.

But, to cut down on those who do not fully enjoy the membership, companies need to avoid the common mistake of targeting a market that is too wide.

Without knowing the specifics of who you are trying to attract, it can make it hard to retain all of your customers.

This leads to members joining with the wrong expectations and is a common trend when it comes to a decline in membership retention.

Instead, focus this excess time and money on finding your target audience who will become long-term advocates for your organization. They are the ones that can identify your core service model and continue to resonate with your organization.

Invest in Long-Term Incentives


Short-term incentives may boost membership numbers quickly, but they can lead to high churn rates when it comes time for renewal. This is because members who sign up for a discounted membership may not see the value in the organization at the full price point. They may also feel betrayed if they see existing members receiving rewards for their loyalty, while they are only getting a discounted rate.

Instead, organizations should focus on long-term incentives that reward and incentivize their loyal member base. This will not only increase membership retention, but it will also reduce the number of individuals who simply signed up for the discounted price, and not for the product/service itself. Here are some examples of long-term membership incentives backed by customized pricing strategies that can help in retaining your valued members:

Free upgrades or add-ons. This is a great way to show your appreciation for loyal members and encourage them to stay with your organization. For example, you could offer free upgrades to a higher membership level, or free access to exclusive content or events.

Discounts on products or services. This is another great way to show your appreciation for loyal members. You could offer discounts on products or services that your members are likely to be interested in. 

VIP treatment. This could include things like priority member service, invitations to special events, or even free gifts. VIP treatment is a great way to make your members feel special and appreciated.

Focus on Effective Onboarding

member ></p>
  <p>The first year of membership with an individual is crucial when it comes to membership retention rates. Just like at a nice restaurant, it can make or break a visitor's decision to return.</p>
  <p><strong>New member onboarding</strong> can assist in this process by guiding members to immediately recognize the value of the organization and stay with you.</p>
  <p>Welcome new members and show them how much you appreciate their business. You can either offer a physical welcome gift or send a customized email after they click <strong>submit</strong> on their application.</p>
  <p><em>Find out how to retain members from day one by reading our <a  data-cke-saved-href=member onboarding guide.

Don’t Suffocate New Members

Although good intentions, companies tend to lose their leverage when they choose to suffocate new members with the constant flow of information through email.

Because of that, after the initial onboarding process is finished, companies should look at a more hands-off approach for these individuals over the next three to six months.

There is no point in “overdoing” contact with new members if they simply are not going to look through the information you are sending them.

Instead, keep them out of the loop with daily "heavy" email chains. Opt for a handoff approach, sending occasional emails to keep in touch.

At the three-month mark, continue to email them a list of networking opportunities and new benefits that have recently been added.

This will keep your emails from getting overlooked while keeping members informed about your new activities and benefits.

Assess their Interest and Goals

member goals

Assess the member’s interests, needs, and goals to know their expectations. Then you can educate new members about the different ways they can get value from their subscriptions which may include networking, educational resources, training, or volunteering.

By beginning this channel of clear feedback at the very beginning, you will also be able to strengthen your relationship with the new members so they do not lose sight of the value your organization provides.

Customize Communication Channels

customize communication channels

There is no such thing as a one size fits all membership for any association. Providing members with customized interactions that meet their daily needs is beneficial to them as a whole.

Emails with personalized subject lines are more likely to be opened by members and demonstrate their value to the organization.

Thus, personalizing your communication channels is not only effective as a member retention strategy but also enhances your organization’s image.

Looking for more useful ways to build a long-term relationship with your members, check out these effective strategies to boost member engagement.

Adopt Membership Management Software

membership management software

Customization and the ease of an organization continue to be the main ways to retain existing customers.

This customization can be easily done with the use of reliable membership management software which allows you to grow your association subscriptions, retain and engage its members, manage their membership workflows, market, and organize events from a single solution.

glue up mms

Glue Up is a cloud-based engagement management software that enables professional communities like yours to automate all these tasks easily.

The integration of different modules within the centralized CRM increases engagement within your community while making your workflow more effective and flexible.

From managing registrations and collecting payments to facilitating successful events, the ecosystem is able to streamline all your membership processes.

Moreover, Glue Up's private community with members’ app fosters long-lasting relationships between you and your members.

Collect Feedback from Existing Members

member feedback

From the outside, it is easy to assume what your members want and how their ideas fit into your vision of the perfect membership. As a result, there is often a communication gap between the business and the members, resulting in a lack of understanding of what the members need.

Send a member survey to identify members' preferences and how well they are interacting with your association to repair this communication barrier and boost membership retention.

Use these survey questions to gauge the satisfaction of your members precisely.

In addition to meeting their needs, feedbacks give customers a sense of reassurance that their membership with the organization is valued and is actively seeking their opinion on how things are going.

New members should also be surveyed six to nine months after joining. This allows them to share their perceptions and experience with your organization.

Conduct Exit Interviews

In contrast to surveys sent to current members, exit interviews are indirect methods of improving members' experience.

Ask your members if they are open to it, and discover why exactly they decided to leave. By doing this, you can gain access to information that would not have been available if they were still members.

Focusing on the reasons people are not renewing with your business will hopefully allow you to narrow in on these aspects and ultimately fix the problem of lower membership retention. Again, it is all about making the member feel important and valued.

Develop your Member Engagement Scoring

member engagement scoreboard

Engagement scoring is simple; think of it as a report card for each of your members.

You first have to determine the appropriate “grading” scale for specific actions a member may take, this information all factors into that individual’s final grade to help a business categorize its members.

Confused about where to start? Try these member engagement scorecards to understand the needs of your community.

The majority of businesses have three categories; very engaged, moderately engaged, and not engaged. The main goal would be to move the “not engaged” members up to the “very engaged” level to also hopefully boost membership retention.

After grouping your members, reach out to those who are less engaged with ways they can get involved with your program. Whether this is educational videos, conference calls, or surveys, make the recipient feel welcome in your community.

Stress the Benefits of Your Memberships

At the end of the day, the benefits of the membership are most likely the main reason they decided to partner with your association.

By promoting recent offerings and stressing the fact that your organization is the only one able to provide these benefits, members are able to remember exactly why they joined in the first place.

Not only does this help with simply knowing what is available to them, but it also keeps them engaged in the organization in a way that is specifically designed for its members.

Unfortunately, perfect retention rates do not exist in any organization, especially for new members. You will always face members who simply do not respond to your membership retention strategies.

However, by allowing your members to see the value in their membership, you have done the most you can do to retain their presence.

Run Attractive Events


Sometimes, people need to be pushed or pulled into situations that force them to get engaged and events are a great way to do so. Communication and engagement can become dull when people are bored or lazy, and a juicy event is just what they need to get going again.

They are also a great way to attract new members and explore networking opportunities for them.

You can also help your community by being the one point of reference for all future businesses, projects, and campaigns to come together and discuss pertinent issues through regular events.

They are also a surefire way to keep members renewing so they can continue attending your now exclusive events for opportunities.

Offer Perks and Benefits

member benefits and discounts

In a benefits program, you partner with third parties to provide your members with perks like discount vouchers or promo codes. Sometimes these involve profit sharing, and if you're lucky, you can get a goodwill arrangement as well.

Maybe it's a discount at Starbucks, or access to certain facilities at club rooms. Due to the fact that these benefits are free, they offer a cost benefit to members, which helps you retain them. You will also not incur any costs for providing these perks since you are in a partnership.

By setting membership goals in a member's lifecycle at your organization, you can prepare perks and discounts as an award for reaching certain milestones.

1-year membership completed? Get a $100 Amazon gift card. New member? Enjoy 15% off every coffee at your local coffee joint. Refer a new member? Get your next renewal 50% off.

Serve Customers with Excellence

A company's reputation for excellent customer service is closely tied to its customers' experience. Thus, the quality of service your organization provides plays an important role in boosting sales and retaining members.

A positive attitude and the ability to go above and beyond for your members help to provide the experience members are willing to pay for.

You can build your reputation, increase word-of-mouth marketing, and improve your business's overall value by providing excellent customer service.

Establish a Mentorship Program for Members

Pairing your new members with member mentorsis a great strategy to engage them.

The mentor can teach them how to maximize their membership benefits and expand their network within the organization. Mentors, on the other hand, feel involved, thus boosting retention on both sides.

A staff member could also send a personalized email to a potential mentor highlighting a specific benefit, a section of the site, or other resources they might find useful. For instance, a new member with a student membership could be directed to your site's job board.

Thus, having this sense of community entices your members to stay with your organization for the long run.

Promote Leadership Opportunities

You can significantly increase retention potential by encouraging your members to take a greater role within your organization. If you think your members would be interested in volunteering or holding a leadership position, let them know.

For instance, a member who enjoyed being mentored during the first year may feel excited to mentor newcomers.

Automate Renewal Reminders

automate renewals

It might be a good idea to send membership renewal emails one month before a member's membership expires. By making these straightforward, your members are better able to understand how and when to renew.

Demonstrate both your organization's value and your gratitude for their involvement in these emails. You can also take this opportunity to thank your members and reiterate your organization's commitment to friendship and partnership.

Since it's hard to remember and send renewal emails manually, it's best to automate them. Our association management software can automate push notifications and email reminders to your members and remind them of their renewals.

Celebrate Renewals

As you celebrate your organization’s big day, consider giving a shout-out to all your members who renewed their memberships.

Additionally, you can hold an event to celebrate your organization's milestones, send out thank you cards for member renewals, or organize light, fun activities to create a sense of community among your members.

Offer Pause-Membership Option

Occasionally, members are unable to pay for their subscriptions for a variety of reasons. Instead of just letting them go, offer them an option of pausing the membership.

As a result, they can keep up to date with your community and receive updates. This will keep them motivated to join as soon as they can rejoin.

As for you, you'll still have their membership record, so you won't have to learn it all over again.

Set up a Limited Membership Level

There are times when members leave because they do not feel they are getting value for their membership fees. Adding limited membership access is an easy way to keep them around.

This membership level is more affordable while still providing access to some of your organization's core resources.

You could, for example, offer a package that provides subscriptions to the basic features for a small monthly fee, like a members' directory or monthly meetings.

However, make sure you don’t make this limited package too lucrative. Otherwise, your current members may decide to downgrade their membership.

Utilize Both Online and Offline Marketing

As mentioned above, there is no perfect fit when it comes to communication channels for an effective membership marketing. You've got to talk to your members, and not just in one way.

Use emails, social media, letters, or even meet up in person. Keep them in the loop with what's new, show off the perks of being a member, and let them know how they make a difference.

This level of personalized communication makes members feel like they're part of something special and reminds them why they signed up in the first place.

Introduce a Member Referral Program

Referral programs are a great way to attract new members and keep existing ones engaged.

Think about starting a "bring a friend" campaign. You can get your current members to bring in their pals or work colleagues by giving them a little something for each new member they bring in.

It's like telling your members, "Hey, we appreciate you spreading the word, so here's a thank-you gift!" This could be discounts, special access to events, or even some cool swag.

By doing this, you're not just growing your numbers; you're making your current members feel like they're a key part of the team. Plus, people tend to stick around where their friends are, so it's a smart move to get everyone involved.

Foster a Culture of Community Involvement

community involvement

Lastly, getting your members to volunteer can help them feel like they're part of the team.

Make it a breeze for them to find volunteer stuff that they're into and that fits their schedule. And don't forget to give them a high-five for helping out. This can make them feel valued and like they're really making a difference, which can make them want to stick around longer.

Membership Retention Plan Checklist

member retention plan checklist

Implementing targeted membership retention initiatives leads to higher renewal rates, stable budgeting, vibrant programs, and growth. But what strategies should you use? Explore this concise checklist.

If you're interested in retaining members digitally, Book a demo and we’ll show you how your members can benefit from our membership engagement platform today.

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