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10 Effective Membership Retention Strategies & Ideas

Lauren McCannContent Specialist

Lauren McCann,

Content Specialist

May 29, 2019

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.

Although there’s an initial attraction when getting a new customer, membership retention is better not only when it comes to the amount of time, but also the money spent when trying to get a new contact. But don’t worry; we’ve done the hard work for you. Here’s a list of 10 membership retention strategies and ideas that'll keep your members coming back.

Jump to a Strategy

Target Audience Focus
Long-Term Incentives
On-Boarding Focus
Avoid Member Suffocation
Customize Communication Channels
Adopt Membership Software (New!)
Survey Existing Customers
Reinforce Membership Benefits
Run Attractive Events
Offer Perks & Benefits

Focus in on Your 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. The reason for this is because your membership could not possibly be completely universal, some people will love the membership, and 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 really 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 the decline of membership retention.

Instead, focus this excess time and money on those who are already long-term advocates for your organization. They are the ones that clearly identify with your core service model and continue to resonate with your organization.

target audience

When you focus on a specific group, your business model becomes clearer, with the ability to resonate with these specific people rather than wasting the time and money on individuals who are not looking to become long term advocates for your organization.

Focus on Long Term Incentives to Boost Membership Retention

So, you’ve reeled in your new potential customer with a short-term incentive plan that benefits only the new potential member. It is possible that you have not yet taken into account whether or not they are a part of your selected targeted audience and if they will actually be long-term users of your organization.

Although short-term incentives may boost membership quickly when the renewal of a full-priced membership comes around it can be extremely difficult to retain these members after paying your rate at a discounted price. Often at this time, you would yet again see a trend in higher churn rates, of customers who simply do not see the value in the organization at this full price point.

Because of this, it is key to keep rewards for new members limited. Not only will these new members not get used to the temporary benefits of a new user, but existing customers may also find a disparity between their loyalty to the organization and the benefits that the new bees are receiving for simply signing up.

Instead, continue to reward and incentivize your already dedicated and present user base. Not only will this increase membership retention but it will reduce the number of individuals that simply signed up for the discounted price, and not for the product/service itself.

Focus on Onboarding

Now, the customer has just signed with your association. Time to start developing a solid relationship with this new member through the continuation of a beginning onboarding process. The first year of membership with an individual is crucial when it comes to membership retention rates. It is the first impression they have of your organization and just like a dinner at a nice restaurant, it could decide if they choose to come back or not.

Through new member onboarding, you can assist this process of guiding the way for members to immediately see the value in the organization, with the intent to keep coming back.

By having a new member onboarding plan your organization will be able to assess the member’s interests, needs, and goals. You can personalize and educate new members about the different ways to get value from the membership through things such as in-person/online educational programs, website resources, newsletters, networking events, etc.

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

Welcome your new members and physically show them that the organization appreciates their business. This welcome can either be in the form of a physical welcome gift, or even a simple template email sent to everyone as soon as they click “submit” on their application.

Our article on 7 Steps to Crafting Your Ideal Membership Welcome Package will have you welcoming your new members like a pro, and lists many unique options to make your new members feel the most valued.

Don’t Suffocate New Members

new members

We’ve all been there… scrolling and deleting hundreds of emails from a variety of different companies that seem to email you every single day. It seems like a never-ending cycle of receiving and deleting spam emails to the point where you don’t even read the title or sender address anymore. Yet you can’t seem to muster up the energy to simply unsubscribe yourself from the email chain.

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, take them out of the loop with “heavy” email chains every day. Opt for a handoff approach, sending the occasional email just to check in. At the three-month mark, continue to email them a list of educational opportunities and new benefits that have recently come up.

This will keep your emails from getting overlooked and instead, members are still being kept up to date with new educational activities and benefits, without the association of pesky mass emails with your organization. At the six-month mark, the new members have a decent grasp on what the organization is about. Because of this, reach out with information that highlights upcoming both local and national association events.

Customize Communication Channels

As stated at the beginning of this article, there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” membership for individuals. Members enjoy when interactions are customizable and are able to fit their daily needs in a way that is most beneficial to them as a whole. Creating ways to customize this channel of communication between you and your client is key, not only from a membership retention strategy standpoint but also, for a better outlook of your organization.

Personalized subject lines in emails are more likely to be opened and must be used for the member to acknowledge their personal value to the organization. We all know we get the daily spam mass email that is sent to an organization’s entire email list. This reduces the likelihood of that person opening the message because people assume that it was just sent to everyone, with no acknowledgment of the person's individuality.

Adopt Membership Management Software

Customization and the ease of an organization continue to be one of the main ways to retain existing customers. This customization can be easily done with the use of a reliable membership management software which allows an organization to; manage its members, fundraise, market, and organize events from a single solution. Not only does it help with the ease of an organization, but it gives all users updated data and the continuation of positive customer relationship management.

Glue Up has a great cloud-based engagement management platform that is able to do all of this with ease. The combination of event management, membership management, customer relationship management, email marketing, payment processing, and the use of mobile apps all within a single platform makes it so easy to use for all of your membership management system needs. The connection and customization you are able to do with this platform will have your members feeling a personal connection to your organization and make sure they know that their business matters!

Interested in learning more about membership management software? Book a Demo and we'll show you how it all works.

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Survey Existing Customers

survey members

It can be easy to assume looking from the outside of what exactly your members want, and how their ideals fit within your own idea of a perfect membership. These assumptions of what the member’s want can lead to a gap in communication and therefore the business may not know what the members are actually in need of.

To mend this communication barrier and boost membership retention, send out a survey to existing customers to find their own personal preferences and how well they are interacting with your association. With the use of these surveys, businesses get an insider view of what current members want to make sure they are getting their needs met. Not only do they get their needs met, but it also gives customers the reassurance that their membership with the organization is being valued and is actively choosing to reach out to get their own opinion on how things are going.

It is also important to survey new members 6 to 9 months into the first year of their membership. This survey is to see if the new members are able to see the value in their own membership with the organization. Taking suggestions from these surveys will not only keep your clients happy, but it will also increase membership retention rates significantly by receiving your information directly from the source.

Although surveys sent out to current members are important, it is also critical to get the opinion of those who choose to opt out of their membership. To do this, perform “exit interviews” if the member is open to it, and see why exactly they decided to leave. Companies use exit interviews to gage aspects such as the work culture, daily concerns, processes, issues with management, ethics, and employee morale.

Exit interviews are a way to gain information that otherwise would not have been possible if they were still in the membership. If you focus on the reasons why people are not choosing to renew with your business, you will hopefully be able to hone in on these aspects and eventually fix the problem of lower membership retention. Again, it is all about making the member feel important and valued.

Develop your Business Engagement Scoring

Engagement scoring is simple; think of it as a report card for each of your members. A business must first determine the appropriate “grading” scale for specific actions a member may take, this information all factors into that individual’s final grade in order to help a business categorize its members.

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 in order to also hopefully boost membership retention.

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

Stress the Benefits of their Membership

membership benefits

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 with 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 giving your members the opportunity to see the value in their membership, you have done the most you can do to retain their presence.

After implementing these 8 membership retention strategies into your own business, you will be able to take your association to the next level within the business world. Expending so much time and money in order to generate enough lead to convert individuals into members, is only profitable if you are able to retain these members. Use these strategies to your advantage and focus on providing the best service possible to your members in order to increase first-year membership retention and expand your overall association.

Run Attractive Events 

Running events are a great way to engage members as it's a great time to put them in situations they wouldn't normally be in had you not run an events. That sounds a bit obvious, but what we mean is, sometimes people need to be push or pulled into situations that force them to get engaged. It's not unlike members to get bored or lazy when it comes to communicating, engaging or otherwise begin a part of an organization, and an event with a juicy topic or setting can usually be just the thing to invigorate them again. 

Events are also a great way to attract new members and get some networking going, and networking is going to be the reason a lot of members join organizations in the first place. You arent' pandering to their need to network either. You're helping the community by being the one point of reference for all future business, projects, and campaigns to come together and discuss pertinent issues. Regular events like this are a sure fire way to keep members renewing so they can continue attending your now exclusive events for opportunities.

Offer Perks & Benefits

Perks and Benefits, like incentives, are partnerships or deals that you make with outside parties that give perks or benefits to your members. Sometimes these require profit sharing, and if you're lucky, some good will arrangements as well. If you're like to reward, award, or otherwise give perks to certain levels of membership. 

Maybe it's a discount at Starbucks, or access to certain facilities at club rooms. These perks provided are great ways to retain members, as they may find these perks a great cost-benefit to themselves to stay as a member, and since like your partnership didn't cost you anything, it's no skin off your back to provide it as well. 

Giving away perks willy-nilly is nice and all, but it's a little dangerous to just let them loose all at once. You can combine these perks with your membership incentives that we discussed in the beginning of this article. 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.

Talk to your local or digital peers, you might find yourself in a fruitful predicament that can only help to benefit everyone. 

Want to make the most of your membership engagement? Book a Demo and we’ll show you how your members can benefit from our membership engagement platform today.

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