Back to posts

January 23, 2018 15 Smart Ways to Reduce Membership Churn Michael Harms, Marketing Executive

15 Smart Ways to Reduce Membership Churn

According to a recent survey by Growth Zone, membership retention is one of the biggest headaches for associations. Attracting new members is the (relatively) easy bit –  it’s convincing them to part with their cash on an annual basis that is the real challenge.

This is why from the moment a member joins, you need to establish a connection, create engagement and prove your worth. Get it right and your association will be rewarded with long-term stability, get it wrong and you face membership churn.

So how can you make your members feel valued and increase retention rates?

1. Use data

Data is one of your most important assets. Information your members provide when they sign up is an invaluable tool, enabling you to optimize your marketing and personalize member benefits. Assess what information you already own, and look at how membership management software can help you learn more about your members, make them feel valued and, in turn, and add value to your membership revenues.

2. Use multiple communication channels

Email is one of the most effective methods of communication when encouraging renewals, however it’s a good idea to use a range of communication channels. A drip campaign, that employs email, social media, letters and phone calls will enable you to send the same renewal message, in different ways, over a longer period of time.

3. Personalize your renewal message

However you get in touch with your members, make sure your renewal message is personal. Use their name and acknowledge how long they’ve been a member and what they have been involved in. You should also talk about what your association has done for them as a member (eg training, courses, events etc that they have attended) and let them know what you’ve got coming up that will interest them. This is where data can really help.

According to American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine more than 40 per cent of members who are called at renewal time end up renewing.

4. Understand millennials

Millennials are the largest generation in American history, and they will dominate your landscape for decades to come, so you need to create a strategy for engaging with younger members. Find out all you need to know about your millennial members and how to hang on to them, by reading our e-book How to Attract & Retain Millennials.

5. Become a go-to source of information

It was back in 1996 that Bill Gates declared ‘content is king’, and more than two decades later this mantra is more powerful than ever. Millennials can’t get enough of online content, but they don’t have the time to filter through it all. Make your association invaluable by presenting them with fast, digestible information and solutions, such as downloadable ebooks, webinars and guest blogs.

6. Make it easy

Renewing membership should be as friction-free as possible. The easier it is to pay, the more likely they are to renew.  Use a future-proof CMS that will make the user-journey a smooth, simple process. Enabling automatic renewals, is hassle-free and will reduce lapsed membership rates. But make sure your system is secure, so members are confident their details are safe. As well as autopay, it’s a good idea to offer as many payment types as possible, as statistics show that providing multiple payment options can lead to an increased conversion rate.

7. Simplify your pricing

While members want a number of payment options, when it comes to cost it’s best to keep things simple. If you over-complicate your pricing structure there’s a greater chance members will leave because they are charged for things they didn’t expect, or didn’t fully understand when they signed up.

8. Offer discounts

Give members an incentive to renew with discounts on early, multi-year, or auto-renewal.

9. Create a community

Your association is the perfect place where members can connect and collaborate with like-minded members, and creating a community will help you build a strong, long-lasting membership base.

10. Provide valuable services

Make your association indispensable by offering valuable services to your members. People join professional associations for the value it will add to their professional lives. With career progression being a key goal for most professionals it’s crucial that you provide real value when it comes to helping your memberships develop their skills and move up the all-important career ladder. A robust Career Center is one of the primary ways you can do this.

Make sure your job board is performing to its best – being THE place to find the best jobs in your niche is a great way to retain your members. You’ll need a career center with excellent SEO, that attracts advertising from the prominent employers, that enables effective targeting to surface relevant opportunities to the right jobseekers, offers advanced user-experience and much more. Take a look at your career center service right now and assess how good it really is. If you think there’s room for improvement then get in touch, we’d be happy to talk through options for improvement with you.

You should also ensure you’re running events, providing careers advice, training, mentoring schemes and more. These services will not only enable you to support and engage with members at every stage of their career, they also represent a valuable source of non-dues revenue.

11. Embrace new tech

Technology can be a disrupter ­–  print publications are disappearing, online learning is changing the way members access further education, and conferences can now come to your home. However, the same tech that is eroding traditional ways of engaging with members, is also delivering new, exciting services, such as webinars, e-books and apps.

12. Improve UX

New technologies also allow you to better understand your members by observing their behavior on your website. Analyze user behavior to understand where members are experiencing difficulties, or accessing extra member benefits. Use this data to improve your website’s user experience and therefore increase engagement.

13. Provide a purpose

A report by PwC on how to engage and empower millennials revealed a greater retention and higher performance when employees were involved in corporate social responsibility programs. Your association is the perfect vehicle to allow members to pursue philanthropic activities, while progressing in their career. If your members perceive value in your association they are far more likely to renew. 

14. Ask why they joined

You can find out why members joined your association by asking them on application form, or surveying your current members. Knowing this information and delivering on it is one of the most influential ways to engage and retain members.

15. It’s not you, it’s me…

Talk to lapsed members to find out why they didn’t renew. Maybe it’s a cost or time issue on their side, or perhaps they didn’t feel the value of their membership. You need to listen, learn and improve your services.

tech vendor guide download