10 Tips to Improve Member Retention

DateFebruary 2019

We’ve spoken before about the ‘leaky bucket’ of membership retention – this is the metaphor we use to illustrate how adding new members to the top of the bucket is pretty much a waste of time and resources if you’re constantly losing members at the other end. It’s just easier if you plug up that hole, then anything you add to the bucket will stay put, and you’ll soon find that perhaps you need a whole new, bigger bucket!

So what strategies can you implement to plug that hole, to stop members from leaving in the first place? We thought we’d pull together a list of our top 10 tips. 

1. Improve Membership Loyalty

This can only be achieved if you fully understand what members want. You need to understand their needs, what your competitors are offering and what you’re offering as an alternative. Make sure you communicate the value you provide to your member and constantly re-communicate this throughout the year. 

Take advantage of the Membership Value Statement that your membership solution can provide – detailing the specific value each and every member has gained from their membership over the course of their time with you. Then make sure they know about this value – it’s amazing how quickly people forget about the courses they’ve been on, the people they met at networking events or the discounts they’ve been offered on merchandise!

2. Communicate Your Benefits

You need to make sure people are aware of what you offer. They may have signed up years ago and are passively renewing year on year, but it only takes one moment of pro-active communication to rebuild this relationship. 

Make sure your benefits are relevant, high quality, price-competitive and easily reached. 

3. Plan Your Renewals

Don’t leave it to the last minute to remind members to renew. Think about when their subscription will expire, then create a content communication plan around that date. Consider what you need to communicate and when. 

Never underestimate the power of pestering (within reason, no one likes a spammer!). Sending out a last minute reminder a week before their membership expires won’t be enough to get members to renew.

4. Consider Loyalty Schemes

These can really help support retention levels. You need to make sure you can build a loyalty scheme that aligns itself with both the needs of the members and your association. These are a great way of adding value and commercial advantage, but must be planned carefully to ensure they remain financially viable for your organisation.

5. Update Your Marketing

Sending out the same old newsletters, flyers, brochures, leaflets and magazines can soon become tiresome to members. If they’re seeing the same old designs and layouts year in, year out, they could soon become blind to your communications. So if you’ve been using the same designs for years, think about revamping them. Bring them in line with the high value offering you’re promoting. 

6. Make Sure Your Data is Accurate & Segmentable

It’s vital that you know every detail of every member. Having a single, up-to-date view of all of your members’ means you can accurately target each member with relevant communication. 

In order to achieve this, it’s vital that all your platforms can communicate with each other so that your membership solution always has the latest information.

Only by having accurate information can you then easily segment your data to create targeted communications. Think about what you’re sending out and to whom. Personalise your communication based not only on traditional details like name and job title, but also by activities they’ve undertaken and interests they’ve indicated they have. 

7. Understand that Retention is Everyone’s Job

Every single person that works for your association needs to understand the impact they have on retention. It’s not just the membership manager’s or marketing’s role. 

Every touch point a member has with your organisation affects the way they view you, and the way they view the value of their membership.  So make sure everyone is well educated on the benefits of membership, your USP’s, the ways you communicate and your company mission statement.

8. Identify Problems

You need to understand why people leave and learn how to pre-empt these issues. Undertake exit surveys and regular communications with current members to gain an understanding on why members decide to not renew. 

Once you’re aware of any core issues, work towards fixing these. If they’re not tangible problems you can directly fix, think about how to reduce the impact of these issues on members. For example, if members feel like they don’t gain value from their membership is a key issue, introduce a way to communicate their Membership Value Statement on a regular basis to help remind them of the benefits they’ve been gaining over the course of the last few months.

9. Make Your Membership Responsive & 24/7

Are you taking advantage of all the latest technology? Does your membership website and portal work effectively on PCs, Macs, tablets and mobiles? This is becoming increasingly important as people engage on different platforms and in different locations. 

Gone are the days of sitting in an office behind a computer all day long. Your members are out and about and want to be able to access their membership account wherever they are, whenever they want.

10. Take Advantage of Membership Advocates

You will most likely have a number of extremely loyal members who would love nothing more than the opportunity to rave about your organisation to other members. 

So identify who these brand advocates are (your membership software solution will be able to show you who these are based on their engagement and activity levels), and build a relationship with these members with the goals of using their passion to help drive.

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