We’ve talked in a previous article about the issue of acquisition Vs. retention and your need to decide which area to focus on based on what stage your organisation is at. So today we’re going to take a look at what to do when your focus is on retaining members.
We’ve already established that retention is almost always more cost effective and requires less effort than acquisition. And just as importantly retention is also key to the consistency and stability of your membership management. That being the case, let’s take a look at 10 things you can do to keep your retention rate high.
10 Ways to Keep Your Retention Rate High
1. Meet or exceed expectations
The number one factor in whether a member will renew their membership is whether they feel you’ve met their expectations. ie. have you provided them with the service they were expecting? Sometimes you may even exceed their expectations and often the ensuing delight leads not only to retaining that member but to new members coming from enthusiastic referrals.
2. Be honest in your marketing
This again speaks to meeting your members expectations. There is very little in life that’s more disappointing than feeling you’ve been duped or misled. And a disappointed member will not stay a member for long. When you present your marketing messages it’s normal to present yourself in the best light possible but make sure you provide what you promise and aren’t just misleading people.
3. Ongoing communication throughout the year
Repeated, regular communication is absolutely essential. Your members will need ongoing support and advice of various kinds. Email is a great format to do this. It can be automated and scheduled, sent to many people, tracked and most importantly it is a direct line of communication between you and your members.
4. Communicate through preferred channels
Almost everyone uses email and this will likely be your main communication tool. However, sometimes communication through other channels will be necessary. Depending on your membership demographic there may be a majority for one thing or another and in this modern age, social media has certainly become a major player. But do be sure to assess your membership demographic and decide what are the most relevant channels to your members.
5. Add value through additional services & events
Adding value is a great way to exceed the expectations of your members. For instance you might create regular competitions, events or celebrations that add to the community feel. Throughout the year you should listen to feedback and see if there is a consensus on what your members would really like.
6. Build community
Get your members talking to one another and helping each other. This might be via your own forum at your website or via a private Facebook group. Very few members will be inclined to a leave a community that they feel a valuable part of and that is genuinely supporting them.
7. Send multiple reminders in lead up to renewal
When it comes to the practicality of renewal time, make sure you have a renewal cycle that begins well in advance. Typically this cycle should be triggered by a date and take them through a journey of reminding them what benefits they get from being a member and what they can look forward to if they continue. PaySubsOnline’s membership management software makes renewal cycles easy and all communications can be automated to go out on set dates.
8. Make renewal automatic
One certain way to help boost retention rates is to make renewals automatic, requiring a positive ‘opt-out’ from members if they want to finish their membership. PaySubsOnline.com helps facilitate this by giving your organisation the ability to require members to pre-authorise future payments so each time payment is due, the system will collect it automatically. If you choose this approach it is essential to make sure you are clear that this is how your membership is set up and you will still need to put them in an renewal cycle to be sure they are aware of what’s happening.
9. Additional offers
You may be able to offer additional services to encourage members to continue. Often this is a better approach than offering a discount to members who are ‘sitting on the fence’. Wherever possible see if you can add value to your service rather than discounting the cost, but do bear in mind that at times a discount may be just what’s needed.
Talk to your members as individuals. Even with mass mailing via email you can still be sure their name is used automatically. If you’re using membership software to manage and collect relevant information on your members, you’ll be able to segment them into smaller, more specialised categories and talk with more relevance to them.
Ultimately, meeting or exceeding the expectations of your members will be the most effective way you have of retaining your members. Be sure you know what they are expecting by asking questions throughout the year and make sure you provide what you say you’ll provide.
And for those members who decide to leave, do continue to communicate with them, often ongoing communications about your organisation are still of relevance and interest. You may be able to find out their reasons for leaving and woo them back.
To understand more about PaySubsOnline.com’s software can help with retention rates, and to discover more useful membership management features, why not take a free trial and see it in action?