How To Leverage Your Membership Database to Re-acquire Lapsed Members

membership database

It’s a natural part of member organisation management to see members coming and going, so you shouldn’t worry about this natural ebb and flow. But for a stable membership organisation it’s important to keep this “churn” as low as possible. So today we’re going to take a look at what you can do to re acquire some of those lapsed-members.

To begin with it’s worth remembering that as a lapsed-member it doesn’t necessarily mean they want to stop hearing from you. It’s ok for you to send targeted, relevant information and as it’s likely you still have their information (eg. contact details and activity profile) you’ll be able to write to them in a way that continues to be relevant. Of course it is worth pointing out that if they’ve specifically requested their information be deleted from your membership database or they simply don’t want to hear from you any longer, then you do need to honour their request.

But in general, a lapsed member is someone who has bought from you previously, so are potentially easier to re-acquire than a completely new member.

Assess Your Lapsed Members

When thinking about how to approach a lapsed member, a great place to start is by asking yourself these key questions:

  • Why didn’t they renew their membership?
    • eg. Relocation/affordability/dissatisfaction.
  • What organisation categories do they fit into?
    • eg. Beginner/intermediate/advanced.
  • What does the information you have on file tell you about them?
    • eg. Were they an active/involved member of the organisation?
  • How long has it been since their lapsed membership and your first contact?
    • You’re likely to have a much higher chance of a continued relationship if you write to them sooner rather than later.
  • If they were dissatisfied with something, what was it specifically?

If you can’t answer these questions, then this is probably the best place for you to begin. You can create a template email that deals with some of these issues and personalise it based on what you know about the lapsed member. We recommend having a “Lapsed Member” email series in place. In essence it would begin “We’re sorry to see you go but we’ll welcome you back when the time is right.”.

Example Email Sequence for Lapsed Members

Here’s an example email sequence that you can use to help re-acquire lapsed members.

Set up the sequence of emails to go out immediately after a member lapses.

  1. “Sorry to see you go”. Ask questions about their experience and reason for leaving. Is there something specific thing they’re dissatisfied with?
  2. Consider offering them a time limited opportunity/deal if they return.
  3. Continue to regularly send relevant communications about your organisation unless they unsubscribe. (Consider putting them back into the promotional cycle.)
  4. At key points throughout the year remind them of the benefits of being a member, any additions you’ve made since they left and talk about what they’ll get on their return.

Don’t forget, all is not lost when a member lapses. There are any number of reasons different members may choose not to renew. But if you continue to maintain a quality relationship with them you stand a much higher chance of gaining them back in the future and also the potential of their referring new members. Don’t assume the worst but  find out why they lapsed, ask them questions and speak to their concerns or problems. For instance, if it’s simply a case of a limited budget, are you able to put them on a more affordable membership level?

Ultimately, make sure you maintain an ongoing connection with them, which can all be done easily through email and the information you have stored in the system.


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