Strategies for Membership Renewal
Increasing membership is, without a doubt, critical to an association’s success. But even more important is ensuring that members are retained year after year.
It’s true that renewal periods present a unique challenge for associations. They’re an opportunity for members to reflect on the value they’ve experienced from paying a fee and, ultimately, whether it’s worth paying again or time to move on. Here are some impactful strategies for how your association can tackle membership renewal.
Make an effort from the get go
From the moment a member joins your association, it’s time to start the charm offensive. Members want to feel valued — appreciated — and that they’re part of a community. Your association should have a carefully planned on-boarding process that welcomes new members: thank them for joining; let them know how your association functions and is organized; and provide information about the work you do and what you can offer them.
It’s also essential that your association has an engagement strategy that accounts for ongoing communications for current members. Your team should make it a priority to touch base with all of these members at least once every three months. You could do this via telephone calls (if you have the capacity, this personal touch goes a long way) and by email. But be forewarned: the line between spamming and being considerate is a thin one when it comes to email frequency! Try to keep members from wanting to hit the unsubscribe button. Email content should be purposeful: provide industry updates, information on opportunities such as careers and professional development, and don’t overlook the power of asking members to participate in surveys. Canvassing members for their opinion is a unique way to make them feel heard and to understand how your association can improve to serve them better.
Finally, assuming you know which members are up for renewal, it would be strategic to contact them directly in a personalized manner to highlight the work your association has completed over the past year and to encourage their renewal.
Ask a friend or colleague to try going through your membership renewal process — and then ask for their feedback. Chances are you’ll hear about one, if not more, roadblocks they experienced along the way.
Associations should let their members know — by email, phone, or mail — how, where, and with what information they need to renew their membership. Do your best to ensure that there are zero roadblocks getting in the way of completing the transaction.
Associations should also consider how they can adopt smoother processes, either business improvements like auto-renewal or technological improvements like online membership purchases, to improve the process.
Try to incentivize
Your association’s members are people — and people like deals! If you can combine membership renewal purchases with a promotion, discount, or any other type of incentive available only within a certain time frame, the urgency could motivate members to act. Incentives can include access to webinars or webcasts at no cost, entrance into a raffle for a prize, or early and exclusive access to publications.
Depending on how your organization tracks its engagement with members, you can also consider targeting certain members with specific and personalized benefits. If you ask members to tag themselves as being interested in certain topics upon joining your association, it’s time to use this information when targeting them for renewal. If you know a member attended four or more paid webcasts out of five, offer them a free webcast with their renewal. Or if they have downloaded certain publications, think about the ways in which you can offer them related and exclusive information for renewing.
Plan for this moment — and always ask them “why?”
The above tips will help your association with renewing memberships. But what would really help is coming up with a plan — a systematized approach adapted to your capacity and resources that can be implemented when you know a certain individual is approaching their renewal date.
Lastly, if members do decide to let their membership lapse, reach out and ask them what went wrong. If past members are willing to share their experiences and what led them to go astray, your association might gain invaluable insight that will keep members happy and committed.