Keep More Members: 14 Ways To Improve Membership Retention

Updated: May 8

As important as it is to add new members to your membership program, focusing on retaining your existing members is really the key to building a sustainable membership business. If your membership program has an unchecked high churn rate, all you're doing by accelerating new customer acquisition is speeding up the revolving door in your business. Alternatively, by focusing on churn and reducing it even a little bit, you can keep more of your new customers and significantly increase profits.

Here are 14 ways to improve your membership churn rate:

Optimize your onboarding experience - If you don't have an intentionally designed onboarding process for new members, create one asap. If you do have one, find ways to optimize it. Consider adding wizards, help tutorials, video content, etc where it makes sense. If possible, you should also personally reach out to every new customer.

Create a clear roadmap for your members - Part of a great onboarding experience is having a clear roadmap to success for your members. Once you have a clear road map for your members, share it with them regularly and help them along the way.

Identify the appropriate starting point for different membership segments - Depending on your membership, it is likely that you'll be attracting members with varying levels of experience. By assessing their current experience level and guiding them to the appropriate starting point in their membership journey you can mitigate cancellations by members who may otherwise feel that what you’re offering doesn't align with where they’re at.

Create cancellation options that serve your members - Members cancel for a variety of reasons. Clearly understanding these reasons and creating alternative options for members requesting to retain their membership will allow you to keep people around longer and retain more revenue. For example, you might try offering a free month of service, complimentary access to premium content, or a free consultation or other service to members requesting to cancel. This will almost certainly reduce your cancellation rate.

Create a content publication plan and share it with your members - Sharing your content plan with members ahead of time is another strategy to increase membership retention. By constantly adding new content to your membership and sharing a calendar of what’s coming you can encourage members to stay longer. Perhaps the content you have planned for next month is just what they are looking for. Hint: the further in advance you can share your schedule the better.

Automate your credit card failure process - Sometimes churn happens involuntarily on the member’s part. Credit card failure typically accounts for 10-15% of all membership cancellations. By creating an automated system to follow up with members who have expiring or declining credit cards you maximize chances to retain or recapture that revenue. Your follow up can include automated emails, texts, voice messages and even pre messages during the months preceding an expiring credit card.

Accommodate for international customers - If an element of your membership is live content, consider adjusting the time of your live events and new content announcements to accommodate international customers. It pays to be aware of customers whereabouts and make adjustments to maximize their engagement.

Add a progress bar - It might seem simple, but people like to know where they are in a given process and it is generally motivational to visually see that progression.

Gamify your membership - This doesn't have to be as complicated as you might think. It can be as simple as adding badges for completing certain aspects of the membership, sending completion certificates when members finish certain courses, or automatically upgrading customers to a new membership level based on their high engagement.

Create a membership success program - When your members succeed, make a big deal about it. Create a dedicated space in your membership site to highlight members who have been successful. This will motivate other members and give them a better vision of what success looks like.

Automate the follow up of your membership - If you aren't following up regularly with members this is the best place to start. Sending announcements about new content, reminders to login, and other forms of follow up will dramatically increase engagement. Once you have basic follow up in place, you can implement follow up campaigns to target high value members, disengaged members, and other key segments. As usual with follow up, it’s important to find a good balance and not spam members with too many emails which can contribute to dissatisfaction and even cancellation.

Simplify and organize your membership site - Are there simpler ways to display your content that makes it easier to consume? Consider breaking the content down by category, showcasing key content, or reducing the amount of content available at any given point in time (especially for new members). Finding ways to lighten the cognitive load for members and focus on the most important content will increase member satisfaction and retention.

Create a community - Adding a forum to your membership can be a great strategy to increase engagement and retention. This can be a traditional forum that is built into the membership or it can be an alternative solution like a Facebook Group that likewise facilitates engagement and interaction between members.

Set and communicate clear goals - Being clear with members about the goals of membership is a critical part of your members feeling like they are receiving the intended value. Membership programs that don’t clearly communicate goals and benefits can leave members feeling disconnected and frustrated. Get clear on the goal of your membership and communicate it in your marketing materials and throughout the membership experience. You might also consider asking members to set and communicate their own goals as this may help you identify ways to better align your goals with what members are after.

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