5 Proven Member Retention Strategies You Can Do Right Now

May 28, 2020

One of the most common issues that associations face is membership turnover. Attracting new members is a costly affair, and can be difficult to justify in the face of lackluster retention rates. Improved retention also means a healthier cash flow, which can boost your association’s rate of growth. A consistent member base can also help meaningful relationships form. Although there are many ways to address poor retention, some member retention strategies are more effective than others. 

We’ve compiled five time-honored member retention strategies to help you start taking a more proactive approach towards retaining members.

1. Develop a Win-Back Strategy for Lost Members

From the moment a member arrives at the cancelation page, you should have a strategy in place for winning them back.

When a member attempts to cancel, consider offering them the option to scale back their membership, rather than terminating it completely.

Membership dues in relation to perceived value is one of the main reasons that members may defect. Therefore, a tiered membership model may help curb these losses. A tiered model also allows members to choose a plan with the exact benefits they are willing to pay for. Be sure to place a brief exit survey on the termination page to find out more about why they are leaving.

Some associations even offer a “freemium” model, which gives members a few basic membership benefits at zero cost. (This is also an excellent way to onboard new members who seem to be stuck in the “consideration” phase of their buying decision. Freemium members may eventually convert to paying members, given enough time and exposure to the association.)

Your win-back strategy should be layered in nature. If a tiered membership offering fails, reach back out to the member over time with a formalized ‘win-back’ campaign. This campaign can consist of tantalizing offerings should they sign back up, including:

  • Free merchandise 
  • Free event passes
  • Free publications

2. Integrate a Member Mobile App into Your Association

Strong communication and engagement are two major factors that affect retention. One of the best ways to drive both is to create a custom mobile app for your members. This way, your association has a stable presence in the member’s pocket – on their mobile phone – making it much easier to stay top-of-mind. Your members are busy and countless other companies are competing for a share of their attention. For that reason, the value of mobile technology in communicating with your members can’t be overstated.

Benefits of centralizing your association information in a mobile app include:

  • Pushing information directly to members, without worrying about if it got received, put into a spam folder or lost amongst hundreds or thousands of emails
  • Showcasing an array of exclusive deals and discounts for your members
  • Relevant auto-generated content that pushes directly to members
  • Manage membership renewals with auto-notifications, saving you money and time
  • Feeds that allow members to keep tabs on important education and compliance info
  • In-app member groups/committees to nurture relationships and networking
  • Go digital, save money and deliver an in-app Membership Card

In the event that in-person interaction is not possible, these features allow for much stronger digital communication with your member base. The 2020 coronavirus lockdown is a prime example of why it pays to have a strong digital presence in members’ lives. Associations that did not have one at the time found themselves floundering.

MobileUp, an expert in delivering custom mobile apps for associations, is an excellent option for adding a budget-friendly mobile app to your member retention strategies.

3. Implement A Loyalty Program

From associations to hobby clubs, a dramatic focus is often placed on attracting new members. The same can happen in business, where finding new customers becomes a higher priority than serving your existing ones. Don’t make the mistake of front-loading incentives and perks for new members, while neglecting the long-term experience of veteran members. 

Consider creating a roadmap or timeline of your member’s experience, with recognition and gifts given at various points in their journey.

Award milestones, such as the 6-month, 1-year and 2-year mark. The type of award, recognition or discount will depend on the nature of your association. For example, Snapchat, the successful photo messaging app, gives users a badge every time they reach a milestone or use the app in a unique way. Although Snapchat is not an association, its member-based app could serve as a good model for how an app can be used in an incentive/loyalty program. In short, think about the long-haul experience and continue to entertain and surprise them long after they’ve first joined. Recognition of long-term members goes a long way in building loyalty.

4. Publish and Promote Useful Resources

Well-written, well-researched content is an excellent value-add for your members. After all, this is part of what they expect from their membership. If you have the ability, designate a writer or content team to produce resources on topics that your member base would find interesting. You can then create and maintain a content hub or resource library where you house all of the articles, reports, white papers and how-to guides that your content writers have produced. Make sure your content is accessible on your association mobile app as well!

However, don’t make the mistake of creating too much one-size-fits-all content. Consider the different audience segments (personas) that exist in your member base, then create targeted content for different interest groups and audience profiles, then push this content out through your mobile app.

5. Collect and Utilize Feedback from Members

One of the most crucial aspects of running an association is to solicit feedback from members.  If you are having issues with retention, more than likely, your members can swiftly point out why. Don’t ignore the valuable resource that is their direct feedback. If they feel their voice is ignored, they are more likely to defect. Set dates in which you send out a survey to ask about what they like, what they don’t like, and what they would like to see improved in the association.

Such surveys can be used to generate a steady flow of ideas on how to improve the member experience and association at large. You can create a figurative “warehouse” of ideas and intel you’ve collected based on member feedback, then work them into an action plan over time. 

In the modern digital engagement landscape, in-app surveys create an excellent feedback loop for you and your members. Before in-app surveys, associations were forced to send a survey link to members’ inboxes every six months to a year. Results never met expectations. Surveys were typically long, and abandoned by members once they were taken to a separate website in their browser. Now, associations can ask questions throughout the year, using an embedded survey tool in their mobile app. When you ask fewer questions more often, you will see a jump in your response rates and actionable data.

Let MobileUp Help You Retain Your Members

Retention begins the moment someone becomes a member. The key to retaining them lies in thoughtful engagement. That’s why a mobile app will become an indispensable part of your retention programming. Mobile technology is a cost-effective, accessible addition to your association’s member retention strategies. Having served over 500 clients and over 10 million members, MobileUp can help you drastically increase your member engagement rates. 

Contact the MobileUp team now to discuss your future association mobile app, define your goals, and create a customized solution to strengthen your member retention strategy.

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