Increase your association membership renewal rate – 12 ideas

in Associations - Membership,Marketing for Nonprofits

Renewals are the life-blood of your individual member or trade association.  What follows are guiding principles related to how you ought to think about renewals, as well as specific actionable ideas.

1 – Think of your renewal program as a tactical initiative for collecting the coming year’s dues. For example: A 5% bump in renewals can translate into several ten’s to hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue depending on the size of your membership.

2 – Unless you ask for the renewal, you most likely won’t get it.

3 – Your renewal program begins when you develop a member acquisition program.

4 – How you thank a brand new member when they join is critical.  One chance for a great first impression.  Don’t waste it.

5 – Get new members engaged as quickly as possible.  How you do this depends on what you offer.  But get them using your website, commenting on a blog post, enrolling for a webinar, get them DOING something fast.  Your success rate here directly impacts renewal rates.

6 –  Use data modeling to predict future behavior based on past behavior

7  – Create a profile of those who renew versus non-renewers from your data. Then create a targeted non-renewer marketing strategy based on that info and keep testing and tweaking it.

8 – Think twice, three times and more before you discount membership dues.  A number of associations find that renewers joined at the full rate.  If you firmly believe an incentive is necessary to boost renewals, try something besides discounting the value of membership forever in the minds of your members.  Is there a book, special report, or something related to the mission of your association that you can offer?

9 – The VALUE of membership must exist and be communicated clearly.  People need good reasons to join.

a – If you have an individual membership organization the question to answer is, WIIFM – What’s In It For Me (e.g., how you advance the individual’s career)

b – If you have a trade organization the question to answer is, WIIFM and the employer (e.g., help build the company’s bottom line; get more customers; etc.)

10 – If you can keep them as members for 3 -4 years, then you pretty much own them.  So give maximum cultivation to newer members but keep cultivating all members.  [For some associations if they renew once, the member stays with them.  All this further emphasizes the importance of that first year.]

11 – Make your renewal communication with your members personal. This goes far beyond conversational copy tone. It means knowing specific personal data about a member and tailoring the communication to them. For example: How long they’ve been a member? How did they join – acquisition source.

12 – Have several touches for renewal. Test to determine what is most effective for your association.  Is it possibly 7 touches including email, direct mail, and phone calls?  It’s the number of touches and the mix of channels you use.
Finally . . . Test, test, and test some more is always good advice.  This applies to renewals and acquisition in all your online and offline marketing channels.

And remember that it’s far more cost effective (i.e., less cost, time, and resources) to renew an existing member than it is to get someone to join for the first time.  So give your renewal program the attention it deserves.  Hang on to what you’ve got through friendly messages that deliver content members value.

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