As working practices change, regulatory requirements evolve, and technology continues to drive innovation across sectors, many professional associations we work with are aware of their need to adapt to this fast-changing market landscape. Responding to all these changes while still maintaining value for members can be a challenge and, for many associations, maximising member value has become more pressing than ever.
Recent reports show that the average membership lasts almost 10 years (1) , with member associations having an average renewal rate of 82%!(2) But as marketing changes in an increasingly digital world, members want more tailored, useful and responsive communications from their organisation, and keeping your customers content is critical to sustaining this long-term membership model. If you want to get more out of your members, they need to be getting more from you!
To balance competing demands and ensure that your members are renewing every year, your renewal process needs to be as streamlined as possible. Your aim is to get as many people as possible to renew their membership for the lowest possible marketing spend, so for the bulk of your membership, you ideally want to exhaust lower cost channels before moving on to those which may require more budget, but achieve higher response rates.
Choose the right communication channels
Sending initial reminders through email and SMS can be a great, low cost and personal way to encourage renewals and maintain consistent communications with your member base. This can be further aided by integrating with higher visibility promotions across your digital and print channels. Keep in mind that high risk members may need more one-to-one communications, for example by telephone, to ensure that they don’t lapse. You should also be keeping this up throughout the whole year and demonstrating the value of each member with useful, engaging content (covered in more detail in our next article).
Differentiate by type of member
All your members are unique. Each person will have different priorities and interests when it comes to their membership, so be careful not to generalise or address your members as a homogenous whole. Think about the different groups within your membership base and how to tailor your approach to each individual, segment, and by risk factor. Different segments will respond to different messages, so think about how to tailor your approach accordingly. Younger members, for example, may be more responsive to emails, while older members may prefer receiving communication through direct mail.
Research shows that a third of membership organisations struggled to maintain younger members at the beginning of their career(3), similarly, new members can be up to 20% less likely to renew than older ones(4).
To understand the type of members who are letting their membership lapse and the reasons behind this, you need to analyse where your churn is coming from. If you’re finding that newer members are lapsing at a higher rate, it might be that they need a more intensive renewal process that targets them pre-emptively. Adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach isn’t always the best route to go, so having variants of your standard renewal process for higher risk members can help to reduce drop out.
In our next article, we’ll look at how the retention process starts long before renewal time and how to use member engagement to your advantage.