03 July 2017 Christine

How to improve member retention

Associations in the third sector often spend valuable time and resources trying to persuade industry professionals to become members of or donate to their organisation. As a web agency who guides these organisations through every step of web development, from the initial specification to the final project launch, we know that the whole design and structure of a website is usually aimed at persuading visitors to join.

After spending so long ushering in your next generation of members, there’s no time to take your foot off the gas. Just as much energy and effort should be invested into retaining members as was spent on gaining them in the first place. We’ve spoken to our clients and members of the team who have years of experience working for the third sector and discovered there is more you can do.

These three Rs will help you improve member retention:

  • Reward: Offer incentives to keep your members happy
  • Reach out: Ensure you stay in contact with members
  • Regiment: Make sure you stay on top of renewals with planning and a good CRM

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Why you should encourage word of mouth

The ‘refer a friend’ incentive is valuable to help an organisation grow. Offering perks such as a month's free membership or money off your next event to members who recommend your organisation to a colleague or company is a great way to nurture strong, long lasting relationships. These gestures and freebies will foster enough good will to lead to our second point:

Should you reward your members?

Yes! Rewarding loyalty is important and there are simple things you can do to reward those members who have renewed with you, and donors who have set up a direct debit with you. Rewards can be as small as 10% off your resources for signing up to your mailing list, or as large as a year’s free membership for a member who has renewed for the nth time. Speaking of renewals:

How to keep on top of renewals

How much time do you give your members when it comes to renewals? Yearly renewals should be trailed from around the six month mark, with an automatic email reminding them when exactly renewals will occurring. You could also add a countdown clock to your member area so they can ensure they won’t miss the date. Offering money off for early bird renewals is also a great incentive to get those renewals coming. To do this you’ll need:

How can a CRM help with renewals?

CRMs are a great way to stay on top of your renewals, but not all of them have the functionality you will need, which is why we'd recommend a sophisticated one like RiverCRM. When your member joins, your CRM should log the date and automatically schedule certain emails to go out periodically - like the ones in the flow chart. This will not only increase retention, but also save you admin time and resources when you need it most, as renewals are a busy time! 

Gather feedback

It’s important to keep in touch with your members. A steady flow of conversation should help you troubleshoot issues along the way. Your CRM should be able to tell you which of your members haven’t renewed. This will help you identify them and get in touch to see if there are any issues they experienced that you need to iron out, which at worst will help with future member retention and at best will show the person who didn’t renew that you care about their opinion and are an organisation who looks to change and grow for the better.

We’ve got a wealth of tips on how to reduce your membership churn, what you can do to encourage referrals and making your renewals easier, so take a look at those previous articles. You can also get in touch if you have a third sector website project or comment below and let us know if you found this article helpful.

View more like this: How to effectively monetise resources

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