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What are lost members?

When targeting potential members to join your organisation, there’s a group you might not be paying attention to: people who signed up with you before and have left.

Reaching out to ex-members may seem like a lost cause. After all, they decided to leave your organisation. But previous members are a great audience to focus on when looking for new sign-ups. Why? Because they’re already interested in what you have to offer. The trick is to find out why they cancelled their membership in the first place.

In this article, we’ll explore how you can re-engage long-lost members, find out why they left, and show you how you can get them back. Alternatively, download our free ultimate Membership Management ebook.

The best part: it’s a lot easier than you think.

Step 1: Gather your data

Members leave organisations for many different reasons. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Cost – membership fees are often the first expense to be cut if financial circumstances change
  • Perceived Value – a person may feel the membership fees are not worth the cost. If this is the case, you need to explore this further
  • Inactivity – if someone isn’t engaging actively in the organisation, they won’t see the point in paying for it
  • Unsuitability – your organisation may have addressed a particular need when a member joined, which is no longer required
  • Competition – sometimes, another organisation is more attractive to a member. If this is the case, you need to find out what makes your competition a better prospect
  • Dissatisfaction – there can be many reasons why someone is dissatisfied with your organisation, so it is vital to follow this point up

Because these reasons are so varied, it’s essential to find out why they left – so you need to ask. This way, you can offer tailored, valuable reasons for them to return.

Traditionally, this information could have been challenging to collect, but with the help of a membership management software like LoveAdmin, it’s easy to ask discreetly. We’ll explain how to gather feedback later on.

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Step 2: React

You’ve asked previous members for feedback; now it’s time to take action.

As we’ve discovered, there are many reasons why a member may have left, and getting them to re-join can’t be done with a one-size-fits-all approach. Show them you understand why they cancelled, and offer them a specific solution to their feedback.

Sort your responses according to the pain points, and consider how to entice your audience to come back.

Here are some ideas of what you could offer:

  • For cost-related reasons, reducing membership fees can be an effective strategy to win cost-conscious members back
  • For inactive members, a tailored plan or access to useful tools could increase motivation levels
  • For people who simply don’t feel like your organisation is for them, insights into your newest offers like classes, workshops and benefits may make them willing to give their membership another try

Once you’ve decided how to address the feedback, you need to consider the best way to contact your past members. When you do, bear in mind the following:

  1. Personalisation is key. Your lost members will respond better to communication that is personalised to them. With LoveAdmin, you can easily create targeted email campaigns
  2. The sooner you act, the better your chances. There’s a strong likelihood you can reverse leavers into joiners, particularly if you take swift action. Make sure you send an email to members as soon as they cancel, expressing your sadness and asking if you could do anything for them to reconsider leaving
  3. Pick up the phone. In some cases, an email may not be enough. If a member is dissatisfied with your service, a call may be the most effective way to show genuine interest and give them a personal offer to re-join

Step 3: Stay curious

Feedback helps you understand how your members feel about your organisation. It also gives you insights into how you can make improvements to common pain points, help you reduce membership cancellation rates, and increase renewals.

And because feedback is so valuable, it’s vital you check in with your membership base regularly – because members rarely give uninvited feedback.

Here are some methods you can try out, but be mindful not to overload your members with feedback requests:

Email surveys

They’re straightforward, and it’s easy to analyse the results. The most popular online feedback tools used for email surveys are Survey Monkey, Google Forms, and Type Form (the LoveAdmin software will also have a survey feature in the future). Depending on your objectives, you can ask open-ended questions, closed-ended questions or both. The shorter your surveys are, the more responses you’ll get.

You should also let members know how many minutes a survey will take and offer incentives such as entry into a prize draw, a gift card or exclusive access to a gated eBook.

Email newsletters

Surveys don’t have to be the only way you collect feedback via email. Have a ‘Survey of the month’ or ‘Question of the week’ section, which links to a feedback tool when sending out your newsletters. Ask questions related to the content mentioned in the newsletter to make it relevant. This drip-feed method breaks up your feedback collection, making members more likely and willing to respond as it takes less time.

Social media polls

Use social media to get quick, informal feedback. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (Stories) all have easy-to-use poll features that are open to everyone. These might be useful if you’re looking for feedback from prospective members as well as current ones. Remember, you can get creative and collect helpful information at the same time.

Social media mentions

Monitor mentions, comments, and reviews of your organisation. You need to be responsive in the public eye, especially if someone isn’t happy. Reply to members, note their feedback and then either address issues instantly or propose changes to your internal roadmap. Although you can use the functionality built into the platforms, social media management tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite can help you keep on top of everything.

Website/app forum

Not only are forums great for members to interact and build a community but also for you to engage with them and get a conversation going. Facebook Groups – like our LoveAdmin Communities – also fall into this category.

Website/app feedback form

Use feedback from widgets that are triggered when members land on pages on your website/app. Limit how many questions you ask here and keep them short and relevant.

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Event surveys

Whether at your monthly luncheons, your regional meetings or your annual conference, make the most of talking with your members. When members are networking, eating or waiting for a presentation to start, hand out tablets with online surveys or use traditional pen and paper questions.

Event interviews

Schedule one-to-one interviews with members. Face-to-face conversations build more meaningful connections, which isn’t possible over the internet or phone. Again, offer incentives and follow up with a personalised thank you.

LoveAdmin forms

You can easily collect feedback via LoveAdmin too. With our platform, you can:

  • Create a customised form
  • Select a free-type field or multiple choice field
  • Ask open-ended and close-ended questions

Members can access and complete the form via their online account, and you can analyse the results by exporting them.

You already have access to a pool of potential members who have an interest in your organisation: your past members. By asking why they chose to cancel in the first place, you receive valuable, insightful and actionable feedback you can utilise.

Listening to their needs allows you to offer them incentives to re-join and implement measures that can improve your overall membership retention. In addition, your past and current members get a chance to feel valued, heard and understood.

And by telling you about their pain points, they also have the opportunity to accept a membership under different rates or conditions. That way, they can enjoy an organisation that is best suited to them, and you get to convert lost members into loyal members.


Your past members are valuable to your organisation, and giving them attention is beneficial to everyone. If you’d like to explore feedback from your former (and current) members, get in touch with us at help@loveadmin.com.

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