Clubs or organisations are nothing without their members. You may be focusing your efforts on attracting new members, but membership renewals should be an equally important task on your agenda.
Many organisations find themselves struggling with low membership renewal rates.
Whether you’re a club, non-profit organisation or association, having engaged and happy members is key to your growth.
This article talks about how you can make members feel more involved as well as how you can improve the membership renewal process.
What is membership renewal?
You’re likely already familiar with membership renewals. But essentially, they are about keeping the members you’ve worked so hard to attract into your organisation.
Most memberships renew each year on an annual basis; while some choose to opt for a monthly membership option. Discover more about how your renewal cycles could affect your growth.
If you’re unable to keep members, then unfortunately no member recruitment strategies are going to be able to bridge the gap. So renewals are essential.
To keep a steady stream of revenue coming in, you need to make sure you keep your members. As an added benefit, new people coming in can learn from the wisdom and experience of your older members.
Why do membership renewals matter?
Attracting new members and onboarding them costs time and money. So it makes business sense not to waste that investment.
The lifetime value of a member increases the longer the member stays. To keep these valuable members, you need to make sure they’re happy.
It pays to keep a close eye on your membership renewals to spot any trends or patterns. Perhaps members don’t currently feel engaged or you’re communicating with them too often.
If you are dealing with low membership renewal rates, it could be an indicator of issues such as:
- A poor website and user experience
- Not using the right communication channels to connect with members
- Lack of communication with members via the members’ journey touchpoints
- Members feeling unfulfilled
- Members not understanding the benefits or value of their membership
Things to consider before improving your renewal strategy
Before revamping your renewal process, consider the following:
Review your data
This should be your first port of call when looking at where you need to make improvements. Look at your current and historical data to identify any trends or patterns.
Try to find the answer to these questions:
- What is your baseline membership renewal rate?
- What is your average for the last year and in the past?
- How often after contacting do members pay?
- What communication method is the most successful?
Ask your members
Your members hold the key here. Ultimately, you can only determine the preferences of your members by asking them. A great way to conduct this research is via an online survey.
When you carry out your survey, you should aim to answer the following questions:
- Do they feel like their needs and expectations have been met?
- Are there any aspects they feel aren’t living up to expectations?
- What do they feel could be improved?
- Are they aware of the benefits your club or organisation provides?
Map out your member journey
As discussed in our how to improve your member journey article, understanding your member experience is key to retaining members. To figure out what needs to be improved, you need to know where to start.
The member journey follows the process from the moment they start considering joining. It follows them throughout their natural progression through the organisation right up until the point of renewal. The map allows you to visualise their entire member experience.
By completing this step, you can identify any issues members may be experiencing, as well as what may be preventing them from renewing.
Discover more about how to create your member journey map.
How to improve your membership renewal process
Once you’ve identified the key areas of your member journey that need improvement, you can begin creating your strategy and action plan.
Highlight your benefits
You can spend many hours planning your communication, events and building relationships. But are your members feeling fulfilled? Are they getting what they expected? Are they aware of all the benefits you offer?
If you answer no to any of those questions, then improving your membership renewal process will have a positive impact.
You need to regularly assess your members’ needs to make sure you’re meeting and exceeding their expectations. At the point of renewal, you could send them a survey to ask them what they need most from their membership.
Ask them the following questions:
- Are there any benefits they are more drawn to?
- What benefits are not of interest?
- Do they feel anything is missing?
- Are they aware of the benefits?
Members most likely are happy with the benefits and value you provide. The issue could be that they aren’t aware of them or have forgotten since joining. This means you need to communicate these benefits more often than once a year at the annual meeting.
We recommend discussing your benefits across many channels, such as:
- Social media platforms
- Welcome pack
- Renewal pack
Boost member engagement
It may seem obvious, but if a member feels connected to a club or organisation then they’re more likely to renew their membership. So it’s important to make sure you keep members engaged.
How can you engage with your members?
- Website – this should provide members with an easy way to find news, connect with the community, register for events, and manage their information. A poor website can impact your member experience and result in lower retention
- Social media – you should be engaging on the social media channels your members use. Whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, you need to have a presence. Post content about what’s happening at your club / organisation, promote upcoming events and share photos of your community
- Events – these can be a great way to provide your members with more value by offering events. They can network with other members, build connections and feel like part of the community
- Community – the most valuable thing you can provide your members is a community. The ability to communicate with like-minded individuals with similar interests is priceless
Keeping your members or customers engaged in a world filled with distractions can be a challenge. A communication plan can help identify your members’ preferred communication channels, goals, and frequency.
Renewing their membership might be a task low on their priority list or a task they have forgotten to do. Therefore, it is important to gently remind them. They will most likely be grateful for the nudge.
Members often need reminding multiple times before they renew. We recommend reminding them across a variety of different channels, such as email, phone, text and mail.
Communication is key
Even if you spend hours creating your communication plan, if you aren’t communicating the right way, your message won’t get through. It’s important to make sure you have a multi-channel approach, as communication is not a one-size-fits-all.
To get your renewal strategy right, you need to have a perfect combo of timing and targeting. If one of your members has a preference for emails and you try contacting them via phone, you’re likely to not get hold of them.
Remember the following things when considering your strategy:
- Your members preferred communication method
- Are your members renewing at the same time every year, or do they all renew at their rolling anniversary?
Setting up a multi-channel renewal strategy might feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Although you might not know where to start, it’s pretty simple once you have a plan in place.
We recommend the following plan:
- Email renewal – if your organisation or club allows it, send members an email with the option to renew their membership and pay their dues online. Keep your message short, clear, and concise with a link to your renewal page with instructions
- Reminder letter – send a letter to members who haven’t responded to the email reminder. Include an invoice and instructions on how to renew online
- Phone call – for those who have not responded to the previous two methods, schedule a phone call from one of your team. A call can be a nice personal way to show members how valued they are and can be a good way to address any concerns
If you choose to have a mass annual membership renewal, then you can also put reminders in newsletters and on your website.
Saying “thank you” to your members goes a long way. Not only do they feel valued, but it helps them to feel connected and appreciated, which is crucial. An important part of any membership renewal strategy is saying thanks.
A quick thank you message allows your organisation to:
- Build a sense of community
- Build connections
- Provide value
Within your thank you message, include and promote some of the work your club / organisation has achieved in the last year. Especially if this has delighted and engaged members in the past.
We recommend setting up an automatic email to thank each of your members with a personalised thank you message when they have renewed. The LoveAdmin software allows you to create templates ahead of time and schedule emails.
Offer discounts or incentives
Sometimes people need to have a gentle nudge to renew their memberships. They need to be reminded of the value. One easy way to nudge people into renewal is by offering discounts or incentives.
We recommend considering the following discounts and incentives:
- Extra months free
- Free trials
- Member referral incentives
- Free gifts
- Money-back guarantee
- Event discount
Automate and modernise your membership renewals
Gone are the days of spending hours doing admin. Let the LoveAdmin software do the hard work for you. Free up your time to implement your new renewal strategy, improve your member experience, and much more.
Our membership management software helps to:
- Free up your time by automating the entire membership renewal process
- Allow members to pay online at a time that is convenient to them
- Collect members’ up-to-date contact information when they renew
- Create discounts and incentive offers to encourage renewal
- Send out automated reminders to members whose memberships are expiring soon
- Automatically ask for feedback if a member decides not to renew
To find out more about how to improve your membership renewals and experience, download our free ultimate membership management ebook.
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