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Membership Management

Unlocking the Secrets of Member Retention: Your Essential Guide

MemberClicks Avatar MemberClicks November 14, 2023
Table of Contents
9 min read

You strive to keep your members engaged and involved in your organization because you know that member retention is key to your success. It’s more cost-effective for you to retain an existing member than to recruit a new one. Plus, your loyal members are likely to become ambassadors for your cause, recommending your organization to others and driving referrals.

In this guide, you’ll learn the ins and outs of member retention, including a 12 month membership plan template. Whether you’re looking to deepen engagement or boost your retention rates, the journey to a more connected and dedicated membership begins here.

And since you probably already have a lot on your plate, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to automate some of this retention work? Well, you’re in luck! Using MemberClicks’ member management software can make some of the emails, announcements, and other pieces of your retention initiatives occur automatically, saving you time and resources.

What is Member Retention?

As you focus on member retention, it’s crucial to recognize its definition: the practice of maintaining and nurturing a company or organization’s existing member base, which will help reduce turnover and the associated membership churn rate. This concept is key to understanding how to effectively keep your members engaged and loyal.

Recognizing Your Member Retention Problem

Have you noticed a decline in your membership numbers? Is your membership churn rate creeping up? Are you receiving negative feedback from your members? These signs indicate that it’s time for you to revitalize your member retention strategies. Then ask yourself why they might be leaving. Is it because they’re not finding what you offer useful, or do they feel like they’re not being heard?

When you know what’s going wrong, it’s time to change things up. The goal is to make your members feel so valued and a part of something special that they wouldn’t want to leave. 

It’s crucial for you to address these challenges head-on because you’re not just stopping people from leaving; you’re also building a stronger, more fun community for everyone who’s a part of your group.

Calculating Your Membership Churn Rate

Calculating your membership churn rate is simple and really important for you to see how well you’re keeping your members. Here’s how you do it:

Your Membership Churn Rate = (Members who didn’t renew / Total members at the start) × 100.

For example, if you began with 100 members and 10 left, your churn rate is 10%. Want to lower this number? We’ll dive into ways to do this in the upcoming sections, focusing on how you can keep your members happy and engaged!

Crafting Your Member Retention Plan

Let’s talk about how you can make a great member retention plan. Start by setting clear goals, like lowering your membership churn rate or boosting renewal numbers. Focus on what your members really need and want. Include effective member retention strategies in your plan.

Next, brainstorm unique member retention ideas to make your members feel extra special. These thoughtful gestures can significantly increase your membership retention rate. 

Also, set a practical timeline for achieving your goals, ensuring your plan is realistic and centered on making your members feel valued and an important part of your community. This approach will not only reduce membership churn but also foster a stronger, more connected group.

Member Retention Strategies and Ideas

You have lots of ways to keep your members happy and improve your membership retention rate. Here are some key strategies and ideas:

  • Welcoming New Members: Make a great first impression with a warm, personal welcome. It sets the tone for their whole experience.
  • Sharing Engaging Content: Keep sharing stuff that your members find useful and interesting. This helps them feel connected and in the loop.
  • Encouraging Member Involvement: Create chances for your members to get involved with your group and each other. The more they engage, the more they’ll feel like they belong.
  • Rewarding Loyalty: Let your members know you appreciate them sticking around. Rewards and special treats can show them how much you value their loyalty.
  • Personalizing Messages: Talk to your members in a way that suits them. Show them you understand what they like and what they need.
  • Key Dates: Holidays, members’ birthdays or anniversaries, and other annual events are typically good touchpoints for member stewardship.
  • Making Renewal Easy: Don’t make it hard for members to stay with you. A simple renewal process means they’re more likely to stick around.
  • Keeping Track of Your Success: Always keep an eye on your membership churn rate and how many people are staying with you. This tells you if what you’re doing is working or if you need to try something different. 

12 Month Membership Plan Template

Month 1: Welcome

After a new member joins your organization, take the first month of their membership as an opportunity to give them a warm welcome. Your welcome strategy will be tailored to your organization, of course, but should aim to answer any frequently asked questions, get the member excited about upcoming opportunities, and express your gratitude for their involvement.

You may want to send a welcome email, give the member a quick phone call, or post a shoutout on your organization’s social media or newsletter to welcome them.

If you choose to send a new member welcome packet, you may consider including:

  • A welcome letter
  • A list of membership benefits
  • A calendar of upcoming events
  • Branded swag
  • Your business card with contact information
  • A quick reference sheet about your organization
  • Information on membership costs, levels, and due dates

Month 2: Engage

So, you’ve warmly welcomed your new member in month one  — now what? Month two is a great time to plan an engagement with them. For example, if you have an event coming up, you may want to invite them to join and let them know you’re excited to have them at their first gathering.

If you had your new member check what their specific interests are when filling out their member application form, you could also send them a targeted email based on topics with which they’re most likely to engage. They’ll appreciate you providing content that’s useful for their needs.

Month 3: Check-in

Once your new member has had a couple of months to get acquainted with your organization, a good member retention strategy for month three is doing a quick check-in. If you have the capacity, consider giving them a phone call or sending a personalized email to see how they’re doing and if they have any questions.

This could also be a good time to invite them to a new member orientation, either in-person or via a webinar, to connect them with other members and answer any lingering questions they might have. You’ll know the best way to express that you’re still thinking about them and happy they joined your membership!

Month 4: Provide

By month four, your new member has made it through their first quarter of engagement with your organization. Hopefully by now they’re feeling like a valued member of your organization, so your job is to keep demonstrating that value.

Your member retention plan for month four could simply include sending them another targeted email based on their interests. If you have a relevant event coming up, you could also plan to invite them to that this month. Whatever you decide, just remember that this stage in membership retention is all about provide, provide, provide!

Month 5: Mentor

Month five is a great time to offer to pair your new member with a member mentor. This mentor can help them learn more ways to utilize their membership benefits and expand their personal network within the organization. That sense of camaraderie may entice your member to want to stay a part of the community your organization provides for the long haul.

Outside of a formal mentor pairing, you could also have a staff member reach out with a personalized email that highlights a specific benefit, part of your website, or other resource that you think could specifically help them. For example, if your new member has a student membership with your organization, you could direct them to the job board you host on your site.

Month 6: Survey

Month six is the halfway point for your new member’s 12-month membership, so it’s a good time to review your membership retention strategies thus far and gauge whether your member might be at risk of lapsing in their involvement.

Some questions you might ask about your new member could be:

  • Were they engaged in the new member orientation?
  • How many events or webinars have they attended?
  • When was the last time someone on our team had personal contact with the member?
  • Has the member opted into our mentorship program?

In addition to reviewing your internal member retention processes at this point, you might also want to survey the new member directly. This shows you care about their involvement and level of satisfaction with the membership and are willing to make changes to help them get more out of the connection.

Read More: 15 Questions to Ask in Your Next Member Satisfaction Survey

Month 7: Connect

Moving into the second half of your 12-month member retention plan is an excellent time to up your personal engagement to strengthen the connection your new member has with your organization.

At this point, you might want to focus on personal touches, such as:

  • Sending a handwritten note thanking them for their membership
  • Making a phone call to see if you can help them with anything
  • Emailing a personal video message telling them about a new benefit you think they’d enjoy

However you choose to engage with your member at this stage, they’ll appreciate the personalized connection.

Month 8: Highlight

You obviously value your members, but when did you last tell them just how much? As you begin to move toward a member’s renewal date, consider highlighting them in your newsletter, social media, or other membership communications.

You could share a little about what they do, what value they add to your organization, how long they’ve been involved with your work, or anything else that demonstrates to your membership why you value their participation. You may even want to reach out to them to get a photo and a quote about why they’re a member.

Month 9: Encourage

As you near the final quarter of a new member’s 12-month membership, you could consider bolstering their retention potential by encouraging them to take a greater role within your organization. If you have volunteer opportunities or leadership positions you need to fill with members, let them know you think they’d be a great candidate for one of those spots.

For example, your member may have appreciated having a mentor their first year with your organization and may feel excited about the potential of being a mentor for another member in their second year.

Month 10: Demonstrate

Membership renewal efforts typically start in earnest about 90 days before a member’s membership lapses. So, the tenth month in your member retention plan is a key time to start doubling down on demonstrating your membership’s value.

In your messaging to your member during this month, consider:

  • Sharing a list of things your organization has accomplished this year
  • Including member testimonials in emails about why they’re involved with your organization
  • Publishing data on how your organization has helped its members succeed

Month 11: Renew

The month before your member’s membership expires, you might want to focus on sending your membership renewal emails. It helps to make these simple and straightforward so your members can quickly and easily understand how and when they can renew their membership.

However, you’ll likely want to continue to demonstrate both your organization’s value and your gratitude for your members’ involvement during these emails. You can use this as an opportunity to frame member retention as continuing a great friendship or partnership with your organization.

(PS: using software to remind you when their renewal date is coming up and send out emails can save you a lot of time! Here are some points to consider if you’re not already using a platform.) 

Month 12: Celebrate

As you prepare for your next 12 months of member retention activities, this is a good time to celebrate! You may want to create an event to celebrate your organization’s milestones with members, send out thank you cards for member renewals, or any number of light, fun activities to bond your members together as a community.

Your Next Steps in Member Retention

Remember, member retention requires your ongoing effort and attention to detail. By implementing some of the member retention strategies and ideas from this guide, you can greatly improve your member retention rate.

You might also want to have one member retention plan for brand new members, one for recurring members, and even a third for lapsed members who are returning to your organization after a break. Your organization will know the best way to engage with each of these groups.

Racking your brain thinking of other ways to retain your members? Check out our guide, Membership Retention 101, to start doing these best practices today and ensure that your members return, year after year!

Free Member Retention Guide

Ready to retain members and keep them coming back forever and ever? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about member retention. We cover all the basics, like the first steps to member retention and how to map out your member journey. From there, we dive a bit deeper into retention tips.