Acquiring new members is a driving force that motivates all associations, but it’s not without its limitations. For an association to thrive, it must eventually shift its focus to retaining the members it’s acquired, rather than only landing new ones.
A client or member who stays with your association over time gives you the chance to provide more ongoing value, develop more personalized content, nurture a brand advocate, gain referrals, and earn positive word-of-mouth marketing.
All of this is in addition to the fact that it costs less to retain an existing member than it does to acquire a new one, making it a smart move for your members and your bottom line to keep current members coming back.
The Facts About Member Retention
Research has shown that a 5 percent increase in member retention rates can increase profits by anywhere from 25 to 95 percent. In addition, not only does it cost five times more to acquire a new member than to retain a current one, but it also costs 16 times more to get new members to the same spending level as existing ones. Despite all this, less than a third of association leaders consider member retention a priority.
That could be due, in part, to the fact that the strategies for retaining members are very different from the ones used to acquire new members. While member acquisition relies on your ability to reach and attract new audiences, member retention is more about ongoing engagement, personalization, and value provided over time.
But by analyzing factors like purchase history, search history, and member feedback, you can implement marketing tactics that better facilitate engagement using personalized content that delivers value — targeting your members and clients with better messaging around the products and services they’re already interested in.
People want to work and spend money with brands that make them feel special. And at a time when members are looking for ways to meet their needs in faster, easier, and less expensive ways, your ability to keep them feeling important via highly targeted, customized messaging and offers will be key to retaining their membership.
5 Tactics for Retaining Members
Shifting your marketing strategy to retaining members doesn’t mean you won’t get any new ones, but it does give your association a way to turn existing members into advocates who can help drive acquisition. For your association to shift its focus and retain members, it must rethink member relationships and take advantage of marketing tactics designed specifically to engage its existing clients and members. Here are four ways to get started:
- Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to retain members. Ongoing email engagement is a solid part of any marketing strategy, so share new content, relevant offers, and updates as they’re available. For member retention specifically, consider strategies that contact your members when they’re about to run out of your product when they leave items in their cart, when it’s been a while since their last transaction, or on a special occasion to deliver a unique promotion.
- Member Appreciation
Many associations host some form of a member appreciation day or week that gives special attention and recognition to their loyal members. This can be helpful for giving members even more reason to continue memberships and demonstrating that you value what they do for your association.
Another good way to show your appreciation for your members is to engage them in a fun contest and reward their participation. For example, a year or so ago, Influence & Co. held a social media competition in which it asked followers to post pictures of someone who meant a lot to them and thank that person for being their #TopofMindMVP. Everyone who participated was entered in a drawing to win a free copy of John Hall’s book, “Top of Mind.” You can do something similar exclusively for your existing members, which will help strengthen your relationship and make for a fun exchange. I’d like to recommend and encourage another book: Mo Bunnell’s “The Snowball System” – just released this week by Hachette Publishers. It will completely change the way your members approach to building their business.
- Content Optimization
Member retention is about more than just the products and services you offer — it’s about the experience you provide for your members. Organizing and optimizing your website content to easily provide additional information and education about your products, services, and industry as a whole will make you a trusted, go-to resource for members.
And when they see you continue to communicate your thought leadership, the trust between your brand and your members strengthens. This helps you stay top of mind and gives you an opportunity to further recommend products or services based on a member’s search trends and website activity.
- Loyalty and Reward Programs
It almost goes without saying that people love a good rewards program. Earning points toward free stuff, discounted rates, and upgrades to current purchases is a great way to get your members coming back to you to meet their specific needs. Referral rewards are another way to encourage members to get the most out of your products and services and continue working with you. Plus, by rewarding current members who refer new users, you can encourage member retention and acquisition at the same time.
- Implement a Member Success Strategy
While acquiring new members is a fantastic way of building up a strong client base, its effects are limited without effective marketing that keeps members coming back to you over time. Find ways to make your members feel special and important through your messaging and communications with them. Doing so will help you build strong brand advocates and give your association the competitive edge it needs to continue to grow and succeed. Member Success is a system, run by people whose only goal is to help members get the most out of their membership. It happens straight after their joining the association is processed. Keeping members close and working with them 1-on-1 is a Member Success style known as Concierge Onboarding. While startups, SaaS companies, and now even associations like yours are starting to focus on it only now, the early results are promising — members who’ve gotten a customized onboarding experience with their membership and have returned year after year to their associations have doubled and reduced non-renewals (what We call Churn) by 50% over the last several years where Member Success has been more closely measured.
Member Success is where 90% of association revenue is. It doesn’t just mean that members keep paying their annual dues, it also means that they will be inclined to promote the member product to others in their industry and become advocates for your association.
With association memberships, successful members compound your revenue massively because they are the ones who encourage their peers to join your association, give you member prospect referrals and are promoters of your products and services.
Once your association becomes the go-to solution for a large company, that one member could be paying your entire Member Success team’s salaries every month!
If you’re ready to Get on Board with a member success program for your association, email us today. We’d love to set up a phone call, get to know you and your organization better, and discuss how in just 3 weeks’ time we get can get your association on the road to growth, ROI, and most importantly – happy members. Remember – you’re not in Association Membership Sales – you’re in Association Membership Success.