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5 Tips for Better Membership Retention

Professional and Trade Associations across all industries are showing growing concerns over member
retention rates. Our clients are reporting that they are seeing rapidly declining memberships, while
others are seeing a slow decline, and want to combat it while they can. The following are some
retention tips to help you get started:

  1. Gather their communication preferences, and use them! It's important to ask member HOW they prefer to be communicated with. Get a sense of how they consume information and where they spend their time. Whether it is by email, on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or another social media network, or through other means, doing this enables you to gain valuable intelligence on what systems you need to have in place to engage your members. It is also just as important to use them; play in their sandbox, don't ask them to play in yours.
  2. Mix Media. When gathering communication preferences, it is imperative to ask for all possible formats, not just the ones you have in place now. That way, you are able to devise a communications strategy that makes sense. Some messages can be sent by email, some by text, some a simple reminder on social media platforms. Mixing media will increase your chances of your message being read, and not discarded.
  3. Start Early. In our 2014 Pulse Report, we found that over 50% of organizations are depending on a 60-day renewal marketing period to retain their membership base, with over 40% relying on only up to three touchpoints. Sales and marketing research shows that it can take up to 11 "touches" to cut through the clutter, and most people give up well before that! This is why we always encourage Professional and Trade Associations to communicate membership value throughout the year – and not just before renewal time!
  4. Don't Be Afraid to Pick Up the Phone! Greenfield’s Pulse Report also shows that less than 25% of organizations are picking up the phone during a retention campaign to have a conversation with members. While making calls can be time consuming, it can also produce the best results. Having a conversation with your members (at any time) builds the relationship they were hoping for when they joined. You will gain valuable insights on how they feel about the direction of the association, in addition to their intentions of renewing.
  5. Everyone matters. There are various opinions out there about who to focus the majority of your efforts on. Some believe that focusing on first-year members is the best place to spend your marketing dollars. While it may be true that first-year members are more likely to drop off if they are not satisfied with your operations, it is just as important to focus on longer-term members. They have seen your ups and downs, are likely at different career stages, and are more likely to have in-depth opinions on how you can better serve all members, instead of just the newbies.
What are some of the other best practices you have come across?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at