Membership retention is one of the most important factors you should be paying attention to when running a membership site. While you can expect a small percentage of attrition (no matter how good your program is), your goal should be to retain as many subscribers as possible.
Several sites such as Forbes have mentioned that “acquiring a new customer can cost 5X more than retaining an existing customer.”
You’ll probably discover that it’s much more difficult to get new members than it is to keep the existing ones. That said, you should never take things for granted and must do your best to have a high retention rate.
Quick Tips for Improving Membership Retention
In this article, I’m giving you 7 quick tips for improvements you can make to your membership strategy in order to improve your member retention.
Smooth Onboarding Process
When someone signs up to your membership site, they have certain expectations that MUST be met. For starters, the sign-up process must be smooth and hassle-free.
Only get the information you need such as their name and email. Asking for too many details like their address and phone number can put many potential customers off.
The payment process should be simple and straightforward too.
Once the customer signs up, they should be taken to a page where there’s preferably an introduction video welcoming them to the membership and thanking them for signing up.
If you’re too shy to appear on camera or you wish to be anonymous, you can always hire a spokesperson on a freelance site such as Fiverr to do a professional video for you.
For those who are not using a welcome video, you should have some short, easy-to-understand written documentation for new members to get an idea of what’s going on in the membership.
Make the onboarding process as SMOOTH as possible.
Provide Members with A Roadmap
Once the subscriber is inside, do provide them immediate access to their content for that month. Don’t make them jump through hoops to get it.
Once they’ve accessed the content, you’ll want to point them to your roadmap. Show them where to start, what to do, and what to expect.
Signing up to a new membership site is similar to starting on your first day at a new job. You’re not too familiar with your surroundings and you need some guidance.
In the same vein, your membership site roadmap will guide new sign-ups and show them the starting point and guide them around the site.
This will prevent them from feeling lost and confused. Guess what happens when new customers get discombobulated and overwhelmed?
They quickly quit out of panic and ask for their money back. So, make them feel welcome.
Create a Kick-butt Content Calendar
Remember those days when we all had a TV guide and there were some shows we were anticipating and couldn’t wait to watch?
You want to recreate a similar feeling here, but without the nostalgic Six Million Dollar Man running in slow-mo.
A content calendar will show the current members what content will be delivered in the next 3 months to come. 3 months is more than enough. Don’t give away the farm. Some suspense is good.
Most importantly, tell them what’s coming the following month. Some good sales copy here will whet their appetite and keep them hooked. Tell them how the content will help them and why they don’t want to miss it.
They’ll then realize that they should stay on in your membership… because they don’t want to miss it. Because you told them that.
Yes, it works. Try it.
Create “Bite-Sized” Content
This may surprise you, but too much content can overwhelm your subscribers and make them quit. You’d think that they’d appreciate all that extra content, but research has shown that less is more.
Ideally, if you’re running a ‘drip fed’ membership site, about four pieces of content will suffice. Your goal is to make the 4 pieces useful, engaging, relevant, and of high quality. Your customers want info they can apply immediately.
Think Cliff Notes rather than Encyclopedia Britannica. Which is more intimidating? Exactly.
Provide information that’s digestible and in consumable portions.
Not Appreciating the Subscribers
Customer appreciation is crucial to retaining your subscribers. While one of the benefits of membership sites is that it’s truly automated, this can also be a downside because it takes the ‘human touch’ out of it.
So, you should engage with your subscribers at least once a month. Send them an email thanking them for being a member. Give them an unexpected gift now and then.
You may also wish to set up a Facebook group just for your members. This will allow them to mingle with other subscribers and build camaraderie and a sense of belonging. Your customer retention will be excellent.
Provide An Option to Pause the Membership
Very often, people quit a membership site due to budget concerns. Maybe things are a little tight for them financially. It happens and is understandable.
Have an option on your membership site that allows them to pause the membership. This will allow them a temporary respite from the financial constraints, rather than permanently quitting the membership.
The difference is that those who pause may actually enjoy being a subscriber and plan to return later when their finances are better.
Pausing a subscription is not final. You can always send them an email 2 months later and ask them if they’d like to resume the membership
Besides that, you can also have a lower-tier payment plan. This is similar to a ‘down-sell’ where they can still be a part of the membership for a lower price. They’ll get some of the content, but not the full package – and there may be fewer features.
Nevertheless, several subscribers may choose the cheaper option (because they love your content) rather than quitting the membership.
Create An Exit Survey for Members Who Cancel
You’ll definitely want to know why your subscriber is leaving despite all you’ve done to retain them. An exit survey that’s presented to the exiting subscriber will get feedback for you.
You may be surprised to discover that you’ve dropped the ball somewhere in your membership without realizing it. With good feedback, you’ll be able to rectify the issues that are causing members to leave. This will lead to higher customer retention.
No membership site is perfect. As a site owner, you should constantly be finding ways and means to improve your site.
Win Back Customers Who Quit Your Membership
It’s going to happen. As much as you think it won’t because your membership site is going to be so great that no one will want to leave – rest assured, some of them will quit.
This is par for the course when running a membership site.
Having a low attrition rate is great, but even at 1 or 2 percent attrition, you’ll still be losing paying members. The rule of thumb is to NOT be emotional about it.
This will be tough because it’s human nature to take it personally and you might feel the pinch. Nevertheless, it’s always good not to burn bridges with your lost members.
Do not contact the subscriber and rebuke them for leaving ‘after all you’ve done for them’. They’re a paying customer and not a former lover. Maintain a business-like approach and be professional.
Why Do Subscribers Quit?
There could be a variety of reasons for them to leave the membership. Maybe they’re no longer interested in the niche. Some may have budget constraints, while others may have issues with the deliverables.
It’s anyone’s guess… UNLESS you have an exit survey for those who are leaving. A quick question with a list of options to choose from will help you figure out why they’re leaving.
Common options are:
- I’ll be back later
- No longer interested
- The value delivered was not up to expectations
- Financial reasons
- Others (please specify)
While not all subscribers will fill up the survey, some will, and that will give you an idea of why they’re leaving.
Improve Membership Retention by Segmenting Your Subscribers
Generally, you should ONLY contact your lost members 4 to 6 months AFTER they’ve left. Any sooner and you’ll appear salesy or needy.
The best way to get in touch with them is via email. Segment your subscribers based on the survey options they chose (where possible).
Trying to sell your membership to them using the wrong approach will not yield results. For example, if someone quit because of financial reasons, telling them that you have new modules in your membership will not work.
However, if you offer them a 3-month discounted price, quite a few of them may take you up on the offer.
Give Them a Parting Gift
One of the best ways to end the business relationship on a positive note will be to give them a little gift and say it’s a token of appreciation for their support… and you hope to see them back soon.
This gift can be a deliverable that’s related to the niche. The gesture will be met with approval even if they’re leaving – and they’ll remember it when you invite them back.
Your First Email to Them
When you send your first email to your lost subscribers, it’s best to say you missed them. Your email must have a personal touch.
Tell them what they’ve missed while they were gone and what improvements you’ve made in the membership – and most importantly, highlight how the upcoming content will help them.
Encourage your subscribers to re-join the membership and let them know they can contact you if they have any questions.
Don’t Overwhelm Them
There’s a fine line between being friendly and being overly friendly. The same applies to your approach.
Contact them once and then wait about 2 weeks before following up with them. Do NOT email them daily or several times a day just to try and pressure them into joining the membership.
You’ll just put them off and they’ll unsubscribe from your list or send your emails to the spam folder to languish for eternity.
The Last Word On Membership Retention
With constant iteration and enhancements, your membership will be fantastic and most of your subscribers will be with you for years to come. Make it so good that no one wants to leave. That’s the best strategy to improve membership retention.
Lastly, most memberships neglect to woo back lost members although the tips I’ve shared above may seem like common sense.
Keep it human; keep it cordial and genuinely show that you want them back and it’s in their best interests to return. If you can do that, it’s half the battle won – and you’ll be surprised at how many of your lost members return.
But what’s next?
Do you want to learn more about improving membership retention and setting up a successful membership site? Check out my course, How to Create a Membership Site, which teaches you the A to Z of building and running subscription-based websites for reliable and recurring revenue. This resource will surely help you achieve your business goals. [CLICK HERE]