Membership Retention Strategies

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Mastering Membership Retention: Secrets and Strategies for Long-Term Growth

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Mastering Membership Retention: Secrets and Strategies for Long-Term Growth

Membership retention strategies that retain and engage more of your existing members should always be a priority for membership organisations.

While it may be tempting to prioritise membership marketing strategies that attract new members, sustainable long-term growth requires a balance between acquisition and retention strategies.

Why prioritise Member Retention?

Membership retention and engagement activities offer the following benefits:

  1. More affordable: marketing activities that retain existing members are more cost-effective than marketing activities that acquire new members.
  2. More loyalty: engaged members stay longer as members and influence others to join your Club or organisation.
  3. More stability: a stable membership base (with more retention) provides a reliable source of income and reduces the number of new members you need to attract.

Challenges in Member Retention

Retaining members today comes with more challenges:

  1. Competition for time: recreational sports and clubs compete with more leisure options for their members' time.
  2. Changing Hobbies/Sports: people change their hobbies and sports more frequently today, unlike in the past when they stayed with a hobby or sport for life.
  3. Engaging Communication: members expect to receive transparent and engaging communication; when they don't, they feel disconnected and leave.
  4. Community Building: Fostering a sense of community is critical. When this doesn't happen, loyalty and advocacy fall, impacting overall membership numbers.
  5. Leadership issues: Poor leadership causes dissatisfaction among membership and loyalty; retention rates will fall, and membership will continue to decline.

New Trends in Membership Retention Strategies

Marketing is a dynamic science and art that requires continuous improvements to reflect new trends, changes in your market and membership preferences.

Some of the more significant trends we are seeing in membership retention strategies are:

  1. Personalisation: Communications are more personal and focus on individual member's preferences. Surveys can help you to understand members better.
  2. Social Media: Social media is now used to keep member engaged and connected with their hobby/sport, community and Club on a daily or weekly basis.
  3. Multi-Channel Engagement: Members consume content in multiple channels such as newsletters, social media, websites, events, direct mail and more.
  4. Mobile-First Approach: People consume more content on their smartphones and tablets, so websites are now designed for mobile first.
  5. Video Content: Video has become a popular marketing channel, and people are happy to view "raw" video that is real – it doesn't need to be professionally shot.
Little Ship Club Renewal Campaign

Sharing our Secrets for Membership Retention

Today, your members have higher expectations of the value that you deliver. If you are not continuously improving the services you deliver – and how you deliver those services – your marketing retention strategy will not achieve the best outcome.

Marketing renewal campaigns for annual memberships typically take up to six months to maximise the membership renewal rate. It is essential to progressively change messaging over the marketing retention campaign's life and use a range of channels.

The best-performing marketing renewal campaign includes the following success factors:

  1. Start Early – launch your renewal campaign a couple of months early to give members time to prepare financially – you'll also enjoy some early renewal income.
  2. Multi-Channel Communications: use a combination of snail mail, email, phone calls, web banners, "why renew" webpages, magazine articles and social media.
  3. Reminder calls: conduct reminder phone calls to increase membership renewals and subscriptions. It will also let you know why members are leaving.
  4. Community First: Showcase popular member's photos (testimonials and stories, if possible) to leverage their influence.
  5. Staff Influence: Leverage your biggest assets. Your staff should remind members to renew when they are talking to them.
  6. Benefit Messages: Highlight the benefits of renewing in marketing communications and progressively shift messages to what they will lose if they do not renew.
  7. Make it Easy: To simplify the process, offer multiple renewal methods, from in-person via bank transfer to online renewal form and payment (24/7).
Sports Aviation Federation of Australia Social Media

Examples of Successful Membership Marketing.

Here are three successful membership marketing examples that have improved member retention and overall membership growth.

  1. Little Ship Club: starting early, adopting an integrated approach using snail mail, newsletters, reminder phone calls, engaging marketing communications, digital marketing, social media and flexible renewal options. The renewal campaign in the 2023-2024 financial year achieved an increase of 5% in an aging membership base.
  2. MAAA: Between 2014 and 2021, we delivered a strategic marketing plan including growth, retention and engagement activities which reduced overall membership attrition in an aging membership. In 2017-2018, the "Towards 10K" campaign saw overall membership grow to 9,953 with annual growth of 11% and retention of 90%.
  3. SAFA: The annual renewal campaign includes automatic messages, communications in SkySailor magazine and social media. The key messages evolve over six months. Learnings from each year are incorporated into future renewal campaigns. On average, they receive 500 renewals earlier each year, and the campaign performs better each year.

Achieving sustainable long-term membership growth is a long game that requires a focus on retention, acquisition and engagement strategies year in and year out.

We hope you found this article in the series helpful.

Membership acquisition strategies complement marketing retention to achieve long-term growth. Watch out for our next article on membership acquisition strategies.

Sustainable Marketing Services are specialists in helping member organisations to increase member retention, boost their visibility and achieve more sustainable growth.

Email us here or call 073821 3939 to book a complimentary meeting.