In a survey conducted by Edge Research on member engagement, 16 percent of respondents said they ended their memberships because they simply forgot to renew. This is a significant loss for any organization, so strategies should always be put in place to combat this phenomenon.
Have you noticed a dip in your membership numbers lately? Maybe it’s time for you to review your membership renewal strategy. Here, we’ll look at four easy ways you can boost your renewals and keep members onboard for another year (or two, three, or four).
1. Freshen Up Your Membership Renewal Letter
There is no better way to tackle a renewal problem than by looking at how your organization handles its membership renewal letter. Don’t know what a renewal letter is, or if your organization even has one? Then that’s the problem!
If you have a members only website, a membership renewal letter is an email (or snail mail) that you send your members when their membership or subscription is nearing its expiration. It’s basically a reminder that their time’s almost up combined with an offer to renew their membership for a specified time period. Sounds straightforward enough, right?
While a membership renewal letter may seem simple enough, it’s important to go beyond the default wording. A well-crafted renewal letter should be able to convince members who are uncertain to sign on for another year or two.
So with that in mind, what should you include when writing your letter?
Personalize your membership renewal letter
When members feel valued by their organizations, they feel more inclined to renew. In a world filled with automated responses and chatbots, genuine human connection is always refreshing.
There are a myriad of ways to personalize your renewal letter, from the subject line to the salutation to the closing statement. Address your members by their names, acknowledge key details of their membership plans and sign off on your letters with a name and a signature.
And always remember to add a touch of personality to your renewal letters and your welcome letters while you’re at it. While keeping with your membership organization’s brand, write in a casual and friendly tone. A few blanket statements and lines that clearly sound like they were lifted from a template will just turn members off. After all, if you can’t afford to send a real person to talk to your members, why should they bother to renew?
Talk about your values as an organization
Sometimes, members lose interest because they forget why they joined your group in the first place – especially if they haven’t been particularly active in the past year. Remind your members why your organization exists. Talk about your group’s values and goals, and remind your members why they’re integral to reaching those goals. Members who feel like they have something to contribute — perhaps in a volunteer or advisory capacity — will want to stick around.
Remind members of what your group has achieved/what you have to offer
Give yourselves a pat on the back. You can convince members to continue patronizing your organization by reminding them where their money goes. This means giving members a progress report of what you have achieved as a group or what you’ve been able to provide to members over the past year.
Next, remind members of the membership plan benefits (and exclusions if you’ve got membership levels) as a reminder of what they have to lose should they decide to go. Perks such as a listing in the membership directory as well as access to members only content, deals and events helps members grow and make connections.
Offer incentives for membership renewals
In the same Edge Research survey mentioned earlier, it was found that 32 percent of members choose not to renew because the annual or monthly membership fee was “too costly”. One way to overcome this hurdle is by offering incentives for renewals. You can choose to offer a discount for renewals, as well as cool merch, tickets to upcoming events and even guest passes for non-members.
Give the option for multiple year memberships
Like we mentioned, for some members, ending their membership is less a matter of losing interest and more about simply forgetting to renew. For these types of members, you can offer a special multiple year membership plan. This kind of plan means that they can pay for more than a year’s worth of membership. This eliminates the need to sign up year after year.
Send out your renewal letters early
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Some studies have shown that the best time to send a letter is up to two months prior to the expiry of the membership. Membership renewal letters should be sent in advance so that you can give the member ample time to go over all the details and make a decision. It isn’t fun to be rushed into a big decision!
Have a checklist
As you write your letter, it’s helpful to have a checklist to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. You want your letter to be concise but convincing, clear but casual. Refer to this checklist anytime you feel lost or unsatisfied with your letter.
On keeping it personal:
▢ Is the opening message personalized? Am I referring to the member by a generic placeholder?
▢ Am I using the right tone? Am I being casual and friendly?
▢ Have I acknowledged and thanked the member for their time and participation in the organization?
On getting your message across:
▢ Have I mentioned when their membership will expire and how long they have to make a decision?
▢ Have I reminded the member of what they’ve gained, learned and experienced from the past year?
▢ Have I discussed or linked to the benefits they’ll continue to receive should they renew their membership?
▢ Have I discussed the membership level options and pricing?
▢ Have I provided clear instructions on how to make the renewal (including a link to the member account login page)?
On incentivizing renewals:
▢ Have I discussed what they can gain out of renewing?
▢ Have I offered renewal at a discounted rate/discounts and freebies/guest passes?
▢ Have I offered a multiple year membership renewal billing option?
On your call to action:
▢ Have I provided a link for easy renewal?
▢ Have I set up the appropriate response letter or prepared the person responsible for addressing renewals?
On closing the letter:
▢ Have I thanked the member for taking the time to go over these details?
▢ Have I hyped up the coming year and expressed my excitement at having them experience upcoming projects?
What does an effective renewal letter look like?
Here’s a sample of a renewal letter for a freelance writer’s association. Refer to the checklist and see if we were able to tick all the boxes.
Can you believe it’s been a year? We’ve been so glad to have you! Your membership to the Woolf Freelance Writers’ Association is up for renewal on June 15th, 2020.
Here at Woolf, we continually look for ways to support writers whose voices haven’t always been heard. This past year, we’ve had our first ever weekend workshop, where 50 members had the chance to hone their skills both as writers and business owners. We also connected our writers with over 30 publications across the US – allowing us to reach our goal of championing diversity and passing the mic to important voices.
This year, we have a lot more in store for our members, including a 12-day writer’s retreat, an online video masterclass series spearheaded by three of the most successful freelance writers in the US and a membership card loaded with awesome perks and privileges.
We’re so excited to share all of these with you, and we’d like to offer you an exclusive renewal deal at 15 percent off of the yearly membership fee. As a thank you, we’ll send you the limited edition Woolf merch basket that our weekend workshop participants received. It’s filled with all types of swag, including the much sought-after Woolf mug!
For those who want to minimize the number of times they renew their memberships, you can also opt for our special two-year membership plan which comes at a 20 percent discount.
If you’re just as excited to get started as we are, click here to log into your membership renewal page and review your membership options. For questions and concerns regarding your membership and other matters, feel free to reply to this message or to consult our Editor’s Corner.
Thanks for sticking around, and we hope to see more from you this year!
– Amanda, Executive Director of WFWA
2. Keep Members Engaged
Members don’t renew if they find little value in being part of your organization. And maintaining a value-adding membership experience is more than just providing content or organizing events – though that’s definitely part of it.
With the immense popularity of social media, it’s easy now to keep members engaged through bustling online communities. You can use Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups or classic forums to keep members updated and entertained. Your online communities can be your members’ outlet for queries, feedback and concerns. They are also a way to meet and talk with their fellow members in between events.
The possibilities for member engagement online are endless. You can look into regular “hangout sessions” where organization representatives can field questions from inquisitive members.
3. Automate Your Payment System
Oftentimes when a task requires too many steps, people tend to give up right away. The same goes for the membership fee payment system. While an old member might feel inclined to renew their membership, their renewal process might get bogged down by a clunky payment system. Make sure your members can pay easily via debit or credit card.
Another thing you can do is set up an auto-pay option. This means that members can choose to allow your organization to charge another month or year’s worth of membership fees from their credit card automatically. By removing all of those extra steps, you give members one less thing to worry about. This is especially helpful for forgetful members too!
Just make sure that you set up terms for cancellations and refunds. You can set a rule that members are only allowed to cancel within a certain amount of time, otherwise they get no refund.
4. Listen to Your Members’ Needs
As mentioned earlier, members renew their memberships when they feel valued by their organization. Of course they also choose to stay on when they feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. Ensure that you have both of these things in the bag by utilizing feedback forms, surveys and other modes of data collection where members can air out their concerns and be heard.
Of course, there’s no point in asking members to answer these forms if you don’t change according to their needs. Memberships should be open to adapting and changing their content, systems and policies based on how their members are behaving and feeling.
Members renew their memberships when they feel happy and useful in your organization, when they are clear on your goals and plans, when they feel like they’re getting their money’s worth and when they feel like they’re being listened to.
If you’re having a member renewal problem, make sure to analyze your renewal strategy and see if your process is reminding your members of all of these things. Sometimes you just need to jog their memory!
If you’re really feeling lost, you can always refer to our membership renewal letter checklist. I hope that with the help of this comprehensive guide, you can convince more members to renew their memberships!