Brace yourself...membership renewal season is coming.
Is your association ready? Do you have a process (and strategy) in place to ensure your members actually renew?
If you’re a little worried, take a deep breath. It’s all going to be fine. But to ease your mind, here are four tactics to heighten membership renewals:
1. Use different communication outlets
Your members like to communicate in different ways. Some prefer email, while others prefer phone. To get your message out there - that your members need to renew - take advantage of different mediums: email, actual mail, phone, social media, and depending on your membership, possibly even text.
Now if email is your go-to communication tactic, you’re not alone. According to MGI’s 2017 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, email is the most popular method of contacting members about renewing their membership. But are you incorporating phone calls as well? Many associations aren’t, but check this out: According to the same report, associations with a renewal rate of less than 80% are significantly more likely to forgo making any renewal efforts via phone. And on the flip side of that, among associations with a higher renewal rate, only 15% pass up the opportunity to contact members by phone.
The point here? Different mediums have an impact. Try at least a few to elicit more responses and maximize your renewal efforts.
2. Explicitly state the benefits
When it comes to membership renewals, you need to remind your members what their dues are getting them. Access to industry-related content (that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to access), networking opportunities, continued learning opportunities (webinars, workshops, seminars, etc.), discounts on products and/or services, and so forth.
But tip: When stating these benefits, consider phrasing it a way that creates a sense of loss. For example, “Here’s what you’ll be missing if you do not renew your membership.” This creates a slight sense of fear (the fear of loss), which can be a big motivator for people. In fact, there are several studies out there about loss aversion, which is basically the human tendency to strongly prefer avoiding a loss to receiving a gain. (Put simply, the fear of loss is more powerful than the possibility of gain.) That’s why hotel sites have those little pop-ups that say “Only 1 room left” or “Only 5% of rooms left.” The fear of missing out (FOMO) and/or losing that opportunity often sparks action.
3. Review (and simplify) your process
Believe it or not, your renewal process actually plays a role in whether or not people renew. If your renewal process is complicated, members are likely to shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh well.” They’re not going to fiddle with it for 20+ minutes.
That said, the simpler you can make your renewal process, the better. Ideally, you want to enable one-click renewals, which you can do through some association management systems. You also want to make sure your calls-to-action (“Renew here,” for example) stand out. When your members login, will they know exactly where to go and what to do? Make sure those buttons are clear, bold, and have an impact.
One more thing: Take some time to actually walk through your renewal process, paying close attention to the copy you have on your site and in your forms. It’s easy to overlook little things like the year (changing 2017 to 2018), but tiny details like that can really trip people up.
4. Get ahead of the game (Start EARLY!)
As a busy association professional wearing multiple (multiple!) hats, it’s easy to want and need to push projects back. But trust us, this is one project you CAN’T neglect. Not only will starting early save your sanity, but it’s also good for boosting membership renewals as well. According to that same MGI report we referenced earlier, associations with an 80% or higher renewal rate are more likely to start their renewal efforts three months prior to expiration. That gives you plenty of time to send reminders, and your members plenty of time to take action.
Still unsure about your membership renewal process? Want to learn how to write a compelling renewal reminder email? Check out our free guide, Best Practices for Membership Renewals!