Member lapses are normal, and to an extent, inevitable. But many of them CAN be prevented - with the right strategy in place.
Need help minimizing lapsed members at your organization? Try out these tactics:
1. Ask for feedback often
You likely survey your members here and there: following webinars, after your annual meeting or event, and maybe just a general survey at the end of the year. But a few surveys per year isn’t going to get you the feedback you need to convince “on-the-edge” members to stay.
That said, make an effort to ask your members for feedback often. Have a schedule in place for when you’re going to survey members so that you don’t let important timeframes slip. Timeframes you may want to consider are:
- Six months after a new member joins
- Immediately following events
- A few months prior to member expiration (so that you can make changes and tailor your communications accordingly)
- When a member lapses (Yes, the whole point here is to avoid member lapses, but if you can identify why some of your members aren’t renewing, you can then make changes to help prevent others from doing the same.)
If survey participation is an issue at your association (in other words, you’re sending these surveys but your members just aren’t responding), check out our post, 5 Easy Ways to Boost Survey Participation.
2. Focus on your strengths
You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: You can’t be everything to everyone. When you try to do everything, you can’t do one or two things exceptionally well - which is what’s needed to keep members around.
To prevent members from leaving, figure out what your association excels at and then 1) make sure you’re offering enough of whatever that strength is, and 2) make sure you’re communicating that strength (and all of the opportunities associated with it) to your members (which we’ll dive a little more into in point #5).
People remain loyal to companies and organizations, usually, for one or two primary reasons. Maybe the products are high quality (Patagonia) or the customer service is out of this world (Nordstrom). Either way, if you can identify what your association’s strengths are, you’ll be in good shape.
3. Stay competitive
While it’s important to know what your strengths are - and stay grounded in those strengths - it’s also important to know when to make changes. New companies, organizations, and technology are constantly popping up, giving your association more and more competition. Additionally, generations are continuing to shift. Baby Boomers are beginning to retire, and Millennials and Gen Z-ers are stepping up to the workforce plate. What once appealed to your members may not be enough to encourage current members to stay. Is it time to rethink your annual meeting? To step up your social media game? To take your quarterly or annual publication from print to digital? Maybe, maybe not - but it’s at least worth some consideration. Know when to make changes so that your association can remain competitive.
4. Understand your members’ journeys
Sometimes members leave because their wants and needs change. Maybe they’ve advanced professionally and they need more management training (rather than job opportunity updates). Or maybe they’re looking to get certified and need a network of people to study/prep with.
Your members’ needs will change (and vary), but if you can map out various member journeys (a young professional, a new manager, a veteran in the industry, etc.), you can then tailor your communications to better serve (and engage) those people. And the more you’re able to meet their needs, the less likely they are to leave your organization.
5. Communicate value - early and often
We touched on this briefly in point #2, but we want to circle back. Too often, associations wait until it’s time to renew to actually convey the value they’re continuing to provide; the benefits members are getting. Don’t do this! Communicate your association’s value early AND often.
Consider putting it in your organization’s newsletter - a “here’s what we’ve done for you lately” section. Or consider sending a stand-alone email encouraging your members to take advantage of ALL that you provide (and then listing some of your association’s biggest benefits).
If you can get this value into people’s heads early, they’ll be more inclined to renew - because they’ll be more aware of what they’ll lose if they don’t.
Want more tips for ensuring your members don’t lapse? Check out our free guide, Membership Retention Tactics That WORK, below!