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How do you prevent members from leaving your organization?

While most organizations are focused on bringing in new members, your primary goal should be on member retention. Let’s face it: New member acquisition is expensive. Not only is it more affordable to hold on to your current members, you can also increase their lifetime value to your organization with less effort. Engaged members are more likely to upgrade services, purchase new products, attend live events and trainings, and become reliable sources for referrals. The money is in member loyalty, but the question is how?

In this post, let’s explore the most common reasons why members leave and the best practices for churn prevention.

Your Competitors Offer More Than You Do

Who are your chief competitors?

Every business, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, has at least one competitor in the same space. Taking a “head in the sand” approach to your competitors will only harm your organization in the long run. Because, even if you don’t acknowledge your competitors, your members do.

It’s important that you can answer the following questions about your competitors:

  • Who is the competitor?
  • Who do they serve?
  • What is their reputation in the industry?
  • What services do they offer?
  • How much do they charge for membership?
  • How much do they charge for services?

The next step is to compare yourself with your competitors. The goal isn’t to match them, but to define how you’re different in a superior way. Your unique value proposition is what you’ll rely on to convince your members to stick with you.

It’s certainly possible that your competitors offer more than you do, but what do you offer that supersedes what you lack? When compared directly with a similar service, why should a member stay with your organization? Be prepared to use this unique value proposition in your retention marketing.

That said, there are times when you simply need to evolve as an organization. You may need to amp up your features. For example, if your competitors offer an app, it may be time for you to develop one of your own. Always embrace change if it will improve your relationship with your members.

You’re Not Engaging Your Customers

The bottom line is that members who don’t feel connected to your brand will eventually fade away. They’ll gradually stop logging in to your members’ site. They’ll be less active on your social media pages. They won’t attend as many member functions. One day, they’ll fade to black without you noticing it.

Member attrition often happens without fanfare. Members lose interest in your organization and forget about you. There’s nothing worse than that.

Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be your story. You can prevent member churn by focusing on continuous engagement.

Member engagement starts early. Research shows that members are the most connected with your brand immediately after joining. Greet them with a solid onboarding plan. For example, create a series of welcome emails designed to introduce them to your organization. In your emails, you can show them the most important features of your website, how to reach technical support, and where to go to network with other members.

This email series can be completely automated and deployed whenever new members join.

After your welcome series, send a steady flow of emails to keep the new members engaged. Here are a few ideas for emails to send within the first three months of joining:

  • A “Greatest Hits” email with some of your most popular blog posts
  • Testimonials and case studies
  • Invitations to webinars or live events
  • An email course
  • A personal “what do you think of our organization?” survey
  • A “here’s how to get more from your membership” note, customized to their behavior

Remember that people who don’t engage with your organization will cancel because they can’t see any value to retaining a membership. It’s your job to show them how they can continue to benefit throughout the year and beyond. Explore our tips and ideas on retaining members in an organization and learn how to showcase value.

You’re Not Communicating Enough

Following up on the last point, be sure to communicate frequently with all of your members. It’s not enough to have a series of onboarding emails in place. You also need to have a strategy for keeping in touch with current members, especially those who’ve been around for a while.

Every email that you send should be valuable, relevant, and as personalized as possible. When setting up an ongoing email strategy for your current members, consider the following:

Send promotional emails sparingly. You’re speaking to people who’ve already joined as members. You shouldn’t bombard them constantly with “buy this” offers. Instead, focus on sending educational and informational emails that encourage continuous self-improvement.

Segment your email list. Segmenting allows you to personalize your content so that your emails appear more relevant to the recipient. Segment based on member type, stated goal, job title, types of emails they open the most, etc.

You’re Not Focused on Building a Relationship

The purpose behind sending emails consistently is to build a relationship with your members. Members churn when you stop connecting with them. Instead of sending them non-stop information about your organization, reach out to your members personally to find out how you can impact their success. There is a direct correlation between member success and member retention. If you help your members achieve a desired level of success, they’ll stay on board.

Email your members individually (you can set this up to deploy automatically at a specific date and time). Ask sincerely how you can help them accomplish a specific goal that’s related to your service. Encourage them to reply directly to your email. Then follow up with those members who actually respond. This is the best way to prove that you’re committed to your members’ success.

You’re Not Tracking Members’ Behavior

What about those members who won’t respond to the above “How can we help you succeed” email? You can still find out what these members need by tracking their behavior. Doing so will also enable you to prevent member attrition.

The exact behaviors to track will vary by organization, but here are a few universal behaviors that can give you insight into the member’s level of engagement:

  • How often the member logs on to your site
  • How often the member opens your emails
  • Which services the member uses most/ least often
  • What types of emails the user opens
  • If the member has reached out to customer service or tech support
  • If the member attends your in-person events
  • If the member refers others to your organization

Also track sudden changes in member behavior. A change in pattern could indicate churn in the near future.

You’re Not Preventing Technical Churn

Sometimes, members churn because of technical reasons. One of the leading causes behind technical churn is a declined credit card. Do you have a plan for tackling declined cards?

Credit cards decline for multiple reasons: Expiration dates, cardholder changes, exceeded limits, transposed numbers, processor failure, etc. Your members may not know about the declined charge until attempting to log in to your website. This is the worst time to find out because the member may not be ready to resolve the matter.

The best time to handle a declined credit card is immediately and via email. Send out a dunning email where you explain what happened (your card declined) and what to do next (log in to update your credit card details).

Final Thoughts

In order to grow your organization, you must focus on retention. Bringing in new members is important but, without a solid plan to prevent churn, they’ll leave just as quickly as they signed up. Use these tips to improve your organization’s retention strategy and keep your members happily engaged.

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