Our key takeaway from our online research review, is that membership renewal isn’t just about a once-a-year procedure. As Lowell Applebaum (Association 141 blog) suggested in a post a while back, “It should be part of the overall connection campaign that an association should run throughout the year. ...it should continue an ongoing conversation of community and value that should take place between the member and association throughout the year.”
There have been a lot of blog posts and articles about member value this year. But it may be worth repeating that “according to ASAE’s Decision to Join, the number one reason members do not renew their membership is lack of value.” MGI’s 2012 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report also confirmed that “about 11% of association professionals feel that members do not renew because they cannot see tangible return on their investment (ROI) with regard to membership dues, or they do not see a value in the membership overall.”
It’s therefore crucial that you clearly identify the benefits of membership and the value individuals place on their membership and convey this in all of your renewal communications.
Tips for Building a “Rock-Solid Membership Renewal Cycle”
So how can you help members see and experience the value in their membership? In looking for tips, I came across a post by guest blogger Christopher Palumbo - How Sales Pros Build a Rock-Solid Membership Renewal Cycle.
He uses the example of tactics a fitness club would use to get members involved and keep them participating. While he’s referring to membership-based businesses, I think you can substitute the words “association,” “club,” or “membership group” when he uses the term “business.” Palumbo suggests:
“Put extra effort into getting your member involved in all of the benefits your business offers right away. For example, a fitness club would pair up the member with a trainer or coach at the first visit so that she can reap the benefits of the club and start achieving her goals immediately. The member might be anxious and nervous about using your business. It is up to you and your staff to make them comfortable and make them come back for more.
In addition to making members aware of the benefits your business has to offer them right off the bat, you must also have impeccable member service to maximize your renewals. Keep in mind these points:
- Are you inspiring your members to reach their personal goals?
- Are you not only listening to, but addressing concerns?
- Do you value your members input?
- Are you working on solutions before problems arise?
- Do you know at least 60% of your members by name?
- Are you planning a member appreciation event?
Participation in the Association is Key to Renewal Success
Of course, once you are sure you are offering valuable member benefits, you need to keep them informed in order to ensure members stay engaged and continue to participate. Perhaps, as suggested in the quote above, you consider implementing a new member mentoring system offering a “trainer” or “coach” for a new member to help him/her feel comfortable so they start participating and stay “engaged.”
It is no surprise that members who are engaged with the association tend to renew. The Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report found that “associations who have higher proportions of members engaging in the following three activities are significantly more likely to report having a renewal rate if 80% or higher:
- Purchasing or maintaining insurance through the organization
- Attention annual conference/trade show
- Upgrading membership
We hope this guide offers some food for thought as you prepare to roll-out or refresh your membership renewal strategy for the coming year.