4 New Member Renewal Ideas for Associations to Try in 2018

Membership Audra Hopkins

While a new member to your association is great, retaining that membership beyond the first year is that much better.

It’s a given that new member renewal and growth is essential for associations. In fact, according to this benchmark report from the IEEE Sections Congress, over 70% of attrition was made up of members with two years of membership or less. That percentage soars over any other membership after two years.

Members need to be sure that what your association offers can’t be found anywhere else. It’s what the U.S. Personal Chef Association (USPCA) is doing for its members. USPCA makes sure to engage, involve, and interest with all members in their association. Using an inventive new way to attract membership renewals scored USPCA an increase in member attention and renewal rates.

So, how can your association follow a path to increased renewals that USPCA and other non-profits have seen success with? Here are four unique renewal practices for your association to try out.

 

Members now expect more from associations

Membership expectations change constantly. Member incentives, discount offers, and exclusive deals to members may have worked in the past. But these tactics will start to get stale in the near future.

According to a 2017 Membership Association Survey, one of the biggest roadblocks associations face are new member renewal rates. In fact, 49% of survey respondents stated their renewal rates did not change within the year. On top of that, 16% saw a decrease in renewal rates.

You want to show new members that your association is the absolute best resource for career advancement, networking, education, etc. So, how do you keep those new members locked in for the future? Staying ahead of your competitors is key when building a long lasting relationship with new members.

Here’s some creative solutions to the better new member renewal rates at your association. Bring these ideas into 2018 and your first and second-year members are sure to notice.

 

1. Check in with your current members

Associations know that keeping in touch is important when building a strong relationship with its members. But what they don’t know is poorly planned check-ins could ruin their retention rates.

Members should be contacted every three to six months in order to maintain close contact. Any less and your members could forget about the importance of your association and its benefits. However, if you contact members too much it could lead to adverse effects.

One of the most common ways for associations to reach out to their members is through email. But your email efforts could be going to waste if you don’t carefully plan out your email strategy.

Your emails could be causing your members stress without knowing it. Emailing your members too often can irritate some members and even discourage them from renewing their membership. Informz claims the best time to send out an email is a Friday, late in the afternoon.

Member surveys are another great way to stay connected with members. A survey shows members you care about their feedback while also receiving important opinions on how your association should run. Surveys should be sent out around 250-300 days after a member joins your association.

 

Use social media to increase new member renewal rates. Download our step-by-step guide.

 

2. Match members up to specific benefits

Your members appreciate all of the benefits your association provides. However, some benefits resonate with members more. Providing members with more of what they like will only help your chances of getting them to stick around for more.

A great example of this strategy is the Community Tracker hosted by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA). MHA provides a system that tracks the activity of its community benefits. It then uses the data to report community benefit information that helps better its benefits for members and patients alike.

This technique is easy to use for associations. Take notice in what your members appreciate about your benefits and offer them benefits that have similarities.

Tracking what your members like is easier than it sounds. As long as your association keeps track of member activity, you can find out which benefits are most popular among members. Recommending benefits that members may enjoy is a great way to form a relationship with members.

If you can pinpoint what it is members enjoy about your association, you can provide them with more of what they like and give them a reason to renew in the future.

 

3. Make new member renewal easy

With technology constantly on the rise, it’s never been easier to access essentially any information 24/7. Your association needs to keep up with the instant gratification that the World Wide Web delivers.

This means allowing members to renew their memberships online. 46% of active organization members claim the Internet allowed them to be more active in an organization. If you don’t allow members online access to a renewal form, it may turn them off to the idea of renewing altogether.

Sending members information on how to new members can renew is another way to ensure zero roadblocks in the overall process. This information can be sent via print, email, or even broadcasted on a social media platform. It’s crucial to make it easy for members to find your association’s renewal form.

Another great feature to offer members is an auto renewal feature. While auto-renewal features are successful for many for-profit companies, associations are seeing a similar success. Relying on technology over human management is common in many other features of life (online banking, Fitbits, and sleep tracking apps are all great examples). Why not incorporate it into your association’s renewal process?

According to The State of Perpetual Memberships report, 23% of members chose an auto-renewal plan from associations that offered it. The demand for an auto-renewal option is present, and your association should take advantage of this option while it is still popular to increase new member renewal rates.

 

4. Turn terminated memberships into a learning experience

Some members cannot be convinced to renew no matter how many incentives are thrown their way. However, studying a lost membership can help save many more in the future.

If at all possible, take time to sit down with members who have terminated a membership and interview them. What drove them to terminate the membership? What features did they appreciate in your association?

This type of interview is very similar to an exit interview that a company would hold with a former employee. Identify your member’s time with your association, where it went wrong, and how to prevent future members from similar experiences.

An exit interview shouldn’t take much time. You don’t want members to resent their time with your association or feel interrogated from an exit interview. 10-15 minutes is an ideal exit interview length.

It’s time to decide what to do with the gathered information from the exit interview. Your association needs to create a strategy in order to prevent similar exits from happening in the future. An exit interview can not only decrease the number of terminated memberships, it can also improve the work of your association as a whole.

Take these ideas into 2018 and try them out before your next new member renewal period. Your association could see a quick turn around in the new year by changing up its renewal strategies.