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Solving the Member Retention Mystery: How to Calculate Retention Rates

Membership Audra Hopkins

Member retention: It’s a constant worry for association everywhere.

Whether your member retention is at its best or struggling, keeping the peace with members and making sure they come back for more each year is a staple in any association’s member plans. After all, with the average cost of gaining a new customer being five times as much as retaining an old one, you want to be sure you’re making the most with your current membership.

So, what’s your current membership retention rate? If you aren’t sure, you’ve come to the right place.

Measuring your member retention is a must, but it can be hard to come up with a definitive way to calculate retention. That’s why we’d like to discuss a few different tips on how your association can figure out the right way to solve its own member retention mystery.

Keep reading on if your association is having trouble calculation its member retention and would like to solve its troubles today.

Formulas made easy

Calculating your member retention rate starts with a good formula. And while this may seem intimidating, the formula you use for retention can actually be broken down into simple terms that anyone can understand.

Higher Logic does a great job of breaking down retention rates formulas to a science, so let’s take from them and dissect the proper way to calculate this metric.

The formula they explain deals with three different variables: Members at the start of the time you’re calculating (MS), members at the end of this time period (ME), and new members that are gained along the way (MN).

Knowing these three variables, we can then find a way to figure out exactly what number of members were retained. You want to first start by subtracting the amount of new members acquired from the amount of members you end your specified time period with. Then, divide that number by the number of members you started with, and finally multiply that number by 100 to get a firm answer.

There we go- a formula made easy so that any association can use it to their gain. But just a formula isn’t enough. Without the proper information needed to use this formula, your association will be lost.

Data collection made easy

Without collecting the right type of member data, any formula you try to use will be rendered ineffective. So, how can your association stay on top of data collection?

Starting with the specific period of time your association would like to focus on, you want to be sure you have a strong data list of all of your member efforts within that time range. From member acquisition, to member recruitment, and sadly the loss of members, your association should keep track of any and every effort you make to grow your membership.

Having a solid organization system can help keep things easy. If your association comes up with a method to take new member data and funnel it into a table or chart that is easy to read and understand, you’ll spend less time and have less frustration when trying to call back this data for future calculations.

You can also look into helpful tools and member management software that can keep track of data for you. Taking data collection off of your association’s plate can give you more time to focus your effort in other areas while still having a secured stockpile of member data for when you need it.

Analytics made easy

With your formula in place and your member data readily available to you, you should be able to calculate your member retention rate without a problem. But what do you do with this number once you’ve found it?

Your member retention data is only as good as what you do with it. Taking that information and turning it into a progressive plan to further improve your member retention in the future.

If your member retention rate is below what you’d prefer, your association can start working on a plan to engage and retain members using helpful tools like direct mail campaigns and member satisfaction surveys, along with whatever your association feels works best. Upping the ante on your retention strategy is smart when you have direct knowledge that something needs to be done to raise your retention rate.

However, if you find your retention is where you’d like it to be or better, your association can go into maintenance mode and work on keeping up the good work. Again, similar tactics like surveys and email campaigns can help do this as well, but with the proper information you now know how to differentiate your retention success and act accordingly.

Association member retention doesn’t have to be the mystery it seems. Using real formulas and plans that are made simple, your association can get down to the bottom of things and work on a plan that makes everyone happy.

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