Rekindle your relationship with lapsed members

A lapsed member. Every association deals with this problem, but breaking up is hard to do. You ask yourself, “What did I do? Why are they unhappy?” Or in the case of Taylor Swift, you write a ton of number-one hits.

But, fear not! A non-renewal doesn’t mean that it’s time for a break-up song. These members once loved your association enough to join. It’s time to rekindle your relationship with these three tactics.

Tirrah Switzer, Product Marketing, Membership, Community Brands


Author: Tirrah Switzer, Product Marketing Manager, Community Brands


Understand lapsed members.
Understanding why your members lapse is critically important to rekindling the relationship and making sure others don’t break-up with your organization. Here are three tips to understanding your lapsed members:

  • Clearly define a lapsed member. Clearly define who is and who is not a lapsed member. Is a member in a grace period considered a lapsed member? How long is someone considered a lapsed member – 6, months, 24 months, 5 years or forever? Clearly defining who is a lapsed member will help create a successful win-back campaign.
  • Understand lapsed member benchmarks. People lapse their membership for a variety of reason – some of which have nothing to do with your organization. Most members who fail to renew do so because of cost or a change in their lives, such as switching jobs, balancing family and professional priorities during the pandemic, or retiring. Another top reason for lapsing is that the organization was providing little value.
  • Ask for feedback. Send lapsed members an exit interview or survey to learn more about why they left. You’ll want to keep it short and simple, avoid leading questions and have a few questions that are open-ended. Be sure to regularly review feedback and incorporate your learnings into your member retention plan and lapsed member win-back campaign.

TIP: Use survey functionality included in YourMembership association management software to easily build and send targeted surveys and collect feedback.

Re-engagement campaign.
Your members may fail to renew for various reasons, but there’s always an opportunity to win them back. Create a re-engagement campaign to encourage lapsed members to return. Here are some key dos and don’ts to rekindle the relationship:

  • Be member-centric, not prospect-centric. Your lapsed members are not new to your organization; therefore, your messages should carry a tone of familiarity. Build compelling messages that builds on their familiarity with your mission and membership value.
  • Don’t spray and pray. Just as with all your emails, you want to get the right information to the right audience with targeted lists. Look at removing those lapsed members that have changed industries or retired (unless you have appropriate membership tiers.) Those that have opened every email but didn’t convert are your hot leads. Consider having a board member reach out to these lapsed members personally with a phone call.
  • Focus on value. Build compelling messages that are about the member, not your organization. Put yourself in your members shoes and address WIIFM (what’s in it for me.) Communicate the value of membership, not a laundry list of membership benefits.
  • Don’t be a pest. Over-communicating with someone is a sure way to turn them off. Provide your lapsed members a moment of silence. You might consider providing them with a 30-90 days of silence to help them miss you.
  • Offer an incentive. Offer them an incentive to renew, such as a discounted membership, a monthly membership dues payment option, or the opportunity to customize their membership to include only the benefits they’re seeking.

Avoid the lapse.
Lapsed members are normal, but many of can be prevented. To avoid the lapse and keep the relationship going strong, try these tactics:

  • Make renewal easy. Offer an option to automatically renew membership, with the membership fee charged to the member’s credit card. (Findings from Community Brands research show that seven percent of lapsed members simply forgot to renew; this approach is a great way to address this issue.)

TECH TIP: YourMembership association management software allows you to set up auto-renewals, with corresponding automated emails that notify members when their membership has been renewed.

  • Ask for feedback often. 83 percent of current members say they feel their professional membership organization understands their needs, while only 62 percent of lapsed members say the same. To continuously improve the member experience, ask for feedback often. With regular feedback, you can identify at-risk members earlier and continuously improve your member experience and value.
  • Deliver value from day one. Onboarding is your best chance to highlight your value– from day one. Every day provides another opportunity for your organization to deliver value to your members. Don’t forget to remind your members throughout the year of the value of their membership.

It’s never easy to be on the wrong side of a break-up or a Taylor Swift song, but there are ways to rekindle the attraction that brought these members to your organization. To learn more about why members lapse, download Getting to Know Your Lapse Members.

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