As a previous association membership manager, one of my biggest challenges was dealing with member retention. As you can imagine, it was always a hard pill to swallow when we lost a member. Here’s how to best overcome that lump in your throat when it happens to you.
It was first thing Monday morning. From the subject line, I knew it was going to be a tough day. So I turned up Adele in my headphones and read the rest of the email.
We lost another member.
Breaking up is hard to do, and it came out of nowhere. Why did they decide to leave? They didn’t even give us a chance to prove to them how important they are to us. Do they appreciate we provide them with a job board just for their industry? Why didn’t they attend our last event? It was our best event yet!
I instantly ran through all the stages of grief.
- 1. Denial: They can’t be leaving us. It isn’t happening. They need us!
- 2. Anger: How could they do this to me? After all of the emails I have sent them?
- 3. Bargaining: Maybe I can get them back if I give them a discount on a course? I think that will work!
- 4. Depression: They always leave us. We aren’t relevant anymore.
- 5. And finally, acceptance: They are leaving, but I won’t let this happen again!
So now I’ve moved on to the steps of improvement.
Step 1: Admit what went wrong
Bravely, I do one of the most difficult things done after a break up. I call our ex-member and ask why. Why did you leave us? What could we do better? Critical feedback is the breakfast of champions.
During the call, I swallow my pride and disappointment, and I listen to the response that will likely prove out my fears. We didn’t provide the value that our members seek. We don’t engage them the way they need to be engaged.
Step 2: Figure out how to fix it
I know we can do better. I know we can change the way we engage our members. Based on the feedback I got, I learned that personalization and interaction are key to improve renewal rates.
If we reach our members with relevant content—while they stand in line at Starbucks or the grocery store, we can delight them during those micro-moments. If we connect them to their fellow professionals—on their time, we’re unstoppable.
We need technology to deliver data that leads us to make smarter engagement decisions. We need our information in front of our members, no matter when, where or how they access it.
Step 3: Always remember with loss, comes gain
Failure is always the best way to learn. I just retrace my steps until I realize where we went wrong.
Strong member data and analytics allow me to quickly view the last time members engaged with us or we engaged them. Through the member data, I was able to determine that 90% of members who didn’t engage with our organization within the first two years of membership did not renew. It’s a continuous theme that members who don’t engage within the first 90 days of joining will most likely not renew.
Now that I understand this key information, I must take action on the solution. In the membership application, we ask members “Why are you joining?” Based on their response, we segment our welcome series emails to deliver tailored content that drives them to our website to begin engaging with their colleagues. We also evaluated a social community technology like SocialLink to help deliver instant value to members.
Have no fear, my wounds will heal. And my organization will be better for it!