5 Tips to Increase Member Renewal Rates in Their First Year

are you looking for the right sign to increase renewal rates? look no further!

Increasing Association Member Renewal and Retention Rates

Increasing member renewal rates is a common process among associations. It’s a basic function of the membership business model. However, calculating this can be difficult to do. Currently, associations face a trend of decreasing membership. Naturally, the reaction is to avoid increasing renewal rates out of fear that members will drop like flies.

This reaction is even stronger when considering first-year members. They may be the people most likely to walk away when associations raise the cost of membership. The problem is, in order for associations to thrive they must be able to increase the cost of a membership to reflect inflation.

Just like any other business, as costs increase on the business’ end, so must the cost to the consumer. It is an unfortunate but necessary function of associations. How can associations comfortably increase member renewal rates while minimizing the risk of members falling off?

Keep Increased Member Renewal Rates Under 20%

keep increased member renewal rates under 20%

Studies have shown that a small increase in member renewal rates over time had little impact on member retention. Associatons Now interviewed the Membership Director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), Michael Connor. In regards to increasing member renewal rates, he said, “Being consistent with dues increases and keeping them modest can help an association financially. In the last five years, NACDL has increased dues annually, and retention has held steady at 82 percent.”

The NACDL isn’t the only association regularly increasing dues. In the 2018 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report from Marketing General Incorporated, it was found that 75% of associations increased their dues last year 1-10%. Very few associations raised member renewal rates higher than 10%.

Base Member Renewal Rates on Industry and Competitive Climate

find out what you should base member renewal rates on

In other words, do your research! Learn about the industry your members are a part of and the membership options available to them. That is to say, having an understanding of your members and your competition will inform your decision regarding member renewal rates.

A few questions to consider answering:

  • What is the industry outlook for your members?
  • What’s the average member salary?
  • Which valuable resources do you currently provide to members?
  • Will new resources be available to members following increased dues?
  • How are the average dues for associations similar to yours?
  • What resources do they provide to members?

Answer these questions to decide whether increasing dues is a step in the right direction. As a result, associations that provide competitive services to members and can easily explain the increase in dues should see little to no decrease in member retention.

Analyze Member Retention Reports and Learn From Them

analyze member retention reports

If your association is in a decent position to increase dues, start at the average increase of 3% and then analyze the data. How was your member retention following the dues increase? Did members seem displeased or confused by the increase?

If there was a decrease in member retention, was it because of the increase? Or was that the last straw? The data is all there. And the data says that most associations do not see a decrease in members after a 1-10% dues increase. So what’s going wrong?

The Top Reasons Members Don’t Renew Membership

There could be a few reasons (not related to increasing member renewal rates) which are causing a decrease in member retention. In the 2018 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, associations reported the top five reasons members did not renew.

study why member retention is decreasing or increasing within your association

See the reasons for why at least 20% of surveyed associations said their members did not renew:

  1. Lack of engagement with the organization (37%)
  2. Could not justify membership costs with any significant ROI (28%)
  3. Budget cuts/economic hardship of company (24%)
  4. Left the field, industry, or profession (24%)
  5. Lack of value (23%)

All of this must be considered when choosing to increase member dues. By focusing on the foundation of an association( the members), associations reduce the risk involved in increasing member renewal rates.

Be Transparent with Your Association Members

transparency is key

Moreover, make sure your members feel heard. Ensure that they really understand the reasons why your association is raising its dues. Avoid raising member renewal rates without letting members know three months in advance. Above all, explain to members what’s going on. Illustrate to them the rising cost of maintaining an association and the new benefits that will come with this increase. Create a clear pathway for open communication.

Send out an email to members openly giving out this information. Make sure you have association employees available for the next couple weeks to take calls from members. Transparency and communication are the keys to a smooth transition of increased dues.

Increasing member renewal rates. It’s what 75% of associations are reportedly doing! If you follow these guidelines, your association can increase dues and keep members happy. That is to say, be transparent and do your research! Using superior analytics offered by InLoop you can use the power of data to drive valuable insights for your next member renewal rates strategy.

Member Engagement to Drive a Better Trade Show

member engagement to drive a better trade show

6 Trade Show Benefits to Retain Members and Keep them Engaged

Most of the time, associations see trade shows as an opportunity to recruit new members. These events are, by nature, an excellent networking opportunity to meet new prospects and build on member engagement strategies. Association executives take part in these events to inform people, socialize with industry professionals, and eventually to recruit members.

But what if associations saw trade shows as a part of a member engagement strategy and a retention strategy?

Associations tend to focus more on recruitment than engagement or retention. “McGovern, senior director, marketing and member services at ACA, says she knows why this happens: ‘Well, recruitment is sexy. Retention is hard work,” (Associations Now).

The truth is, it costs a lot more for associations to recruit a new member than it does to retain one. For every action taken by associations to bring in new members, there should be a secondary engagement strategy.

make members association evangelists

Benefit #1 – Members as Association Evangelists

For example, trade shows are also an effective way to retain members through event engagement. Invite current members to take part in association trade shows as an evangelist for the association.

Hearing the benefits straight from a member’s mouth appears more genuine to prospective members. Of course, the association executive thinks their association is the best of the best. But a prospect hearing a member making this statement? That’s priceless.

proving members with branded merchandise will help spread awareness

Benefit #2 – Tradeshows as Networking Events for Members

The reason why most people choose not to renew their membership is usually that they feel the value isn’t worth the cost. A lot of the time this isn’t because the association isn’t offering enough benefits to members. Associations struggle more often to find ways to show members all of the benefits available to them. In other words, by inviting members to participate in trade shows, associations provide additional value.

Trade shows are a great opportunity for members to network, learn more about the industry, and explore what their association does behind the scenes. Trade shows are like a backstage pass; showcasing the exclusivity and education that their membership offers them within their association. Bring branded swag to trade shows for members to keep and/or to give to prospective members. Encourage members to explore opportunities within their industry.

transform membership into an industry community

Benefit #3 – Transform Membership into an Industry Community

This is what it’s all about, right? The best retention strategy for an association is all about focusing on building a strong, engaged community for its members. Invite members to participate in trade shows so they can connect with one another and see the big picture of their membership. Create spaces for members to collaborate and network within the association. As an association, it’s important to learn from this community to see how the association can evolve and meet the needs of members.

use trade shows as a resume builder for younger members

Benefit #4 – Trade Shows as a Resume Builder for Younger Members

Most associations will say they don’t want one year members, they want 20-year members. The best way to do this is by putting a lot of focus into learning all you can about your members and compare it to your strategies for member engagement. Arguably, younger members have the most to gain from association membership. They are looking for opportunities to meet young professionals and industry leaders.

Young members join an association to build experience, gain knowledge, and receive opportunities to participate in their industry in a meaningful way. These members are enthusiastic and community focused, which makes them the perfect member to invite to trade shows. By seeing a fresh face at trade shows, young prospective members may be more compelled to explore association membership.

give members a face to a name

Benefit #5 – Give Members a Face to a Name

Lastly, inviting members to participate in trade shows gives associations the opportunity to meet their members face to face. Members will appreciate the personal touch and enjoy meeting the people behind the shared value of their membership.

Of course, many members get to know their association executives through the process of elections. Undoubtedly, meeting members face to face will give association executives the chance to show who they are as a person and as a professional within their industry.

get insight about member needs and wants

Benefit #6 – Get Insight About Member Needs and Wants

Another great benefit to bringing members to trade shows has to do with the information they get from the attending members. From this exchange, you can learn about your members’ habits, what services they want going forward, and how you can improve your member engagement strategies. Find insight on what you’re doing well… or, what you’re not doing well. The people willing to attend a trade show are some of your most engaged members. These are the “20-year members.”

Reward participating members by giving them what they ask for. Do they want a new resource on a specific industry related topic? Are they asking for more networking opportunities? Do they bring up a desire to learn more or get involved further? Document these interactions and do your best to make the necessary updates to delight engaged members.

traveling from trade show to trade show and discover the rewards of membership engagement

The Rewards of Membership Engagement at Association Trade Shows

Overall, trade shows provide over a dozen benefits to both association executives and association members. It’s a win-win situation. Make the most of association efforts by finding more ways to blend trade show attendance with your member engagement and retention strategies.

Optimize all of the work your association puts into attending and hosting events by reaching new members and retaining and engaging the current ones. If you do this, your association will have all the information and connections needed to build, engage, and retain its membership base.

Build Your Association’s Retention Strategies Using Predictive Analytics

use predictive analytics to build on retention strategies

Understanding Data Trends Keep Member Retention Rates on the Rise

Every year, association members choose whether to continue their annual membership or cancel. During this time, associations are revising their retention strategies to encourage more renewals.

There are a few member factors that go into the renewal decision-making process. First and foremost, are they happy to be a member?

Aside from having a generally positive experience with the association, members may also consider:

  • How often they engage with the association
  • How often they use association resources
  • How many association events they were able to make
  • How many new contacts they’ve made through networking events
  • How often they felt a part of an association community

These factors are also a great way to anticipate who will renew and who may be at risk. A lot of associations struggle to categorize members by risk to see who needs a little extra attention.

a good retention strategy involves collecting data on current and past association member data

Understanding these trends is an essential part of strong retention strategies! Introduce predictive analytics into your current retention strategies and see how data can help you retain membership.

What is “Predictive Analytics”?

It’s clear how predictive analytics can help associations develop retention strategies. However, defining predictive analytics may not be as clear. Essentially, it is the process of using and combining historical data and statistical algorithms to give you an accurate depiction of the future. The idea of predictive analytics has been around for quite some time but has only recently started to grow more rapidly.

The reason why it’s become a popular strategy for businesses is that it’s more accessible now than ever before. In the past, this type of data analysis was used mostly by mathematicians and statisticians. Now, anyone can collect this data and interpret it. As data continues to grow over generations and provide more insightful information, it will become more and more valuable to associations.

Predictive Analytics for Association Retention Strategies

businesses and associations use predictive analytics to retain memberships

There are many reasons why businesses and organizations use predictive analytics. For the most part, it’s used to avoid company fraud, increase high-value leads, optimize marketing efforts, reduce overall risk, and retain current client bases.

For example, everyday use of predictive data that you may be familiar with is your credit score. Credit scores are calculated using this same data interpretation! For associations, predictive analytics can collect data regarding member interactions to help associations target members who are at risk.

A few variables that can be calculated include:

  • Email Opens and Activity (do they scan it or actually read emails?)
  • Social Media Engagement (how often do they comment or like posts?)
  • Content Reads (do they read blog content or online resources?)
  • Attendance at Tradeshows and Networking Events
  • Web Footprint (how often do they visit and search through the association website?)
  • Event Participation (do they often RSVP for association related events?)
identify member engagement strategies that work for your association

Anything else that can identify member engagement can be used as a variable. Collect this data on past and current members and create a data file that links to these variables.

The general process for predictive analytics is this:

  1. Add a statistical modeling technique that provides an equation related to the variables
  2. Grade members based on the equation and rank by grade
  3. Segment members into 10 groups from least to most at risk
  4. Create a profile for each group explaining their rank
  5. Form a personalized retention strategy for each group

How to Start Predictive Analytics-Based Retention Strategies

In a perfect world, you could read this blog post and say, “oh, perfect! I’ll get right on that!” and have all this data collected in minutes. Unfortunately, this is not the way of the world. If the idea of spending months collecting data and adding it to a spreadsheet, followed by consistent hours used on maintenance doesn’t appeal to you, well, don’t worry… there are other options.

Using proprietary machine learning algorithms, you can interpret this data in no time. 24/7 data analysis collects all of the variables mentioned above automatically. It analyzes and delivers predictions for what members want to see and be a part of. Using a resource like predictive analytics can help associations truly understand their members in a way that they may not articulate themselves.

get the most from predictive analytics to raise retention rates

Get the Most from Predictive Analytics

Overall, using predictive analytics is a great way to understand your members and segment them to provide personalized services.

In this way, predictive analytics can be used for more than retention strategies. It can also be used to connect with strong leads, delight current members, and give valuable association insights. Through this data, associations can get to know thousands of its members in a matter of minutes.

Four Steps to Increase Member Retention at Your Association

InLoop has 4 steps to increase member retention at your association

Recognizing the Past, Current, and Prospective Barriers of Retaining Association Memberships

Retaining membership is often the highest priority for an association because it is the core of a successful association. In the past few decades, associations have witnessed an unfortunate trend of decreased membership; a decline in prospect members translates to a decline in member retention. This means that is more important than ever to maintain those long term association members and build a strong membership network.

On average, most flourishing associations will see a member retention rate of 75%. Does this sound like your association? If not, some changes need to be made to focus on member retention.

Members need to see the tangible value from an association in order to justify paying for a membership. Associations can provide members opportunities to build genuine connections through networking events both in person and online.

Simply put, the best way to improve member retention is by keeping members happy! Here are some strategies to help your association improve member retention.

1. Association Surveys

asking members to fill out association surveys is a great way to improve member retention

Sending association surveys to members shows them you care about their specific role in the association. It also provides you with specific ways to improve retention straight from the source! Send quarterly surveys via email to members (or even monthly) with every e-newsletter.

Read and respond to each survey, address their concerns, and share how, if possible, you will make the necessary changes.

You can also send an association survey to past members. Ask them why they left so you can improve for the next generation of members. Find out what they felt was missing as a member of your association. Addressing the specific reasons why members have left will help associations avoid making the same mistakes with current members.

2. Member Engagement Reports

collect data that measures member engagement and use that data to aid your efforts to increase member retention

You can consider this as the association’s version of a “survey response”. So, by collecting data that measures the member’s engagement, you can then provide your members with personalized opportunities for increasing their engagement habits.

In the report, present your members with data about how often they respond to other members; engage with emails and social media; how often they read association articles; participate in events, etc. Demonstrate the missed opportunities your members had to connect and take advantage of their membership.

By providing these reports, members see where they can improve as a valued member. Therefore, it puts the pressure on the member to become more engaged within their association. It allows for all of the opportunities that their membership grants them to really resonate.

3. A User-Friendly Experience for Members

Most members today will be using the internet to some degree. As a result, user members look up resources on your website, receive emails, and are following you on social media. Be sure that your association is providing member resources on a user-friendly platform. Consequently, it doesn’t matter if you have a ton of valuable content if your members have a hard time accessing it. Use your website, emails, and social media pages to engage members and ask for help from experts if that’s what you need.

user-friendly software will help your association with member retention

A few things that will make your associations’ software more user-friendly include:

Having an organized website homepage with information such as:
  • Member testimonials and survey responses
  • Upcoming networking opportunities
  • Article previews and resources for members
  • Quick links to all social media platforms
  • A newsfeed of any industry related news
Sending an e-newsletter that provides:
  • Industry and association updates
  • Ways to get involved and engage with members
  • A link to any live surveys
  • Details for any upcoming opportunities
Engaging with members through social media by:
  • Responding to comments and messages quickly
  • Prompting members to share ideas on social
  • Sharing events and news on social regularly

Most importantly, be organized and clear with members. Make sure all online resources are easy to read and have ample visuals. Members need clear and concise information that shares all the benefits of membership. Make it easy for members to contact the association with any questions or concerns and respond as quickly as possible.

4. Find the Right Members

find members with the same values and interests that your association offers them and you will increase member retention rates

In other words, to improve member retention, associations must reflect and focus on the beginning of membership. Find members that fit, not just ones who can pay for membership.

Meanwhile, the ideal member believes in your cause, cares about the industry, and wants to be as involved as possible. The perfect member has a genuine interest in connecting with other professionals in their field. They are knowledge seekers and are always looking for the next opportunity to learn and gain new experiences.

Utilizing AI technology and automated technology like customer relationship management (CRM) software is one of the ways that associations can track down the right members. In the same vein, by embracing the use of technology, associations can use member data to find out who the “right” members are. Greatest of all, you learn the most about who the ideal member is by listening to the ones you currently have.

Raise Member Retention for Your Association

To sum it up, be sure to keep this in mind: if member engagement is on the rise, member retention will follow. Find new ways to connect to your member base, aspire to growth, and meet your members where they are. If you do these things, worrying about member retention will be a thing of the past!

raise member retention for your association

Associations Struggling with Member Engagement

for associations struggling with member engagement it's important to create practical strategies

Defining Practical Strategies for Increasing Member Engagement and Retention

When we speak with association leaders and subject matter experts about the most important challenges and the pain points they face, they will most often put member engagement at or near the top of the list.

Associations know how important engagement is in keeping organizations healthy and advancing their mission, yet many are struggling to use their digital channels effectively.

A recent association benchmarking survey quantified the challenge of engagement. This study showed that 55% of associations felt that engaging members is  a challenge.

Traditionally, member engagement meant participation in annual conferences, training programs, or purchasing publications. With the advent of email, social media, and scores of apps, digital outreach became a quick, easy, and less expensive way of connecting with members. These digital options also brought forth a substantial number of new competitors vying for members’ attention.

Oren Ahronson, CEO of InLoop points out that,

“With the huge volume of data and spam that we receive every day, a simple approach of posting content to a website, email, and on social media no longer achieves the goal of engaging members. This is especially true in trying to get members to engage with digital content. These responses elevate engagement levels which are crucial to increasing association member recruitment and retention.”

associations have to make practical plans in order to increase member engagement

The rules of the game have changed. Associations need a more strategic approach with specific objectives and metrics. We provide practical tips for increasing member engagement.

Defining Engagement

In a world where electronic communications transfer information in nanoseconds, bombarding your members with “information overload” engagement is not just the existence of a relationship between an association and its members. You also need members acting on those communications and renewing their memberships.

Engagement = Member Recruitment + Action + Retention

Since each association has different goals, the exact definition of engagement will vary across associations. But the primary objective remains the same… increase engagement by increasing member participation, acquisition, and retention.

However, Wendy Scott, a Partner at ReedScott warns that,

Associations often focus primarily on recruitment while tolerating a decrease in retention until it’s too late. Delivering valuable, customized content is one of the best ways to retain members and remind them of the value you provide to meet their current and, hopefully, unmet needs over time. Retention is crucial because it can cost up to six times more to recruit a new member than the cost to retain an existing one.

Indications of Member Engagement Issues

member engagement and retention goes hand in hand

How do you know if you have an engagement issue with your membership? According to ReedScott, there are several reliable indicators:

Warning Signs that You May Have a Retention Problem

  • your association has a retention rate that is less than 75%
  • attendance at conferences and meetings is decreasing
  • the number of members volunteering is decreasing
  • you are seeing a decrease in benefits utilization
  • your sales from multiple revenue streams are decreasing

Time and time again, we see that the members who are highly engaged are the ones always coming back. So how do we measure engagement? And why is it important to measure it?

Measuring Engagement

by measuring engagement, associations can focus more on member retention and member engagement

It is important to measure engagement for the simple reason that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Without data, you have no information upon which to make sound decisions about which direction to head with your content and communication strategies.

But, how can your association figure out how to measure engagement?

At a high level, measuring engagement is about aligning metrics to your strategic objectives. At a more detailed level, these metrics will be specific to each marketing channel. AI is playing a larger role in how we measure engagement by providing personalized content to association members.

Strategies in keeping members engaged rely solely on the content we send to members; content must be useful and unique to the personal needs of all members. We only have a short window to catch the attention of our members, so we have to be sure we take full advantage of all the resources available to us in this increasingly technologically-run world.