How to win back your association’s lapsed members

Most associations focus heavily on acquiring new members. Retaining members is arguably as important (if not more important) than recruiting new ones – especially when you consider the higher cost of attracting a new member than retaining an existing one.   But, what about those that get away? They once loved your association enough to join. It’s time to rekindle those relationships and win them back.  Here are four ways to get your lapsed members to return:  1.Understand why they walked away. Knowing why your members leave is critically important to getting them back and making sure others don’t follow them out the door. Send lapsed members a survey or call to ask them why they left and what might inspire them to return. Be sure to review feedback and incorporate findings into your membership retention plan. 2. Launch a re-engagement campaign.  Create an ongoing campaign to encourage lapsed members to come backHere are some communications to consider including: 

  • Expiration email – Connect with members as soon as they lapse to catch those who are on the fence about renewing or simply forgot to renew. 
  • 30 days past expiration email Check in a month after their membership expiration, giving them space after your first email while still giving them another chance to renew.
  • Membership ending email – While the timing of this communication depends on your association’s strategy, at some point it’s time to officially drop lapsed members and give them one last chance to renew. Make this message friendly and keep the door open for them to return in the future.
  • Phone call – You might not have time to call every lapsed member, but consider calling subset, such as those who have been members more than one year. Also, consider asking an active member to make some of the calls. Reaching out personally gives lapsed members a chance to give feedback and might even convince them to renew.  

TIP: Use NetForum Enterprise association management software (AMS) to set up and automatically send lapsed member emails so your team can spend more time delivering a great member experience.   3.Build enticing messages.  In all messages, remind your lapsed members of the benefits your organization provides and try to re-kindle the relationship. For example:

  • Thank them for being a member. Remind them of the value your association provides to the industry and that their membership helps support that mission.
  • Remind members of the benefits they have taken advantage of, such as learning and job opportunities. Remind them of the benefits they have not yet taken advantage of, and that they can still do so if they renew. 
  • Let members know about upcoming events, resources, and opportunities as well as any new benefits they’ll miss out on if they do not renew.
  • Offer them an incentive to renew, such as a discounted membership or a budget-friendly monthly membership dues payment option.  

TIP: Use NetForum Enterprise to build emails that include personalized content for each lapsed member, such as which benefits they have taken advantage of in the past.   4.Prevent the lapse. Of course, it’s better to avoid a lapsed membership in the first place. Here are a few ways to make sure your members stick around so you don’t have to pull them back in:

  • Send a dues reminder. The Community Brands Member Loyalty Study found that 13 percent of lapsed members simply forgot to renew. So, be sure to email members before their membership is due to renew to remind them that the time has come.
  • Set up auto-renewals. Go a step further by offering a convenient option to automatically renew membership, with the membership fee charged to the member’s credit card. 

TIP: NetForum Enterprise allows you to set up auto-renewals with automated emails that notify members when their membership has been renewed. 

  • Ask for input. Set up a member advisory group and meet with them regularly to get their input on how to improve member benefits. Be sure to include members who are newer to the organization as well as longer-term members. Regularly review their feedback and determine how to fine-tune your benefits and communications to provide a better member experience.

While it’s important to have a plan to bring back your lapsed members, retention requires a continuous focus on the member experience – from onboarding and engagement to renewal. Learn more tips and insights on how to improve your membership renewal rate: Watch the Live CAE credit webinar, Proven Strategies to Increase Member Retention on July 28 at 11:30am Eastern. RSVP now 

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