14 Best Member Retention Strategies to Engage Your Top Supporters

Whether you’re running a club, association, or any other kind of membership organization, your long-haul members are one of your greatest assets. That’s why having multiple member retention strategies in place is a must!

In this blog post, we’ll cover:

  • How to increase membership retention
  • The best member retention strategies
  • Tips on creating an event strategy for member retention

What Is Membership Retention and Why Does It Matter?

Membership retention is an organization’s ability to keep its members active following recruitment and onboarding. If a significant portion of your members renew each year, then you have solid member retention rates.

Why does member retention matter? It’s one of the most cost-effective ways for your organization to grow and succeed! According to a study from the Harvard Business School, investing in customer retention can increase profits by 25-95%.

Acquiring new members comes with upfront costs, especially those tied to marketing. Implementing even the most basic member retention strategies will not only save you money, it’ll help you increase revenue over time!

How to Increase Membership Retention

According to the 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmark Report, the median membership renewal rate currently sits at around 84%.

If your retention rate is below that number, here are a few quick things you can do to improve it:

  • Communicate effectively. Use multiple streams of communication (email, social media, paper mail, etc.), solidify your messaging, and consistently follow up with members to increase the likelihood of reaching them and staying top of mind.
  • Engage your members. Inviting your members to connect and participate with your organization is a great strategy to increase member retention! Engaging your members helps them feel more connected to your organization and reminds them of everything you have to offer.
  • Implement feedback. Responding to members’ needs and interests shows them that you’re listening to what they want. It sounds simple, but one of the top nonprofit and association member retention strategies is simply listening to what your members have to say and responding accordingly.

Let’s get into some more specific membership retention strategies you can try out!

The Top 14 Member Retention Strategies

Member retention largely comes down to active engagement. But on a practical level, how can you actively recruit and retain members for the long run?

Here are 14 membership retention ideas and strategies for your organization:

Onboard like a pro

You know what they say about the power of first impressions! Often, the quality of your welcome can have a huge impact on your members’ relationship with your organization.

Within the first couple weeks of member sign-up, it can be beneficial to:

  • Send a welcome email
  • Provide a thorough intro package
  • Host a welcome event
  • Connect members with mentors

Something as simple as sending out a welcome message can increase member engagement with your email content by 33%!

Build community spaces

People tend to join associations and membership organizations out of a desire to connect with others who share a common hobby, interest, or profession. By creating thriving community spaces that foster these types of connections, your organization can keep members engaged all year round–and motivate them to renew their membership year after year.

One of the best association member management strategies is investing in tools to nurture connections between members. For example, after you host a fantastic event, you can give members a space to keep the conversation going! Event apps and membership management software make it easy to create year-round points of connection for your members.

Provide special offers

The power of an exclusive treat goes further than you might think! Over 50% of consumers say loyalty points and discounts make them stick by a brand longer—and the same logic applies to membership organizations.

If you’re wondering how to retain members with special offers, consider serving up:

  • Loyalty programs
  • Rewards for referrals
  • Exclusive member events
A graphic showcasing types of special offers that can be part of your member retention strategy, including: discounts on services, loyalty programs, and referral rewards.

Show your members that your organization provides experiences and offers they can’t get anywhere else and you’ll likely see a boost in your membership retention rate.

Create valuable exclusive content

A solid set of resources can be just as valuable as more tangible rewards (if not more!). Your members appreciate access to member-only content that helps them develop their skills and knowledge–which makes offering exclusive resources one of the best association member retention strategies.

This special content could include:

  • Live and recorded webinars
  • Professional training and certifications
  • Free ebooks from industry professionals
  • Access to networking databases

Keep this content up to date with current news and trends to ensure your resources–and your organization–remain relevant over time. If members think of your organization as the most cutting-edge, go-to source of knowledge and expertise whenever they have questions about their field, then why wouldn’t they extend their membership?

Actively request feedback

We’ve already talked about the importance of implementing member feedback, but it’s also important to set time aside to ask for it. Your members might not always realize how valuable and welcome their input is–or even know how or where to provide feedback! 

Encouraging them to share their ideas and opinions can help you improve the member experience, collect actionable data, and show your members you appreciate them.

You can request feedback through:

  • Social media polls
  • Games at events
  • Member surveys
  • Town halls
  • 1:1 discussion sessions

The trends you receive in feedback will give you a clear idea of what most of your members might be interested in. Before finalizing any changes that’ll impact members, consider sending out a survey to confirm that the majority of opinions align with your actions!

Keep it personal

To connect with and retain your members, it’s essential to get to know them on a personal level. CSAE notes the importance of studying demographic behavior for associations. 

Any data you gather about your members can help you better understand their:

  • Specific interests
  • Levels of engagement
  • Preferred communications channels

With this information in hand, it’ll be easier to personalize communication by segmenting your email lists and improve member satisfaction by planning experiences that best suit their interests and needs!

Plus, you can offer a personal touch with:

  • Handwritten thank yous
  • Using members’ names in emails
  • Birthday messages
  • Starting a Member of the Month program

Host engaging events

No matter what type of organization you run, your members will appreciate engaging events! Implementing an event strategy for member retention can yield major results–especially since 49% of marketers say engagement is the top factor in event success.

You can pull off more engaging member events by incorporating:

  • A social media wall
  • Partner brand activations
  • Valuable event speakers

The memories you make with your members can very quickly translate into member retention. Even if certain members aren’t as active throughout the year, the excitement around a recurring annual event can be enough to prompt renewal. 

Offer virtual and hybrid event opportunities

Putting in the extra effort to have all of your members involved is a key event strategy for member retention!  Allow members around the world to engage with your organization through virtual and hybrid event options like:

  • Webinars
  • Live streams
  • Online games
  • Chat functions
  • Video libraries

With software like EventMobi’s Hybrid Event Platform, going the hybrid route allows you to strengthen your connections with all your members.

Leverage the right software

There are plenty of factors to manage when planning your member retention strategies, which is why choosing the right software can be so helpful!

Try working with tools like:

  • Event management software to provide tools for in-person, virtual, and hybrid events
  • Social media management platforms like Hootsuite to simplify marketing
  • Project management tools like Asana to manage backend planning

Create networking opportunities

One of the top association member engagement strategies is creating networking opportunities. Why? Because 45% of association members cite networking with their peers as their top reason for joining!

Positioning your organization as a place to make and deepen connections is one of the best association member retention strategies out there!

Develop a mentorship program

Did you know that 76% of people think mentors are important, but only 37% actually have one? If your organization can help bridge that gap, you’ll be fulfilling an essential need–and one that especially matters to young professionals! Those seeking mentors are more likely to have a long career ahead of them, which means there’s a greater chance they’ll become long-term members and advocates for your org.

Developing a mentorship program benefits your organization, your members, and your community. Not only does mentorship build your industry’s community, but it also creates a new generation of leaders for the future. Eventually, some of your most loyal members might graduate from mentees to mentors themselves!

Automate the renewal process

About one-third of associations report that membership lapses are caused by the member forgetting to renew! An easy solution is to automate renewal payments. Just be sure to email members about upcoming renewals in advance so the charges don’t come as a surprise!

You can also save your team time by automating member communications like emails and social media posts. Cutting out the tedious manual steps leaves more time for coming up with creative member retention strategies!

Allow members to hit pause

The concept of membership doesn’t need to be all or nothing–especially since flexible membership options can make new members more comfortable about signing up. Allowing members to temporarily pause their membership means you can maintain a connection with them even if they need a break.

While pausing membership might lose members access to special benefits, you could continue to send them your newsletter, for example. This keeps paused members up to date on your organization and when they’re ready to rejoin, your org will still be top of mind. 

If your feedback shows that members are pausing or canceling due to financial reasons, you may also want to offer a compassionate pricing option.

Hold exit interviews

While 100% membership retention is the goal, for most organizations, a small amount of churn is inevitable. When someone chooses not to renew their membership, the best way to turn the loss into a valuable opportunity is to ask them for an exit interview.

Holding exit interviews:

  • Gives you valuable data on why members have moved on
  • Creates an opportunity to see if you can win them back
  • Closes a door without burning a bridge

The silver lining is that understanding why some members leave allows you to improve retention going forward!

Creating an Event Strategy for Member Retention

Many of the best member retention strategies come down to holding engaging and memorable events for your members.

Here are a few tips to get you started on planning your event strategy for member retention:

A graphic overview of steps for tying your member retention strategy into event planning, which are listed in the text below.
  • Assemble your team. Recruit team members who have previous experience running successful events. If you’re looking for volunteers, reach out to your long-time members to see who’s interested—after all, they know firsthand what inspires members to renew!
  • Set your objectives with SMART Goals. The clearer you can get on your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. As you plan your events for the upcoming year, determine the specific purpose of each to ensure a well-rounded event strategy.
  • Review your event budget. Early identification of your projected expenses and revenue will help you determine the scope of your event. If you find yourself limited by your event budget, prioritizing virtual events might be a more viable option. 
  • Build your toolkit. Review the software you need to run your events. Flexible event management software is your friend here—but we’ll get into that more below.
  • Market like a pro. Your association marketing strategy can be applied to your events throughout the year. With your member lists segmented, comms channels solidified, and sponsors secured, marketing your event should be a breeze.

How Event Software Can Boost Your Member Retention Rate

If you’ve got your eyes on long-term member retention strategies, holding a memorable event is the way to go. One of the best ways to pull off an engaging event that your members will love is leveraging event management software!

EventMobi’s software can emphasize the value of your organization with:

  • Simple registration and check-in tools
  • A mobile event app to guide your attendee journey
  • Gamification and live polls to boost engagement
  • Networking tools to foster deeper connections and a year-round event community

With EventMobi’s toolkit and behind-the-scenes customer support, you can execute your event strategy without a hitch. Chat with our team today about how we can elevate your next event!

Knock Your Membership Retention Out of the Park

With a thorough member retention plan and the right software in place, nurturing member relationships doesn’t have to be challenging. As your organization grows, the people you turn into your long-time members will become your biggest cheerleaders!

Want to increase member engagement, retention, and satisfaction? Take the product tour to discover how EventMobi can help!