Written by Findjoo, this is the third post in a series of three about best practices in digital marketing and fundraising for membership organizations and associations.
Many membership managers are familiar with the difficulties of getting people to renew. While membership fees may be the lifeblood of your organization, renewal fees can often be hard to obtain. Thankfully, there are a few steps that you can take to remove the stress from the membership renewal process.
1) Set-up an automatic membership reminder.
Many membership organizations and associations have a set date by which members need to have renewed. While you might know this deadline, your members might not. It’s rare for people to renew in advance. Instead, they’ll rely on you to remind them when their renewal fees are due. The good thing about automatic reminders is that you know that it will always be sent at the right time.
It’s often best to develop a system that will send out multiple reminders. The first one should be sent a few days before the renewal date. Then, send a second reminder on the date of the renewal. If they still haven’t renewed their membership, give them a third reminder a few days after the renewal date.
2) Send a renewal link with membership reminders.
When setting up your renewal reminders, make sure to include a personalized link that leads to a dedicated renewal page on your website. Once there, keep the forms as simple as possible. If members need to spend several minutes filling in the form, they will often deem the process too difficult and they’ll choose not to renew. Also, make sure that the link is clearly visible in the email, so they know exactly where you expect them to click. It’s estimated that people will send and receive around 126 emails per day, so you need to make sure that members know exactly how to renew as easily as possible.
If possible, you want to pre-fill as much information as possible. Then, all the member needs to do is check that the information you have on file is still correct.
Finally, once they’ve renewed their membership, you can send an additional email linking to a second form requesting more information that you did not want to include on the primary renewal form.
3) Keep members engaged throughout the year.
To increase renewals, it’s crucial to engage your members throughout the year. This will ensure that members feel that they are gaining something valuable from your service, thus they will not hesitate to renew. There are a few ways to build engagement with your members. One of the most common is social media. In the United States, it’s estimated that 72 percent of people are social media users and it is a great way to build a strong community around your organization. For tips on how to better use social media, particularly if you want to recruit new members, please see How To Recruit New Members for Your Association on Social Media.
Emails can also be an excellent way to communicate with your members. By sending emails out regularly, you’ll remind members of the important and valuable resources that your organization offers. Emails also allow your organization to routinely showcase your impact and upcoming events you have planned.
4) Use incentives to ensure punctual renewal.
As mentioned above, many people will leave renewal to the last minute. You can prevent last-minute or past due renewals by offering an incentive that encourages people to renew their membership on time. For example, some organizations might offer a discount on renewal fees or host a contest where anyone who renews before the due date is entered to win a prize. While you don’t need to give out a lot of money, these incentives are very effective at increasing membership renewals.
5) Offer flexible membership fees.
Your organization should also consider setting up different membership options. This will ensure that members can find the fee structure that fits them best. For example, some members might prefer to pay an annual fee while others prefer a monthly payment plan. Another popular fee structure is to have twice-yearly fees. Each of these will have different pros and cons that you should consider. It’s best to survey your members to find out which options they would most prefer. Usually, the more flexibility you can offer, the better.
6) Pause membership benefits if they do not renew by the deadline.
Once a member misses the renewal date, it is time to think about removing membership benefits. How much you want to remove and when you want to start to lock out the member from all benefits it up to you.
7) Be clear about membership renewal grace periods.
A grace period is the length of time where, if they haven’t renewed or paid any fees, you will cancel their membership. You must be clear about the rules. For example, your organization should have a set grace period that applies to all members. Typically, this will be expressed in the membership agreement. When setting grace periods, you might want to survey the membership base to see how familiar people are with these rules. In some cases, they might want to use grace periods as an excuse to delay payment.
How long the grace period will depend on your organization. In most cases, memberships will be canceled if members haven’t renewed in two months. You can automate the system to make this process easier. In the days before you cancel the membership, give the person a call. This can be a great way to convince them to renew. If they aren’t going to, it can be a great way to get some feedback on why they aren’t going to continue as members. Once you cancel the membership, make sure to send them an email explaining what’s happened.
Your organization should also enable members to cancel their membership themselves through a section on your website. After they cancel their membership, send them an email with a survey link. This can be a great way to get some feedback.
If you’re running a membership organization, you must be encouraging people to pay their renewal fees on time. As we’ve seen, there are a few ways that you can optimize this process. It’s best to experiment with each of these steps, applying them in a way that feels right for your organization.
If you want help managing your membership renewal process, consider using Findjoo – a comprehensive CRM software for membership organizations and associations. Features include client management, online payment processing, email tracking and marketing, ticketing, accounting, SMS, point-of-sale, and much more – with a flexible, affordable pricing structure.