Content Roadmaps, Phone Calls and Involvement Can Boost Your Renewals

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Wow, a year can go fast! You work hard to get a new member or subscriber. Onboard them, check after 3-6 months how involved they are, and then poof, they're up for renewal. According to a report from the IEEE Sections Congress, over 70% of attrition was made up of members with two years of membership or less. Once settled in, that percentage significantly dwindles.

"We feel that if we can get people to renew twice, we have them for life," Michael Dempsey, project manager for AAA Northeast, told us in November. So how do you get over that hump? Here are nine ideas I've come across this week:

1. Create a content roadmap. If your [company] has a hefty database of content, it might be difficult for new members to get started with it," writes Audra Hopkins on Web Scribble. "In fact, they may feel too overwhelmed to even know where to start. But with a content roadmap, you can give new members a direction to set out in when diving into your content library... and get even the most shy new member out of their shell and into your valuable content."

2. Come up with an upsell and a downsell. "Often times, members walk away because they either don't find further value in their membership, or they cannot afford the membership they currently have," writes Hopkins. "[You] can provide both a step up and a step down from the membership package they currently have, giving unsatisfied new members a chance to build up their membership or cut it back."

3. Pick up the phone. A MemberZone survey found that 68% of respondents use email to get members to renew. That's no surprise, of course. But many respondents reported that phone calls were nearly as effective: 66% picked up the phone to get a member to renew, and some of those calls came from company higher-ups. Just over 15% said they used calls from other members to spark renewals.

4. Involve members in your content creation. At SIPA, we do member profiles of our new members, and I will use them as experts for articles that I'm writing. It makes for strong content and gives them a good feeling from their name being out there—and makes introductions easier at events. "...Put out a content creation call for sources in your regular e-newsletter," writes Melanie Padgett Powers in her blog. "Plan ahead and regularly ask for contributions on specific topics for your [webinars, reports and publications]."

5. "Continually monitor social media and your online communities to see what members are talking about—but also who is doing the talking," Padgett Powers adds.

6. Start the renewal conversation casually—and early. When the time comes for renewal, the "ask" can start from a place of conversation and appreciation. Thank the subscriber/member for his or her loyalty and, if appropriate, participation. Highlight your accomplishments and what you are looking forward to in the year ahead. Ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes and no.

7. Take an outcomes-based benefits approach. People renew their subscriptions or memberships when you provide services they need along with emotional connections they crave. So instead of simply reminding them of a "basket of products and services," be more specific about the outcomes that you've seen.

8. Test methods. Email, phone and mail are all valid channels for renewals. If your organization sends an e-newsletter, add a renewal reminder prior to expiration month. Stick reminder cards in any print outreach that you do. Create a pop-up for users when they log in to the members section of your website. Make it hard for them to forget to renew.

9. Tie to current events, good and bad, and use data. Here in Washington, D.C., I'm reading about theaters pushing back subscription renewal payments to government employees who are furloughed. That creates good will. What's happening in your industry? Maybe there's a 50th anniversary that can become a $50 discount, or a birthday special if they renew in their birthday month. Be creative—we do know a lot more about our subscribers/members these days. Use data to your advantage without, of course, being intrusive.

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…