Membership websites are the wave of the future. They provide entrepreneurs with a low overhead business model that produces predictable and recurring revenue, while simultaneously adding value to members’ lives through continuous access to valuable content, resources, and services. 

But for all of the benefits that the membership site model yields, it also has its challenges. One of the biggest struggles is membership retention – i.e. keeping existing members around. If you want to be successful, you have to master this aspect of the game.

5 Membership Retention Tips

Members continue to pay as long as they feel like they’re getting value from their subscription. This could be tangible value – like losing weight or learning a new skill – or something less tangible – like feeling like part of a supportive community. The key is to constantly communicate value so that your members are more likely to stick around.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Wow Them From the Start

First impressions are everything. People are most excited about your membership site at the moment of signup. If you let them down in the first 24 hours – or give them any reason to doubt their decision – they’re far less likely to stick around. If, on the other hand, you delight them from the start, this reaffirms their decision and lays a positive foundation for a healthy relationship in the future.

There are dozens of ways to impress members within the first 24 hours. One option is to send them a thank you gift – something like an Amazon gift card or bonus that they weren’t expecting. 

2. Reduce Confusion and Friction

Anything that frustrates your members is something that could persuade them to end their membership. Thus, one of your primary goals should be to reduce confusion and friction by helping your members have a first-rate experience. A “virtual tour guide” can help with this.

“No matter how well you design your website and social channels, these things will be completely alien to new recruits. The same goes for your systems, rules, and regulations,” MembershipWorks explains. “To keep members from feeling lost and overwhelmed at the outset, make sure they know who to turn to – whether it’s via email, phone or through a chat box, always have someone ready to answer any questions and concerns.”

The more active and engaged your support team is, the more your members will feel cared for. This is one area you should absolutely invest in.

3. Gather and Apply Feedback

You’re always going to have a biased/subjective view of your business. The only way to make strategic and informed decisions that lead to improvement is to have a good feedback loop.

A good feedback loop does two things. First, it collects lots of feedback from a variety of customers at multiple touchpoints. This provides a wide swath of information and insights to pull from. Second, the feedback is organized in such a way that it can be easily acted on. 

Take your time and develop a feedback loop that’s thorough and actionable. Your members will notice when you’re listening. (They also tend to notice when their suggestions and requests are ignored.)

4. Stay Fresh

People aren’t going to pay for the same product or content indefinitely. The real value of a membership site – from the customer’s perspective – is that it’s dynamic. You need to continually provide new, fresh value. Every month that your value is stagnant is a month that you risk seeing a drop in membership numbers.

5. Cultivate Community

People crave human interaction. They want to feel like they’re part of something that’s bigger than themselves. This is part of why people love membership sites. They represent a community of shared ideas, hopes, beliefs, and goals. Make sure you’re playing this up!

Cultivating community means helping your members connect with one another. This could be via message boards, social media groups, virtual events, etc. If members feel like they know people – and that others know them – they’re much less likely to drop off.  

Iterate to Great

Running a membership website is an exercise in constant improvement. You don’t need to have it all figured out today. The goal is to constantly iterate to great. Over time, your members will recognize this steady improvement and feel as if they’re continually receiving value.