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.
Post 1: 12 Features Membership Organizations & Associations Should Look for in a CRM
Post 2: How to Recruit New Members for Your Association on Social Media
Many membership managers will be familiar with the difficulties of getting people to renew. While it might be the lifeblood of your organization, the fees they provide 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 organizations have a set date when members need to have renewed by. While you might know this date, your members might not. It’s rare for people to renew in advance. Instead, they’ll rely on you to tell them when they are due. The good thing about an automatic reminder is that you know that it will always be sent at the right time. It’ll also make sure that everyone gets the reminder.
It’s often best to develop a system that will send out a few reminders. The first one should be a few days before the renewal date. This will give the member plenty of time to get everything in order. You might want to 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 you’re putting the reminders together, you’ll need to make sure to include a link that they can use to renew their membership. Following the link should take them to a dedicated part of your website. Once there, try to keep the forms as simple as possible. If they need to spend several minutes filling in the form, people will often deem the process too difficult and they’ll choose not to renew. 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 what you want them to do.
If possible, you want to try to pre-fill as much information as possible. Then, all they’ll need to do is check that the information you have on file is still correct. You might also want to limit the details you’re collecting, making sure that you are only getting the minimum. Once they’ve renewed their membership, you might want to send a second form to get any additional information that you require.
3) Keep members engaged throughout the year.
You want to make sure that you’re engaging members throughout the year. This will ensure that they feel they are gaining something valuable from your service, so they won’t hesitate to renew. There are a few ways that you will be able to build engagement with 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. Communicating through these platforms is one of the best ways to make sure that you get their attention, so they’ll listen to your message. They are also a great way to build a strong community around your organization. If you want some 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 get your message to members. Unlike social media, you’ll be able to send a longer message through email. By sending this out regularly, you’ll be able to remind members of the resources that you offer. If you’re a non-profit, emails can allow you to routinely show the impact that you are making. You might want to include a brief overview of membership benefits in the renewal reminder emails. It’s also a good idea to include some of the events you have planned, showing them why they should choose to remain a member.
4) Use incentives to ensure punctual renewal.
While you want to make sure that members are renewing on-time, it can often be difficult to achieve this vision. As we mentioned, many people will tend to leave renewal to the last minute and are at risk of forgetting about it if you don’t remind them. The best way to prevent this is by offering a reward to encourage people to renew their membership on time. There are a few incentives that you might want to try. For example, some organizations might offer a discount on renewal fees. In other cases, you might want to have 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 rewards can be a great way to raise awareness about the upcoming renewal dates.
5) Offer flexible membership fees.
You should consider setting up different membership options. This will ensure that members can find the fee structure that fits them best. For example, some people might prefer to pay an annual fee. In other cases, they might prefer a lower monthly payment. Another popular fee structure is to have half-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 the member misses the renewal date, you might want to think about removing membership benefits. For some, this can be the reminder they need to pay their fees and renew their membership. How much you want to remove and when you want to start to lock these features will be up to you. It can often be a good idea to survey your membership base, to find out what time they are most comfortable with.
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 clearly communicating the rules in these areas. For example, you should have a set grace period, which 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 cancelled 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.
You might also want to make sure that people will be able to cancel their membership. In most cases, this can be done through a section on your website. Automated systems can remove them from your system automatically. 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.
Originally Published by www.nptechforgood.com