How to Track Member Engagement to Improve Retention Rates
May 15, 2018
In theory, customer acquisition is pretty simple: You identify the wants and needs of a target market, create a compelling offer, and then present your message to anyone with ears to hear or eyes to see.
Businesses have been doing this since the dawn of time. By repeating and refining this cycle, companies can build strong relationships with their customers, leading to brand loyalty and more sales.
But how does this work for subscription or membership business?
If an e-commerce business loses a customer today, they’ll simply try to gain two more tomorrow and it all evens out. But membership businesses are built upon customer retention. For these businesses, success is completely dependent on developing long-term relationships with their customers.
They can’t always “go and get a new one”. They have to continually focus on meeting customer needs and engaging them during critical points in the sales funnel.
That’s where tracking engagement comes in. If you’re a smart business owner, you’ll want to focus heavily on retention and finding ways to stay informed on member movement. Here’s why…
Why Retention Is So Important
Peter Drucker, the father of business consulting, once said that the purpose of a business is to create and keep customers. For membership and subscription businesses, the key word there is keep.
The difference between a membership business that sustainably grows and one that inevitably decays boils down to how effective they are at retaining members. Increasing member retention rates and decreasing churn is a proven way to boost the profitability of a subscription business.
Let’s look at an example: Say you have 1,000 members paying you $50 per month, and they stick with you for 10 months. This means that you have $500,000 of income. But, if each member sticks with you for 12 months – a 20% increase – you’ve increased your income to $600,000. That’s an additional $100,000 per year simply by increasing member retention by 2 months.
LCV — Your Business Barometer
What we’re ultimately talking about is one the most important metrics for any business to monitor and understand: Lifetime Customer Value.
LCV is the total dollar amount that a customer is worth to your business, from their first interaction to their last. Even a tiny increase in that value can lead to significant growth.
Only when you have a crystal-clear picture of how much a customer is worth to your business can you determine the amount you’re able to spend acquiring a new customer.
But again, these numbers only matter if your customers actually stick around.
Research conducted by John Goodman found that low retention rates are often caused by perceived problems with the company, like frequent price changes or dissatisfaction with the product or support system.
In a way, low retention rates are similar to having a bucket with holes. You can fill it as much as you want, but unless you patch those holes, you won’t have any water left in the bucket at the end of the day.
Goodman says that the key to reducing churn is to reduce key problems.
How to Improve Engagement
Unlike traditional retail or e-commerce businesses, one of the key issues membership businesses face is poor member engagement. Having to keep members engaged and involved over many years is the ultimate challenge of a subscription-based business.
Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to keep engagement levels high:
Make sure you’re relevant. While “relevancy” is a buzzword in some circles – especially if part of your retention strategy involves content like a blog – the reality is that your company needs to be relevant 24/7.
From the moment your member signs up, they need to know that they can turn to you at any moment and receive value. If that seems like a high-pressure situation, it is. But that’s where member tracking comes into play (we’ll talk about that in a bit). You want to make sure that you’re checking in on the interests of your members at all times so they don’t accidentally disengage without you knowing about it.
Remind them of your value. When you first started to offer free video trainings, or exclusive content, it was exciting. Your members probably quickly jumped at the opportunity to sign up for your membership. But a year later? They’re less interested.
Subscription and member-based models are about relationships. Eventually, relationships need to change. If you’re simply doing the same things over and over again, you’ll need to remind your users exactly why they love you, whether it’s by adding additional value to their lives or sending out a “thanks for being in our community” gift. Like any relationship, you need to continually woo your members.
Innovate, innovate, innovate. Innovation says two very important things to your members: One, that you’re looking to improve their lives in every way possible, and two, that you’re in it for the long haul.
If you’re not dedicating at least some of your time to improving your product or service, or finding new ways to keep members happy, eventually your solitary offerings may not be enough to keep members around. Boredom is a genuine factor in low retention, so remember that keeping on your toes can help keep you in the black.
Tracking Tools for Better Retention
As we mentioned earlier, the best way to improve member engagement is to keep track of what your members are using, what they’re enjoying, and what they’re neither using nor enjoying.
Recent research shows that customers prefer certain channels over others. For example, some companies use live chats when their customers’ sites go down, while other companies may have customers who prefer using self-service, or even phone support instead.
The moral of the story here is that if you’re not sure what your customers want from you, track them, or simply ask them.
Here are a few ways to do just that…
Retention is about relationships, and relationships are all about wooing. One of the best ways to woo members is to simply ask them about their day – or in this case, about their experiences with your business.
Is there something more you can be doing to make the experience better? Should you add a new feature? How do members feel about the content you’re producing? Should there be more of it? Less?
If you’re not sure whether you’re doing enough, then just ask. Members will be happy to tell you. Here are a couple tools that will help you ask the important questions:
SurveyMonkey – This site helps you create and publish online surveys in minutes, and view results graphically and in real time.
POWr Survey – If you want to use the WordPress plugin route, this one helps you create cloud-based surveys that you can drop anywhere in your theme or add to a post or a page.
Tracking the activity of your members is also a great way to gather data on their preferences and. Certain behavior patterns can indicate whether someone will stay or go. Have they stopped visiting their member homepage? Maybe they haven’t been viewing your new content? Are they still making use of your support services? Though there are plenty of other third party tracking software applications available, we know ours best, so we’ll talk about how MemberMouse helps with tracking.
All MemberMouse plans have built-in tracking tools that show you exactly where members are most engaged. This way you don’t have to worry or go searching around for it. MemberMouse helps you monitor your members’ most important touch points like: Last Login Date, Pages Accessed and Account Status.
Plus, if you have access to the Advanced Reporting Suite, MemberMouse will automatically track these key metrics (and more):
- Churn Rate
- Retention Rate
- Average Daily & Monthly Revenue
- Sales By Product
The Advanced Reporting Suite gives you complete clarity into the state of your business. When you can see these vital metrics in real-time, it’s easy to spot problem areas early on and consistently make better business decisions. It’s like having a data analyst working around the clock for you.
So much is possible with the Advanced Reporting Suite. Did you know it’s possible to calculate the LCV of your customers based on membership level? You might find that one level has a significantly higher retention rate than others. You can then adjust your marketing efforts to encourage more people into the membership level with the higher retention rate.
If you’re interested in learning more about the advanced plan features, you can get more details here.
Finally, after you’ve spent some time sending out surveys and tracking member activity, you’ll probably need a good way of re-engaging members.
Enter the follow-up email.
One study from Lee Resources International suggested that on average for every customer who complains about an issue, there are 26 who don’t say anything; they simply leave.
Follow-up emails – or emails sent to members that ask them how they’re doing, to consider some new piece of information, or to otherwise engage them – give proactive support and can help you recapture the attention of any member having issues long before they bolt.
Retention is the backbone of any membership business, and keeping members engaged is a big factor in keeping them around.
It all boils down to a few things: staying relevant, reminding members of your value, and innovating new ways to improve their lives.
However, operating your business without accurate information on your members’ engagement, retention/churn rates, and LCV is equivalent to flying blind. MemberMouse helps you monitor these critical areas and ensure you are en route to success.
Tracking members can also be done by sending surveys or a follow-up email. Whichever way you choose, just remember that you should be doing something.
The last thing you want is for your water to slip out of the holes in your bucket.